Dear Denise, Please help! I’ve always eaten moderately and walked. My weight has been stable for years and in the last 6 months I’ve suddenly gained 20 pounds. I look 5 months pregnant!
I tried running for a while but kept gaining weight.
I cut my meals in half and I’m still gaining weight!
-Bulging Belly in ‘Bama
Dear Bulging Belly,
Welcome to “The Change!” The time of life where nothing happens like it used to! A time filled with confusion and symptoms no one warned you about and all the previous go-to’s (like running and dieting) no longer work.
It’s like suddenly landing in another country and nothing works the same; traffic is on the other side of the road, stores close for lunch, no shorts in public and public bathrooms are not free!
Instead running makes you fatter, eating less means packing on pounds, drinking coffee spikes anxiety but still causes sleepless nights!
What’s a woman to do?
Just like landing in a foreign country, get a map and a guide book!
- Eat your protein! At least 100 grams daily. Protein will help you feel full longer, balance the hormones responsible for hunger and cravings, rev your metabolism and help you maintain/grow muscle!
- Eat 6-8 cups or a pound of green veggies every day. The fiber keeps toxins moving through so we don’t recycle them and use them again (pooping is important!), It helps you feel full so snacks are easier to avoid and satisfies the need to chew.
- Eat good fats. (coconut oil, olive oil and avocados) The fats help you not get hungry right after a meal, they heal your fat cells allowing them to release stored fat and add flavor to your meal!
- Drink water, water and more water. Water helps prevent constipation, keeps those extra estrogens moving out of the system and by staying hydrated your energy stays high!!
- Cut your gym time to 30 minutes or less! Congrats! in this new territory more is not better! What is important is prioritizing strength training to keep and gain muscle…because muscle burns more calories everyday just being you!
- Prioritize lifting weights. Did you know that 1 pound of muscle burns about 50-70 calories a day just being you while a pound of fat only burns 2…by adding only 5 pounds of muscle to your body you will lose as much as 1/2 a pound a week doing you! Muscle burns calories even when you are not at the gym, running only burns calories while you are running.
- Lift weights so heavy you cannot get 11 repetitions. If you can get more than 12 reps your body does not need to add more muscle because you have not asked it to do anything that it can’t already do but ask it to lift a bag of dog food and the next time you will be able to! Quit just going through the motions.
- If you are still running- switch to sprints instead of marathons. By definition sprints are balls to the walls until you drop, rest and repeat for no more than 20 minutes while a marathon is finishing 26.2 miles no matter how long it takes. Both cause raises in cortisol but the sprints also cause raises in testosterone and growth hormone (which will burn and release fat) while the marathon is so long the fat storing cortisol far exceeds the weight loss benefits.
- Sleep! 8-9 hours. This is NO longer optional. If you don’t rest, your body cannot function the hormones that you balanced with protein to curb cravings and hunger will once again rear their ugly heads. The stress of the day and no sleep will cause you to GAIN weight.
Can’t sleep anyway?
Let’s talk next week
The Menopause Project Facebook Group for all the daily tips, tricks and tools to help you navigate the territory of Menopause.