‘Why can’t I get rid of this belly fat?’ – This is the most common question that I get asked all the time by women hitting the mid-forties. It’s tough you’re eating well, you’re exercising three times a week, and you’re still not seeing a reduction in the dreaded belly area.
Let me tell you, you are not alone!
There are estimated to be 13 million women currently in peri or menopause, and many of them feel that their weight is getting more challenging to manage. The tried and tested methods of weight reduction just don’t cut it when you hit your mid-forties.
Research showing a link between midsection weight gain and the menopause is hard to find (but that’s not surprising as there’s a distinct lack of research on menopause in general). Being on HRT or not seems to make no difference to midsection weight gain.
I’ve done lots of research on the subject, and it’s something that I’ve started to struggle with too.
Here are my top five tips/reasons and suggestions for helping to improve this situation.
1 The Loss of Muscle Mass – I know I harp on about strength training A LOT. But, as you age your muscle mass declines, and that decline starts to accelerate post-menopause.
From the age of 30 onwards, muscle mass begins to decline between 3% and 5% per decade, depending upon physical activity. The more muscle mass that you can lay down before menopause, the better.
Muscle is metabolically active – it requires calories to function. Therefore the more muscle that you have, the more calories you will burn in your day to day activities.
Increasing your weight training is crucial, and one of the best ways to combat belly fat.
2. Metabolic Rate Slows Down – as you hit menopause, you don’t need as many calories as you did previously, some have estimated it to be 200 fewer calories. Therefore you can’t eat the same as you’ve always done, as it just won’t work anymore.
Increasing your muscle mass (as per above) will help alleviate this, as previously mentioned, your body will need more energy to function.
3. Fat Re-distribution – as you hit menopause, your oestrogen levels naturally decline. Adipose Tissue (fat) can also produce oestrogen, so your body is less likely to want to get rid of fat, particularly fat around the midsection, as it can provide the very thing that the body is naturally stopping.
Your body is a fantastic thing!
That belly-fat that you’re trying to rid yourself of might have some protective effects and buffer you against a sudden drop of oestrogen — thus protecting you from some of the more unwanted symptoms of menopause.
Research has shown that whether you’re on HRT or not, your belly fat situation will correct itself once menopause is over.
4. Stress Eating – this is a biggie. When stressed, the body releases cortisol the stress hormone, when your normal reaction for stress is to reach for the nearest bottle of wine or chocolate bar, your body releases insulin to deal with the sugar.
When your body is in fight or flight situation it kicks into preservation mode – it wants to save all the energy it can…and guess what it saves it as, yes, you got it – FAT.
You got to cut out those sugary treats and you need to deal with your stress.
Start to cut out all toxins, including toxic people from your life where possible to help alleviate stress, and make sure you’re getting enough sleep, plenty of water, getting a daily walk outside and taking time out for yourself.
5. You Feel Tired All the Time – so you don’t feel like exercising, you feel lacking in energy so you grab the nearest sugary treat or caffeine, which puts you into a downward spiral.
It’s a well-known fact that women in peri-menopause usually are the ones with teenage children, elderly parents to look after, working full-time, doing the lions share of the housework and are the most likely demographic to volunteer for outside activities.
We really are the ‘sandwich generation’ – whoop for equality!
It’s little wonder that we have no time for ourselves.
Add in night time sweats, lack of sleep, hot flushes, mood swings and hormone fluctuations all over the place – I hear you when you say all you want to do is flop in front of the tv with a family-sized Galaxy and a bottle of red.
The good news is – you can make a plan and take hold of your life before it runs away from you.
You’re a strong woman, there are many lifestyle interventions that can really work, and they don’t have to be too complicated.
I write workouts everyday for my online groups and my clients, and one of the main components that I use is making sure that they can fit them into their lives. You can get effective workouts in as little as 4 minutes a session.
Are you noticing that your fat seems to redistributing itself to around your midsection?
Would you like to have a proper plan in place to help get you on track?
Then you can contact me to book a full postural and lifestyle assessment Holistic Coaching & Packages and I’ll write you a comprehensive plan of action.
I also have a monthly online membership program with loads of workouts and recipe ideas.
There’s always a way to make some improvements, so don’t despair!
If you’d like to learn how to effectively introduce some weight training and learn all about our 4 minute workouts, then you can join our very popular Kettlebell Workshops, you can find out more about them and the booking links by clicking here.