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Reverse Peri-menopausal Weight Gain
by Bethany Klug, D.O.
I help a lot of women through the peri-menopausal—the years leading up to menopause—and menopausal transition. One of the top complaints of these women is that they have suddenly put on weight and can’t take it off. As their hormones decline, it can trigger a domino effect of hormone imbalances that cause women to hold on to weight.
Hormone replacement can help, but sometimes, the body is stuck in a rut it can’t get out of without—you guessed it—lifestyle changes! Many women say, “but I used to be able to eat this or that and not gain weight.” This just goes to show
how hormones make us who we are, and why this time of life is called “the change.”
It’s also why it’s time for the HealthSpan Metabolic Reset.
Eat very low carb, at least for a time. Holding fruit, except lemons and limes, brightly colored vegetables, alcohol and starchy foods such as beans, legumes, bread, pastry and pasta give the body a chance to bring several hormones into
balance that control fat storage. I recommend avoiding these foods until one to two pounds per week is lost for three weeks straight. This is a good sign these fat storage hormones are working right.
Eat More Vegetables. I suggest 6 fist size or fist full of green and white vegetables daily. Onion, garlic, turnips, radishes and cauliflower are examples of white vegetables. Vegetables reduce inflammation which brings fat storage hormones into balance, and are key to reducing sugar cravings.
Slowly add back higher carbohydrate foods. Most people start with berries. Add one food at a time being sure to continue to lose one to two pounds per week. If the weight loss stops, then don’t eat that food. Other foods to add back:
carrots, beets, winter squash, beans, legumes, gluten-free grains, spelt and kamut. Eventually add in sweeter fruits such as apples, pears, and citrus. Sweet potatoes, parsnips, yams can also be added as long as weight loss continues.
Bag Caffeine. It messes with your fat storage hormones in a big way. I suggest taking a long weekend to get through the withdrawal headache and be done with it. It’s also fine to step down to black, then to green tea. Please avoid decaffeinated beverages. Toxic chemicals are used to remove the caffeine. What to use instead? Try 1/2 fresh lemon squeezed into 8 ounces of water, or 1 - 2 TBSP raw apple cider vinegar. Or go to HealthSpanKC.com, click on blog and read about fresh vegetable juice and green smoothies, my favorite ways to start the day bright-eyed without caffeine.
Nix Dairy. It promotes inflammation and stimulates growth hormones.
Exercise. Lower muscle tone is a hallmark of the peri-menopausal and menopausal transitions. Muscle is like a get out of jail free card. It makes those hormones work more effectively.
Meditate. I am a huge fan of mindfulness of breathing meditation. It can cultivate self-awareness that creates a space between thought and action, as in deciding to go for a walk with a friend instead of feeding your [insert difficult emotion here] with ice cream. It also reduces fight or flight hormones that cause imbalances in the fat storage hormones. Restorative yoga, tai chi, chi gong and contemplative prayer can do this, too. I encourage people to pick one and do it daily even if just for ten minutes.
Get Good Sleep. Lousy sleep is another top complaint I hear from peri-menopausal and menopausal women. Sleep hits the reset button on the hormones that control fat burning and storage. While many women sleep better with the suggestions above, there is more to it for many others. Sleeping pills don’t help.
Consult an Expert. The speed of 21st century life has made the peri-menopausal and menopausal transition more difficult than it ever was for our mothers and grandmothers. If weight is still a struggle, a physician who follows a holistic approach may be able to help.