Ok – so you are 40+ and suddenly it seems like there is that bulge over the pant waist…. Maybe the hips and thighs are finally getting smaller just to be replaced by THIS – the muffin top!! Noooooo!!!!!
Why is this happening?
Is there something you can do about it?
To answer the second question first – YES – there is definitely something you can do about it. So let’s get to the why first and then the what?
This all has to do with our production of estrogen. Most of the estrogen in our bodies is produced by our ovaries, but it is also produced in our fat stores. But as we approach menopause and the production of estrogen in our ovaries declines the fat stores in our bodies take over more and more in trying to keep up the production of estrogen. Along with this change, our fat stores seem to migrate north from our hips and thighs to our mid-section because this is closer to where the estrogen is produced. I am sure you have noticed how older ladies’ legs seem to get thinner and thinner and their midsection seems to just keep expanding. Well, now you know why.
So that explains the location of the weight gain, but not entirely why we gain. This has more to do with a number of other factors.
- During this time of declining estrogen, our bodies are also fighting bone loss for which it needs more estrogen and yes, more fat stores.
- “Mid-Life” is often a stressful time in our lives due to hormonal changes (ie lack of sleep, hot flashes, mood swings). You might also be taking care of aging parents, not to mention aging teenagers…!! Our cortisol levels (the stress hormone) fluctuate which causes our bodies to hold on to fat stores, which causes more weight gain, more stress….. you get the picture…
- We generally become more sedentary at this stage of life. We are no longer chasing little kids, picking them up and carrying them around. Most of our time is spent in a car driving ourselves and our dependents (old and young) around. We might have less time to exercise and we definitely have less energy (refer to before mentioned lack of sleep).
A few pounds every year and before we know it we have gained 10-15 lbs, or more. Yikes! This has a lot to do with our metabolism which is the rate at which you burn calories whether at rest or during exercise. Our metabolism runs faster and burns more during activity. Does it slow down or do we slow down? There are many studies that have shown that there is no scientific proof that menopause = weight gain. But where we gain is the midsection. As I tell my ladies who blame weight gain on hormones, perimenopause and after: Leading up to and during menopause it is our lifestyle that causes us to gain weight; it is our age that causes the extra weight to sit on our midsection!
So what can you do to avoid the muffin top? Exercise, eat healthily and stay active. Yup – the strategies have not changed. Try to keep stress at a minimum (hahahaha) and get 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Here are my 3 key muffin top blasting nuggets:
- Exercise: Move your body every day – all day. Meaning; use the stairs instead of the elevator, go for walks with friends, take your stairs two at a time, shovel your driveway, move heavy stuff. Go to the gym and LIFT HEAVY! This will help prevent osteoporosis and muscle loss. It will not make you bulky
- Nutrition: Eat a diet that promotes hormonal balance and reduces inflammation. Avoid or minimize intake of processed foods (pre-packaged)
- Nourish your mind and your soul through reading, meditation, yoga, and doing the things you love. Live for yourself, not only for others.
We can do this together! Join our group “Let’s Do This Ladies” It is free, supportive and fun. We hang out, workout together, support each other, and there you will learn what you need to know. And you can ask the experts if you have any questions.
I’ll see you there 💜