Q: I’m nearly 50 years-old and I lost 25 pounds about a year and a half ago. Then, menopause started with a vengeance and now I'm slowly gaining it back. I change my workouts around constantly so I don't get bored, but I don't have time to spend an hour or more exercising every day. Any suggestions for those of us trying to keep the weight off while going through menopause? — Jody Renzelman (via Facebook)
A: Jody, this is a question I get very often. Many women feel that once they go through “the change”, their body is doomed to get flabby and pack on stubborn body fat. While it’s true that our hormones do change as we age, weight gain is by no means a forgone conclusion.
Just look at Madonna, Jane Fonda, Demi Moore and so on. Let me guess, you are probably thinking these over 50 stars are the exception to the rule, correct? They’re unrelatable celebs that have tools you don’t? Not so. In my personal experience working with women in or past menopause, I have been able to take a tremendous amount of weight off them and get them in exceptional shape. Let’s look at Helen Phillips, the winner of season 7 of NBC’s The Biggest Loser. Here was a 48 year-old woman who came to the show “morbidly obese.” When she was done with her BL journey, she had run a marathon and lost the highest percentage of weight in the history of BL up until that point.
I want you to think of your body like a car. When it is well taken care of — given good fuel, regularly serviced and so on it — it can stay in top-notch shape for years and years. However, when you don’t garage the car, rotate the tires, replenish the fluids, or use premium fuel, the car falls apart. Your body is like the car in this analogy. It oxidizes (ages) as time passes and the more you force it to fight the effects of poor diet and lifestyle the faster and more severe the oxidation process will be. Many blame the weight changes their body goes through with age as menopause when it’s really the manifestation of years of neglect.
Many think that the solution to “their” weight loss dilemma is unique. They say things like “how do I lose the baby weight?” or “How do I lose the weight gained during menopause” as though these supposed reasons require a special solution. The good and bad news is that there is only one answer to weight loss: diet and exercise. Here are a few simple tips to get your body back on track:
2. Workout. Hard. Exercise releases many anti-aging, fat-burning hormones. And the harder you workout, the better your results will be. Many think that because they’re older they’re fragile and weak. Absolutely not so. In fact, I believe it’s quite the opposite. When I used to have the time to personal train clients, I always noticed that the moms in their 50s were often stronger than their daughters in their 20s. (I have a theory on this, although it’s not science based. I believe that we manifest the mental strength we’ve built over the years to overcome struggles and adversity into our physical strength, enhancing our fitness capabilities.) Obviously talk to your doctor before beginning a fitness regimen and get proper advice on fitness form, etc., but don’t be afraid to push yourself. Lift weights and I don’t mean 2 pounds. Start running, not power walking. Take a kickboxing class. You get the idea.
3. Eliminate chemicals from your life. While it’s true that for your metabolism to function optimally you must balance your hormones, the best way to do this is with clean living. Toxins in our food, water, cosmetics, cleaning products, and so on are filled with chemicals that throw our weight and overall health into a state of havoc. The simple solution is to go natural. Use baking soda or lemon water to clean your counter tops. Use olive oil as a moisturizer instead of the expensive face cream loaded with chemicals. Eat as clean as you can and go organic whenever possible to avoid pesticides, preservatives, hormones, and antibiotics in foods.
While I know this probably isn’t the advice you wanted, it’s the advice that will work for you over time. I’ve found that hormone supplementation is a dangerous thing. Studies have linked it to different types of cancers, stroke, blood clots, gallstones, dementia and the list goes on. You should do your own research, too. In my experience, the natural solution is always the right one.