3 Reasons Why You’re Gaining Weight in MenopauseNov 08, 2023
Stress First, Fat Second
3 Reasons Why You’re Gaining Weight in Menopause
If you’re currently navigating the challenging world of perimenopause, you’ve likely encountered how unbelievably hard it is to lose weight.
The scale might be showing numbers you never expected, and those extra pounds, especially around the breasts, thighs and hips, can be frustrating. Not least because even healthcare professionals here in the UK and the US don’t have mandatory menopause education! So, thinking they’re being helpful, they recommend methods like “calories in, calories out” which, put simply, will not work.
“Not all calories are created equal in the perimenopause.”
- Dr Fiona McRae, hormonal health specialist at the Marion Gluck Clinic
Resist the urge to blame yourself and take on unrealistic, body-traumatising diets like intermittent fasting. These approaches will only make things worse! It’s vital to grasp that perimenopausal weight gain is not solely about your choices but is deeply influenced by hormonal changes and the impact of stress on your body.
So let’s get to the root of why diet culture is BS, and discover the hidden problem that no one is talking about.
The Connection Between Perimenopause and Weight Gain
Perimenopause, the transitional phase leading to menopause, brings about significant hormonal fluctuations. Estrogen levels fluctuate, while progesterone steadily declines, leading to various physiological shifts. These hormonal changes, coupled with a slowdown in metabolism and a flood of cortisol (stress hormone), create conditions that lead inevitably to weight gain.
Gynoid fat is the fat that sits around the hips, breasts and thighs - and what we at GSR Coaching affectionately call stressfat, because that’s exactly what it is! Fat that forms and won’t leave because of the immense amount of stress your body is under.
On average, women in perimenopause experience a 32% increase in their gynoid fat!
Understanding the Influence of Stress
Stress is a constant companion for women, but what you may not know is that women’s bodies are far more sensitive to stress. When stress enters the scene, this is because your body is releasing a stress hormone known as cortisol.
So when cortisol increases after a period of acute stress, leptin (the “stop eating, we’re good” hormone) wants to hold onto your fat. Think in caveman terms: if your body is under severe stress, it assumes that we’re in danger.
Danger = not knowing when our next meal is.
Not knowing when our next meal is = holding onto body fat for as long as it possibly can.
And because of the nature of this problem, you cannot diet away this fat. The more you starve yourself, the worse it gets. I’ve worked with women who have eaten 800 calories a day for two years and gained weight.
Taking Charge of Perimenopausal Weight Management
Understanding the complicated relationship between hormonal shifts, stress, and weight gain is the first step to taking control of your well-being during perimenopause.
It’s vital that you recognise that, fundamentally, your body isn’t functioning the way it used to. It’s functioning under levels of high stress, both physical and mental.
- The first step to dealing with this is always, always stress management.
- Work on your self-esteem and body confidence. Easier said than done, of course! But this is crucial. The more you beat yourself up, the higher your stress levels will be.
- The second step is to make sure that you are eating plenty! Avoid starving yourself. Eat fibre, which clears the colon of built-up cortisol, and causes the slow release of glucose and energy.
- Eat fruit and soups, and drink lots of juice! This approach is incredibly healing for your poor system. Fruit helps restore gut health and revitalises the function of your gut enzymes, which break down food.
- Eating small, frequent soothes your system out of this stressfat mode, reassuring it that there is a continuous supply of food.
- Move! Walk, exercise, do whatever gets your blood pumping. But, crucially, avoid long, high-intensity periods of exercise. Unfortunately, all this does is add more stress into your system.
We know that the information around perimenopause is complicated, confusing and often contradictory. That’s why we’ve done the legwork to bring you the plain facts, stripped of jargon, so you can grasp the science behind it all. Our mission is to empower you with knowledge.
Book a call!
For personalised guidance on your body and your weight loss journey, book in a call and we’ll walk you through how we can help you get back on your feet. I will provide you with tailored recommendations and support customised for your unique needs.
Managing weight during perimenopause is not solely about what you eat and how often you exercise. It’s primarily about addressing your high levels of stress and your emotional well-being. By managing these issues, you can navigate perimenopause with more confidence, sustain a balanced and healthier lifestyle, and start feeling like yourself again!
Remember, you’re not alone, and with the right knowledge and strategies, you can conquer stressfat.
If you want to delve deeper into this topic and learn how to navigate weight loss during perimenopause, learn more on my website www.stressfat.com or find me on Instagram, TikTok and Facebook @geetasidhurobb. I also run regular free webinars to support women just like you.
And finally, if you need a stress intervention RIGHT NOW, here's a very powerful 10 Minute Chakra Cleansing Meditation video for Destressing that I've put together for moments just like this. I especially recommend it for just before bed, or right after waking up to ground yourself for the day ahead.