“Everything slows down with age, except the time it takes cake and ice cream to reach your hips.” – Attributed to John Wagner
Fortunately, I never experienced night sweats, hot flashes or migraines when going through menopause. In fact, I didn’t even know I was in menopause until my gynecologist tested me. So far so good, right? Well, not quite. After just a couple years into menopause, I experienced a rapid weight gain. Since then, it has been a constant battle to maintain and/or lose weight and, now at age 69, I have definitely lost not only the battle but also the war.
We are all aware that our metabolism begins slowing down around age 30. As we reach our 40s and 50s, muscle mass naturally decreases while body fat can increase. Without muscle mass, our bodies don’t metabolize calories as efficiently. Along comes menopause, and we are hit with a double whammy.
Menopause-related weight gain, which is attributed to a drop in estrogen and progesterone, doesn’t happen overnight. It creeps up like a stalker. We may make adjustments such as eating less and exercising more; however, for many of us, age also brings with it back, knee and foot problems which prevent longer and more intensive workouts. As in my case, my caloric intake remains just the same as it was 10 years ago (probably less) but I have gained 15 pounds in five years, with five of those pounds appearing right after the Christmas holiday. (Okay, so I may have partaken in a few more calories while celebrating December, but I threw out all those cookies and cakes on January 2. I swear.)
Genetics can also play a role. Blaming my mother, who dealt with weight issues during and after menopause, works for me.
Significant weight gain during menopause poses potential serious consequences to our health, such as breast cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and depression. Who wouldn’t be depressed with flabby muscles and a muffin top, not counting other menopausal issues like vaginal atrophy, urinary tract infections, sagging breasts, etc., etc., etc.
So, I will continue to do my limited walking (down from four miles to two miles a day), light weights and stretches, plus count calories. Because “fit fat” is better than regular fat. I am also tossing out the scale.
I would very much like to hear from you. Please leave a comment.