It isn’t uncommon for women in the menopausal years to complain about how difficult it is to lose weight. According to Dr. Deena Solomon, author of “Immaculate Consumption: The Path to Lifelong Weight Management,” many women experience frustration in their attempts to lose unexpected weight gain after age 50. “What they don’t know is that during and after menopause, women will be inclined to hold onto water in their bodies. This is due to the fact that estrogen, located in body fat, controls water balance in the body. As estrogen decreases, it takes longer to show weight loss on the scale due to the hydration effect. The scale might go up significantly after a high sodium meal is consumed.”
Here are a few tips she gives to women in midlife trying to lose weight.
“Neutralizing one’s mindset” by reframing menopausal types of experiences. Being informed about the effects of estrogen provides a greater sense of control. First and foremost, women will need lots more patience to achieve weight loss during menopause since the process is ultimately more demanding. It’s important for women to understand that they will have successful weight loss, but it will just take a bit more time to see results.
Acknowledge hormonal shifts and mood swings
Women may feel depressed for long periods, but it may be the hormonal changes going on in their bodies. It’s very possible to experience mood swings from being sad for period of time, to feeling very happy overnight.
Cut back on salt
Consuming less salt and increasing water consumption can help weight management. After eating Chinese food, which is high in sodium, Dr. Solomon herself typically shows a 3 or 4 pound weight gain the following day. “Pre-menopause, it might have taken only one day to lose this gained weight. Post-menopause, it can take 2 or 3 days to let go of the water my body is retaining,” she says.
Read up on menopausal symptoms
Becoming familiar with physical sensations during hormonal changes will de-emotionalize the event. Saying to oneself, “This is not something bad but merely my body’s natural reaction to hormonal changes.” This will provide an immediate sense of relief. If people start to experience counterproductive emotions because of their body’s changes and resistance to dieting protocols, I suggest doing exercise to get a handle on these negative feelings. Finally, becoming aware of why dieting protocols which were once effective in the past seem to be ineffective now will help also manage anxiety during this time. As noted previously, knowing more about the effects of hormonal changes during menopause will allow women to begin to experience less frustration and feelings of hopelessness regarding weight management issues.
Dr. Solomon adds, “Having crossed this road to menopause myself allowed me to better understand and empathize with what many of these women were going through.”