Menopause Weight Gain

gaining weight in menopause

By Hannah Cooke

Several years ago, I taught weight loss classes for a well known company and amongst my clients were several menopausal ladies. Although they said that they were following my suggestions regarding diet and exercise, these ladies never seemed able to maintain any sort of weight loss.

Several of them resorted to diet pills and weight loss supplements.

At the time I was in my thirties and had no experience of menopause weight gain, so naturally I assumed that they were eating more than they claimed and exercising less.  How wrong was I?

Now I`m in my fifties and experiencing the same thing myself, I`m ashamed that I didn`t show more support for those ladies or at least try and find out if there was any inevitability to menopause and weight gain.

 Why Maintaining A Healthy Weight Is Important

The term middle aged spread is justified and is due to the decrease in estrogen levels. Excess fat is now deposited around the stomach, rather than the hips and bottom. This can be bad news for our health because abdominal fat increases the risk of certain types of cancers as well as diabetes and heart disease.

It`s a fact that women between the ages of forty and fifty five gain on average fourteen pounds. If you`re around those ages and you`re gaining weight, this article will explain why and more importantly – what you can do about it?

Why Our Bodies Store Fat As We Get Older

As we age and get closer to menopause, the hormone levels fluctuate in our body as it prepares for the eventual stopping of our periods and egg production. When this happens, the body will attempt to find these hormones elsewhere – especially estrogen. And guess where an ample store of estrogen can be found?….. Within fat cells. Consequently, the body becomes more efficient at converting excess calories into fat.

Appetites can increase by up to 67% as we draw closer to menopause

Menopause Weight Gain:  What`s The Answer?

  1. Don`t worry the weight gain and carry on as normalweight gain during menopause
  2. Cut portion sizes right down and up your exercise routine to keep the body that you always had
  3. Accept that a little weight gain is normal and use the following strategies to maintain a happy medium

How To Lose Weight Tips:

menopause & exerciseExercise

It`s always unpopular, so I will get it out of the way first.

If you are truly serious about maintaining a healthy weight, there is no getting round the fact that you will have to move around more. Although you may be suffering from bloating, spotting,  fatigue and incontinence, you need to maintain a suitable activity level if you wish to keep your body at a healthy weight.

Our metabolism slows down by around 5% every ten years. This means that we will burn approximately 200 fewer calories per day at 45, than we did at 25.  It might not sound like much but that`s a massive 5600 calories per month less than we were using in our 20`s.

When I ran my weight loss classes and came to the exercise section, at least half of my clients made their excuses and left. It`s a sad truth that most of us are too sedentary.

Take a look at the escalators next time you are in a shopping mall and compare the number of people using them with the number actually taking the stairs. It`s a small thing, but you need to get into the mindset of making small changes wherever you can. These small changes will make a big difference to your weight, but you must commit to taking regular exercise.

menopause foodPortion Control

Make your hand into a fist and you will get an idea of how big your stomach is. Now open your hand and you will see how large your portion sizes should be. Below are some everyday foods and their recommended portion size. Compare these with the size of your portions and you will probably be in for a surprise.

manopausal weight gainPotatoes – a clenched fist


menopausal weight gainBread  – size of your palm


menopausal weight gainMeat or fish – size of your palm


menopause and weight gainCheese – two fingers


menopause weight lossFat the tip of your thumb (one tip is to stop using butter or margarine on your bread, you`ll save thousands of calories over the year and your heart will thank you).

If you`re still not convinced and would prefer not to cut back on your calorie intake, you will need to do at least 60 minutes of exercise a day to prevent weight gain. However, if you can be persuaded to eat a little less, 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling, brisk walking or swimming should do the trick

menopause eatingSlow down your eating

It takes around twenty minutes for food to reach your stomach, yet most of us gobble down every mouthful so quickly that our plate is cleared in less than ten minutes.weight gain during menopause

Watch how naturally slim folk eat and you will see that they take their time, chew each mouthful properly and may even put down their cutlery to pause eating for a few seconds. That`s what you need to do.

It`s been proven that the first few mouthfuls of food taste the best and so take your time enjoying them and savouring every morsel. There is no need to hurry and I promise that you will enjoy your food even more if you spend more time tasting it.

menopause dietDon`t clear your plate.

I know that you were always told to eat every morsel of food when you were small, but now I`m asking you to do the opposite. Listen to what your body is telling you and the minute you begin to feel comfortably full. STOP EATING.

It`s a really hard thing to push your plate away when you are so accustomed to clearing it, but you must get used to leaving food if you want to have a good relationship with it. Save it for later or give it to the dog if you don`t like wasting it. But eating more than your body needs and storing fat is still a waste and is also damaging to your health.


Allow yourselves small treats, but make sure that  your menopause diet consists mainly of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and pulses, nuts, beans, fish and chicken. These foods are far better at curbing appetites and making you feel fuller for longer. This is because fiber slows down the rate at which we digest our food and water adds volume helping is to feel fuller for longer. In addition, protein triggers the brain to feel full far sooner than both fat or carbohydrate.

It`s really tough trying to keep a healthy weight at any time, but even tougher as we get older, because everything is stacked against us. Sometimes diet supplements can support your weight loss regime.

Our appetite increases. our metabolism slows down, we`re suffering from menopausal symptoms that you wouldn`t wish on anybody…..No, it`s not easy to keep menopause weight gain at bay, but take a look around and you will see that other middle aged women are managing to keep themselves fit and healthy. All it takes is a little effort.


Menopause Anxiety

menopause depressionAlthough it is a normal transition in a woman`s life and most women go through it without too much trouble, for some it is the time we experience menopause anxiety, stress and in some cases severe depression.

Why Your Confidence  Suffers

Mentally,  many us of  like to deny that we are entering menopause as it does carry the stigma of `middle age` and therefore no longer a part of the younger generation.  Difficult as it may be for some (men and youngsters perhaps!) to understand, reaching menopause can be traumatic as well as delivering a huge knock to our confidence and self esteem

A friend of mine had always been slender and took great care of her appearance.  Once menopause began so did her weight gain. Pound by pound, until eventually she had put on ten pounds.  Not a lot, but enough to fill my dear friend with anxiety and grief.  She would burst into tears at the slightest provocation and we spent many hours together while she told me how unattractive she felt.  She said that she did not recognize herself anymore and felt like a different person.

And she was not alone in her grief, many women feel anxious as their bodies begin to change in ways that they have no control over.  And to top it all, menopause signals the end of a woman`s fertility, which can be devastating and have massive psychological impact on her state of mind.

Take Control

If you are just beginning to notice menopause signs and symptoms as in peri-menopause or actually moving into regular menopause and are experiencing any symptoms of stress or anxiety, there are steps that you can take to make the symptoms more manageable.menopause depression

By taking action immediately, you are taking control and although it may not be easy to admit that you need help to ease you through any  menopause anxiety or stress you may have, admitting that change is inevitable is an important step.

From there it is simply a matter of discussing with your doctor what the best course of treatment is.  As both the mind and body are affected, treatments which satisfy the needs of both are required.

Think Positive

Of course, we also need to be taking the best care that we can of ourselves, both mentally, emotionally and physically.  Eat regular, balanced meals, get plenty of good quality sleep, make sure that you stay active and healthy.  See the menopause as an exciting new chapter that is just waiting to be explored, rather than some dreaded black cloud that you just want to pass over and disappear.

Take Care Of Yourself

Treat yourself with facials and massages or just by indulging yourself in your favourite hobby.  This is the time to focus on you and is the perfect opportunity to try new experiences that thrill and excite you.  You will find that by focussing on all of the wonderful things that you have created within your life, you will have less time to focus on symptoms such as stress and menopause anxiety.

menopause stressBy remaining positive and upbeat, all of the happy endorphins will be whizzing round your body and you will feel buoyed and relaxed.  One of my all time favourite quotations that I often repeat to my clients is this: “Our consistent thoughts become our reality.” How true is that?

If you see the menopause as a time of misery and anxiety, you will certainly experience that.  If, on the other hand, you look forward to the new challenges that life will present you with, you will remain calmer, more relaxed and certainly have a much more pleasant experience.

Learn To Love YOU

To increase your self esteem, it is worth checking out the subliminal recording at How To Love Yourself.  This is a REALLY powerful way to change your attitude and your beliefs about yourself.

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Menopause Sweats

Hot FlashesFeeling sticky, uncomfortable and wet?  Are your clothes clinging to the perspiration in an unflattering, damp mess?  Unfortunately the menopause sweats are another common symptom that we poor females have to contend with. And the more you try and stop them happening, it seems the more determined they are to invade your day.

While profuse sweating may not be as toe curlingly embarrassing as incontinence and  hair loss, it can still be extremely inconvenient and very unwelcome.  It doesn`t help that your beetroot red face will absorb most of the make up that you carefully applied that morning.  Or that the perspiration will leave your hair hanging limply round your ears.  And of course, freshening up afterwards is a must, so running water and somewhere private to cool down would be just wonderful.

How Long Do They Last?

Menopause sweats and night sweats are the most common symptoms of menopause and experienced by up to 90% of women, many of whom have the pleasure daily.  The good news is that they tend to disappear for most women after a couple of years – although they can last five years or more for the unlucky few.

What Causes Them?

In the brain, there is an area responsible for regulating heat.  As estrogen levels drop and hormones become unbalanced, this heat regulatory area becomes confused and gets tricked into sending out signals to the body that it needs to cool down. The body has its own built in cooler system, which is to send sweat onto the surface of the skin.  Blood vessels dilate and heart rates increase, which in turn makes us feel dizzy.

Although hot flashes,  menopause sweats and night sweats can happen anytime and are not dependent in any strenuous exercise to trigger one, there are precautions that can be taken.

Controlling Menopausal Sweats

  • Layer your clothing and still to natural fabrics.  This way, if you do feel yourself becoming warmer, you can remove a layer or too to keep your body cooler.night sweats
  • Carry a small hand fan, use a spray filled with water and carry a pack of moist wipes
  • Crowded places can trigger a hot flash, so whenever you can, stick to spacious, airy environments.
  • Cut down on smoking (preferably cut it out).  It has been said that the first  puff of each cigarette can trigger an agressive bout of sweating.
  • Maintain a comfortably cool temperature at home, especially in your bedroom.
  • Sip cool water.  This will not only help you to stay cool, but only prevent dehydration, which can occur due to the perspiration loss.
  • Take cool showers and keep rooms well ventilated, particularly at night if prone to night sweats
  • Limit trigger foods and drinks that you know trigger an attack.  These could be tea, coffee, sodas, spicy foods, in fact any stimulant could provoke an attack.
  • Limiting hot drinks at night may help to reduce night sweats. These affect the  blood vessels, and make you prone to flushing
  • Regular exercise improves circulation, and may help reduce the intensity and frequency of menopause sweats as the body adapts to coping with extremes of temperatures

Feeling anxious and stressed will only make things worse.  Any relaxation techniques that you can do, such as deep breathing, visualization and listening to relaxing music, will be beneficial and will help keep those night sweats at bay.

Menopause Hot Flash

hot flushIt can strike anytime, anywhere! One minute you`re happily going about your business and the next, a clamminess appears – usually around the chest area – which quickly spreads up over the neck and face, leaving you hot, bothered and usually the color of a ripe tomato.  It`s the curse of the menopause hot flash and sweats, the most common symptoms of menopause.  Possibly you will then perspire profusely and this may be followed by a bout of shivering, as the body readjusts its temperature.

Earliest Indicators Of `The Change`

Hot flashes often begin several years before any other signs of menopause, with three out of every four women experiencing them. The older you become, the less you will experience hot flashes. Most women – around 80% – have them for under two years, with only a small percentage still having them after five years. They can be quite severe as described above or no more than a light flush of the cheeks.

What Causes Them?

Menopause hot flashes and  sweats are triggered by decreasing estrogen levels and an increased amount of other hormones that affect the brains thermostat that triggers blood vessels to expand rapidly. This causes an increase in skin temperature which results in sweating and a noticeable reddening of the chest and neck area.

Any Treatments Available?

Treatment is not usually necessary as hot flashes are a by product of the natural menopausal process and will ease with time. However, if you are finding them particularly uncomfortable, there are some options you may wish to consider.

Although not suitable for everyone, hormone therapy relieves the discomfort of  the  hot flash in many cases.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~menopause hot flush

The hot flash is the most common symptom of menopause and affects around 70% of women – night and day


Possible Triggers

Caffeine, alcohol, hot drinks, spicy foods, and stressful events have been highlighted as triggers for hot flashes. Although avoiding these triggers will not necessarily prevent all episodes, it is certainly worth experimenting to find out which, if any, work for you.

Holistic treatments such as bioidentical hormones, progesterone cream, phytoestrogen herbal supplements and natural food sources have shown good results for some women. Prior to just buying the first product you encounter, it would be wise to do a little research on which ingredients or products contain ingredients that actually work at relieving hot flashes.

Time To Watch Your Health

Smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity can increase your risk or cause you to have a greater number of hot flashes. By stopping smoking, getting to a healthy weight and including an exercise routine into your life, you should see a lessening of the severity and occurrence of your hot flashes.

menopause hot flushIf you are looking for a product that relieves menopause hot flashes, you have many choices and a confusing array of choices. Menopausal symptom relief products are found in pharmacies, health stores and on the internet. You’ll often find yourself confused and unsure of which product to buy from the hundreds of different options available. It can work out time consuming and expensive if. Ask your friends and find out what they have tried and recommend. Look through magazine articles as they often contain real life stories that you can glean information from. Build up a list of possibilities and when you are through with your research, visit the suppliers and find out what they have to say about their products.

If one method fails to yield results, try another.  After all, who wants to look like an over ripe tomato when life is offering so many new opportunities?


Menopause Hair Loss

menopause hair loss

Most women take a lot of pride in their hair and losing it has a devastating impact on their confidence and feelings of femininity.

You may be surprised to know, but around two-thirds of women have to deal with hair loss at some point in life.   If there is a connection between menopause and hair loss, it is possible a reaction to low thyroid function, which is common amongst menopausal women.


Symptoms Of  Menopause Hair Loss And Hair Thinning:

  • Hair falls out in large clumps when washing it.
  • Large snarls of hair appear in brush or comb.
  • Scalp is red, oily, or itchy.
  • Overall thinning rather than specific areas of baldness.

How Much Hair Loss Is Normal?

Hair is made of keratin, which is a protein and the average person has around 100.000 hairs on their head.  This protein is the same that makes up our nails.  The hair that you can see is actually dead tissue and we can lose up to 100 strands each day.  The living follicles, which are bulb shaped, are underneath the scalp’s surface.

Hair normally grows around half an inch per month, slowing down with age.   Sometimes the hair may not grow and just rest, it then usually falls out and the follicle replaces it.  If something happens that disrupts this cycle, the hair falls out but isn`t replaced.  This is what happens with menopause hair loss and general thinning.

The average head has about 100,000 hairs. Your hair grows and is shed regularly. You usually lose 50 to 100 strands each day. If you have a normal head of hair, you probably don’t notice this small loss.


Hair loss affects around 2/3 of women


Hair usually grows about half an inch per month, although this slows as you age. Each hair remains on your head for two to six years, and during most of this time it is continually growing.

As a hair gets older, it may enter a `resting` stage in which it remains on your head but doesn’t actually grow. At the end of this stage, the hair usually falls out. Usually, the follicle replaces it in about six months. But unfortunately many factors can disrupt this cycle. The result can be that your hair falls out early or isn’t replaced.

Pinpointing The Trigger

If sudden hair loss occurs, consider if anything `out of the ordinary` happened up to three months before.  Factors triggering hair loss can take up to three months before their effects are noticeable.

Possible Causes

Things such as a hormone levels, stress and anxiety, trauma, stating a new medication or a medical diagnosis, can all be the cause.  Of course menopause hair loss is merely another sign of menopause.

Hair loss in women is a potentially depressing symptom, as a woman´s hair is associated with her femininity and sexuality.  As soon as you notice a problem, visit your doctor and discuss the options.

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Menopause and Acne

menopause acneQuestion: How many menopausal women suffer from acne?

a) 5%

b) 10%

c) 15%

More menopausal women than teenagers – around 10% – suffer from acne.

Acne during menopause – or hormonal acne as it is known and consists of   blackheads, whiteheads and small pustules,  is yet another of the many symptoms of menopause that is once again due to our potty hormones.

Blame The Hormones

Our hormone levels fluctuate in much the same way as a teenager’s hormones fluctuate at puberty, but while one woman will suffer with no menopause acne whatsoever, another will be covered with blemishes on her face, back and chest.  Actually, acne menopause and breakouts amongst middle aged women is quite common.  And you thought the days of trying to disguise your spots with make up had long gone!

What Causes Acne During Menopause?

Apart from disruptive hormones, Hormone Therapy has been known to trigger breakouts.  HRT works by trying to rebalance the body`s hormones and by doing so, it sometimes causes acne to surface.  On the other side, some women find that HRT actually cures their menopausal acne. Trial and error will determine which applies to you.hormones & menopause

Our skin has its own bacteria that lives off oil. When this gets caught underneath the skin, both the bacteria and oil create the awful whitehead, which is an inflamed area on the face that collects white puss.  With a blackhead, bacteria and oil are also trapped below the skin’s surface but in this case, they open partially causing the mass to turn black because of the presence of melanin.

Does Stress Make Acne Worse?

menopause and anxietyWith acne during menopause, estrogen levels are increased during the early stages of menopause, which then converts into testosterone.  This enables the glands to produce even more oil that consequently results in even more breakouts.  Thus creating a stressful cycle ….but wait….stress can make acne worse!  It stimulates the adrenal glands to produce cortisol and an androgen called DHEAS, which also stimulate the glands of the skin to produce more oil.  Another good reason not to become anxious!

Menopause acne can be very upsetting and cause great anxiety(see menopause anxiety for more information on this).  Along with the other side effects of menopause, it’s just one more thing you don’t need to deal with. Fortunately, by getting your hormones back in balance and reducing your stress levels, you can understand the causes of acne during menopause and prevent future breakouts.  Try practising relaxation techniques or treat yourself to a massage in order to keep your stress levels in check.

Would Extra Cleansing Help?

It is a not true to say that acne is caused because people fail to wash their faces often enough. Too much cleansing or scrubbing the skin harshly can make acne worse.. The best way to clean the face is to gently wash it twice daily using a mild cleanser. Be careful to remove make-up without harsh scrubbing.

As we mature, our epidermis does not renew itself as quickly as when we were young and so our pores can easily become blocked with dead skin cells.  While I recommend gently exfoliation a couple of times per week, don`t be tempted to overdo it as you can easily damage your skin and end up with unsightly red blotches – as well as your blemishes!

You may need to change your moisturizer as some on the market are notorious for blocking pores.  You should be looking for one that contains as few colors and chemicals as possible, but still nourishes and moisturises older skins.

Treatments for Acne Menopausemenopause acne

  • I`m assuming that you diet is healthy and you`re drinking plenty of water.
  • Lose body fat – excess increases your hormone levels.
  • Tea tree oil has antibacterial properties and is useful for dabbing over spots and pimples.
  • Mature skin, such as at the time of menopause, is able to tolerate anti blemish ingredients such as retinoids and benzoyl peroxide.  But when skin is also thinner and lacking in moisture, it is far better to use a product that contains retinol.  This will help unblock clogged pores and also stimulate collagen production.  Antiobiotics such as minocycline and doxycycline may also be prescribed.
  • This is the product that we recommend

Of course, it goes without saying, that no matter how tempting, don’t pick or squeeze your spots because you can cause infection and the skin will certainly become red.  Ensure that your diet has adequate quantities of calcium and fiber and also keep the amount of fat to a sensible level.  Carbohydrates convert into insulin that then produce androgens that increase the skin’s oil production, so keeping carb consumption to the recommended level is another good strategy.   Finally, make sure you drink a minimum of eight glasses of lovely, refreshing water every day and keep that acne menopause at bay.

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Menopause Spotting

menopause spottingQuestion: How many women do you think experience menopausal bleeding?

a) 5-15%

b) 20-30%

c) 35-45%

If you chose C – go to to top of the class.  Up to 30% suffer from spotting and/or bleeding between periods.

What Is  Menopause Spotting?

Experiencing spots of blood – of various shades of red – between your monthly menstrual cycles is known as spotting.  During menopause this may be normal, asone of the first symptoms is irregular and erratic periods and is due to the body slowing down and eventually stopping its production of estrogen. As your body experiences so many changes, it is going to behave differently until it adjusts to its new situation.menopause spotting

It is only when a woman goes for one year with no bleeding – menopause spotting included – that the arrival of menopause is confirmed.  If at any time during those twelve months she exhibits any signs of spotting at all, then the count will have to begin again from that date.  It is a good idea to keep a diary of how long it is from the last signs of a bleed, so that the time of entering menopause is as accurate as possible.

What Is Normal?

Just like periods and menopause every woman varies with the timing of her monthly cycle.  Some women can pinpoint to the exact day when they will begin bleeding and others may vary several days from month to month.  In the same way, each experience of menopause varies.  For some, menopause spotting just prior to a period may be normal, while others will have no warning signs at all and their period will begin suddenly.

Perhaps you have periods regularly for a few months and then have no periods for the next few months, before starting normally again a month later.


A change in pattern of the monthly cycle is one of the first signs of menopause


With regards to menopause spotting, blood show and what is normal, experiencing any sign of bleeding when you are not close to your monthly cycle, is not usual and should be reported to your doctor.  It is difficult to recognize sometimes as periods become more erratic close to menopause, but in any case, spotting when your period is not due should be taken seriously.  It may be nothing to worry about, but it is always preferable to err on the side of caution.

spotting during menopauseIf your periods become so heavy that you must constantly change your tampon or sanitary towel, report this too.  On the other hand, if you find that the flow has become especially light and you always had quite a heavy flow previously, mention this to your doctor.

When Can You Expect  Spotting To Stop?

I`ve been spotting for about 18 months and I can`t wait for it to stop – I don`t know where I am anymore – I`m just waiting for somebody to invent a `cure`!

Spotting is completely normal during menopause, but it should be worth noting that it can on rare occasions be a sign of something more serious.  Such as:

  • Uterine fibroids
  • Pelvic infections
  • Ovarian, uterine or cervical cancer

To summarise, if you notice anything unusual, tell your healthcare professional and get it checked out.  Chances are it is nothing to worry about, but it is always better to check out any changes sooner rather than later.

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