I wrote this post about middle aged spread nearly 4 years ago and while most of it is still true today I have dropped off from eating extremly low carb in favour of intermittent fasting and eating a little less meat and more vegetables. My diet is still largely grain free and sugar free but I allow the odd treat. It is fair to say I did put a tiny little amount of weight back on but no where near all of it.
I find I still have plenty of energy, am maintaining my weight and sleep well most of the time.
Middle-aged-spread - what causes it?
Women in menopause experience a drop in estrogen levels.
Estrogen affects how our bodies respond to insulin. So the drop in estrogen often results in less insulin sensitivity which means almost all the carbs we eat turning to fat. And that fat attaches itself to the exact places where you don't want it.
Generally the fat pools around your middle and is what's known as viseral fat. Viseral fat is fat forms around your abdominal cavity and generally around some of your vital organs. It is extremely harmful.
You will have heard it referred to as the middle-aged- spread. I prefer to call it my one-way-ticket-to-a-life-of-misery before-hitting-the-six-foot-under-bed-of-wood-and-brass.
The older we get the harder it is for us to be seen. We can feel sidelined with the who’s who of people who didn’t make it into the ‘cool’ group and there we lurch and stumble about nursing our massive mood swings, hot flushes, interminable hunger and ever-growing waistlines while forgetting the name of our firstborn and remembering the days that being ‘choice’ was a thing.
What can we do about it? Starve ourselves to death? Exercise like manic versions of Jillian Michaels? Fortunately, it is much easier than either of these choices.
I managed it and so can you. I now feel healthier than I can ever remember despite having gone through menopause. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit that at 58 I feel better than I did at 35. I sleep like the dead, have plenty of sustained energy throughout the day and have lost 8 kgs since my 40's, most of which was around my middle area.
First things first.
I recommend you visit your doctor and get a blood test
Make sure you’re not experiencing symptoms of hyperthyroidism or some other condition not connected with menopause. Hyperthyroid symptoms can be similar to those of menopause.
My unpretentious, magic-trickless formula for reducing my menopause symptoms and middle-aged-spread is:
- Decrease the empty carbohydrates in you diet. Oh yeah! Who would have thought? Duh!
- Increase the number of healthy fats that you eat. Yay! At last some good news.
- Keep protein to a moderate level.
- The ratio the works for me is 70% fat to 20% protein and 10% carbohydrates.
Use a program like My Fitness Pal to monitor what you eat. Input your goals and get a feel for what you can and can't eat then ditch it. It takes time to constantly enter that info and who has lots of that laying around? If you go off course you can restart.
I stress that everyone is different and what works for one may not for another, but this is as good a starting point as any. I try to stick to mainly good fats such as olive oil, avocado etc but I do allow myself minimal full-fat dairy items such greek yoghurt. A girl has to have some wickedness in her life.
The other little gem of information is exercise
Yup! No mystic enchanted fairy tale here. There is a little hard work to be done.
Aerobic – walking, running, swimming, dancing anything that uses many of your muscles and increases your heart rate. Start at maybe, 10 minutes a day but build it up to 30 minutes.
A 30 minute brisk walk up a hill and back is easy and is your exercise done for the day.
Strength – weight machines, resistance bands or hand held weights. As you get stronger increase the weight or resistance. This helps strengthen your bones and muscles and decrease body fat. Don’t forget to mix it up a little.
Stretching – as we age we lose flexibility. Stretch after workouts
Some other forms of exercise such as tai chi or yoga will help with physical as well as mental balance and flexibility. Three for one, that’s a bargain you won’t get at the end of year sales!
There you have it. Give these suggestions a go and see if you can improve your symptoms. If you have any questions shoot away and I will do my best to help. Share your story with us; it is nice to feel that you are not the only one out there going through this. If you would like more ideas on reducing your middle-aged-spread in menopause check out this post - 11 Tips To Lose Weight In Menopause For Good