What’s going on with my weight during the transition years?
Take it from me, an avid runner, gym junkie and menopause non enthusiast, weight gain during your transition years is almost unavoidable. Why? It’s all about your estrogen levels.
Our female hormone, Estrogen, is the queen of hormones. There are three main types of Estrogen, estrone, estriol and estradiol. When it comes to hunger, estradiol rules the day.
Prior to perimenopause your estrogen levels fluctuate fairly consistently throughout your menstrual cycles. While you are having your period (the follicular phase, days 1-9) your estradiol levels drop. With this dip you may find yourself craving more food, more often, as estradiol plays a big role in food cravings, appetite and signalling your brain when you are full. When your period ends, and you move into the next phase (day 10-18) your estrogen levels will increase. Those cravings and hunger pangs subside, and it becomes much easier to eat healthy and moderately sized meals. Throughout days 19-28, you move into the luteal phase (PMS) and your estradiol levels begin to drop again and those PMS cravings start to kick in.
Unfortunately, during our transition years (Yes, I said years. Perimenopause generally starts in your 40’s, with heavier more irregular periods followed by 12 months of no period to the day in which it’s been 1 year since your last period. That day is known as menopause – more on that in another blog) our estrogen levels start to decline further and don’t increase back to the levels we experienced prior to perimenopause. So basically, when we enter perimenopause our estrogen levels decrease and our weight increases. UGH!!! What is a woman to do?
When I moved into perimenopause and noticed the weight gain despite my healthy diet and regular workouts, I became determined to find the right balance. My doctor prescribed hormone replacement therapy (HRT), but I wanted a natural solution. So, I started to do some research and put together a healthy diet and exercise plan that made sense for my new phase of life. Below is a list of some of the changes I made with the help of some amazing professionals.
Choose healthy food options – as often as possible
I get it, sometimes you need a cookie but try to maintain a healthy diet. Lots of fruits, vegetables and lean meats and fish. If you are craving sweets, reach for fruits or even some yogurt to crush that craving.
Track what you eat
Optimal calorie intake varies depending on age, metabolism and levels of physical activity, among other things. Generally, the recommended daily calorie intake is 2,000 calories a day for women. However, we recommend speaking to a health professional to determine the optimal amount of calories for yourself. Once you know how many calories you need to eat each day, try to stick to that calorie budget, even if you are craving more.
Eating slowly aids digestion and helps you feel more satisfied with your meal. When you rush your meal it can make it seem like it was done too quickly and can often make you want to eat more.
Get 7-9 hours of sleep each night
A good night’s sleep helps you feel energized throughout the day. When you don’t sleep well your body will crave more food (energy) to compensate and keep you going.
Adjust your exercise schedule
As a self-proclaimed gym junkie and runner, I feel my best when I exercise on a daily basis. However, when you move into our transition years, your exercise routine may need to change. I added yoga, gentle stretching and walking to my routine for those days when I am feeling tired but still wanted to make sure I got a little exercise. Think about different types of exercise you can try depending on your energy levels, that way if you don’t feel going for a run or hitting the gym you still have a plan to workout.
Looking for a little extra love and support as you move through your transition years? Reach out! I’d love to talk and share my experience and learn from you. I can also introduce you to a fabulous trainer who helped me adjust my workout routine as I entered perimenopause.
Also, check back to the Phase site soon as I will be announcing my perimenopause retreat.