If the usual advice worked for weight loss after menopause, baby boomer women wouldn’t be facing belly fat and bat wings. Without realizing it most boomers are following a fat belly formula instead of the flat belly formula they want. The old advice to move more, eat less, can and does actually backfire.
Instead, I advise my clients to reduce exercise, eat more, and stress best (yes, not less, but best) and the results are balanced hormones that make weight loss possible. If you focus on improving your internal environment, your external environment can’t help but come along for the ride.
These seven ways to weight loss after menopause are not random. They each impact the next. You don’t have to go for them all at once. These seven components have helped my midlife clients finally lose weight and feel great. Hint: the feel great happens first. It’s your sign you’re shifting that internal environment. Do not let the scale predict your happiness.
1. Get more of the right food
Eat more vegetables. Eat more fat. Eat more high fiber foods. If you’re a woman, be sure you’re getting adequate protein at each of three meals. Whether you choose to eat vegan or Paleo or some “flexitarian” style in between, protein will preserve your lean muscle tissue. Eliminate or severely reduce your intake of sugar and simple carbohydrates. Yes, you wine drinker, that’s you. Assess your own daily nutrition for the area where you could improve.
2. Exercise less and with more purpose
While we’ve been messaged by media and the old (yes, old and incorrect) “calories in-calories out” equation to think that the more exercise we have the better, if you’re doing it and it’s not working, stop! Fewer minutes and miles flipped for every exercise session assigned a specific goal could mean your exercise takes as little as 10 or 20 minutes a day. Focus on moving more all day every day. That is, take the stairs and get up frequently from your chair if you sit at work. This all counts, more we’re finding, than that 30 or 60 minutes at the gym that makes you exhausted or sends you to the kitchen immediately after where you overcompensate.
3. Best your stress
It’s not going to go away as long as you have a heart rate. Learn to harness the power of your stress and the stress hormone cortisol. It is after all, also the energy hormone. Exercise early when cortisol is highest. Allow yourself to chill in the evening when stress hormones should be coming down. Embrace the idea that stress is a natural part of a meaningful life. If you have family and friends and events you love and look forward to stress is coming to the party, so you may as well invite it.
4. Sleep deep
When you sleep well you give your body the hormones it needs to be at it’s best and you also decrease the potential hormone imbalance that happens when you’re deprived. Get into a wake up routine and establish nighttime hygiene that you follow like clockwork. That means, no more sleeping in and no more staying up if your eyelids are drooping. Listen to your body telling you what it needs at night, and override that impulse to push snooze in the morning. The sooner you establish a balanced hormones that control your optimal weight. To be sure, check your signs and symptoms of hormone habit of rise and shine, you will.
5. R & R on time
Rest and relaxation are under-appreciated in our society. We’ve got adrenal burnout and metabolism slowing as a result. The ultimate in rest is sleep. Few of us can deny ourselves of sleep for long. Yet the less-obvious ways of resting and relaxing are often neglected. Women who listen to other’s needs first, are especially poor at this. Plan your rest days in as much detail as you plan your work days or your exercise. Assign yourself two hours of a VIP meeting… on a massage table or in the hammock with a good book. Write in that time to take a hot bath (and lock the door). Put your feet up (even if under the desk) after a long exercise session.
6. Heal your hormones
If you heed the advice in one through five above you may be on your way to imbalance. Assess with this list of questions.
- Are you digesting and eliminating on a schedule that feels good?
- Are bloating and gas rare for you?
- Do you have steady energy all day?
- Do you feel resilient to stressors that crop up unpredictably?
- Do you have strong ties to people you confide in?
- Do you sleep well most nights?
- Do you wake rested?
- Do you love the body you’re living in?
If you said no to any of these questions look back to the most closely related item above and focus.
7. Integrate it all well
This may be the single most missed item of all for women who struggle to get to their “loving life again” mojo. You are an integrated whole of all these pieces. If you for instance, have a lot going on at work or in an emotional family crisis, this IS for your body going to feel like a “workout.” Reducing your exercise to avoid additional stress is warranted. Unfortunately, if you’re not doing well with this integration your approach may be one of feeling guilty if you haven’t exercised, or trying to work through the same punishing exercise routine.
Give your body exercise, but realize that turning your 45-minute workout into 20 minutes may serve you better during busy days and stressful times. Your hormone balance will improve and you may stave off weight gain that seems to come with stressful times.
Weight loss after menopause doesn’t have to be hard. Using these tips and the wisdom of your own body will help you bust through hormone plateaus. If you’ve been pushing (harder exercise), pulling (your hair out), and exhausting all the old bag of tricks that used to work, try a new approach and watch what happens.