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Menopause Matters

'The change', 'the time of life' - whatever you wish to call it, it is an unavoidable fact that all women go through the menopause. However, for many women, it is a time of anxiety and distress, due to some of the symptoms that can accompany menopause.

Dealing with weight gain 
Understanding why weight gain can occur at menopause can help you come to terms with this biological process and learn how to better manage your weight to protect your health.

Weight gain after menopause
Many of us start to see body changes prior to menopause - this stage is called the perimenopause. These changes continue even after menopause, the point when ovulation and menstruation stop completely.
Whilst, younger women tend to collect extra pounds on the hips and thighs, a pattern known as gynoid fat distribution, perimenopausal and postmenopausal women experience different patterns of weight gain.  The hormone changes that happen at this stage in life cause many women's bodies to start collecting extra weight around the middle, a pattern called android fat distribution.

Weight gain at the waist is a potential health risk because it's associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular problems. 

 Winning the weight loss battle
So, what can you do? The reality is that managing your weight during the menopausal years of your life is no different from managing your weight at any other time in life - although many women find it more difficult. The following strategies can help you keep the changes in check.

Plan for the long term
To successfully manage your weight, you need to make lifestyle changes that you can stick with indefinitely. Losing and regaining weight can actually make it more difficult to keep weight off over the long term.
Eat less and move more
Follow a healthy diet and increase your physical activity. Avoid fad diets as they aren't sustainable for most people over time. Any exercise is better than none, but more vigorous workouts can help with weight control. Aim for workouts that make you break a sweat!
Add strength to your workouts
Women naturally lose muscle mass after menopause, unless they take steps to reverse it. Building muscle can increase your basal metabolic rate and help you burn more calories. Incorporate a circuit-style workout, twice a week, that includes both strength-building exercises and cardiovascular exercises.
Address sleep problems
Poor sleep is common during menopause and can compound problems with weight gain. A lack of sleep makes you want to eat more and causing your body to collect fat around your middle. Practice good sleep habits and ensure a restful sleep environment. If sleep quality doesn't improve, seek help from your doctor or a sleep specialist.
Check your medications
Many women don't make the connection between medication and weight gain. If you are taking new medication and have noticed weight gain, it may be worth a conversation with your doctor. Your doctor may recommend discontinuing the drug or trying an alternative that doesn't have the same side effect.
Reduce your stress levels
Stress, like poor sleep, can lead to weight gain. Women at midlife often have numerous stressors in their lives, including caring for both their kids and parents. Adopt strategies to fight stress, such as meditation and exercise, or get support from a trained counsellor.
Change your expectations
For many women, accepting body changes is also something they will need to come to terms with. While you should do what you can to protect your health, you also need to accept some of these changes as a natural part of ageing.

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