Don't let age make you fat
MANY WOMEN FIND IT HARD TO LOSE ANY WEIGHT THEY GAIN AS A RESULT OF HORMONAL CHANGES. FORGET DIETING, THE ANSWER is EXERCISE AND SENSIBLE EATING, sayS pat henry
Around the age of 40 some of you may find that you are putting on weight around your hips and thighs but not necessarily on your waist. In some instances it may be a lot and you may find yourself wondering why? There is some disagreement among the experts on how much blame should be placed on ageing or whether in fact it is the menopause.
Between 35 and 55 a woman's body experiences changes and some may gain weight. This may upset some people whom may have taken pride in still fitting into the same jeans they wore when they were younger -- others may not mind too much and try to adjust naturally. The best attitude is not to worry too much and learn to have a healthier lifestyle.
For most women, the dreaded increases and shifts in weight begin during pre-menopause, the years leading up to menopause. That is when you begin to produce less oestrogen, which seems to trigger changes in your weight and shape.
Try not to curse your fat cells. They produce some oestrogen, which may help you get through menopause by reducing hot flushes, mood swings, sleep disturbances and other signs that the end of your reproductive years is approaching.
Unfortunately, expansion of your fat cells isn't the only change you're facing. Chances are, your metabolism is slowing down, and your lean mass is decreasing. Because muscle cells burn more calories than fat, the less muscle you have the fewer calories you burn.
Its difficult to avoid menopausal weight gain. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine determined that women who were thin before menopause were likely to gain as many pounds as those who were heavier. The 541 women aged 42 to 50, were pre-menopausal when the study began. Three years later, they had all gained the same amount of weight, whether or not they had gone through the menopause.
What Can Women Do?
Besides making you feel old and unattractive, the extra pounds around your middle are associated with cardiovascular disease, hypertension and breast cancer. So as soon as you see a few pounds creep up, you should drastically cut back on calories, right? Wrong.
First of all, gaining a few pounds doesn't automatically endanger your health. Are you really overweight or just not as thin as you used to be?
Second, if you thought you had a hard time dieting when you were younger, just try it now. As you know, fat cells are stubborn. Deprive yourself of too many calories and you'll go into starvation mode. This lowers your metabolism even more and jump starts your desire for fat and sugar -- a sure prescription for weight gain. What can you do? You guessed it -- exercise.
Aerobic exercise boosts your metabolism and helps you burn fat. If it's weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, jogging and dancing, it will also strengthen your bones and counteract bone loss, which helps prevent osteroporosis. You also want to try strength-training exercises to increase muscle mass, raise metabolism and strengthen bones.
Does Taking HRT mean Gaining Weight?
Will hormone replacement therapy (HRT) help you control your weight during menopause? Maybe yes, maybe no. Studies are inconclusive. If preventing pounds is your goal, the sure bet is healthy eating and adequate exercise.
Although cutting way back on calories isn't a good idea, you do have to watch what you eat. Remember that strenuous dieting depletes bone and muscle and lowers metabolism.
So forget dieting and eat sensibly. Eat a variety of foods in smaller proportions. Because your metabolism slows as you age, you need about 200 to 400 fewer calories a day. This shouldn't be a problem if you eat only when hungry.
As you age, your body becomes less able to handle the load when you stuff yourself, and its more likely to store the excess as fat. So eat small meals whenever you're hungry. Skipping meals may cause you to overeat at the next one. Try to keep fat intake in check to reduce your risk for heart disease and cancer. Pay attention to calories, too. Some lower fat foods are higher in calories.
If there was ever a time to accept yourself, menopause is it. Concentrate on being fit and healthy rather than squeezing into your old jeans. Exercise, eat right and go out and buy yourself a new pair of jeans. You're worth it.