Posted by on May 24, 2008 in weight gain | 4 comments

Midlife expansion is no myth. J ust ask any woman in her mid-to-late forties and early fifties and she’ll probably tell you that she is having a wee bit of trouble maintaining her usual weight. Ask her where she’s put on a few inches and she’ll inevitably tell you her waist/abdomen. Even my thinnest friends complain!

So what gives? For many women, weight tends to shift during the perimenopausal years. Some folks say that you might gain as much as a pound a year. Yikes! So what can you do?

Well, there’s certainly not a magic pill because if there were, well, I’d be marketing it right on this site and and planning that trip down to the Galapagos or over to Mali. But don’t fret either.

Researchers suggest that contrary to popular belief, declining hormones are not the primary culprit. Rather, a decline in physical activity, coupled with changes in fat distribution, play a huge role. In 6-year study of premenopausal women who became menopausal, study participants lost an average of 6 lbs of fat free mass and experienced increases in fat by 5.5 pounds! Other data suggest that as women go through menopause, resting heart rate declines significantly both due to the natural aging process and declining hormone levels.

Overall, the best “prescription” for weight gain appears to be a change in attitude coupled with an increase in activity. A general rule of thumb is to lower your caloric intake and percentage of fats in your diet and make sure you’re getting in at least 30 minutes aerobic activity plus some resistance/weight-bearing exercise daily. Incorporating weight-bearing exercise especially during the perimenopausal years might help to counteract our natural loss of muscle and bone mass that occurs during the three to five years following menopause.

This bad joke that Mother Nature plays on our bodies can be dealt with pretty easily if we set our minds to it. Like a lot of things, I guess, it’s all about changing one’s mindset!


  1. 5-26-2008

    I do all that exercise and still it’s happening to me. My only downfall is chocolate. The situps help but I think it’s inevitable. I will keep trying to mitigate the damage as best I can. I will not give up. There is evidence of women who have given up. I wish they wouldn’t. It’s unhealthy. Let’s do the best we can so our later years will be the best they can be.

    I’m also trying to deal with and help other women deal with our perimenopausal changes. Please check it out and add your own experiences. http://www.ourperimenopause.com

  2. 8-5-2008

    It’s an uphill battle! You really have to be committed to doing some sort of activity at least several days a week. It’s hard to carve out that time when one’s life is so hectic and demanding. But definitely word the effort for the long haul.


  3. 8-6-2008

    KJ- Like anything, start out small/slow and build up. Even a walk up and down the stairs in your house or building for five minutes can make a difference.

  4. 8-28-2009

    I agree that diet and exercise are key. And, hormone balancing can play an important role as well.


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