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Perimenopausal Weight Gain: How to Prevent It

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Perimenopause is the stage before menopause, when women experience erratic hormonal changes in estrogen and progesterone. These changes are slightly noticed by women in their mid-40s.  this period, the body's metabolism slows down, resulting in the burning of fewer calories, higher fat storage and loss of muscle mass.

A decline in estrogen causes the body to store fat around the waistline, making metabolism more difficult. Most women gain about 10 pounds per decade after 40. This pattern of weight gain predisposes a woman to high blood pressure, type II diabetes, high cholesterol, stroke and heart attack.

What can you do to prevent weight gain?

There are several activities that women can take up to help prevent weight gain in later years. Some activities include:

Strength training - Each pound of muscle loss is synonymous with burning approximately 40 fewer calories. In other words, more muscle gained equates to more calories lost. It is therefore advisable to have two days of strength training per week. Water aerobics can help strengthen leg and hip muscles while burning calories. Pilates and yoga also increase muscular strength, endurance and flexibility, with low impact on the joints.

Aerobic Activity – Aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobics per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity per week. Sample exercise activities include short, brisk walks, jogging, hiking and CrossFit, among others. This list is not exhaustive. Talk with your physician about other aerobic activities that can benefit your health.

Sleep hygiene - The body’s metabolism slows down with lack of sleep. Try to go to bed around the same time daily. Avoid late-night caffeine and excessive use of electronic gadgets in the bedroom.

Healthy Diet – When considering a healthy diet, you should:

  1. Strive for four to five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Consider consuming in the form of home-made juices. Meals rich in fiber (whole grains, green peas, black beans and other legumes) can help reduce the risk of obesity and lower cholesterol.
  2. Incorporate Sources of Omega 3. Fish or plant-based sources rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like tuna, salmon and hemp or flex seed, should be included in your diet.
  3. Replace high saturated fat sources with unsaturated fats, like olive oil and canola oil.
  4. Avoid high calories drinks like soda, sweetened coffee, energy drinks and cocktails.
  5. Avoid fad diets. They lead to drastic weight loss, but can also trigger loss of muscle mass, resulting in less burnt calories.
  6. Get adequate hydration. Strive to drink at least 8 to 10 8-ounce glasses of water. This improves body metabolism.

Begin by setting small, achievable goals that lead up to your big goal. Also, recognize that there are natural changes in the body that come with aging.

If your struggling with menopause symptoms, schedule an appointment with your Women's Services provider.

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