Do you think that gaining weight during menopause and after is just a fact of life? Rethink! A study about menopause weight gain reveals that most midlife weight gain is due to a reduction in spontaneous activity. What’s spontaneous activity? Well, surprisingly, it’s not your workout that matters most. It’s the long hours of sitting and not getting up for breaks. Resorting to an email instead of visiting your colleague’s office or having lunch at your desk instead of having to get up and go somewhere could cost you those extra pounds. It’s even avoiding water, so you don’t have to worry about bathroom visits. Anything you do that raises cortisol can increase your chance of gaining menopause weight.
That correlates with an International Journal of Obesity study that shows the longer hours a woman works, the more menopause weight she gains. Women in the study worked anywhere from part-time to 49 or more hours a week. As the number of hours per week increased, so too did the weight gained. Researchers were careful to mention that it wasn’t the hours alone but the long hours that influenced women to make choices that led to weight gain.
Those are most likely to include:
- Sleeping less
- Poor food choices
- Increased reliance on caffeine
- Increased wine
- Lack of stress coping skills
- Lack of self-care or knowledge about time-efficient health hacks
While you’re working long hours, you may not intentionally self-sabotage, but it’s not helping you avoid menopause weight gain. A lack of time to implement habits leaves you vulnerable to repeating patterns that, over time, could lead to weight gain. Flip those habits with simple daily changes, and you may find you’re down a few the next time you check.
Menopause Weight Loss Success
My client, Marcia, works in health care administration with long hours, considerable stress, and a commute bookending her day. Exercising for an hour a day was a ridiculous concept. She knew she liked how she felt when exercising, but the need to be on the train by 6 or in the office by 7 for meetings made that next to impossible. She was rarely home until 8 some nights, leaving next to nothing for winding down, dinner, and enough sleep to cope.
What we did was optimize Marcia’s weekends and then added at least 10 minutes twice a week for a home weight-training workout. Her investment was maybe $100 for dumbbells heavy enough to reach fatigue and an exercise ball. A funny thing happened, though. Once she had her morning exercise habits in place, she began to use the gym across the street she actually belonged to already. On mornings when she could steal a little more time, she went to a short early morning spin class or did 20 minutes of intervals on an elliptical at the gym on her own.
The biggest obstacle for Marcia getting started with morning exercise was getting up, and the solution to that started the night before. She not only had to go to bed earlier, but she had to tweak her diet. She was eating foods that didn’t agree with her and eating too late, and both habits kept her from getting a good night’s sleep. If you wake up feeling hung over, you aren’t going to be motivated to exercise, and you’ll not be able to avoid menopause weight gain.
Seasonal pants she’s not had on for a few months fell to the floor with no hope of a belt saving them for wear. She bought a bike, and she’s more active and outdoors on the weekends, all helping reduce her stress and enhance her food and lifestyle health habits.
Marcia still works long hours, but she’s far more active with healthy food choices. Making just a few positive choices was the catalyst for a lifestyle sweep.
Avoid Menopause Weight Gain
Tips to be your own success story:
- Get up frequently.
- Drink water regularly. (This will help you with #1.)
- When you have to go to the bathroom, go.
- Exercise during your workday, especially if you have a long commute. It doesn’t have to get you sweaty. Yoga, stretching, or a walk can work wonders. Employees who exercise during the workday report greater job satisfaction.
- Eat for energy and offset cravings caused by stress. It’s not uncommon to skip meals, load up on too much coffee during the day, and then give in to all that spent discipline with a willpower breakdown at night. Get protein and veggies in early, and you’ll be better off.
- Focus on reducing stress, not calories, to reduce work-related weight gain. Moving in any way – even yoga or stretching – reduces perceived stress levels.
- Support wellness within your workplace. Why wait for someone else to do it? Whether or not it takes place there, create a collaborative, supportive environment that may reduce emotional stress for everyone.
Tools To Avoid Menopause Weight Gain