Additional Reading: Losing Weight And Keeping It Off!
It is still debatable by some health care professionals as to whether or not weight gain is a side effect of menopause. But for those women who have experienced an increase in weight perimenopausally, it's not a debate. Your body has changed and you want to know why. On average, women may experience a gain of approximately 10-15 pounds in the years surrounding menopause. There are several theories as to why this might happen. One theory provides that the increase in weight and fat deposition allows for an increase in estrogen production, as fat cells can convert other hormones into estrogen. With the ovaries declining in their production of estrogen, the fat cells can "take up the slack" of estrogen production to some degree, lessening the effects of declining estrogen. Others link the weight gain to a decrease in thyroid function, and subsequently metabolism. With lowered metabolism, fewer calories are required to maintain your current weight. If caloric intake remains the same, then weight increases. A change in body composition can also affect metabolism. Because muscle tissue burns more fuel than our fat tissue, loss of muscle mass can result in a reduced requirement for calories. Inactivity as we age can promote a change in body composition.
So, what can you do about it? One possibility would be to accept the weight gain as your body's way of acquiring more estrogen. This may be beneficial for women who are very thin and more prone to the effects of lowered estrogen. For those exceeding their optimal weight, you may set about making small changes to balance your body's caloric need. To do this, you can either gradually reduce your caloric intake to match your body's need, or increase your metabolism. A good way to increase your metabolism is with regular exercise. Both aerobic and weight training exercises can help. Aerobic exercise burns fat, while weight training can build muscle, which in turn burns more calories. Talk to your physician about a program to help you incorporate changes. Your physician may also want to check you for proper thyroid function.
Dr. Deborah Moskowitz
Some excellent transcripts and articles on the issues of weight and fitness:
Check the Power Surge Web Site's Library for transcripts of guest chats with experts in the area of weight loss and management. These guests have been part of Power Surge's, My Menopause, My Sexual Self Series. Every author is listed in the Library alphabetically.
If you click on the expert's name below, it will take you to one of their transcripts.
Robert Atkins, M.D., cardiologist, nutritionist and author of the famous, Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution.
Dr. Howard Shapiro,, author of the book, Dr. Shapiro's Picture Perfect Weight Loss : The Visual Program for Permanent Weight Loss.
Dr. Denise Lamothe, author of
"The Taming of the Chew: A Holistic Guide to Stopping Compulsive Eating.
" Dr. Lamothe is Power Surge's Weight Disorders Expert.
Debra Waterhouse, author of Outsmarting The Midlife Fat Cell: The First Weight-Control Program Designed Specifically for Women.
John McDougall, M.D.,, author of numerous books including The McDougall Plan, and The McDougall Program for Women.
Barry Simon, M.D., psychiatrist specializing in weight issues and author of the book, Break The Weight Loss Barrier.
Covert Bailey, well known for his "fit or fat" program featured in a PBS series. His numerous books include, Fit or Fat.
Michael Fumento, the author of
"The Fat of the Land: Our Health Crisis and How Overweight Americans Can Help Themselves
Michael Friedman, Weight Watchers Leader. You can also read many of his archived answers to many weight questions here.
Julia Griggs Havey, the author of
"Awaken the Diet Within: From Overweight to Looking Great-If I Can Do It, So Can You"
Chat with other women about Weight Issues