Menopause

It’s not you, it’s Menopause.

December 7, 2022

By: Rachel Noonan, PharmD

Unrealistic expectations are placed on the female body every day. The constant onslaught is exhausting – your weight can weigh on you.

And yet, the science is clear: midlife women struggling with weight management are at real risk. Obesity. Cardiovascular disease. Diabetes. The combination of natural aging and menopause can wreak havoc on the female body.

Perimenopause triggers a cascade of unfavorable changes. When estrogen levels drop and androgen levels rise, an imbalance occurs. That imbalance causes the body to distribute fat differently. Hormone shifts have visible consequences. Muscle mass begins to deteriorate. More fat can accumulate around the midsection. Metabolism slows. Weight fluctuates. And if your physical activity has relaxed, expect this series of unfortunate events to hit even harder.

The result? You may find your reliable diet and exercise routine has fallen flat. Your efforts to stay healthy and energized aren’t working as well as before. If you are dissatisfied with these unexpected changes, understand this:

It’s not you, it’s menopause.

What many don’t realize is estrogen affects energy balance. Without it, your body doesn’t operate as efficiently. Throw in the realities of aging, and it’s no surprise your health suffers.  Entering menopause, the odds are stacked against you.

Research reveals the burden of your body changing inside and out is overwhelming. Spikes in anxiety and depression during menopause are expected. Body image concerns complicate these feelings further. Studies strive to understand the enormous physical and mental toll of midlife.

Fighting a losing battle isn’t fun but rooting for the underdog lifts the holiday spirit. Small steps can make a big impact.  

First, embrace that ever-changing, never-boring body of yours. As women, we carry the world on our shoulders (and occasionally, in our middle). Your body is a force to be reckoned with. Appreciate it.

Second, eat well and get physical. Sedentary lifestyles promote metabolic problems. Prioritize strength training. Give the Mediterranean diet a whirl – it’s anti-inflammatory and rich in antioxidants. Pick healthy habits that stick.

Third, address your hormonal imbalance. Estrogen is key. Restoring your body’s balance gives you a fighting chance to adapt and thrive.  

Menopause can suck the merry right out of the room if you let it. So, don’t. Settle in under the mistletoe and kiss inaction goodbye.

References

  1. Maria G. Grammatikopoulou, Meletios P. Nigdelis, Dimitrios G. Goulis, Weight gain in midlife women: Understanding drivers and underlying mechanisms, Current Opinion in Endocrine and Metabolic Research,Volume 27, 2022, 100406, ISSN 2451-9650, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.coemr.2022.100406(https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2451965022000916).
  2. Greendale GA, Sternfeld B, Huang M, Han W, Karvonen-Gutierrez C, Ruppert K, Cauley JA, Finkelstein JS, Jiang SF, Karlamangla AS. Changes in body composition and weight during the menopause transition. JCI Insight. 2019 Mar 7;4(5):e124865. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.124865. PMID: 30843880; PMCID: PMC6483504.
  3. Jackson KL, Janssen I, Appelhans BM, Kazlauskaite R, Karavolos K, Dugan SA, Avery EA, Shipp-Johnson KJ, Powell LH, Kravitz HM. Body image satisfaction and depression in midlife women: the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN). Arch Womens Ment Health. 2014 Jun;17(3):177-87. doi: 10.1007/s00737-014-0416-9. Epub 2014 Mar 13. PMID: 24623160; PMCID: PMC4026204.
  4. Ko SH, Kim HS. Menopause-Associated Lipid Metabolic Disorders and Foods Beneficial for Postmenopausal Women. Nutrients. 2020 Jan 13;12(1):202. doi: 10.3390/nu12010202. PMID: 31941004; PMCID: PMC7019719.
  5. Ko SH, Jung Y. Energy Metabolism Changes and Dysregulated Lipid Metabolism in Postmenopausal Women. Nutrients. 2021 Dec 20;13(12):4556. doi: 10.3390/nu13124556. PMID: 34960109; PMCID: PMC8704126.
  6. Silva TR, Oppermann K, Reis FM, Spritzer PM. Nutrition in Menopausal Women: A Narrative Review. Nutrients. 2021 Jun 23;13(7):2149. doi: 10.3390/nu13072149. PMID: 34201460; PMCID: PMC8308420.
  7. Simbar M, Nazarpour S, Alavi Majd H, Dodel Andarvar K, Jafari Torkamani Z, Alsadat Rahnemaei F. Is body image a predictor of women’s depression and anxiety in postmenopausal women? BMC Psychiatry. 2020 May 6;20(1):202. doi: 10.1186/s12888-020-02617-w. Erratum in: BMC Psychiatry. 2020 Jun 4;20(1):278. PMID: 32375722; PMCID: PMC7201601.

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