Beauty is timeless but time decides a woman’s beauty! Even the most beautiful women living in this world are haunted by the effects of menopause and aging. Ironically, we find the media industry dominated by heroes in their 40s, 50s and even 60s still playing the role of a college goer or a son whereas female leads who once were paired with these heroes play character roles in their films nowadays. This might be just one of the examples, but it is a valuable one that helps each of us relate to the aging process in women.
A woman’s physiology prepares her for child bearing. Puberty, menstruation and menopause are events that occur owing to this task of childbirth that’s been designed for a female. While the process of childbirth might be once, twice or maximum thrice in a woman’s life these days, the hormonal changes, physical strains and body physiology experience a roller coaster ride all the way. Attenuating the speed, distance and frequency of this ride is a mammoth task for the woman involved. Its understandable that weight gain before and after childbirth is inevitable and the woman’s age is the cushion during this period which helps her get back in form with exercises and diet. But, menopause is one of the toughest chapters in her life which takes a toll on her mental and physical well-being.
Any woman hates putting on weight, especially around her hips, abdomen or thighs. Sadly, that’s exactly what menopause brings unto you. Every woman is at a high risk of gaining excess weight in the front and sides of the abdomen due to fluctuating estrogen levels. Menopause causes a sudden drop in estrogen levels resulting in your hot flushes, mood swings, bone loss and above all, belly fat. Your hips, thighs and buttocks that store fat redistribute it to the abdomen. A 1-2-kilogram increase in weight is inevitable and normal (subcutaneous fat) but anything above that strikes you hard on the visceral fat part where the fat surrounds your internal organs leading to chances of increased inflammation and several health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Dropping hormone levels are one of the many conditions that lead to weight gain post menopause. Women who were once juggling multiple chores during their 20s, 30s and 40s start decreasing their activity levels as they age but never compromise on their caloric intake. Such decrease in activities coupled with never-decreasing caloric intakes lead to fat storage in the body.
Remember, any waist measurement above 35 is a sign of danger that needs immediate attention. Despite no control over fluctuating hormone levels that affect body fat distribution, we can always control the factors that completely lie in our hands:
Eating to your needs: One might always wonder why he/she is gaining weight when the calorie value of foods consumed remains the same across age groups. What these individuals keep forgetting is that their activity levels are constantly on the lower side of the graph as their age increases. Choose a balanced diet that is high in calcium (this helps to reduce visceral fat gain) and brimming with colorful produce, whole grains and adequate dairy. Dump away your potato wafers and yummy pastries to minimize trans fat accumulation. Get in touch with registered dietitian nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com to help you consume the right kind of foods fulfilling your calorie requirements.
Exercising Right: Activating your total body works like magic. Combine cardio, weight lifting and core work alternating between high- and low-intensity bursts in one workout. Lift weights twice a week and do yoga or Pilate to strengthen your cores. Metabolic rates decline as a person grows old. One study found that decline in estrogen levels caused metabolic rates to drop. When an individual neither increases physical activity nor decreases calorie intake over the course of years, she is bound to experience steady weight gain over the years owing to decreased metabolic rates.
Sleep Enough: Fall in estrogen levels causes abdominal weight gain by disrupting sleep. Hot flushes and mood swings can increase sleeplessness which in turn can increases abdominal fat accumulation. One study showed that sleeping for less than five hours every night increases abdominal fat gain. Poor sleep elevates cortisol (Stress hormone) levels and increases appetite too making the individual store much fat around the waist.
Stay Motivated, Love Yourself: Just imagine yourself with a rounded belly that protrudes from your body. Now think of a trimmer you, with the belly fat cut. Don’t you feel good, confident and complete? Every time you feel like giving up and binge eating think about your goal and the resulting output which should be motivating enough for you to work harder. When you love and respect yourself you are sure to pursue your goals with much determination and achieve your dreams.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.