More to Love: Weight Gain and Menopause

WV Marshall

Most of us have a love-hate relationship with the bathroom scale. Some may say hate is too strong a word, so OK, intense dislike.

I have lost weight and gained weight and lost and gained and lost and gained for most of my adult life. Most of the past couple of decades I’ve been gaining more than losing, in part because I tend to be sedentary and enjoy eating food that’s not the healthiest stuff around.

So I accept the vast majority of responsibility for my more Rubin-esque figure.

Vast majority. Not all.

Mother Nature has something to do with mid-life weight gain as well: When you hit menopause, you are more susceptible to more pounds camping out on your body.

There’s even a name for it: Menopot, the potbelly or muffin top that develops in many women during mid-life, when changing hormones and a slower metabolism join forces to jam extra pounds around our waistlines.

Your body type and overall health help determine how tough your fight will be against menopausal weight, the Cleveland Clinic said.

A slower metabolism teams up with a decrease in hormones, making it hard for women to maintain their weight after menopause, the Cleveland Clinic said. Thanks to normal aging process, our metabolism slows down naturally and we often lose muscle mass as we grow older.

The loss of hormones also plays a role, often disrupting sleep and appetite, Cleveland Clinic writes. Less sleep can increase levels of stress hormones, which can create a convincing Siren’s song to pick up some potato chips instead of a piece of fruit.

Then, too, women with chronic conditions such as diabetes are most at risk for mid-life weight gain, as are women with polycystic ovary syndrome or sleep apnea, the clinic said. Women recovering from joint surgery that makes exercise difficult may also struggle.

When your hormones balance change, your weight can change as well, leading to other health issues, the Mayo Clinic said. Excess weight increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems and various types of cancer.

Alas, there’s no magic bullet to prevent or undo menopause weight gain, Mayo said. It’s a matter of weight-control basics: exercising more, reducing caloric intake (remember, your body’s metabolism slows down as you age), paying attention to what you’re eating so you don’t skimp on nutrition, curbing your sweet tooth, limiting the alcohol and seeking support – there’s something to be said about strength in numbers.