Declare War On Stress To Lose Weight During Menopause

Lose Weight During Menopause

Why cant I lose weight? I eat right and I exercise

There are 3 major hormones in your body that have the greatest influence on weight loss during menopause. They are
  1. cortisol
  2. thyroid
  3. insulin

All three hormones must be functioning optimally in order to lose weight during menopause.

Stress inhibits the functioning of each of them …. and stress is plentiful during menopause. This makes it extremely difficult to lose weight during menopause …. even if you are eating right and exercising every day.

Many women have said that menopause is the most stressful phase of their lives.

It is a time when all of the hormone levels in your body are changing. Your changing hormone levels are triggering an upheaval in all of the systems of your body. This is the cause all of your menopause symptoms and your inability to lose weight during menopause.

Your menopause symptoms are causing you to experience mental, emotional and physical stress.

As stress plays such a significant role in weight management, it is important to increase your understanding of stress and how to manage it …. if you want to lose weight during menopause.

What is stress?

Stress is difficult to define because it is subjective. What causes you to feel stress, may not cause another woman to feel stress … and vice versa. Having said that, here is a definition of stress that I favor

Stress is a feeling of anxiety and tension brought about by anything that you perceive to be a threat to your well being. It is a physiological, mental and emotional reaction to that threat.

The most important word in the above definition is perceive. The definition of perceive is

to interpret or regard someone or something in a particular way

If you experience severe and/or frequent menopause symptoms, you probably perceive them as a threat to your well being. Per the definition of stress above, they will be a stressful experience for you … for as long as you regard them in that way

Stress has a close cousin. It is anxiety. Anxiety is defined as a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.

Stress and anxiety go hand in hand. Anxiety is most commonly triggered by the stress in our lives.

What is the difference between stress and anxiety? Stress is a reaction to something happening now. Anxiety is a reaction to something that is going to happen at a future date, may happen at a future date, or may never actually happen at all.

What happens in your body when you feel intermittent stress

Every one feels stress from time to time, as we go through life.

When you experience stress, your body automatically goes into a hardwired inbuilt survival response called “fight or flight”, to help you deal with a threat, or perceived threat. It produces increased amounts of cortisol, which is known as the stress hormone.

Increased levels of cortisol in your body, brings about a response from various systems of your body that prepares you to meet the threat (stress). It floods your body with glucose (blood sugar) to give you a surge of immediate energy. It curbs non essential body functions during time of stress, including production of thyroid hormone.

After the threat abates, the systems of your body return to normal functioning.

What happens in your body when you experience chronic stress

Chronic stress is common during menopause for women who experience moderate to severe symptoms.

If you experience chronic stress, the “fight or flight” response can be engaged permanently. Your body attempts to keep cortisol at a high level continuously. This prevents weight loss during menopause.

When the level of cortisol is high continuously, it keeps your blood sugar high continuously. When your blood sugar is high, your body continuously increases its production of insulin in an attempt to do what insulin is intended to do with blood sugar. When there is continuously high levels of insulin in your body, insulin fails to do its job. Your body becomes insulin resistant. Insulin resistance causes weight gain and it makes it almost impossible to lose weight during menopause.

Also when your cortisol level is high continuously, it suppresses the level of thyroid hormone in your body. Thyroid hormone regulates your metabolism. A lower level of thyroid means a lower metabolic rate, which is conducive to weight gain, not weight loss during menopause.

To lose weight during menopause, it is essential to reduce the amount of stress that you are experiencing

Some ways to reduce stress during menopause (or at any time)

  • Any type of meditation will reduce stress and lower cortisol levels. Meditation is a practice of concentrated focus upon a sound, object, visualization, the breath etc for an extended period of time. In so doing, your breathing slows down and your stress and cortisol level falls
  • Yoga will reduce stress. In yoga, the body, breath and mind are seen as key aspects of each and every human being. The system, and various techniques of yoga, increases tranquility and clarity of the mind
  • Relaxation therapy reduces stress. It is a technique involving breathing therapy, which focuses on helping you relax each of your muscle groups and therefore achieving overall relaxation. You are shown how to do the technique so you can continue the therapy at home.
  • Music has the power to improve mood and reduce stress during menopause. Listening to music that you love, and that fits whatever mood you’re in, has been shown to lower cortisol levels
  • Having fun and laughing reduces cortisol levels. Research has revealed that cortisol is suppressed when you laugh. Try to find ways in your daily life to have fun, laugh and joke as much as possible and you’ll lower cortisol levels and stress during menopause
  • Increase your intake of vitamin B6, vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), and vitamin C. These nutrients play an important role in your body’s regulation of cortisol levels. The levels of these nutrients are depleted by stress

You must do one or more of these regularly to lose weight during menopause.

In addition, you must also eat right and exercise daily.

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A Key That Can Unlock Your Door To Menopause Weight Loss

Menopause Weight Loss

My body is holding on to fat

How desperate are you to lose weight?

Like a majority of menopausal women, you may be eating right and exercising daily …. yet the weight wont come off. What’s worse … some women are continuing to gain weight despite eating right and exercising daily.

If you fall into either of the two categories above, the key to achieving menopause weight loss may be HRT.

HRT … you say! HRT is associated with health risks that makes it unacceptable to a majority of menopausal women.

Please suspend any pre-conceived thoughts you have about HRT …. for a moment …. and hear me out.

When you hear the term HRT, you probably think about estrogen and progesterone …. about estrogen therapy or maybe estrogen + progestin therapy. This is what is usually referred to as HRT. It is the treatment most doctors recommend to relieve moderate to severe hot flashes and night sweats that diminish a woman’s quality of life.

However the term HRT stands for hormone replacement therapy. There are other major hormones in your body … besides estrogen and progesterone. Thyroid is one such hormone.

Thyroid hormone plays a major role in achieving menopause weight loss. Thyroid hormone regulates your metabolism. Your metabolism determines the rate your body uses the food that you consume.

When thyroid levels are low … your metabolism slows down. This condition is known as an under-active thyroid (hypothyroidism). It is a common cause of weight gain and inability to achieve menopause weight loss, despite eating right and execising every day.

Menopausal women are actually the group at highest risk of developing an under-active thyroid condition. 26% of menopausal women have an under-active thyroid condition.

Almost every woman, and man, with an underactive thyroid is prescribed medication called thyroxine …. to speed up their metabolism. Thyroxine is the thyroid hormone. It increases the level of thyroid hormone in the body. It is in affect HRT … thyroid hormone replacement therapy.

How hypothyroidism prevents menopause weight loss

When your thyroid hormone level is low, it affects your weight in 2 ways

  1. your body does not use all of the calories … from the food you eat … for energy. It stores the calories not used for energy, as fat on your body (as a future source of energy). Thus you gain weight
  2. your body does not burn the fat on your body that it previously stored, when you exercise. Thus you do not lose weight

Therefor you will not achieve menopause weight loss, until hypothyroidism is treated.

Furthermore, hypothyroidism causes insulin resistance. Insulin resistance, is a condition where the cells of your body become insensitive to insulin. Insulin is the key that unlocks body cells to allow glucose inside. Glucose provides your cells with energy. Your body makes glucose from the food that you eat. When your cells won’t ‘open’ for glucose, the glucose gets stored … as fat. Insulin resistance also prevents weight loss during menopause. Regular exercise will not burn fat and you will not lose weight.

Also, hypothyroidism and insulin resistance increases physical and emotional stress levels. When you are under stress, your body produces cortisol …. known as the stress hormone. Protracted stress results in high levels of cortisol in your body. High levels of cortisol in your body causes your body to store more fat. It also prevents your body from burning fat. In the presence of high levels of cortisol, regular exercise will not result in menopause weight loss.

How can you tell if you have an underactive thyroid?

The following checklist has been compiled from details provided by the Merck Manual, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, and the Thyroid Foundation of America. It will help you to determine if you have an under-active thyroid.

____ I am gaining weight inappropriately

____ I’m unable to lose weight with diet/exercise

____ I am constipated, sometimes severely

____ I have hypothermia/low body temperature (I feel cold when others feel hot, I need extra sweaters, etc.)

____ I feel fatigued, exhausted

____ Feeling run down, sluggish, lethargic

____ My hair is coarse and dry, breaking, brittle, falling out

____ My skin is coarse, dry, scaly, and thick

____ I have a hoarse or gravely voice

____ I have puffiness and swelling around the eyes and face

____ I have pains, aches in joints, hands and feet

____ I have developed carpal-tunnel syndrome, or it’s getting worse

____ I am having irregular menstrual cycles (longer, or heavier, or more frequent)

____ I am having trouble conceiving a baby

____ I feel depressed

____ I feel restless

____ My moods change easily

____ I have feelings of worthlessness

____ I have difficulty concentrating

____ I have more feelings of sadness

____ I seem to be losing interest in normal daily activities

____ I’m more forgetful lately

I also have the following additional symptoms, which have been reported more frequently in people with hypothyroidism:

____ My hair is falling out

____ I can’t seem to remember things

____ I have no sex drive

____ I am getting more frequent infections, that last longer

____ I’m snoring more lately

____ I have/may have sleep apnea

____ I feel shortness of breath and tightness in the chest

____ I feel the need to yawn to get oxygen

____ My eyes feel gritty and dry

____ My eyes feel sensitive to light

____ My eyes get jumpy/tics in eyes, which makes me dizzy/vertigo and have headaches

____ I have strange feelings in neck or throat

____ I have tinnitus (ringing in ears)

____ I get recurrent sinus infections

____ I have vertigo

____ I feel some lightheadedness

____ I have severe menstrual cramps

What to do if you think you may have an under-active thyroid

If this checklist leads you to believe that you may have an under-active thyroid, ask your doctor for a TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) test. The conventional normal values are between 0.35 – 5.0. When the TSH levels are within this normal range, it is assumed that the thyroid gland is healthy and functioning normally.

If the test confirms that you have an under-active thyroid, your doctor will prescribe thyroxine (thyroid hormone replacement therapy) to increase the levels of your thyroid hormone.

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How Stress Prevents Weight Loss During Menopause

Weight Loss During Menopause

I cant lose weight …. no matter how much exercise I do

Are you unable to lose weight depite eating right and exercising every day?

You’ve got plenty of company. A large majority of menopausal women struggle to lose weight, after gaining weight during menopause.

There are several factors that prevent weight loss during menopause, despite eating right and exercising daily

  • hormonal imbalance
  • a slower metabolism
  • impairments in the digestive system
  • stress
  • impairment of the immune system

One, or more, of these factors is the principle factor that prevents weight loss during menopause. I have already covered how hormonal imbalance, a slower metabolism and impaired digestion prevents weight loss, in earlier posts. In this post, I will discuss the effect that stress has on weight loss during menopause.

Before discussing how stress affects weight loss during menopause, it is important to understand why women experience higher levels of stress during menopause, than prior to it.

During menopause, stress levels are particularly high … especially for women who experience moderate to severe menopause symptoms. Moderate to severe menopause symptoms are caused by acute hormonal imbalance, which causes an increase in mental, emotional and physical stress. High levels of stress are chronic for many women during menopause.

How stress affected your body prior to perimenopause

When you experienced stress prior to the onset of menopause symptoms, your body automatically went into a hardwired inbuilt survival mechanism called “fight or flight”, to help you deal with a threat. It produced increased amounts of cortisol, which is known as the stress hormone.

Here is how your body responded …. in a nutshell

  1. You were faced with stress
  2. A complex hormonal cascade ensued, and your adrenal glands secreted cortisol
  3. Cortisol prepared your body for a fight-or-flight response. It
    • Flooded your body with glucose (blood sugar) to give you a surge of immediate energy
    • Inhibited insulin production. Insulin causes glucose to be stored in the cells of your body, whereas it is needed for immediate use to deal with the stressful situation
    • Increased your heart rate
    • Decreased the performance of systems of your body that were not essential to deal with the stressful situation. ie – your metabolism (thyroid hormone) and your immune system
  4. You addressed and resolved the situation
  5. Hormone levels returned to normal

How stress affects your body during menopause

If you are experiencing moderate to severe menopause symptoms, stress is continuously present. Your body reacts as if you are constantly under attack. The fight or flight response stays turned on. The long term activation of the stress response system results in an overexposure to cortisol.

Chronic stress during menopause has the following effects on your body

  • Your glucose levels will be high continuously
  • Your insulin level will be high continuously as you body attempts to remove glucose from your blood and move it into the cells of your body
  • Your thyroid level will be chronically low …. possibly to the the level of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)

How chronic stress prevents weight loss during menopause

When you experience chronic stress, your body produces too much cortisol continually. A high level of cortisol is preventing weight loss during menopause in 3 ways

  1. while you are eating right and exercising to lose weight, the high levels of cortisol will be adding fat around your waist
  2. chronically high levels of cortisol will keep your glucose levels chronically high. This will stimulate the production of ever-increasing levels of insulin in your body, causing your body to become insulin resistant.

    Insulin resistance is a condition in which insulin does not do what it is intended to do … namely provide the cells of your body with glucose for energy. Most of the cells of your body reject the glucose. One type of cell accepts it … your fat cells. This makes you fatter

  3. high levels of cortisol decreases the level of thyroid hormone in your body. Thyroid hormone regulates your metabolism. Lower levels of thyroid means lower metabolic rate. With a lower metabolic rate, the capability of your body to burn fat reduces

How to reduce stress during menopause

It should be clear now that if you do not reduce the level of stress that you have been experiencing, you will not achieve weight loss during menopause. While you do need to eat right and exercise daily to lose weight, you must also include a regular stress reduction technique in your life. This will help to modulate the cortisol level in your body.

Before discussing ways to reduce stress, it may help to define stress.

Stress is a feeling of anxiety and tension brought about by anything that you perceive to be a threat to your well being. It is a physiological, mental and emotional reaction to that threat

Therefor stress is subjective. It is how YOU perceive a threat to your well being.

Here are some ways to reduce stress

  • Any type of meditation will reduce stress and lower cortisol levels. Meditation is a practice of concentrated focus upon a sound, object, visualization, the breath etc for an extended period of time. In so doing, your breathing slows down and your stress and cortisol level falls
  • Yoga will reduce stress. In yoga, the body, breath and mind are seen as key aspects of each and every human being. The system, and various techniques of yoga, increases tranquility and clarity of the mind
  • Relaxation therapy reduces stress. It is a technique involving breathing therapy, which focuses on helping you relax each of your muscle groups and therefore achieving overall relaxation. You are shown how to do the technique so you can continue the therapy at home.
  • Music has the power to improve mood and reduce stress during menopause. Listening to music that you love, and that fits whatever mood you’re in, has been shown to lower cortisol levels
  • Having fun and laughing reduces cortisol levels. Research has revealed that cortisol is suppressed when you laugh. Try to find ways in your daily life to have fun, laugh and joke as much as possible and you’ll lower cortisol levels and stress during menopause
  • Increase your intake of vitamin B6, vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), and vitamin C. These nutrients play an important role in your body’s regulation of cortisol levels. The levels of these nutrients are depleted by stress

Eating right, daily exercise, and stress reduction are key factors in achieving weight loss during menopause.

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Insulin Resistance: The Most Likely Reason You Cant Lose Weight

weight loss resistance

My weight keeps going up despite eating right and daily exercise

Mary has been struggling to lose the weight she has gained during menopause. She said

My body seems to want to hold onto every last pound of fat …. despite me doing lots of daily exercise and eatimg right

I hear this so often. It seems to be the norm. There are reasons for it. When the correct reason is found and remedied, weight loss can occur.

The primary cause of gain weight during menopause is the changing levels of estrogen and progesterone in your body that begins with the onset of perimenopause and that carries on throughout your passage through menopause. It is also the primary cause of weight loss resistance.

Not only do the levels of estrogen and progesterone change, but the ratios between them also change. This creates imbalance between them.

Because your body functions as a holistic system …. changes in one part of your body affects other parts of your body …. the changing ratios between estrogen and progesterone gives rise to changing levels of the other hormones. This in turn sets off changes to the levels of still other hormones … and so on. This is what is called hormonal cascade.

The end result is erratic production of all of the hormones needed by your body to regulate … not only all your body systems, but specifically … those systems that effect your weight management.

While the changing levels of estrogen and progesterone is the trigger that causes weight loss resistance during menopause, it is the changing levels of the hormone insulin, during menopause, that is the most common reason menopausal women find it hard to lose weight.

What insulin does

Insulin is a hormone produced and released by your body, when you eat. It breaks down the food you eat into glucose, which is commonly called blood sugar. Insulin directs the cells of your body to remove glucose from your blood and store it.

Glucose provides your body with energy, without which it could not function. Think of the relationship between glucose and your body, as being similar to gasoline and your car.

Think of insulin knocking on doors of the cells of your body. Those cells politely receive insulin’s invitation and allow glucose in. With glucose in your cells, your cells can tackle important tasks such as growth, movement and repair.

What happens to insulin during menopause

Insulin levels rise in almost all women during menopause, due to the hormonal imbalance triggered by changes in estrogen and progesterone.

With more insulin in your body, your body tries harder to get glucose from your blood into the cells of your body.
However, once your cells have received enough glucose, they ignore the call from insulin to receive more glucose. Your body responds by producing more and more insulin, which is ignored by almost all the cells of your body.

There is one type of cell that listens to the call of insulin …. your fat cells. Your fat cells remain best friends with insulin far after every other cell tells insulin to shove off. Your fat cells keep receiving glucose.

This condition is known as insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance and your weight

Your body can be either insulin sensitive or insulin resistant.

If your body is insulin sensitive, insulin is doing the job it is intended to do … the provision of glucose (energy) to the cells of your body.

If there is insulin resistance, your body will not be getting the “fuel” it needs. It is storing glucose as fat. Your body then produces increasing amounts of insulin, to try to give it the energy that it needs.

If you are insulin resistant, not only will you gain weight but you will be unable to lose weight….because your body will continually be adding fat.

All menopausal women are insulin resistant to some degree.

What to do if you are experiencing weight loss resistance during menopause

You are experiencing weight loss resistance when, despite your best efforts, you cannot lose weight. Best efforts include

  • following a recommended healthy diet for weight loss
  • daily exercise

No diet and no amount of exercise … including working out at the gym … brings about a loss of weight.

Here is a 5 step plan to enable you to lose weight if you are experiencing weight loss resistance

  1. Have the levels of your hormones tested to determine the extent of imbalance between them
  2. Re-balance your hormones
  3. Follow a diet that is based on real food
  4. Do not eat the 3 meals per day, as is customary. You should be eating something every 2-3 hours, during waking hours, to keep your blood sugar (glucose) in a normal range.

    Eat a smaller breakfast, lunch and supper, than you have been accustomed to eating. In between each meal, and also after supper, eat a healthy snack…ie a piece of fruit, nuts, yogurt etc

    If you do not eat something every 2-3 hours, your blood sugar level will fall to a low level. It will then spike (rise sharply) when you next eat something (anything). This will greatly increase the level of insulin in your body

  5. Do at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity every day
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Cant Lose Weight During Menopause? …. Ask Your Doctor For A Thyroid Test

Weight loss During Menopause

Why cant I lose weight? My diet is good and I exercise

So you are overweight …. maybe 10 pounds overweight, 20 pounds overweight or 30 pounds or more overweight.

You may be desperately trying to lose this weight. You may be following all the usual advice to lose this weight

  • Your diet is good
  • You are exercising regularly
  • You are doing a stress reduction technique regularly to keep stress at bay

Still no weight loss …. or worse …. the pounds keep piling on.

An under-active thyroid (hypothyroidism) is a common cause of weight gain and inability to achieve weight loss during menopause.

Menopausal women are actually the group at highest risk of developing an under-active thyroid condition. 26% of menopausal women have an under-active thyroid condition.

What is hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which there is insufficient thyroid hormone levels to efficiently manage the metabolism. Thyroid hormones regulate your metabolism.

There is one system in your body that affects most of the other systems of your body. It is your metabolic system….your metabolism. Metabolism is the process the body uses to convert food into energy.

Most of us think of metabolism as the rate at which we burn calories. That’s only part of the story. Your metabolism feeds the other systems of your body with the energy, oxygen and nutrients they need to function effectively.

A decrease in metabolism leads to a decrease in the flow of blood through your body. Your blood carries energy, oxygen and nutrients to all of the cells and organs of your body. As your metabolism decreases, so does the supply of blood throughout your body. This diminishes the efficiency of all of the systems of your body.

It may be helpful to think of your metabolism as the “boiler room” of your body. As such, thyroid hormones affect nearly every cell, tissue, and organ in the body.

How hypothyroidism prevents weight loss during menopause

When the levels of your thyroid hormones are low, your metabolism slows down. When your metabolism slows down, it affects your weight in 2 ways

  1. your body does not use all of the calories … from the food you eat … for energy. It stores the calories not used for energy, as fat on your body (as a future source of energy). Thus you gain weight
  2. your body does not burn the fat on your body that it previously stored, when you exercise. Thus you do not lose weight

Furthermore, hypothyroidism causes insulin resistance. Insulin resistance, is a condition where the cells of your body become insensitive to insulin. Insulin is the key that unlocks body cells to allow glucose inside. Glucose provides your cells with energy. Your body makes glucose from the food that you eat. When your cells won’t ‘open’ for glucose, the glucose gets stored…..as fat. Insulin resistance also prevents fat loss and weight loss during menopause. Regular exercise will not burn fat and you will not lose weight.

Also, hypothyroidism and insulin resistance increases physical and emotional stress levels. When you are under stress, your body produces cortisol ….known as the stress hormone. Protracted stress results in high levels of cortisol in your body. High levels of cortisol in your body causes your body to store more fat. It also prevents your body from burning fat. In the presence of high levels of cortisol, regular exercise will not burn fat and you will not lose weight.

How can you tell if you have an underactive thyroid?

The following checklist has been compiled from details provided by the Merck Manual, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, and the Thyroid Foundation of America. It will help you to determine if you have an under-active thyroid.

____ I am gaining weight inappropriately

____ I’m unable to lose weight with diet/exercise

____ I am constipated, sometimes severely

____ I have hypothermia/low body temperature (I feel cold when others feel hot, I need extra sweaters, etc.)

____ I feel fatigued, exhausted

____ Feeling run down, sluggish, lethargic

____ My hair is coarse and dry, breaking, brittle, falling out

____ My skin is coarse, dry, scaly, and thick

____ I have a hoarse or gravely voice

____ I have puffiness and swelling around the eyes and face

____ I have pains, aches in joints, hands and feet

____ I have developed carpal-tunnel syndrome, or it’s getting worse

____ I am having irregular menstrual cycles (longer, or heavier, or more frequent)

____ I am having trouble conceiving a baby

____ I feel depressed

____ I feel restless

____ My moods change easily

____ I have feelings of worthlessness

____ I have difficulty concentrating

____ I have more feelings of sadness

____ I seem to be losing interest in normal daily activities

____ I’m more forgetful lately

I also have the following additional symptoms, which have been reported more frequently in people with hypothyroidism:

____ My hair is falling out

____ I can’t seem to remember things

____ I have no sex drive

____ I am getting more frequent infections, that last longer

____ I’m snoring more lately

____ I have/may have sleep apnea

____ I feel shortness of breath and tightness in the chest

____ I feel the need to yawn to get oxygen

____ My eyes feel gritty and dry

____ My eyes feel sensitive to light

____ My eyes get jumpy/tics in eyes, which makes me dizzy/vertigo and have headaches

____ I have strange feelings in neck or throat

____ I have tinnitus (ringing in ears)

____ I get recurrent sinus infections

____ I have vertigo

____ I feel some lightheadedness

____ I have severe menstrual cramps

What to do if you think you may have an under-active thyroid

If this checklist leads you to believe that you may have an under-active thyroid, ask your doctor for a TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) test. The conventional normal values are between 0.35 – 5.0. When the TSH levels are within this normal range, it is assumed that the thyroid gland is healthy and functioning normally.

If the test confirms that you have an under-active thyroid, your doctor will prescribe thyroxine (thyroid hormone replacement therapy) to increase the levels of your thyroid hormones.

As the underlying cause of hypothyroidism in menopausal women is too little progesterone in your body relative to estrogen during menopause, the imbalance between estrogen and progesterone must be addressed as well … to achieve weight loss during menopause. If your doctor attempts to treat your hypothyroid condition just by increasing the levels of your thyroid hormones, it will not cure the condition. The imbalance between estrogen and progesterone will continuously disturb the levels of thyroid hormones in your body.

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Menopause Weight Loss : The Primary Reason You Cant Lose Weight

Menopause Weight Loss

My diet is good. I exercise daily. But … I cant lose weight

You may notice that every day an article of clothing feels tighter and every month another article of clothing no longer fits you.

Try as you may to eat healthier food …. and smaller quantities of food …. and follow a daily exercise routine, you are not able to lose weight.

In regard to menopause weight loss, you may ask

what has happened to the calories in versus calories out datum?

Calories in versus calories out remains a valid datum. However, during menopause, there are other factors that contribute to menopause weight loss resistance. They are all related to the hormonal changes you are, and have been, experiencing during menopause.

The primary cause of menopause weight loss resistance

The primary reason you are finding it hard to lose weight during menopause is the changing levels of hormones in your body throughout your journey through menopause.

Menopause is a time of the biggest hormonal changes in your body. It results in hormonal imbalance. Not only is hormonal imbalance the biggest cause of menopause weight loss resistance, but it is the cause of all of your menopause symptoms.

Your body functions like a full sized symphony orchestra. In such an orchestra, all players are finely attuned to one another. The various parts of your body are like the musicians and your hormones are like the conductor of the orchestra.

Prior to perimenopause, your hormones work in harmony by co-existing with one another in a certain ratio. They are said to be in balance. This keeps your body healthy and functioning.

With the onset of perimenopause, the levels of your hormones change. The ratios between them also change. This creates imbalance between them.

The changing ratios between all of your hormones is kick started by a change in the ratio between estrogen and progesterone. The levels of both hormones fall during perimenopause, from their levels before perimenopause. However the levels of progesterone falls further than the level of estrogen, disturbing the balance between them.

The falling levels of estrogen and progesterone, and the changing ratios between them, triggers a hormonal cascade in your body. The changing ratios between estrogen and progesterone, gives rise to changing levels of the other hormones, which in turn sets off changes to the levels of still other hormones … and so on. This is what is called hormonal cascade.

The end result is erratic production of all of the hormones needed by your body to regulate … not only all your body systems, but specifically … those systems that effect your weight management.

This is the trigger that causes menopause weight loss resistance …. and all the perimenopause symptoms.

Estrogen becomes dominant and stays dominant throughout perimenopause. It creates a condition in which your body does not have enough progesterone to balance out estrogen levels. Your body has

  • too much estrogen
  • not enough progesterone

Estrogen dominance disturbs the balance between all the other hormones in your body. As your hormones collectively control all of the processes in your body, the processes behave erratically. This is the cause of menopause weight loss resistance and is the reason why you can follow a stringent diet and exercise regularly and not lose weight.

5 hormonal changes contribute to weight loss resistance during menopause

The changing levels of 5 hormones, and the ratios between them, makes it hard to lose weight during menopause. The hormones are

  1. estrogen
  2. progesterone
  3. thyroid
  4. insulin
  5. cortisol

Between them, they play major roles in regulating all of the systems of your body that are involved in menopause weight loss.

For the remainder of this post, I will discuss the specific effects that the changing levels of estrogen and progesterone have on your weight … and what you can do to address those changes that can result in weight loss. I will discuss the other hormones in subsequent posts.

How changing levels of estrogen and progesterone during menopause causes weight loss resistance

Apart from disturbing the balance between other hormones, changing levels of estrogen and progesterone during menopause directly makes it difficult to lose weight.

One of the functions of estrogen is to help your body to manage fat. Prior to the onset of menopause, estrogen helps your body to breakdown fat and dispose of it. The fat your body required, was deposited below the waist…..resulting in a pear body shape. As estrogen levels fall during menopause, less breakdown of fat and less disposition of fat occurs and the fat that used to be deposited below your waist is now deposited around your waist.

Depleted levels of estrogen in post-menopause causes more fat to be stored than before menopause. It also makes it more difficult to lose fat (weight).

The progesterone level in your body, prior to perimenopause, has a diuretic effect. Falling levels of progesterone during perimenopause and no progesterone in your body during postmenopause, causes your body to retain water. This results in bloating and weight gain.

How to re-balance estrogen and progesterone in your body

As imbalance between estrogen and progesterone directly and indirectly (the imbalances it triggers between other hormones) causes menopause weight loss resistance, if you re-balance the levels of estrogen and progesterone in your body you will be able to lose weight.

There are only 2 ways to re-balance the levels of estrogen and progesterone in your body. Click here and here to learn how to re-balance them.

If you re-balance your hormones, but do not also follow healthy weight loss diet advice and exercise daily … you will not achieve permanent menopause weight loss.

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Are You Experiencing Weight Loss Resistance?

Weight Loss Resistance

When daily exercise results in ZERO weight loss


I am seriously in a panic state about my recent weight gain….Literally NOTHING works anymore. I eat nothing but smoothies, and salads and good quality protein, no artificial sweeteners and I exercise every day … but I’ve gained 20 lbs in the last year

I have weight gain round my middle now, despite eating a healthy diet-no sweets, chocolate or cookies. I eat plenty of salads, fish, veg, rice and some fruit. I just cant get rid of it

Menopause is causing my body to hang onto every last pound of fat… for what reason I do not know… I eat right and move a lot, gardening, walking, cleaning a big house.. and I just can’t lose a LB. Beyond frustrating

The old “calorie in, calorie out” theory does not seem to apply any more. Even with diet pills I have to just about kill myself working out daily to see any loss at all

What these women are describing is a condition in which they have become resistant to weight loss.

Weight gain during menopause is the norm. 90% of menopausal women gain some weight between the ages of 35 and 55. On average, women gain 12-15 pounds during menopause. Many women gain much more than that. Around 30% of women aged 50 to 59 are not just overweight, but obese.

One of the most common concerns expressed by menopausal women is how easy it is to gain weight and how hard it is to lose weight (weight loss resistance).

what is weight loss resistance?

A woman is weight loss resistant when despite her best efforts she cannot lose weight. Best efforts include

  • following a recommended healthy diet for weight loss
  • daily exercise

No diet and no amount of exercise … including working out at the gym … brings about a loss of weight.

Weight loss resistance occurs when a woman has imbalances in one or more systems of her body. Until imbalances are addressed, no amount of working out at the gym will fix it.

The systemic imbalances that contribute to weight loss resistance

There are six systemic imbalances that contribute to weight loss resistance in women

  1. Imbalance in the reproductive system
  2. Imbalance in the digestive system
  3. Imbalance in the metabolic system
  4. Imbalance in the adrenal system
  5. Imbalance in the nervous system
  6. Imbalance in the immune system

Reproductive system imbalance and weight loss

During menopause your ovaries produce less estrogen and progesterone, than prior to the onset of perimenopause. Not only do their levels change, but the ratios between them changes. Your ovaries produce more estrogen, relative to progesterone. Estrogen becomes dominant.

Estrogen dominance causes you body to store more fat than prior to perimenopause. It also makes it more difficult to burn fat when exercising

Your hormones are chemical messengers that control all the systems of your body. As your body functions as a holistic system, changes in one part of your body affects other parts of your body. Changes in the level of 1 hormone affects the levels of all of the hormones in your body.

Digestive system imbalance and weight loss

The hormone that regulates your digestive system is insulin. Insulin breaks down the food that you eat and converts it into energy. It delivers the energy to the cells of your body and stores some of it as fat, as a future energy source.

Estrogen dominance disturbs the production of insulin by your body. Your body produces more insulin during menopause, than prior to it. As a result, your body stores more fat and makes the burning of fat, during exercise, more difficult.

Metabolic imbalance and weight loss

Your metabolism is regulated by the thyroid hormone. Estrogen dominance disturbs the production of thyroid by your body. The most common result is that your body produces insufficient thyroid … a condition known as hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism causes your metabolism to slow down.

A slow metabolism = weight gain and difficulty losing weight.

Hypothyroidism is a predominant condition during menopause, affecting 26% of menopausal women.

Adrenal imbalance and weight loss

Your adrenal glands produce cortisol, which is known as the stress hormone. Your adrenal glands increase the production of cortisol whenever you encounter stress (a threat to your well being of some kind), to help you deal with the threat.

As menopause symptoms increase the levels of mental, emotional and physical stress that you experience, the level of cortisol in your body is higher during menopause, than prior to the onset of menopause symptoms. If you experience moderate to severe menopause symptoms, the level of cortisol in your body may be chronically high.

When your body produces too much cortisol, you get fat. Too much cortisol results in fat being stored around your waist.

Nervous system imbalance and weight loss

Estrogen dominance causes a change in your brain chemistry during menopause. It not only affects all of your hormones, it also affects the chemicals in your brain …. called neurotransmitters.

Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that transmit thought from one cell to the next, allowing your brain cells to “talk to each other”. They control all of your mental and emotional responses.

Disturbed levels of neurotransmitters cause you to experience negative emotions that are associated with food cravings and bad eating habits. They also bring about emotions (depressed states) that are not conducive to doing exercise.

Immune system imbalance and weight loss

Many studies have examined the affect that falling estrogen levels has on the immune system during menopause. The findings of these studies are conclusive. Falling estrogen levels weakens the immune system during menopause.

Inflammation is an immune system process by which your body’s white blood cells protect you from infection with foreign organisms, such as bacteria and viruses. It’s an essential, sometimes life-saving function of your immune system.

But over-activation of this healing response leads to chronic inflammation. Imbalance in the digestive system and the metabolic system are major causes of chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation therefore is a significant source of weight loss resistance.

Weight loss resistance may be caused by a combination of any of the above 6 systemic imbalances, but one of them usually becomes prominent.

I will discuss each of the 6 systemic imbalances and how they contribute to weight loss resistance in more detail in subsequent posts. I will also tell you how to overcome resistance to weight loss.

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The 5 Pillars Of Menopause Weight Loss

Menopause Weight Loss

I cant lose the weight I gained since the start of menopause

Linda began her appointment by saying

The weight gain is what upsets me most about menopause. I feel my clothes get tighter each and every day– it’s driving me crazy. I eat plenty of salads, fish, veg, rice and fruit. I eat no junk food. I exercise daily. Not only am I not losing weight, I keep gaining it. Why is this happening to me?

If I had just $10 dollars for each time a women has said a similar thing, I could retire in comfort.

Permanent menopause weight loss is achievable. I have helped hundreds of patients to achieve it.

Weight loss during menopause is unlike weight loss during any other time in your life. There are 2 unique factors present during menopause … that affect weight loss … that are not present during any other time in your life. They need to be understood and addressed to achieve menopause weight loss.

You may not be as aware of these two factors, as you are of the other factors involved in achieving menopause weight loss.

There are 5 factors that must be addressed to achieve menopause weight loss. Each of the 5 factors must be addressed. Most women address just 2 of the 5 factors …. maybe 3. Therefor they do not lose weight. Some women even continue to gain weight.

The 5 pillars of menopause weight loss

  1. You must re-balance your hormones to lose weight during menopause.

    This is first and foremost. If this is not done, it is probable that you will not lose weight. It is not done by a majority of women trying to lose weight during menopause.

    Menopause is a time of the biggest hormonal changes in your body. It results in hormonal imbalance.

    It is the cause of all menopause symptoms.

    It is the biggest cause of weight gain during menopause.

    Your body functions like a full sized symphony orchestra. In such an orchestra, all players are finely attuned to one another. The various parts of your body are like the musicians and your hormones are like the conductor of the orchestra.

    Prior to perimenopause, your hormones work in harmony by co-existing with one another in a certain ratio. They are said to be in balance. This keeps your body healthy and functioning.

    With the onset of perimenopause, the ratios of your hormones change. This creates imbalance between them. The changing ratios are kick started by the a change in the ratio between estrogen and progesterone. This is the trigger that causes menopause weight gain …. and all the other perimenopause symptoms.

    Estrogen becomes dominant and stays dominant throughout perimenopause. It creates a condition in which your body does not have enough progesterone to balance out estrogen levels. Your body has

    • too much estrogen
    • not enough progesterone

    Estrogen dominance disturbs the balance between all the other hormones in your body. As your hormones collectively control all of the processes in your body, the processes behave erratically. This causes menopause weight gain and the other symptoms that you are experiencing.

    The changing levels of these hormones also prevent weight loss. This is the reason why you can follow a stringent diet and exercise regularly and not lose weight.

    To learn which hormones prevent menopause weight loss, as a result of estrogen dominance, click here.

    There are 2 ways to re-balance your hormones. Click here and here to learn how to re-balance your hormones

  2. You must do a stress reduction technique regularly to lose weight during menopause. High levels of stress prevents menopause weight loss.

    During menopause, stress levels are particularly high … especially for women who experience moderate to severe menopause symptoms. The hormonal imbalance brings with it, mental, emotional and physical stress.

    When you are under stress, your body produces cortisol ….known as the stress hormone. Protracted stress results in high levels of cortisol in your body. High levels of cortisol in your body causes your body to store more fat. It also prevents your body from burning fat.

    In the presence of high levels of cortisol, regular exercise will not burn fat and following a healthy diet will not result in weight loss.

    Do yoga, meditation, relaxation therapy or some other stress reduction technique regularly if you want to achieve menopause weight loss

  3. Speed up your metabolism – This is the most difficult pillar to confront … and do something about. To speed up your metabolism, you need to do regular strength training. Most women do not do this.

    Your metabolism slows down as you get older. Your metabolism determines the rate your body uses calories from the food that you eat.

    By metabolism, I am referring to your basal metabolic rate (BMR). BMR is the rate your body burns calories just to keep your heart pumping, your lungs breathing, and your organs functioning.

    Your basal metabolism accounts for between 60 percent and 75 percent of the total calories you use daily, and there’s no physical activity required for this.

    BMR is determined by the muscle mass in your body. Muscle mass burns calories.

    Your body begin to lose muscle mass in your 30s. You continue to lose muscle mass for the rest of your life, unless you take steps to increase your muscle mass. Strength training is the only way you can build muscle mass and increase your BMR

  4. Your diet must consist of eating real food in order to lose weight during menopause. Real food does not need labels – ie – unprocessed meat, fish, milk, eggs, legumes, fruits, grains and vegetables.

    To achieve menopause weight loss you must stay away from processed food and junk food. These foods contain added sugars, which will cause you to gain weight.

    You also need to reduce the size of the portions you eat at each meal, especially if you do not engage in strength training to speed up your metabolism

  5. You need to do at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise/physical activity every day.

    While BMR accounts for the majority of the calories your body uses in a day, aerobic activities still uses a significant number of calories.

    If you do not do strength training, it is particularly important to do at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise/physical activity every day….probably more than 30 minutes will be required

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Menopause Weight Gain – Meet Your Calorie Critters

Menopause Weight Gain

I cant stop the weight gain

A calorie critter is a creature that resides in your closet. It shrinks your clothing … makes them smaller.

You may notice that every day an article of clothing feels tighter and every month another article of clothing no longer fits you. This is caused by your calorie critters.

Try as you may to eat healthier food and smaller quantities of food, it doesnt prevent the calorie critters from carrying out their duties during menopause.

In regard to menopause weight gain, you may ask

what has happened to the calories in versus calories out datum?

Calories in versus calories out remains a valid datum. However, during menopause, there are other factors that contribute to menopause weight gain.

Countless patients have told me that even though they follow a stringent diet and exercise daily, they have not been able to lose the weight gained during menopause. Some even continue to gain weight.

Why does this happen?

To answer this question, you need to understand that there are more factors involved in menopause weight gain than there are in weight gain prior to menopause.

5 calorie critters that cause menopause weight gain

  1. hormone imbalance – while hormone imbalance occurs at different points in a woman’s life, it has its biggest impact on a woman’s life during menopause.

    It is the cause of all menopause symptoms.

    It is the biggest cause of weight gain during menopause.

    Your body functions like a full sized symphony orchestra. In such an orchestra, all players are finely attuned to one another. The various parts of your body are like the musicians and your hormones are like the conductor of the orchestra.

    Prior to perimenopause, your hormones work in harmony by co-existing with one another in a certain ratio. They are said to be in balance. This keeps your body healthy and functioning.

    With the onset of perimenopause, the ratios of your hormones change. This creates imbalance between them. The changing ratios are kick started by the a change in the ratio between estrogen and progesterone. This is the trigger that causes menopause weight gain …. and all the other perimenopause symptoms.

    Estrogen becomes dominant and stays dominant throughout perimenopause. It creates a condition in which your body does not have enough progesterone to balance out estrogen levels. Your body has

    • too much estrogen
    • not enough progesterone

    Estrogen dominance disturbs the balance between all the other hormones in your body. As your hormones collectively control all of the processes in your body, the processes behave erratically. This causes menopause weight gain and the other symptoms that you are experiencing.

    The changing levels of these hormones also prevent weight loss. This is the reason why you can follow a stringent diet and exercise regularly and not lose weight.

    To learn which hormones cause you to gain weight during menopause, click here

  2. .

  3. stress – Of course we we experience stress at various points in our lives and for various reasons.

    However during menopause, stress levels are particularly high … especially for women who experience moderate to severe menopause symptoms. The hormonal imbalance brings with it, mental, emotional and physical stress.

    When you are under stress, your body produces cortisol ….known as the stress hormone. Protracted stress results in high levels of cortisol in your body. High levels of cortisol in your body causes your body to store more fat. It also prevents your body from burning fat. In the presence of high levels of cortisol, regular exercise will not burn fat and you will not lose weight

  4. aging – Your metabolism slows down as you get older. Your metabolism determines the rate your body uses (calorie output) the food that you eat (calorie input).

    The rate of your metabolism is determined by your basal metabolism … which is measured by your basal metabolic rate (BMR) … and the level of your physical activity.

    BMR is the rate your body burns calories just to keep your heart pumping, your lungs breathing, and your organs functioning. Your basal metabolism accounts for between 60 percent and 75 percent of the total calories you use daily, and there’s no physical activity required for this.

    Your BMR declines as you age. To learn more about this, click here

  5. diet – junk food and fast food causes menopause weight gain. They are laden with added sugar, which causes weight gain.

    The size of the meals you consume has a bearing on your weight during menopause. If you continue to consume the same portion size, as you did prior to perimenopause, you will gain weight because your metabolism is slower

  6. lack of physical activity/exercise – exercise is one of the components of your metabolic rate. If you do not engage in physical activity/exercise daily, your metabolic rate will be lower. You will use fewer calories
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How Menopause Makes You Fat – Part 2

Menopause Weight Gain

Why am I like this? My diet is good and I exercise

While some “men in white coats” would have you believe that menopause weight gain is due solely to aging, my experience tells me that menopause itself also is a cause of weight gain. I would bet that your experience tells you the same thing.

There is no denying that aging causes menopause weight gain …. and weight gain beyond menopause …. because as you age your metabolism slows down. If you do not reduce your caloric intake and increase your caloric output (physical activity/exercise) as you get older, you will gain weight.

However, it is folly to deny that menopause causes weight gain. Hundreds of patients in my practice have followed stringent dietary recommendations and also exercised daily to lose weight during menopause. Not only did many of them not lose weight, but a significant number of them continued to gain weight. Some did lose weight.

The trigger that causes menopause weight gain

Your body functions like a full sized symphony orchestra. In such an orchestra, all players are finely attuned to one another. The various parts of your body are like the musicians and your hormones are like the conductor of the orchestra.

Prior to perimenopause, your hormones work in harmony by co-existing with one another in a certain ratio. They are said to be in balance. This keeps your body healthy and functioning.

With the onset of perimenopause, the ratios of your hormones change. This creates imbalance between them. The changing ratios are kick started by the a change in the ratio between estrogen and progesterone. This is the trigger that causes menopause weight gain …. and all the other perimenopause symptoms.

Contrary to what you may have been led to believe, all perimenopause symptoms … including menopause weight gain … are caused by too much estrogen in your body and not enough progesterone. Estrogen levels are actually higher during early perimenopause than they are in pre-perimenopausal women.

While estrogen levels rise in early perimenopause, progesterone levels fall. Progesterone levels continue to fall throughout late perimenopause. Estrogen levels fall later in perimenopause, but not as much as progesterone.

Estrogen becomes dominant and stays dominant throughout perimenopause. It creates a condition in which your body does not have enough progesterone to balance out estrogen levels. Your body has

  1. too much estrogen
  2. not enough progesterone

Estrogen dominance disturbs the balance between all the other hormones in your body. As your hormones collectively control all of the processes in your body, the processes behave erratically. This causes menopause weight gain and the other symptoms that you are experiencing.

Which hormones cause menopause weight gain

The hormones that play a role in weight gain during menopause are estrogen, thyroid, insulin, and cortisol

  • estrogen – excess estrogen is associated with weight gain.

    When estrogen levels are elevated, women tend to retain more water than usual. This is why bloating is common in the days leading up to a woman’s menstrual cycle – more estrogen means water retention. Water retention = weight gain.

    Water retention is common during perimenopause, because estrogen is dominant. Not only does estrogen retain water, but progesterone … which acts as a diuretic … is in diminished supply.

    In younger women, estrogen causes fat to be stored around the hips, thighs and buttocks. In perimenopause, and thereafter, estrogen causes fat to be stored around the mid-section. This in itself does not cause weight gain. It represents a re-distribution of fat

  • Thyroid hormones regulate your metabolism. Think of your metabolism as the “boiler room” of your body.

    Your metabolism slows down as you age. It is a cause of menopause weight gain. While this is happening, estrogen dominance causes your thyroid levels to be erratic. This causes your metabolism to slow down even further.

    When thyroid functioning diminishes, it brings about the condition known as hypothyroidism. It is estimated that 25% of menopausal women experience hypothyroidism.

    Hypothyroidism increases insulin resistance

  • Insulin is a hormone produced and released by your body, when you eat. It breaks down the food you eat into glucose, which is commonly called blood sugar. Glucose provides your body with energy, without which it could not function. Think of the relationship between glucose and your body, as being similar to gasoline and your car.

    Your body can be either insulin sensitive or in insulin resistance. If it is insulin sensitive, insulin is doing the job it is intended to do. If there is insulin resistance, your body will not be getting the “fuel” it needs. The body then produces increasing amounts of insulin, to try to give it the energy that it needs.

    High levels of insulin in your body causes fat to be stored on your body. It also prevents fat burning from occurring. In other words, you cant lose weight.

    Almost all menopausal women have insulin resistance to some degree

  • Cortisol is the stress hormone. When you experience stress, your body automatically goes into a hardwired inbuilt survival mechanism called “fight or flight”. Your body produces increased amounts of cortisol, to help you deal with a threat.

    Estrogen dominance causes cortisol levels to be erratic during menopause.

    When stress is continuously present, as it often is during menopause, your body reacts as if you are constantly under attack. The fight or flight response stays turned on. The long term activation of the stress response system results in excessive production of cortisol.

    When your body produces too much cortisol, you get fat. It causes fat to be stored around your waist. High levels of cortisol also prevents weight loss

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