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.