Weight gain and how to manage it is one of the most frequent questions and troubling problems women face in Surgical Menopause. As if it were not bad enough that women in Surgical Menopause have to deal with symptoms ranging from hot flashes to insomnia, they also commonly put on extra pounds that are much more difficult to shed then they were pre-operatively.
Women in Natural Menopause tend to slowly gain around 10 to 15 extra pounds beginning when they enter Perimenopause at the average rate of 1 pound per year. However women in surgically induced menopause gain weight at an accelerated rate due to abruptly losing their hormones all at once, and on average they gain around 20 pounds, though it can be more or less depending on the individual.
Part of the reason women put on pounds in Surgical Menopause is due to their estrogen levels dropping so suddenly with the removal of their ovaries. In order to compensate for declining estrogen levels, body fat that was once evenly distributed is redistributed from the thighs, buttocks, hips, to the abdomen. This added layer of fat is the body’s attempt to make up for loss of estrogen, as fat cells produce low levels of estrogen.
Many women in Surgical Menopause mistakenly think that their HRT is to blame for their sudden weight gain, as HRT is typically started shortly following surgery. More often than not, it is Surgical Menopause rather than the HRT that is responsible for the added pounds. In fact, one of the benefits of taking HRT is that when the body gets the hormones it needs from HRT it will no longer produce and convert calories into fat cells.
One of the ways HRT can be more properly balanced is through the addition of the hormone Progesterone. Typically Progesterone is prescribed to women who have had an Oophorectomy and have kept their uterus, but women who have had their uterus removed and undergone Hysterectomy may also find taking Progesterone helpful in the battle of the bulge. Progesterone lowers insulin levels, reduces fluid retention, helps your thyroid function more efficiently, and it is also a natural sleep aid. All of these benefits help to offset the effects of estrogen HRT and bring the body closer to the harmony that it enjoyed when it still had ovaries producing both estrogen and progesterone.
Even with the addition of Progesterone, most women notice that their body no longer responds in the same way it once did to healthy diet and exercise, thus making losing weight even harder and more frustrating. It is important to understand and in time accept that your body is no longer functioning the way it once did, so you simply have to do your best to achieve the healthiest weight you are capable of with your body now. Below are some helpful hints for weight loss and healthy weight management in Surgical Menopause.
TIPS FOR WEIGHT LOSS IN SURGICAL MENOPAUSE:
Manage Stress: Stress in the body leads to added Cortisol levels, which in turn leads to the body clinging to more abdominal fat. Learn helpful ways to manage stress from meditation, to yoga, to exercise, to stepping away from stressful situations and relationships.
Get A Good Night’s Sleep: Many women in Surgical Menopause have sleep problems, whether due to hot flashes or hormone deficiency and imbalance. However getting a good night’s sleep is important to healthy weight management. A lack of sleep can cause the metabolism to slow down as the body attempts to conserve energy. When this occurs the body releases Cortisol, a hormone that makes one feel hungry. Thus it is important whether though balancing HRT and taking natural sleep aids such as Magnesium and Melatonin, that women in Surgical Menopause get the recommended 8 hours of sleep per night.
Include Progesterone: As mentioned above, Progesterone can be a helpful addition to your HRT regiment in terms of weight loss and weight management. Progesterone is a natural diuretic and can help counteract fluid retention and bloating caused by taking estrogen HRT .
Moderate Daily Exercise: Daily exercise is an important part of achieving a healthy weight in Surgical Menopause. Exercise can improve both your mood as well as your physique by releasing endorphins aka the feel good chemicals. A combination of cardio and strength training each day for 30 to 60 minutes is an ideal workout strategy, but to begin with even daily walking where you elevate your heart rate can be beneficial. One thing to be aware of for those women on HRT, extreme workouts and workouts that involve heat such as hot yoga should be either avoided or done very sparingly. The reason being that heat and also extreme workouts can cause your body to use up your HRT faster, which in turn causes estrogen loss and hormone imbalance.
Diet: Eating a healthy diet and sticking to it is key to losing and managing weight in Surgical Menopause. While there are many popular name diets on the market today that are effective, such as the Paleo and Keto diet, you don’t have to specifically subscribe to one of them to see results. Women in menopause typically have a much harder time breaking down carbohydrates, so eliminating or greatly reducing carbohydrates and processed sugars from your diet is a good place to begin. Eating a diet rich in lean proteins such as grilled fish, chicken, nuts and legumes increases your metabolic rate, makes you feel full and give you energy. Including dark leafy greens and foods high in fiber such as broccoli and Brussels Sprouts can increase insulin sensitivity and reduce your appetite. Consuming healthy dairy products such as Kefir and natural Greek Yogurt not only gives your body Probiotics which aides in digestion, but it also helps burn fat.
Hire A Nutritionist or Trainer: When all else fails, go to the professionals. Surgical Menopause is challenging enough without having to navigate the ins and outs of fitness and diet, so if you are not having any luck managing your weight on your own, we suggest turning to a Nutritionist or Fitness Coach to help you get the personal one on one support you may need to achieve your weight goals.