So what can you do to reclaim your waist during & after menopause?
Exercise plays a huge part in keeping abdominal fat at bay – not just by burning calories but also by reducing the ‘inflammation’ this type of fat causes within our bodies. It is this inflammation – which we can’t see or feel – that leads to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
When you exercise and become stronger, it will not only benefit your heart, bones, mental health and symptoms of menopause; it can also help you build muscle tone and raise your metabolism. The more muscle mass you have the more fat you will burn at rest. This is because muscle cells are the powerhouse of the body and they use far more energy than fat cells, so by improving muscle density you burn more calories – even when you’re asleep.
So we can change the appearance of our midriff to look more toned and less wobbly by reducing fat and increasing lean tissue.
Dancing is a great low-impact exercise that can burn calories and help prevent weight gain. One popular dance-fitness program, called Fitsteps, uses Latin rhythms for a fast-beat, hip-swaying workouts. Because Latin dancing works the entire body because it uses many muscle groups at once, often arms are up in the air, hips and core are working hard, and legs and feet are moving fast. So it works your back, your stomach and your abs. So it helps to build and tone muscle; your bum, thighs and calves get a good workout and your arms and upper body are also worked as you burn calories. It’s estimated that you can burn between 350 to 1000 calories per hour in a Fitsteps class.
Menopause can sometimes be a challenging time as you learn to adjust to your body’s many changes. At times, it may feel like your body is working against you, but you can take back control.
Maintaining an active lifestyle is even more important during the peri-menopausal phase of our lives as this will help ensure we stay happy, healthy and strong post menopause.
So, whether you’re a Strictly fan who’s been itching to give ballroom a go, fancy the fun factor of boogying to the beat in a Fitsteps class or join a Bollywood, Zumba or Ballet Barre class, now could be the perfect time to embrace dancing as your exercise regime.
Whatever works for you, remember that any type of exercise or movement done regularly can contribute to your physical and mental health. Everything takes a little effort to begin, but it’s never too late to take care of yourself.
- Eat foods rich in calcium & Vitamin D
Hormonal changes during menopause can cause bones to weaken, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. Calcium and Vitamin D are linked to bone health.
Green, leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach are rich in calcium. Also tofu, nuts, soya beans, sardines and dairy products like milk, yoghurt and cheese.
We get most of our Vitamin D from sunlight but food sources include oily fish and cod liver oil. Check with your GP to see if it’s worth taking a Vitamin D supplement, especially during the winter months.
- Eat lots of fruit and vegetables
These can help prevent a number of menopause symptoms and may help to keep bones healthy. Plus, they’re low in calories and help you feel full, so they’re good for weight maintenance.
- Eat more foods that are high in phytoestrogens
Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring plant compounds that can mimic the effects of oestrogen in the body. Women in Asian countries, such as Japan, have a high intake of these foods and it is thought to be the reason why menopausal women in these countries rarely experience hot flushes.
Foods rich in phytoestrogens include soybeans and soy products, tofu, flaxseeds, linseeds, sesame seeds and beans.
- Drink plenty of water
Drinking water can reduce the bloating that can occur with hormonal changes. It can also help prevent weight gain by helping you feel full and increasing metabolism slightly.
And did you know that drinking 500ml of water, 30 minutes before a meal may lead you to consume fewer calories when you eat?
- Reduce refined sugar and processed foods
A diet high in these can cause sharp rises and falls in blood sugar, making you feel more tired and irritable. Also, these types of foods can increase the risk of depression and affect bone health.
- Eat protein rich foods
One study found that eating protein at each meal during the day may prevent the loss of lean muscle that occurs with age. It can also help weight loss because proteins make you feel fuller and increase the amount of calories burned by raising your metabolism.
Foods rich in protein include meat, fish, eggs, legumes, nuts and dairy.
Remember that menopause is not an illness and it’s not a weakness. It’s a natural part of life.
Though its symptoms can be difficult to deal with, eating the right diet and exercising regularly may help alleviate and prevent them.
Make exercise your friend and ease menopausal symptoms.
But be sure to get the go-ahead from your GP before beginning any new workout routine or food changes.
Check out www.menoandme.com a website that helps women manage menopause through exercise and lifestyle changes through her site
And if you are really suffering and want to see a GP specialising in menopause health, there is Newson Health www.newsonhealth.co.uk – a menopause and wellbeing clinic that I can personally recommend.