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Weight Issues in Perimenopause

So you’ve reached your 40s and your body and brain feel different. The mood swings are swinging way out of control. Wondering what’s wreaking havoc on you?

Fluctuating hormone levels! Yep, that's right.

While we have many hormones in our body, the culprit to make us feel like we are going mad is the highs and lows of estrogen and progesterone. When things start to go haywire, you are experiencing perimenopause, the time before your body stops menstruating. This can last from two years to sometimes ten years before you hit menopause.

Perimenopausal symptoms include acne, mood swings, anxiety, increased body weight, poor sleep patterns, low libido, decreased energy levels and brain fog. Just to name a few. Our hormones are responsible for regulating a wide range of bodily functions, including metabolism and hunger. When our hormones are out of balance, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy weight, no matter how hard we try. There are various factors that can lead to hormonal imbalances, such as poor nutrition, lack of exercise, chronic stress, the mental load that women carry, and exposure to environmental toxins.

Not surprisingly, the factor that tends to be most upsetting to women is weight gain caused by hormonal imbalance. So let's dig in there first.

According to Dr. Pamela Smith, it is the ratio of ovarian hormones that determines how much weight you will gain and where you will gain it. Estrogen deficiency can be related to weight gain. Estrogen is an excellent stress hormone. When it declines, the body has to rely on cortisol for the stress response. Increases in cortisol can lead to insulin resistance, facilitating the storage of body fat. Your body goes into "fight or flight" response, and you gain weight. Women who are hormonally balanced tend to gain less weight than those who are not.

Weight gain is a common issue for women during menopause. This is not just about calories in/calories out, calorie counting, and low-fat diets (don't ever do this one please!).

There are many factors that lead to weight gain as we age:

  • excessive intake of carbs, especially simple carbs that get broken down as sugar and stored as fat. (almost anything sweet and/or make with white flour)

  • increased insulin resistance due to eating excessive carbohydrates, adrenaline, cortisol, glucagon, and diminished estrogens

  • decrease in estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, as well as thyroid levels

  • decrease in metabolic rate of caloric "burn"

  • exaggerated response to stress triggers causing insulin resistance and blood glucose elevation

Eating less and working out more is a recipe for disaster.

This puts more stress on your system and your body responds by holding on to everything you’re eating, like a bear storing up fat for the winter so she doesn’t starve to death. Strength train 2-3 times a week. This is crucial for building muscle and revving up your metabolism. Walk 10K steps a day. Take a yoga or pilates class to work on mobility and core strength. Go for a hike, a bike ride, garden, tap dancing. Do what you love and have fun!

Nutrition plays a critical role in achieving hormonal balance and elimination (pooping).

Eat more nutrient dense foods that will nourish your body, support hormonal balance, and support metabolic health. This includes healthy fats like olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, and fish. Eat more fruits, veggies and leafy greens to get more fiber into your diet. Protein is essential for building and repairing tissue, including hormones. Good sources of protein include lean grass-fed meat, eggs, fish, beans, and lentils.

Avoid foods that disrupt your hormonal balance.

These are the usual suspects like sugar, trans fats, alcohol, caffeine, and exposure to environmental disrupting chemicals from exposure to plastics, and chemicals found in personal care and household products.

Stop beating yourself up!

None of this is your fault. When estrogen goes down the tubes, studies have shown that women process glucose and insulin less efficiently which adds to weight gain. If you suffer from a sluggish thyroid, that will add to your weight problems. Oh and don’t forget about gut health and stress. Environmental toxins wreak havoc on your body as well as stress.

It’s not all bad news.

You want answers? At Follaine Health we listen to your story and take an in depth look at your health history. We test you according to your health goals, wants, and needs. We take a holistic team approach to creating your individualized plan and become your partner in creating optimal health with you in the driver seat. If this sounds like something you need give us a shout! You can book a free 20 minute discovery call with us to answer any questions you have. We look forward to hearing from you soon.



Follaine Health (Gaelic for Wellness) was born out of a desire to help real women with real health issues. 


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