From hot flushes, night sweats and brain fog to weight gain and other symptoms, hormonal changes are not easy for many women. But, with the right combination of diet, lifestyle changes and exercise, you can avoid weight gain during menopause and stay upbeat. Here’s how this top personal trainer in Singapore can help you get through menopause.
Managing your physical and mental health
If you’re feeling powerless over your health and weight during menopause, you’re definitely not alone. Weight loss, and managing physical and mental health, can become more challenging for women going through menopause, or in the peri- and post-menopausal stages, explains NATALIE KUAN, senior personal trainer at Ultimate Performance Singapore (UP). She and the team at UP work with hundreds of women each year to show them how to better manage menopause symptoms, master their diets, and maintain their weight and metabolic health more effectively.
On average, menopause lasts about seven and a half years, but studies show it can be as long as 14 years. This can mean years of living with hot flushes, night sweats, migraines and loss of libido. Many women also experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, low mood, irritability, brain fog and sleep loss.
“What many people don’t really understand is that menopause can be the ‘perfect storm’ for weight gain and declining physical and mental health for many women,” says Natalie. “All of this together can be a cocktail for weight gain, which creates a burden on long-term health, and increases the risks of heart disease and osteoporosis.
Why some women gain weight during menopause
It’s worth understanding the key obstacles that can make things like exercise and healthy eating harder during menopause.
When a woman goes through menopause, her oestrogen levels drop. For many reasons, this can make things like exercise and healthy eating harder, which can lead to weight gain.
Lowered levels of oestrogen can:
- lower production of dopamine and serotonin, the two neurotransmitters responsible for feeling happy; this, in turn, can make dieting harder for a woman who seeks out food and drink as comfort;
- lower production of leptin, the “satiety hormone,” making it hard to attempt to control calorie intake; and
- disturb sleeping patterns, which can negatively impact metabolism, insulin sensitivity, appetite, cravings, cognition and mood.
The ultimate strategy to combat weight gain
But, all of this doesn’t mean you can’t lose weight effectively and keep it off, says Natalie. “We simply need to be smarter and more organised”.
To do this, the UP team has a proven methodology that combines three approaches.
#1 A tailored resistance-training programme
Oestrogen loss during menopause can put women at greater risk of breaks and osteoporosis. Resistance training has been shown to improve bone density and increases muscle mass.
Resistance training can also help improve insulin sensitivity. This means the body is better able to process, store and uptake carbohydrates when it needs them, rather than storing them as body fat.
Additionally, it increases metabolic rate by increasing fat-free mass, which typically drops after menopause.
“Following a tailored training programme provides a source of focus when many other factors feel out of control,” says Natalie. “Strength and neurological improvements in the gym provide an additional positive aspect of identity aside from gender and physical attributes.”
#2 Menopause dieting
Removing highly-processed and calorie-dense foods from your diet can decrease inflammation and improve insulin sensitivity.
So, a woman starting her transformation at UP will typically undergo what is known as the ‘low-carb bootcamp’. This is a two-week period in which carbs are consumed only from fibrous vegetables, accompanied by high-quality proteins and fat sources.
This helps gut health, which plays an essential role in mood, cognition and immunity.
#3 Lifestyle changes
Managing stress and getting quality sleep are key during menopause, says Natalie. “Managing stress will not only put you in a better position to deal with the symptoms of menopause, but it also gives you a greater chance of being able to navigate life’s ups and downs without having to resort to food or alcohol.”
Getting enough sleep is very important, too. “Sleep deprivation reduces our ability to control hunger and satiety and increases the likelihood that we will reach for higher calorie foods that make managing our weight more challenging.”
To help manage stress and improve sleep, Natalie suggests the following:
- Create a positive morning routine that gives you time to eat a nutritious breakfast, and gives you a little “me” time before you go into work-mode. This can be anything from stretching to journaling to meditating.
- Stick to a nightly routine. In the hour before bedtime, avoid chores, blue light devices and anything stressful. Instead, use this time to read a book or take a bath
- Get 30 to 90 minutes of direct natural light exposure in the morning before noon. This helps maintain a healthy circadian rhythm and sleep patterns.
The team at UP can provide more strategies for diet, exercise and lifestyle that women can use to feel good, look great and be healthy during menopause. Find out more at upfitness.com.sg.
Like this? Read more at our Health & Fitness section.