Menopause and weight loss are arch enemies…or so we are told to believe. Weight loss after 40 seems to come to a screeching halt after menopause symptoms start. It feels like you just looked in the mirror one day and overnight you gained 30 lbs. You try to lose weight, only to gain more. Don’t give up. Everything you need to know about menopause and weight loss is right here.
My body was sent into menopause early in life, after a full hysterectomy when I was 40 years old. Shortly after that, my husband became terminally ill. Yes, that was a blank check to the emotional eating and more weight gain.
Previous to this time in my life, I would not have considered myself overweight, but I was never fit. I wasn’t the athletic type. When my doctor would ask me about my exercise routine, I would say, “Why yes, I walk…from the car to the grocery store.” Duh.
Not quite what he wanted to hear though…
Once I hit 40, I knew why my doctor always encouraged me to exercise regularly. Oh, it was the menopause and weight loss battle full force. I didn’t realize it so much at the time, but my muscles were withering away right along with my metabolism. So typical of moms in their 30s and 40s.
Losing weight after menopause success stories – My personal story
So, here I was a couple of years later…a 42-year-old, overweight widow. I had gained a good 35+ lbs. Most of my life I had lived in size 10-12 size clothes, in good times an 8. At the time, I was overflowing size 14. One of the last times I weighed myself the scale screamed 175lbs at me…I am 5’6″.
My teenaged daughter wanted to learn to ride horses. Horses were my jam growing up, but after I started a family, my personal hobbies and interested happily became my family. After she had a few lessons, my urge to get back on a horse took over.
I succumbed to it and took a lesson. Well, if you can even call it a lesson. You see, riding a horse takes A LOT of muscle and endurance. We ride a very active style – called Hunters. I was able to actively ride for only about 10 min…pretty pitiful.
It was the WHY that changed my life to what it is today.
I went home and started exercising. My daughter and I danced to the Wii Just Dance and shortly after that I bought an elliptical. (More of my story from that time is here.)
Eating out was history, meal replacement shakes were added and the junk food slowly became less a part of my life as fresh foods and vegetables became the new normal.
A few months later, I was doing structured workouts daily and riding for full lessons. My muscles were getting toned and the fat was melting away. I was feeling better than I had in many, many years – probably not since my 20s!
Menopause and weight gain no longer had control over me!
Menopause symptoms were reduced by a hormonal patch called Vivelle. After discussing with my doctor, this patch was very safe and can be taken indefinitely. No more hot flashes, trouble sleeping or any of the other menopause crazy symptoms.
Eventually, I met Andrew, remarried and started working out with him.
The rest is kind of history, as they say. Working out and eating healthy is so much a part of my life now, I can’t imagine returning to the old lifestyle. I am 49 and am pretty sure I could keep up with almost any 20 something year old.
Of course, it doesn’t come without diligent, consistent work, but it’s totally worth it!
How to lose weight during perimenopause and menopause
Start with a WHY
Transitioning to a healthy lifestyle isn’t easy. Working out for results is hard. It is so easy to quit or not push yourself as hard as needed. In those times, you have to have a real goal to work towards, to push you harder than you want to go. My WHY has been to ride horses to the best of my ability.
Discover your WHY. It has to be larger than your biggest excuse.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormonal patches may not be for you, but there are other options that may work for you. See a doctor to talk about your goals and symptoms.
Reduced stroke risk with hormone therapy has been shown beneficial if started less than 5 years after menopause.
The patch I use is great for me. No adverse side effects, I replace it twice a week.
I don’t have hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats or any of the menopausal symptoms I was having prior to the hormonal replacement. It’s awesome!
Find a workout you can live with and later enjoyment will come
If you are just starting off into a workout routine, don’t give up. Consistency is so very important. There will be a gazillion excuses that pop into your head when trying to motivate yourself to workout. Keep up the daily workouts, truly it’s the consistency that makes a difference.
I know this because for a while I was only doing workouts a couple of times a week. It is impossible to change your body with that. I stayed pretty status quo during those times. It was when I committed to daily workouts and truly pushed myself when results happened.
Which brings me to the next point of finding a workout…find a workout that offers variety and works different muscles. If you are on a walking for weight loss plan, that’s great to start off with, but soon you will need to add some other exercises to it such as strength training.
Strength training is vital for toning muscles and strengthening bones that weaken with menopause. More on health benefits of strength training HERE.
I strongly believe having a healthy body contributes greatly to having balanced hormones. Toned muscles, eating the right foods (tracking macros) and daily exercise is all part of living a happy, healthy life.
Take a “step back” every so often to evaluate your workout routine to make sure it is using all of your muscles within the week or few days, rotating muscle groups and pushing you hard enough.
So, this is by far the hardest change to make. Truly, most of us have been able to eat practically whatever we wanted for years without any major consequences. Sure, we may not have been suitable for being a bikini model, but we were okay with how we looked…until we reached that over 40 era.
Now, we are realizing processed foods and sugar just can’t be a staple in our daily nutrition if we want to be okay with our health, how we feel and how we look. Make the commitment to yourself to cut the junk foods out for your longterm health.
After we begin the battle between menopause and weight loss, the sacrifice has to be food. But it’s not as bad as you think. Once you transition over to the healthy side, you’ll wonder how you survived all of those years on junk and won’t ever look back!
How do you make the transition?
You do it the same way I did…
Cutting back portion sizes. Slowly begin to reduce your portion sizes of anything that contains calories. With menopause and weight loss, you just have to reduce calories even when you are working out consistently.
Track your calories, but also macros. You can do this fairly easily with MyFitnessPal using their free account. Set your macros to 30% protein, 40% carbs and 30% fats.
Heavy veggie is your new friend. Think green, colorful, not white like potatoes. I add in a simple salad (watch the dressings) to every dinner to help meet the heavy veggie daily goal. I also have a secret weapon, this superfood shot that I keep handy for those days when I fall short.
One shot of this LifeEquals Balance shot is 1/2 of your daily fruits and veggies. (use my code, MILLER50 for 50% off your first order!) Perfect for those of you who don’t like veggies.
Protein is food for your muscles. So important to get enough lean protein every day. It can be difficult without adding in a lot of extra calories. One way to help that is to drink a protein shake. So much to say about protein, but not enough room here. Read more HERE if you need more info.
Meal replacement shakes such as the (Amazon affiliate link) GNC Lean Shake is exactly what I used when starting out. They pack this shake with not only good protein, but fiber and other ingredients that will help you lose weight and stay satiated longer. Plus, it’s so good, it will help with those sugar cravings!
Get a little additional help with taking the right vitamins and minerals
In addition to menopause, there are other age-related issues that need to be addressed for us to look and feel our best.
Collagen is one of those supplements I really wish I had learned about collagen depletion a long time ago. I have an entire post on this, but in short, our bodies slowly start producing collagen in our 20s and by the time we are 40ish, it stops completely! Hence, painful joints and wrinkles!
So, I now take collagen daily that does wonders for my knee, especially. I had just started wearing a knee brace shortly before starting the collagen. About 4 weeks in, my knee stopped hurting, and a year later…still no need for a brace!
Of course, collagen also helps with loose skin and wrinkles. Family members have complimented my face for looking younger since adding collagen to my daily routine.
Collagen is a staple for me!
Stress and Menopause Concerns
Cortisol Menopause Fatigue
As women, we tend to naturally have a lot of responsibilities and with that often comes an increase in stress. When our stress is too high, our natural stress hormone, cortisol goes into overdrive.
Having cortisol imbalance can lead to many unwanted symptoms such as:
- Chronic fatigue
- Joint pain
- Muscle weakness
- Digestive problems
- Excess belly fat
If your cortisol hormone is too high it can be hard to lose weight after menopause. Or anytime, for that matter.
Cortisol levels can easily be checked at home with (affiliate link) Let’s Get Checked. It’s a convenient way to quickly check to see if an elevated cortisol level is an obstacle to your weight loss.
Natural Ways to Reducing Cortisol Levels
There are some things you can do to naturally reduce cortisol levels before using medication.
- Take regular, planned breaks from intense training
- Consume enough calories from non-processed foods
- Get 7-9 hours of sleep
- Consume carbohydrates and protein after exercise sessions
- Spend time with family and friends
- Regularly participate in a stress-relieving activity such as yoga or meditation
Other Home Tests Beneficial to Weight Loss during Perimenopause and Menopause
Let’s Get Checked has a wide array of tests to choose from that depending on your symptoms could be helpful for your weight loss. It’s worth peace of mind and convenience to get checked when dealing with the frustrations of weight gain after 40.
Other home tests include: thyroid, diabetes, celiac, cholesterol, iron and so many others. Just pop over to check them out.
My Ah-Ha Moment of Weight Loss and Menopause After 40
So, bottom line is this…
Once you have medical issues ruled out or controlled, the rest is up to you.
One of the crucial keys to weight loss after menopause is to build our muscles back!
Metabolism is boosted primarily from muscles. Most of us lost most of our muscle mass over the years after our twenties. By the time we got to our 40s and hormones changed plus the lack of muscle mass, the extra weight was easy to pack on.
It takes a little while and a lot of hard work to get back in shape, but oh when it happens, you’ll be addicted to how great you feel and look! Menopause and weight loss problems will be history!
Fit Found Me Weight Loss Challenges and Health Transformation Program
I really love helping women just like you get back into shape and feel better about yourself. I’ve worked with others to create the perfect program to get you where you want to be. It’s My Time Now Health Transformation program targets stubborn abdominal fat helping you to be more physically active through resistance training, better nutrition, better sleep and more to balance hormones.
Start today. Start where you are and just do the best you can every day. It’s a slow process to change many years of poor health habits, but that’s what makes them last. Change what you can, when you can.
It took me almost a year before I could give up the sugary treats I was eating regularly. Maybe for you, it’s the soda. Do everything you can to transition to healthy as soon as you can, but do it step by step with a program that can help you transition without the shame and guilt.
Our program walks you through adapting healthy habits to fit your lifestyle step by step as you can handle the changes so they are long-term.
Don’t sit around being frustrated with menopause and weight loss anymore! I’m here to help you!
What has been the hardest part of menopause or perimenopause for you?
Additional Menopause Related Posts
Health Tips for Women Over 40