Middle Age Spread – Otherwise Known As Menopausal Weight Gain

Jun 13, 2016 | Turning 60 and Beyond | 0 comments


The middle age spread isn’t an actual acknowledged medical condition, but perhaps it should be. There’s certainly no denying the fact that for many menopausal women it’s very real. The dreaded menopausal weight gain, otherwise known as the middle age spread is perhaps one of the toughest realities of aging to deal with; even worse than the wrinkles or life lines we’ve earned and the stray hairs that seem to appear in all the wrong places. And the worst thing is, this middle age spread reality can lead to serious health issues such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even cancer.

So what is it exactly that causes this menopausal weight gain? I am no expert in the field by any means other than I myself experience middle age spread or excess fat around my abdomen.  But from what I’ve read and information from my doctor it’s not entirely our fault. It’s partly the lack of hormones, estrogen and progesterone, along with reduced muscle mass. Even genetic factors can be a cause. But, other factors that are our own doing include a more sedentary life style along with our diet.

The body temperature fluctuation that takes over our bodies taking us from normal to feeling like we are standing in the middle of the Sahara Desert and then into the throws of wanting to stand naked outside in a winter storm are only one of the symptoms the lack of hormones can cause. These hormone deficits can also cause food cravings, depression, fluid retention and a certain amount of lethargy. I personally use HRT or hormone replacement therapy to ward against these symptoms, but I digress—this is a whole other blog in itself.

For a lot of women as we age we adopt a more sedentary life style for any number of reasons. But if that’s the case,we can’t continue to eat as much as we used to. Somewhere we have to cut some of those calories, however still eat healthy foods. That means we need to continue to eat well balanced meals including protein, healthy carbohydrates and fats. I know a lot of older women living alone that eat for convenience—a piece of toast and several cups of coffee for breakfast isn’t considered well balanced. Continue to eat like this and that middle age spread will take over.

As far as losing muscle mass we actually start losing our muscle mass about the age of thirty. This is what causes the beginning of the slow down in our metabolism. Loss of muscle mass decreases the rate at which your body uses calories, which can make it more challenging to maintain a healthy weight. So we need to preserve the muscle mass as much as we can, if not increase it. And the best way to do that is to do some sort of weight bearing exercise, those which make you work against gravity. Walking is a weight bearing exercise, along with climbing stairs, tai chi, yoga, even dancing. There is a new trend at the gyms these days called zumba—a mix of Latin music and dance moves—and it’s great fun. Swimming and biking are not weight bearing exercises although still very good for cardiovascular health. If you are able, strength training using weights or a resistance band is an excellent way to increase your muscle mass.  Just keep doing any kind of physical activity you are able. The experts tell us that as little as thirty minutes a day is enough to help you age better, minimize the loss of muscle and help keep that menopausal weight gain at bay.