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Getting that middle age spread? You may have entered into the MENOPAUSE ZONE!

Have you noticed that your midsection is starting to get fluffier or you are getting that dreaded FUPA (fat upper pubic area)? The changing hormonal levels as we get older may be to blame.

When we approach menopause, our estrogen levels drop and our metabolism decreases. Diminished estrogen causes our bodies to utilize sugars and starches less efficiently resulting in unwanted weight gain. On average, women gain at least five pounds in the early stages of menopause and increases unless lifestyle changes are made. And continued weight gain, particularly around your midsection can lead to other health issues such as heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. The more fat you carry around your waist could mean more health problems down the road!

*Women should have a waist circumference of 35 inches or less.

But you can take measures to manage your waistline before it gets out of control.

To prevent weight gain or lose the added weight - try these 6 things:

  1. Check your carbs. You don't have to eliminate eating carbohydrates altogether but reduce your portions. Stick to fist-size portions of complex carbs such as brown rice, quinoa, or potatoes and cut down on refined carbohydrates from pastries, white bread, chips, cereal and pizza. Read nutritional labels and avoid foods that have added sugars.

  2. Increase your protein. And your protein sources should be lean so extra fried chicken or a larger cheese burger isn't going to cut it. Think grilled or baked chicken or fish, leaner cuts of beef or beans if you are vegetarian.

  3. Add fiber to your diet. Fiber helps to remove undigested food from your intestines that can add to your girth. Include more fibrous fruits and veggies with your meals. You can also add flax, hemp, and chia seeds to your salads, shakes and oatmeal which not only provide fiber but healthy omega-3 fats.

  4. Drink more H20. Like adding fiber, drinking more water will help your plumbing and remove the waste. Plus, substituting soda/juice/alcohol for water will cut down on unnecessary calories you are taking in.

  5. Work out!! If you're not exercising regularly, get started ASAP! Building muscle from consistent strength-training not only increases your metabolism to burn more calories, but also strengthen your bones which lose calcium post-menopause.

  6. Get the sufficient amount of Zzzzzz. Yes, sleep!!! We may not think sleep is an important factor in managing your weight, but it is. When you are up late at night, you are more likely to aimlessly snack, resulting in adding more daily calories than you are burning. Missing out on the rest your body needs also adds stress which can lead to in an increase in cortisol. Cortisol can cause cravings for salty and sugary foods (which is why it's called stress-eating) that ultimately lead to weight gain. Added to that, more cortisol means your body releases less testosterone which results in muscle loss and more fat gain.

Just because you reached menopause doesn't mean you have to settle for a body (and a belly) you're not happy with. It may take time, patience and some lifestyle changes but you can achieve a body that is healthier and make menopause look and feel good!

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