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Menopause - that weight gain

When we get to that stage of life where our waist is getting thicker and a weight is a little harder to control, it's easy for those who are not at that stage to come out with the usual comments telling us to work harder, watch our diet and up the intensity.

But we know that it's just not working. No matter how hard we work, how little we eat, the weight isn't going down, and the waist isn't getting any smaller. Aaaarrrrgggghhh!!! What to do.........

One of the things that effects our metabolism once we reach menopause is the reduction and eventual cessation of the production of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. One function of oestrogen is to work against excess insulin and cortisol. Progesterone assists in fighting against excess cortisol. Both Insulin and cortisol have very important roles when needed, however, if there is nothing to counteract excess cortisol and insulin, excess fat around the waist will be the result.

So with the onset of menopause and the loss of the production of these two hormones, we need to think smart with out diet and exercise for the following reasons:

- the metabolism slows down

- the metabolism is more carb sensitive due to insulin sensitivity

- the metabolism is more sensitive to stress and elevated cortisol levels.

So what to do...........

For those who have always had the mentality of "energy in energy out", or "I just need to eat less and train harder". That principal needs to be re assessed.

This mentality needs to be replaced with a focus on the type, style and the amount of time that is spent exercising. As for diet, it is important to focus on whole, unprocessed foods, ensuring that protein is included at EVERY meal and that carbohydrates are eaten around your training and at your evening meal.

For breakfast, think eggs (omelette, poached, baked, boiled) or a protein shake/smoothie, not cereal or porridge (unless it's after training) and certainly not a packaged/sachet porridge or cereal which is likely to be loaded with hidden additives and sugar.

For lunch, think some form of protein and some green vegetables such as broccoli, zucchini, beans and some other veggies such as cabbage, cauliflower, carrot, capsicum, or a salad. Load up the veggies and keep the portion of protein lean and about palm size. Include a little good fat - think nuts and seeds, maybe some dukkah.

Dinner is where you can have your carbs, but try and keep them low GI such as sweet potato, brown rice, basmati rice, quinoa etc. And again some protein and veggies or salad. A small amount of good fats again.

If you are going to snack, make the snack a healthy choice such as carrot/celery/capsicum sticks with a good quality hommus (home made is best), eggs (frittata, omelette, hard boiled), small handful of nuts

And go easy on the coffee, it also has a detrimental effect on cortisol levels if drinking to excess.

You may also need to reassess your idea on your exercise regime. I know it is ingrained that apart from the health aspect, exercise is all about the calories burned. It's time to think smart about exercise.....

Strength train - at least twice a week for 45-60 minutes

Interval train - 2/3 times a week but only for 20-40 minutes (just go hard)

Relax - Tai Chi, yoga, stretch, relaxing walk, meditate - This is the most important one and some form of "down" time needs to be included every day. You only need 10 minutes to breath and focus on relaxing, away from all the stresses of your life.

At this point it's all about the balancing of the cortisol levels. If we put our bodies under too much stress we raise our cortisol levels, hence reducing the time of our workouts. You can still put everything into your sessions, just don't be going all out for hours on end.

R E L A X..............R E L A X............R E L A X.............

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