#1 Reason why even fit women gain 8 lbs. during menopause (and how to fix it)

          NOTE: Not my actual eye

I found two grey eyelash hairs this week.

The magnitude of this discovery cannot be emphasized enough. Because here’s the thing.

I’ve been prematurely grey since high school. It’s a hereditary issue. My dad started turning silver in his teens, and I followed in his footsteps. It’s been a raging battle ever since I can remember.

Initially I tried to mask nature’s assault on my follicles by using drugstore color. Major mistake. The color buildup in my hair required hours at a salon to fix the Morticia-black strands. I remember the stylist telling me, “This is what we call a ‘worst-case scenario’ in our trade.”

Alrighty.

It took literally hours of my head hanging over a sink to strip out the many layers of color before I no longer looked like a refugee from a punk rock band.

I’ve had it done professionally ever since.

Trips to the salon were reasonable in the beginning, I went every four to five weeks, like a normal human being.

Then the roots started showing sooner, so I bumped that up to every three to four weeks. And I gradually went with a lighter shade (trust me, I’d rather be a brunette) so the grey would be less obvious.

Flash forward to today…

My roots start rearing their ugly heads a WEEK after my last salon appointment. A week!

My stylist calls my rapid hair growth “amazing.”

I prefer several other words, which I will refrain from saying.

In short, I’m tethered to my hair stylist with an appointment every 2-1/2 weeks. Thankfully, she gives me a “deal,” but I am certain my twice monthly deposits to her account helped pay for her and her husband’s new home.

Back to the eyelash situation.

I could deal with the hair on my head turning grey since, after all, it’s not uncommon. But then I noticed my eyebrows also began going down the same lonely, dusty, road. Yup, little grey hairs popping out amidst the dark brown ones.

Sigh… Time to whip out the eyebrow makeup.

But now this! My eyelashes were the last holdout.

Yes, I obviously use mascara and lashes and the whole nine yards, but I know what lies beneath! And it’s depressing as hell.

I applaud women who embrace their grey hair, but I’m not built that way. I embrace only the changes I know I can do nothing about. Oh, I complain about them, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve accepted certain changes because the alternative is to let hot flashes and weight shifts ruin my life.

I won’t let them.

So what does this have to do with weight gain during menopause, you ask? Easy peasy.

Because there’s ONE SINGLE EVENT that happens during menopause — that actually defines the word – behind this weight gain that occurs no matter what.

But unlike my grey (*sniff*) eyelashes, you CAN do something about it.

Can you guess it?

Hint: It’s at the end of this sentence.

Yup, your period. A lot changes when that process stops.

Most importantly, during your actively reproductive years you burn more calories the week or so leading up to Aunt Flow, up to between 5 and 10%.

This accounts for those premenstrual (excuse me while I pause to try and remember those days…) cravings: chocolate, sugar, salty snacks, etc. Whether or not you caved in to those cravings is one thing, but the fact remains that you burned between 100 and 200 calories more per day during that time.

Clearly, once you enter the merry land of menopause, the cravings stop (a good thing) but along with them also go the additional calorie burn.

The bottom line: If you change nothing after you begin going through menopause, you can gain anywhere from six to eight pounds as easily as falling off a log by the time the smoke clears.

That’s right. Even if you work out like a triathlete, eat like a cloistered monk, and maintain a healthy weight, your body is working hard to make sure it rewards you with nearly 10 lbs of fat you’d rather be without.

Life is simply not always fair.

So what can you do?

The answer is so simple I’m almost (but not really) embarrassed to take you through this whole journey only to offer this one solution…

You eat 200 fewer calories a day to make up for it.

Thank you, and good night!

Seriously, it’s simple logic. You need to eliminate a couple hundred calories for about half a month each day to MAINTAIN your weight during menopause, let alone lose weight.

But if you do that, you’ll be ahead of the game.

You’ve heard this all before, I know, but it bears repeating: Cut portions, substitute lower calorie versions for higher calorie foods and BAM! Those calories are gone with the wind.

As a reminder… Here are a bunch of easy ways to cut calories without sacrifice:

  • Switch to a low-fat version of regular dairy or cheese
  • Substitute grilled or baked for fried
  • Cut dinner portions by a third or half
  • Choose thin-crust over regular crust pizza
  • Avoid sauces and cheesy toppings
  • Cut back on all dressings and/or swap them out for low-fat or, better yet, salt and pepper and Mrs. Dash
  • Overall: Cut your portions!  

These simple changes can easily cut 100 to 200 calories a day from your usual intake. Try them and come up with some on your own.

NOW YOU… Did you notice a weight gain during menopause that seemed mysterious? Let me know in the comment section below… 

Other posts you may enjoy:

How to lose weight without really trying

5 Simplest weight loss tactics ever

7 Fat-Burning Walking Workouts (plus survey results!)

Your Ageless Body Coach,

16 Comments

  1. Patti on March 23, 2017 at 6:11 am

    Yes weight gain (was) is mysterious. My issue is portion control. I haven’t been able to get a handle on it. Last week I tried an experiment: instead of reaching for the first thing available to stick down my trap when starving and overeating portions, I carried around celery sticks. Yes, boring and gross. But here’s an interesting thing: it cut cravings, didn’t leave me starving and during a few angry moment the crunch helped me calm down. I read somewhere it takes more calories to burn celery than what it takes to consume it. I lost 4 pounds last week with just this one change.
    By the way: this weight has been stuck on like glue since 2010. So for the scale to move this much it’s been what I consider a miracle. Absolutely nothing else has worked, eating and exercise were becoming a chore. Why bother? The only reason I’m still exercising is I’m addicted to movement.
    At the end of the day losing 200 calories eating celery is exactly what you described in your post.
    Thank you!!
    PS: Now about that gray hair thing…..

    • Linda Melone on March 23, 2017 at 8:51 am

      YA, Patti! That’s awesome how eating celery helped you lose four pounds! Sometimes we just want something to crunch, right? Obviously you don’t have to eat celery (not my favorite, either…) but baby carrots, cut up jicama, radishes, anything crunchy veggies like these would also work. Keep it up! 🙂

  2. Patricia Scott on March 23, 2017 at 6:16 am

    Ok Linda here is where I disagree with you for the first time! Grey eyelashes are a small thing when you compare it to grey (yuck) nose hairs? Yesterday I felt pretty spiffy and went to check myself in the truck mirror only to discover I had grey nose hairs! Man, I was meeting people for lunch and had to run for the tweezers! What’s up with that?! So now I have “grey nose hair stress” added to fitting into my clothes. Oh, and to those who say don’t pull them … yeah right.

    • Linda Melone on March 23, 2017 at 8:53 am

      Nose hairs?? lol! I do not spend a lot of time looking up my nose, so who knows (nose??) what’s going on up there. I can only assume the worst, though :).

  3. Sue on March 23, 2017 at 7:07 am

    How long will it take you to see a result of cutting those calories? I’ve changed my eating habits for Lent — I’ve cut out snacking; meals are the same as before and healthy; exercise is about the same — but in a month, my weight may have dropped a pound.

    (The “fasting” is a spiritual journey, and in that way, it’s been successful. Any other changes to truly spur weight loss will come after Easter. But I thought there would be some change in the meantime.)

    • Linda Melone on March 23, 2017 at 8:56 am

      Sue, it depends on how many calories you’re actually cutting. Are you tracking your food? Consider you need to take in 3,500 fewer calories than you need in order to lose one pound. So if you cut out, say, 100 calories for 30 days, that’s only 3,000. Obviously the more you cut out the faster the process. Give it time! It took me a year of cutting back a little here and there to lose 10 lbs ! Be patient and it will happen :).

  4. Julia on March 23, 2017 at 9:57 am

    Hi Linda,
    Wow, until reading your words the idea that after menstruation ends, we no longer burn those calories I did not realize the answer was so simple! True for me, I gained not weight, but redistribution. Suddenly, and really, one morning I got up and noticed a small pregnancy pouch in my stomach area. Also, my breasts grew! How was this possible? I exercise, I eat healthy, but I guess I was not burning those calories. Today, my stomach is no longer sticking out and I am more careful with the portions I eat. Key for me! Thanks Linda for the clear explanation.

    • Linda Melone on March 24, 2017 at 10:52 am

      Great job, Julia! Glad this info helped. 🙂

  5. Ellen on March 23, 2017 at 10:25 am

    I have started “fasting” two days a week – consuming 500 calories on those day. Bingo! Back to pre menopause weight with little effort or thought.

    • Linda Melone on March 24, 2017 at 10:53 am

      Intermittent fasting works for some people, so I’m glad it did for you, Ellen :).

  6. roberta on March 23, 2017 at 11:41 am

    I have increased my walking and cut calories. Snaking on radishes with a little hummus. No luck and I have cut back and became considerably more active and nothing happening over 3 months…..

    • Linda Melone on March 24, 2017 at 10:55 am

      Are you writing down everything you eat, Roberta? That’s the best way to hone in on what’s going on. It may be portion sizes or simply eating more than you think :).

  7. old lady on April 4, 2017 at 7:44 am

    Yes, I found post 55 years old, those pounds show right in the mid section! 🙁 what is a woman to do???

    I followed Linda’s suggestions for reducing unnecessary calories (ketchup, ranch dressing, fried foods, chips, cheese/crackers, everyday sugar processed foods) and filling up with whole foods, and NO snacking after 9pm. I have found trial/error has assisted with maintaining a size 8/10. I have back! lol

    IN addition, I had to increase my cardio to +3 days a week in order to burn calories. simple brisk walking or walking days does not allow me to maintain my weight. I have to sweat a few days. But not for hours a 15 – 30min DVD with a warm up/cool down does the trick. Of course I do weight training too for the muscles. 🙂

    • Linda Melone on April 4, 2017 at 9:39 am

      Ya! Go, you! By the way, you need to change your name to something much younger.. like “ageless lady” :).

  8. Lezlie on April 14, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    Menopause has been tons of fun – not! I’ll take the flashes back – those were actually interesting – over the “Menopausal pooch” and the moodiness any day! I’ve had to work hard to get the extra lbs. off a few times, but still the belly remains 🙁 A big issue also is I am always hungry! It seems my Grehlin hormone doesn’t turn off. What’s up w/that? Any help there?

    Thanks 🙂

    • Linda Melone on April 15, 2017 at 1:09 pm

      Lezlie, I obviously can’t say for sure, but often when we’re hungry “all the time” it’s because we’re low in protein. It could be you need to up the protein in your diet and/or lower the refined carbs.

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