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.”
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:
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…
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Your Ageless Body Coach,
Linda Melone is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, certified trainer and award-winning health and fitness writer. She specializes in helping women over 50 get in shape and lose weight.