Menopausal Years, Symptoms, Tips & Management – Part 4

If you have been following along you should now be familiar with the main hormones (Estrogen, Progesterone, Cortisol), and the symptoms they can cause when too high or low.  But let’s go a little deeper into these hormones and how they work in relation to weight gain.  

Estrogen on its own, signals’ fat storage (fat for pregnancy to be fertile).  But in the menopausal years the impact of estrogen in relevance to weight gain, is the lowering of estrogen which in turn, lowers metabolism.  Another blow to this lowering of estrogen, is that the body can’t deal with starches as effectively, affecting blood sugar, which increases fat storage because insulin is not working as well as it used too.   

But interestingly enough, progesterone is the first hormone that decreases before estrogen, creating estrogen dominance.  Estrogen dominance can cause weight gain especially around the stomach.  So, if lower estrogen causes weight gain and so does estrogen dominance – what’s going on? Estrogen does drop, but progesterone drops faster, creating estrogen dominance, but estrogen has still lowered too, causing problems with insulin. 

Progesterone is helpful for weight maintenance when produced by the body.  Progesterone taken as a hormone replacement, sometimes has weight gain as a side effect, as higher levels can also cause insulin resistance.  You can see a common denominator here, insulin.  To keep insulin production working well with the hormones; diet, exercise, healthy mind and limiting exposure to certain endocrine disruptors can help.  Also, a healthy body and mind can help alleviate many symptoms or prevent some from even happening.

In the menopausal years not only blood sugar insulin isn’t as effective but hormones are more reactive to toxins as well.

Progesterone and estrogen can be affected by endocrine disruptors and or obseogens, which are unnaturally made (artificial chemicals) or naturally occurring.  Both these may contribute to weight gain or stunt weight loss.  These toxins are found in many of the same places as: plastics, cookware, cosmetics, parabens, pesticides, BPA, flame retardants usually found in furniture, paint, electronics, even food! …

Keep stress in check so not to elevate cortisol.  Stress elevates cortisol which can cause weight gain.  Stress can be different for everyone.  The important thing, is to identify stress.  Not enough sleep, feeling wired but tired, can’t shut mind off, frequent headaches, unfocused…all can be stress related.  If you have a lot of stress, it is crucial to incorporate meditative exercises like yoga, this can have huge benefits.  

Exercise type and length, can be critical.  You may have to try different methods and see what feels best for you.  I always think a combination is best, but ensuring resistance training at least 2x per week, minimum.  Here are a few suggestions depending on how you are feeling.

HITT type workouts, seem to have the best outcome for aiding in weight loss – short bursts of high intensity exercise.  But not “boot camp,” that is full out with difficult type exercises, that may overstress the body.

Sleep issues, if sleep is not in check, then both losing and gaining weight can be an issue.  Time of day and type of exercise can help (this was in a previous corner in detail).  

  • An early morning or early afternoon aerobic, resistance and stretching combo can help you fall asleep faster at night.
  • A morning or evening steady state longer cardio, (walking or jog/walk) can help with also getting to sleep but also a longer sleep.
  • Late afternoon/early evening more intense workout like HITT, or intense hike can help with an uninterrupted sleep

Diet – I will go over this in next corner as there are different things to do if still peri-menopausal to fully in Menopause, once period as ceased.

*If this article or any past articles leaves you with questions, the want to be a better you, the courage to take the first step to a happier you, than please contact me at: 

Mikkie Nettles, Certified Personal Trainer/Holistic & Sports Nutritionist
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