A common question I get from women over 35 is how to speed up menopause weight loss? They feel stuck, frustrated and feel like weight loss is more impossible than ever.
All my clients are females either in perimenopause or menopause and they feel like their metabolism slowed down and that this slow down combined with fluctuating hormones is the cause for their weight gain.
In this podcast episode, I'm sharing the intangible things traditional diet programs are not talking about when it comes to menopausal weight loss for women. This applies to peri-menopause too!
Why in the past it may have been easier for you to willpower your way through a strict diet and restrict foods to lose weight rapidly, but how you may no longer have the same level of willpower due to changing hormones.
The reason it would have been easier for you to say no to certain foods easier in the past when your hormones were balanced.
And why it feels harder to say no to foods that do not serve your body. With lack of sleep and hot flashes comes less activity and eating more food.
How emotions get stronger during menopause. Additionally, how these strong emotions can cause women to behave irrationally and make irrational choices.
I've repeatedly seen this one behavior with clients - the inability to cope with negative emotions in a healthy way.
It's a big reason why they struggle with their weight and food.
If you don't have the skills to deal with negative emotions like boredom, sadness, anger, grief, frustration, anxiety etc. or have always been taught to suppress your emotions, then it is likely you have learned to cope by eating food.
Many women avoid these negative emotions by eating food and don't realize it.
Emotions get stronger in menopause which really highlights this particular problem for menopausal women who have been suppressing their emotions and using food to cover it up.
This is why traditional diet programs do not work long-term because they never address how you think and feel about yourself and why you keep eating food to escape yourself.
If you want to speed up menopause weight loss, working on these less tangible things plus adapting the BASICS to nourish and care for your body is key.
You will hear the tangible things (the BASICS) in this episode that we all know we should be doing to lose weight. And the BASICS do work!
In this podcast, I explain why it becomes challenging to do the basics during this phase of life and how it interferes with losing weight permanently.
It's always interesting how many women I've coached view things like daily movement, strength training, adequate protein and fiber as optional health habits.
They would never consider showering or brushing their teeth as optional. How many times have you said I forgot to shower and then you don't shower for 2 or 3 months? Likely, never!
Because you don't view showering or brushing your teeth as optional health habits. You view them as things that must always get done.
If you view taking care of your health as optional, then the most important thing that must change is how you view these things.
A diet or food plan won't teach you that!
Lot of insightful help in this episode for menopausal and peri-menopausal weight loss that you won't get from a traditional diet program.
In this Dish on Ditching Diets Podcast Episode, You Will Hear:
- Does Metabolism Slow With Age?
- What Really Happens To Metabolism With Age
- The Tangible Things (BASICS) To Lose Weight
- Cardio vs. Strength Training - What's The Priority?
- How Emotions Get Stronger In Menopause
- Why Processing Negative Emotions Is Key To Not Putting Food In Your Mouth
- Are Viewing Your Health Habits As Optional?
- How Women Are Terrible At Failing
- Why Failure Is Necessary To Lose Weight
- The Mindset Hurdle Women Face With Failure
- How To Speed Up Weight Loss In Menopause
Related Dish On Ditching Diets Podcast Episodes
- Scared Of Failing Another Diet
- Why Weight Loss Is Different For Women Over 35
- Missing Ingredient In Your Weight Loss
- All Or Nothing Thinking
- Why You Must Prioritize Emotional Health
How To Speed Up Menopause Weight Loss Podcast Transcript
Hello ladies! Today we’re chatting about menopause and how to speed up weight loss during menopause.
All my clients are females either in perimenopause or menopause, so I have a lot of experience working with women in this phase of life.
I’m going to share with you why it feels harder to lose weight in menopause. The science behind why metabolism and how it DOES NOT slowdown in menopause.
Why you may no longer have the same willpower to say no to foods like you did previously and of course, I am going to share a few menopausal client stories with you to highlight common mistakes and roadblocks women face.
First, I want to share with you my observations working with women in this phase of life. They all have a common story.
They all feel like their hormones are why they’ve gained weight and they feel frustrated about why they’ve gained weight and confused about what to do about it.
Many of them have dieted in the past and have a poor relationship with food. Some of them they never had a weight problem until menopause.
But they all have a couple things in common such as: they have less muscle mass, they are not as active as they were 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago and they have trouble managing stress and they avoid negative emotions.
So, if you are still eating the same way you were 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago but your level of daily movement and muscle mass has declined.
Then it becomes very easy to gain weight in this phase of life. I’m going to share more on this later on when I talk about metabolism.
But I think a lot of women don’t realize that they can’t eat the same way and not gain weight especially if you have less daily movement.
Maybe you’re 55 and 20 years ago you were taking care of small children. Running around with them, picking up toys, taking them places, going to sports and music events.
You were just busier and doing more in terms of your day-to-day activity taking care of them. Now maybe your kids are in college or out of the house and you’re not as active with that general day-to-day movement.
This sets up the perfect storm for subtle weight gain as we age along with declining muscle mass as we age.
Then not managing stress and dealing with negative emotions is a big one and many of my clients do not realize they are using food to avoid negative emotions until I start pointing it out to them.
This is something I’m going to share more about today.
But before we get into the meat and potatoes, I want to tell you that menopause and perimenopause are not something to be scared of.
Everything we hear about this phase of life sounds so scary. Ooohhhh… you’re going to lose your hormones.
You’re not going to sleep anymore. You’re going to have hot flashes all the time. You’re going to become insulin resistant. You won’t be able to eat any carbs.
You can’t eat any sugar! You’re going to gain weight! You’re going to have belly fat!
Isn’t this what you’ve always heard? I mean this just makes it sound like getting older is horrible, miserable, and scary.
I believe we hear these terrible, scary things and then we think OMG my life is over. My body will never be the same.
I’m just destined to be fat. But the problem with that line of thinking is that it makes you feel hopeless. Right? It does not make you feel good.
Do you think if you feel hopeless that you’re going to take good care of your body by eating enough protein, eating fruits and vegetables, eating balanced meals, going on daily walks and doing strength training a few times a week?
If you feel hopeless, do you think you will be more likely or less likely to do those things? If you’re thinking less likely, you are correct.
Because if you feel hopeless about something, you are less likely to take action and more likely to take inaction.
Oh, why bother. Nothing I do works. Weight loss is so slow for me. I will never be able to control myself around food anyway.
Those are some of the hopeless thoughts we have that de-motivate us and cause us not to take actions.
Menopause is puberty in reverse. If you think about it, you went through all kinds of changes during puberty. Slept more, were moodier, hungrier, gained weight.
Your body went through all kinds of changes.
Did you hear people telling you how terrible puberty was going to be and how you should dread it and feel hopeless about your life? No!
But for some reason in our society, it has become normalized to talk to women about how dreadful menopause is going to be and how their life is over.
There are so many things you CAN do to ease this transition, and this is a normal life transition for all females.
The problem when it comes specifically to losing body fat during this phase of life and you may not like what I’m about to say, is a lot of the weight problem is through our own doing.
Let me give you an example to highlight to you what I mean.
So, do you get up every day and brush your teeth? Do you brush your teeth before bed each night? Why?
Why do you do brush your teeth? It’s a healthy habit that most of us simply do on repeat and we don’t even think about it.
Why wouldn’t you at night say, nah I’m way too tired. I’m just going to skip brushing my teeth tonight. I’m too stressed to brush my teeth.
Or why wouldn’t you get up in the morning say nah, I’m just going to go to work with my harry breath. I don’t feel like brushing my teeth.
I’m guessing you would NEVER do that. But why? Why is it that you always brush your teeth morning and night? Probably to avoid a cavity? Probably to avoid bad breath?
Sounds like good reasons to me! You logically know if you do not brush your teeth, there are going to be consequences when you go to the dentist and that it’s just a matter of time before a cavity or something else shows worse like a root canal or bridge, whatever.
So, you brush your teeth whether you’re too tired, too stressed or don’t feel like it. You brush your teeth. You don’t treat brushing your teeth as optional.
Now let’s think about other healthy habits like showering. Do you ever say you know; I’m just not showering this week. I’m too tired to shower. I’m too stressed to shower. I’m too busy to shower.
Then you don’t shower for a week and then one week becomes a month of not showering. Does that happen? I’m guessing you never go a week or month without showering. But why not?
Because showering and cleaning your body is a healthy habit.
Why wouldn’t the excuses of I’m too tired, too stressed, or too busy not apply to showering? Why doesn’t it apply? Why do you not view showering as optional?
Now I’ve worked with a lot of women in my nutrition practice and many of them are showering, are brushing their teeth, but they are not going on a daily walk to get movement in or getting any kind of movement in...
They are not strength training a few times a week or going to bed at a decent hour to rest, they are not getting sufficient lean protein or eating fruits and vegetables and balancing meals to balance blood sugar.
The women I’ve worked with have not been doing these healthy habits and they have not been doing them well… basically the majority of their lives.
Then they get to menopause and are surprised like OMG why am I gaining weight. Why do I feel like crap? Why do I have no energy?
That would be like driving your car for as long as possible and never changing the oil and then acting surprised when your car overheated and shut down because you never changed the oil or maintenanced your car. Hmm…
Do you see the disconnect here? If this is you, you are viewing your health habits as optional.
You would never look at showering, brushing your teeth or washing your hair as optional, but you are viewing movement, strength training, eating the right amount of protein, fruits and veggies, balancing your meals as optional.
Regardless of fat loss, these health habits are not optional, and I really believe if you have not been maintenancing your body like you would maintenance your car all these years...
That menopause now hits you like a freight train and makes it abundantly clear how you have been taking care of your body. How you’ve been maintenancing your body.
It also highlights the issues you’ve had with food a lot more because emotions are much stronger which I’ll get more into in a second.
Do you see the disconnect? These things are not optional, but many of you are treating them as if they are optional.
You cannot treat these things as optional regardless of fat loss goals, everyone should be doing them.
They are not optional and by not doing them you are gambling with your health. It’s just a matter of time before it catches up to you.
If you had a heart attack, you would logically recognize that you haven’t been eating well most of your life and that was what led to the heart attack.
It wasn’t like you had a heart attack and were like well I ate healthy last month, why did I have a heart attack? We logically know when someone has a heart attack that something with their lifestyle choices has been off.
I see women in my practice every day who all the sudden have prediabetes after years of eating unbalanced meals.
I talked about what a balanced meal with protein and fiber looks like in episode 56 so go listen to that if you have not heard it.
But these clients of mine always have a confused reaction like OMG how did this happen? Likewise, I have clients who drink alcohol every single night and come to me with alcohol related fatty liver disease with the same reaction.
How did this happen? It came from years of drinking alcohol.
These things happened after years of these women not maintenancing their bodies. Not practicing health habits.
Now menopause comes along with hormonal fluctuations, and you feel like you’re in a completely different body even though you did nothing different with diet or exercise.
But that is no different than one of my clients who has fatty liver disease after years of drinking alcohol every night or one of my clients who now has prediabetes or had a heart attack after years of poor eating choices.
Much of the weight problem in menopause is through our own doing.
Poor lifestyle choices and habits over time create worst menopausal symptoms and can result in weight gain. A lot of the weight problem is through our own doing.
Many women have the belief that metabolism slows down with menopause, and this is scientifically not valid. A study came out last year that studied 6,421 participants (64% of which were female) between the ages of 8 days and 95 years old.
What was discovered is that metabolic rate was stable from the age of 20 to 63.
Around the age of 63, there is a slight decline in metabolic rate of 0.7% and for subjects older than 90 their metabolic rate was 26% below middle-aged adults.
Additional findings in the study determined that changes in individuals’ physical activity level and decline in muscle tissue attributed more to a lower metabolic rate for people between 20 and 63 not age.
What that means is that your metabolism does not slow with age like a lot of people believe.
It’s actually that people are less active as they age and lose muscle mass and those are the reasons why they end up gaining weight.
Muscle is the engine behind your metabolism.
You have more metabolic flexibility when you focus on building muscle and the more active you with general movement throughout the day the more calories you will burn.
I mean what are most of doing these days? Sitting. And what do most of do more of as we age? Sit more, watch tv more, go out less.
We have also become more sedentary as a society within the last 30 years because of the internet and smart phones.
These technological advances are great, but they’ve greatly changed our physical activity habits. Most people are tied to their phones and computers all day. That alone makes it very easy to gain weight as you age.
Loss of activity, loss of muscle mass. Couple that with the huge amount of access we have to processed foods that are high in calories, and it truly is the perfect storm for weight gain.
So, the good news is age does not slow down your metabolism and YOU do have control over your daily activity and muscle mass to prevent the classic weight gain problem women run into during menopause.
So, before I did this episode today, I typed into Google “hard to lose weight in menopause” and the first thing that popped up was “as your estrogen levels decrease, your metabolism slows down.
This makes you gain weight – even if you haven’t changed a thing about the way, you eat or move, and it makes it harder to lose weight.”
So, I was horrified when I read this. First this statement is not true and again it’s promoting all the bad, scary stuff about menopause that all of us keep hearing.
If you have good health habits and you are active and working to retain muscle as you age, weight gain is not inevitable. However, they neglected to write that here.
This was the very first thing that popped up in my Google search results and it was from WebMD. Have you consulted good ole WebMD before? Yeah, so WebMD is not a credible scientific resource. It is not held to the same level of accountability as sites like the MayoClinic.com.
I like to think of WebMD like the Optavia diet. Anyone who has a credible background in nutrition and health will tell you to be skeptical of anything you read on WebMD.
Why am I tell you this? Because Google showed me this as the very first thing in the search results. WebMD gets a lot of traffic because people DO just assume it’s a credible source.
Google works like an algorithm. It’s shows first in the search results what people click on most. Does that mean it’s accurate? No.
It just means it’s the thing people click MOST on. So be aware of this and don’t assume you’re doomed. More is in your control than you realize.
Again, metabolism does not slow with age or because you are in menopause. There is a very small decline in metabolic rate that happens around the age of 63.
Many of my menopausal clients when I discuss their weight history with them.
It’s nearly always the case that they’re not strength training and many of them are not as active as they were when they were younger. That lack of muscle mass is really a big contributor to weight gain.
Remember we also lose some muscle mass thru chronic dieting which many of my clients are in that camp where they have been on and off diets for years. If you lose 20 pounds doing whatever diet, a % of the 20 pounds was muscle.
When you gain 30 pounds back, you gain 30 pounds of fat. You don’t gain muscle back. Now consider how many times in your life you’ve lost and gained.
That has an impact on your metabolism because of the muscle you’ve lost through chronic dieting.
Here's what typically I see for my menopausal clients who notice they’re gaining weight. They start to think well now that I’m older I shouldn’t lift weights. I’m going to get bulky if I lift weights.
I should do more cardio to burn fat.
So, they stop focusing on protein and nutrition or they never have focused on those things in the first place and that’s where that muscle mass tends to decline and metabolic rate declines.
We have been conditioned by diet culture to think that cardio is how we burn fat. Cardio is the most ineffective way to lose body fat. Do you know how easy it is to eat back 500 calories? Real easy.
But we have been conditioned to think if we sweat a lot and get our heart rates up high that we will burn all these calories. That is not how fat loss works.
When it comes to the best form of training during menopause strength training above all else.
When it comes to improving your muscle mass, metabolic rate, mood, energy, improving insulin sensitivity. Strength training is above all else.
I can’t stress this enough. But this is the time a lot of women give up strength training and start doing a lot more high-intensity circuits, group classes because they have been conditioned to think that cardio is better.
But this truly is the time to do basic resistance training and make sure you’re getting adequate rest and recovery.
So, I had a client awhile back who was a runner and had done a 1200 calorie diet.
Lost weight and gained it right back. Drank a lot of alcohol every night, wasn’t eating sufficient protein and fiber foods and was ultimately diagnosed with prediabetes.
Lose weight when she would train for a race then gain it back. This was the cycle for her for many years.
Then she began working with me because she realized that approach wasn’t working anymore. Right! You can get away with this until you can’t get away with it anymore.
I explained to her how she needed to do strength training and how she couldn’t skimp on it any more especially now with prediabetes to improve her insulin sensitivity she would have back off the running and do more strength training.
She would also need to eat more protein because she was barely eating any and she was very low on fiber which was causing her to be constipated all the time.
So, she began working on her protein and fiber and she freaked out when the scale went up 5 pounds and said no way am I eating more protein. Protein made me gain weight! That’s what she said.
It's still surprises me how many people are so quick to believe that a certain food group causes them to gain weight and how quick they are to blame that food group.
That’s not how weight gain works. It’s always the overall calories that causes weight gain and it happens over a long period of time.
For this woman who was in menopause and prediabetic, she was not eating high quality foods. She was drinking every night and eating a lot of snacks.
Deficient in protein. Deficient in fiber. With no strength training and tons of cardio.
But her mind convinced her to stop strength training and eating protein because she made herself believe it must be the protein.
So, she started running again and she complained to me how still wasn’t losing weight and how she’s constipated all the time.
I explained to her with the prediabetes we need to strength train to improve her insulin sensitivity, but she didn’t want to do that.
She wanted to continue doing the things she’s always done that hadn’t been getting her the results. At the end of the day, I can’t force anyone to do what I recommend.
Sometimes individuals have to screw things up over and over again to learn that their way does not work.
This client is a good example of the classic menopausal dieter, and she had bad habits with her eating that led to her becoming prediabetic and she too was in this state of confusion like how did this happen?
Because she has been treating her diet as optional. You can’t eat and exercise the same way you did when you were 20 and get away with it basically. Now absolutely do cardio if you enjoy it.
This is not me telling you cardio is bad for menopause, but cardio is always dose dependent because most of the time women will shift to doing way more cardio, group classes, higher intensity exercise all of that and they’ll put their strength training on the back burner.
What I’m saying is prioritize strength training with adequate recovery.
Sprinkle in cardio with adequate recovery and you’ve got a more effective approach to improving your metabolic health, improving muscle mass and insulin sensitivity.
Those things are your best friend along with food quality and being in a calorie deficit if you want to lose body fat.
If you want to lose weight in menopause, you still need to be in a calorie deficit.
That does not mean it’s easy to get into a calorie deficit especially if you have years of chronic dieting and have lost muscle mass.
Your calorie deficit may be lower than what an online calculator tells you it should be.
But you can always start with an online calculator to figure out approximately where your calorie deficit should be then track what happens with you weight over 4-6 weeks.
If your weight isn’t budging, you are not in a calorie deficit. From your body’s perspective, you are not in a deficit.
I talk to my clients about earning the right to lose weight. Priming their metabolism first and when I say “priming” because that is the word, I call it. It’s not a scientific word.
It simply means eating sufficient calories, often bringing calories up to maintenance...
If they are not already there, working on strength training, rest, recovery, improving sleep quality, building muscle mass, eating adequate protein and fiber, getting meal quality dialed in if it’s not already.
Priming is upgrading your habits and doing all that pre-work will make getting into a calorie deficit easier for you down the road.
So, what I’m saying is you need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight even in menopause, but getting into a calorie deficit may not be as easy as plugging your numbers into an online calculator and seeing what it says your deficit should be.
Your body depending on your situation may not be operating at the same level as what the online calculator says is should be.
This is why if you want to speed up weight loss in menopause then strength training, eating adequate protein, upgrading your food choices, increasing that daily movement will help with that.
So those are the tangible things that help speed up weight loss in menopause or perimenopause.
Training, nutrition, food quantity, food quality all of that is doing what I call the basics and remember what I said earlier, a lot of us are not doing those things because we view them as OPTIONAL.
Now let’s talk about the things that are less tangible.
If you want to speed up weight loss, we have to talk about the lifestyle stuff. There is some of it that we can control and some of it that we can’t.
The first one is sleep. Often during menopause, sleep is disrupted from fluctuating hormones. That doesn’t negate the importance of TRYING to get good sleep.
Prioritize your wind down routine. Don’t be answering work emails or doing your taxes before bed or anything that’s super stressful. Put yourself on a bedtime routine.
For the most part, the same time every night you put yourself to bed. Keep your room dark, cold, practice some deep breathing or stretching before bed, don’t be looking at your devices right before bed. If you have to get yourself some blue light glasses.
Be more considerate of alcohol. Alcohol disrupts REM sleep. If you are in menopause and drinking alcohol before bed, you may be throwing fuel on the fire and making your sleep worse.
Are you always going to get the best sleep every night? No, but control what you can control. Put yourself in the BEST position to sleep and to sleep well.
Now along these lines, you must find ways to manage stress. Notice I did not say stress elimination, I said manage stress. This is probably the most important time of your life to prioritize stress management.
Women are much more stress sensitive during menopause.
Can you start journaling, can you do yoga, can you stretch or get a massage once a week, can you pick up a new hobby, can you see a therapist...
Can you get out in nature and walk more, can you connect with friends and family more intentionally to have fun?
Stress management is important and often the most ignored.
The other thing that happens in menopause is that our emotions get heightened from fluctuating hormones and lack of sleep. I don’t know about you, but anytime I don’t have great sleep or anytime I’m emotional I don’t make good decisions.
Sometimes I’ve made irrational decisions because I was emotional or sleep deprived. And this is something I have witnessed with my menopausal clients.
Emotions getting in the way of their judgement.
I had a menopausal client awhile back who had just started with me. She started in November and on January 5th she emailed me saying it had been 4 months and why hadn’t she lost weight.
Now I don’t know about you, but my math tells me November to January is not 4 months.
Yet, in her mind she really felt strongly that it had been 4 months. Her mind was racing with all these strong negative thoughts.
She truly believed it had been 4 months, but it had only been 2 months and there were two major holidays in between.
Then one weekend she sent me her Fitbit sleep graph saying how she’s not getting any sleep because she has hot flashes and how she needs to get her weight off right away! It’s not acceptable that she hasn’t lost weight.
Now, she wasn’t supposed to be losing weight yet because she was not in a calorie deficit, and I had set those expectations for her from the start and repeated that to her that her expectations were totally off.
Additionally, I am not a doctor nor am I sleep expert. I stay in my lane as a nutritionist and therefore, recommended to her that she go to her doctor to get her hormones checked. Did she, do it? No.
I’m not sure why she was sending me her sleep graph, but the point is her emotions and lack of sleep were getting in the way of her having good solid judgement with her decision making.
She was completely irrational, not listening to any reason and there was obviously a lot more going on with her.
Ultimately, I told her I could not help her anymore because of the way she was mistreating me and because of how irrational she had become.
Now I do have a lot of compassion for women going through menopause and for all my clients. It is hard to change, it is hard to lose weight, it is hard when you feel out of control with your body.
But I don’t tolerate people mistreating me and I am never willing to do drastic things to get someone to lose body fat simply because their mind is out of control.
That is a mental health problem that needs to be addressed. I do believe many women don’t realize how strong emotions can become during menopause.
Like I said, when we are emotional, we say and do things that are not in our best judgement, and I’ve seen stuff like this with clients over the years where they are completely out of control with their emotions.
They don’t know how to handle negative emotions. Very often they use food to cope and avoid their negative emotions.
They are eating food to avoid feeling tired, avoid feeling stressed, avoid feeling anxious, avoid being angry, upset or whatever…
This no different than doing drugs or drinking alcohol to avoid feeling something bad.
If you are someone who does not handle negative emotions well, you may find during menopause that now it’s even harder than ever to say no to food because your emotions are heightened, and you have more urges around food.
When you have an urge to eat something it’s because you have a thought.
And often the thought goes something like this. Oh, I really want something sweet. Oh yeah, that sounds so good right now.
Then you have a thought like you know you shouldn’t be eating that. You know you’re going to gain weight if you eat that. You know you shouldn’t be doing that. Just stop it!
And usually, what happens is either you eat it, or you use a lot of willpower not to eat it because you’re screaming at yourself not to eat it. Those are two opposing thoughts and are ones I see all the time.
Now, I was talking to a new menopausal client of mine about her compelling reason to lose weight. One of the things I always discuss with clients is what is their compelling reason.
The two reasons most people choose - do not work because they are not compelling are weight loss and health. I know, I know you want to lose weight and you want to be healthy but it’s just not compelling.
As I was talking to this client about her compelling reason, she asked me if I thought that if when women are going through menopause that their thoughts get even crazier.
The reason she asked this is because now when she thinks she wants to eat – doesn’t want to eat, she does want to eat, she doesn’t want to eat, she feels like her thoughts are so much louder in her head.
The thoughts YES do it or NO don’t do. She feels like they’re so much stronger.
I said to her well, weren’t those thoughts always there even before menopause and she said yeah, but she thought she could handle those thoughts better before menopause and she could just use willpower to lose weight before.
Now she thinks it’s not possible because she can’t handle the thoughts. They’re so strong!
When you’re going through menopause, because your hormones are in fluctuation and because they are changing, your emotions are much stronger.
That means whatever you’ve been thinking in the past like should I or shouldn’t I, the emotions are twice as strong because of the transition of your hormones.
So, my client is right. The emotions are stronger, but those thoughts have always been there.
Here’s the deal – now you are seeing what has always been there - it’s simply heightened because I think what most see in menopause is everything they’ve been doing, haven’t been doing and wish they weren’t doing.
All of that internal dialogue is way stronger. The good news is menopause is making you more aware of the thoughts that have always been there.
The thoughts of don’t do it and the thoughts that say yes, do it. Some people equate it to having the devil on one side and an angel on the other side.
The bad news is now you have to deal with that and make peace with your thoughts whereas, before you were able to ignore them or willpower your way through them to lose weight.
I had a menopausal client years ago who’s house flooded. Not a healthy eater.
What I would call a sporadic eater. Always skipping meals and snacking a lot every time something bad happened.
Well, her house flooded from a pipe burst and she began eating cupcakes for breakfast, eating several containers of Pringles at night although they gave her a rash.
She began eating irrationally because she was using the food to avoid her negative emotions and stress.
The food was the only thing she knew to help her calm down.
This is a good example of someone not knowing how process negative feelings, not recognizing when their emotions and stress are causing irrational thoughts and behaviors.
I believe a lot of us have been conditioned by diet culture that if we feel something like we’re not motivated, we need to do it anyway. Basically, that we need to ignore our feelings.
That is what many of us have learned as we’ve aged. That somehow our feelings are wrong or invalid. No, we need to feel our feelings. Not compartmentalize them.
Pushing feelings down always has a rebound effect and for many that rebound looks like overeating food.
So, you are going to have to learn how to process negative feelings in menopause.
If you are overweight, you can’t ignore your feelings anymore and you must learn how to become aware of your thinking and make peace with your thoughts.
And not blame other people or circumstances in life for your actions, feelings, or thoughts.
Practicing feeling your emotions is the most abstract and difficult thing for people to do along with stress management.
It’s not tangible like eating X amount of protein and walking 30-minutes every day or following X number of calories.
I know it’s not easy, but these are the things that are often not talked about for women losing weight.
And they are often the real reasons why women are not losing weight - avoiding negative emotions and feeling out of control with stress are huge.
Stress will always be part of life. How are you going to ride the wave of stress and negative feelings? Are you going to let them drown you or are you going to do the best you CAN do?
I also think learning to fail is important too and I talked about failure in podcast 84. Women don’t fail very well. Yet we’ve been conditioned to fail since the time we were born.
Learning to walk, we fall down and get back up. Learning to ride a bike, we fall down and get back up. Eventually we learn, but we only learn through failing.
As we age, the mindset for older women tends to be I should know how to do this. I should just know how to eat healthy and take care of my body. I should be more confident and wiser with food because I’m older.
But should you, really? I mean after years of diet craziness and maybe growing up in a household with a parental figure always on a diet you think you should just know how to do this because you’re older? That expectation is crazy.
A lot of women put external pressure on themselves as they age. So, your expectation with your ability to change and know how to do things you correlate with your identify.
You don’t want to look like a toddler. I am 54 years old and I have all these awesome things going for myself, I have a great job that I’m really confident in.
But now as soon as you venture into an arena that you’re not familiar with you carry over that same expectation for yourself.
That I should just know how to do this. I’m old, wise, I’m confident in these other areas of my life. But this is what causes cognitive dissonance for individuals.
If you walked into a physics class, would you expect yourself to get an A on the first test?
Probably not, but a lot of women do have that expectation of themselves when it comes to dieting and losing body fat.
Most individuals would say we need to learn math, then learn algebra then trigonometry before stepping foot into a physics class because those are the foundations.
But women often feel like they’re being judged. Then they fear failing because they don’t want to be judged so they’re not good at failing but the entire human experience of growing requires failure.
This goes back to what I was saying earlier. If you have no tolerance for dealing effectively with negative feelings, then you will also avoid failure. But failure is the exact thing required to get to your goals.
So, do I have you convinced yet that you need to work on your feelings and your mindset?
I hope so because this is the stuff that always 100% of the time gets in the way and it’s highlighted more so during menopause for women because emotions are much stronger.
And this is the less tangible work that most women avoid and is why most never reach their goals.
The tangible stuff I shared earlier. I know you probably think all of it was too basic and IT IS! The basics of weight loss are really basic. Because it always is and that’s the secret.
Everyone always wants to know the secret sauce of how do I lose weight in menopause?
I get this question a lot and I’m telling you it’s basic and I know some of you will think it’s not complicated enough, it’s not exciting enough, it’s not sexy enough.
Understand it comes down to these basic things and like I said earlier the menopausal clients I have had in my practice many of them haven’t been doing these basic health habits.
They’ve been treating their health habits as optional. Some of them have also been turned upside down with eating from all their dieting.
If you don’t know what to eat, go analyze the meals on my website and listen to podcast 56 I mentioned earlier where I talk about this.
Most of you are way overcomplicating and overthinking what you need to eat and most of the time what to eat isn’t even the problem. It’s avoiding your emotions that is!
Like I said earlier, would you treat brushing your teeth as optional or showering as optional? Probably not.
You cannot control menopause, but you absolutely can control your health habits. Once you get your habits consistent then you can work on getting into a calorie deficit.
Some of my clients lose weight without ever counting calories.
They work on their habits first and then they lose weight like my client Deb who was on the podcast in episode 53 who lost her menopausal weight, and she just messaged me the other day that she’s still going strong two years later!
But remember stress management and learning to process your feelings is part of it and often the most overlooked. Stress was something Deb and I really had to work on for her.
My client Elaine who was on podcast 57 talks about how we worked on her emotional eating and her thinking.
The less tangible stuff is the hard stuff and that in my opinion, is where a good coach can help you work through that or maybe even a therapist.
But food part, the exercise part is simple. When we are aware of our emotions, stress and sleep.
Those 3 things are the biggest things that slow down weight loss in menopause more than calories and muscle loss.
Based on my experience working with clients, that is the consistent thing I see that always slows down weight loss.
That means if you want to speed up weight loss in menopause you not only have to work on your basics, but also feeling your emotions, managing stress and sleep!
Remember what I said earlier… focus on what you CAN control.
If you focus on your basic habits and especially on retaining muscle and/or building muscle, eating adequate protein, getting movement in like a daily 30-minute walk, working on sleep, processing your feelings, managing stress and then getting into a calorie deficit...
You are going to speed up your weight loss tremendously by working on those things. Sounds too basic for you? It always is. The basics work even in menopause!