Monday, February 22, 2010

Weight Gain and Menopause

by Staness Jonekos
My menopause symptoms have been moderate and I feel lucky to have escaped hot flashes. But I am getting fatter by the second. I am 5 foot 3 inches tall, 46 years old and have weighed 130 pounds most of my life. Within one year I have gained a whopping 15 pounds. I am having problems with high blood pressure and I look and feel terrible. I would rather have hot flashes than turn into the Pillsbury Dough Girl. Help!
The Pillsbury Dough Girl from Minnesota
Dear Pillsbury Dough Girl:
Weight gain may be the most difficult change that occurs during menopause. We live in a society that celebrates young, skinny women. When we start to gain weight, whether it’s from childbirth, bad eating habits, lack of exercise, aging or menopause it is emotionally depressing. Your weight history seems stable and healthy, no doubt you have good eating and exercising habits. As your hormones fluctuate during menopause you start shifting fat to your mid-section because your progesterone and estrogen levels decrease. Progesterone increases your metabolism. As it decreases during menopause, so does your metabolism.
Also, women gain an average of one pound per year starting in their late thirties. This can add weight as well. You are 46 years old, and if you started gaining that one pound per year starting at 38, that equals eight pounds. Over half the additional weight you are now noticing during menopause.
Fluctuating hormones during menopause can cause an increase in weight and natural aging. Poor food choices and lack of exercise are unforgiving at this time in your life. If you already have a good exercise program, you may need to increase the time and intensity of your routine. If you eat well, cutting portions may yield results.
Start keeping a food and exercise diary. Record your menopause symptoms. According to the BMI (Body Mass Index) charts you are not obese, but considered slightly overweight for your height. This is the perfect time to make hormone, food and exercise adjustments. As you have experienced, being overweight raises your risk of many diseases such as high blood pressure. Doing 30 minutes of exercise everyday may help maintain your current weight. Exercising one hour a day is optimum. Studies have shown that people who briskly walk 30 minutes every day lost up to 30 pounds over time and lowered their blood pressure.
Try incorporating a 30- minute power walk every day, cutting your eating portions and discuss hormone therapy with your doctor. For faster results, exercise 60 minutes a day.

Staness Jonekos is an advocate for women's health, wellness and empowerment. An award-winning television writer, producer and director, she was one of the original executive producers who launched the television network Oxygen Media, cofounded by Oprah Winfrey. Following her commitment to health, Staness co-executive produced the premiere season of VH1's Celebrity Fit Club, and post produced Lifetime's Speaking of Women's Health. Recently, Staness launched into the publishing world sharing her 8-step 12-week Menopause Makeover program in her first book The Menopause Makeover, co-authored with menopause expert Dr. Wendy Klein. Visit Staness at

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