Does Menopause mean not losing weight? Over 40s guide when you're weight is increasing unexpectedly?
Updated: Feb 28
If you're reading this you're probably wondering how come despite the fact that you are making very sensible decisions that have worked for you in the past and you've been weightlifting or doing resistance training for the last four months: Are you wondering why your weight has increased and it doesn't seem to be decreasing? And why potentially you might be sitting like two to five kilos, maybe seven above what you used to sit out with little to no effort before. So keep reading because I will aim to shed some light on this.
Some things to bear in mind so you're reading this is your answer to any questions that you have when it comes to fitness, and health. exercise, stress reduction, sleep, and any of that stuff. The answer is never that straightforward. And there should always be more questions asked and I hope that I can shed some light on that. So that you've just started a resistance training regime. And you've been following it pretty diligently for four months. But before that, might have been on and off with exercise. I would be starting to formulate the idea that actually you might be putting on some muscle. Now when you put on some muscle, I'm not suggesting that you put on two to five to seven kilos of extra muscle that's simply not possible unless you were taking some illegal substances. But what I might be suggesting is when you put on a little bit of extra muscle, now your muscle can store more glycogen extra muscle can store more glycogen is your primary carbohydrate source of activity for your muscles. When you store that extra muscle glycogen and store it more efficiently, which is what you would be doing, then all of a sudden, you've got a situation where you are holding this extra carbohydrate but remember, for every gram of carbohydrate stored in your body, you've got an extra three grams of water that stored with it. That so that effectively makes you four times heavier. Every like one gram, it's four times more so it's pretty easy to see why by storing more water by storing more carbohydrates and on top of that storing, like having more muscle in your body. You now have the potential that you could be a little bit heavier even if you're eating well. That's not such a bad thing. Even if you aimed to lose weight, you don’t lose weight as fast at the beginning as the muscle microtrauma, plus increased muscle plus increased water.
Another reason could be and remember this could be additive as well could also be that you're putting on some bone density. And that's a great thing as we get later on in life. One thing that we must always be looking to avoid is getting osteoporosis or getting osteopenia. That's the process by which our bones are getting weaker and can lead to real bone disease. So when we've got a brittle bone disease, quite dangerous, it is something that we want to avoid. And the way we can avoid that is by lifting weights. Do you know the process by which this happens? Well, let me tell you. The way we build better bone density through lifting weights is there's a process where when we're building muscle that we create micro-tears, the micro tears and they're repaired they're thicker and then, therefore, that's more muscle. Well, a similar sort of process occurs with our bones. So when our muscles are attached to our bones and we're doing our heavy resistance training is in challenging training resistance-wise, as the muscle is pulled along the bone or rub skins bone, that sort of thing. You get the bones repairing themselves due to the stimulus, it's there. So the bone is actually thickening like if your bone is actually becoming denser. So when people say they're big-boned if they exercise frequently and do resistance training, especially, they might even be incorrect.
On top of that, another thing to bear in mind is some people when they start exercising, after a bit of a hiatus, start self-justifying and increasing the number of calories that they eat. So they end up eating an extra 500 calories a day because they feel like they deserved it or they feel like they worked it off. But in numerous studies that showed that the number of calories that you burn versus what you think you consume, there's a big discrepancy with so most people will believe that they've burnt say 500 calories through a workout when really depending on what the exercise is they may have only burned 100. And remember if you're incredibly fit your body gets more efficient at doing the exercise. So becomes less taxing to the body, it requires less energy so therefore you're using less energy in order to do the exercise, which means you're using fewer calories. But if each time you do a workout you've justified to yourself that you are allowed an ice cream well all of a sudden, you're increasing your calories and now you're putting on weight. And that's a bad thing if you want to put on weight. But if your goal was to lose weight, and you're wondering why all of a sudden by exercising and eating somewhat well, you're not putting weight on you're not seeing the whole picture.
Another reason could be healthy food still has calories. So many people forget that. Just because it's calories it doesn't just because it's healthy, doesn't mean it doesn't have calories. So especially when it's labeled healthy, the body and psychology wise, we will tell ourselves because it's healthy, that we can consume more of it. And when we consume more of it, of course, we're eating more calories. Also, check my guide on ultimate healthy eating. There were a few studies that were conducted on this and they found that labeling on packaging affected this so if it says that it was 95% fat-free, people ended up eating more of the product. But on top of that, through eating more of the product, they ended up eating more calories than if they were told that it's 100% fat. So it is an interesting one. A lot of so-called healthy foods are actually quite calorie-dense. You know nuts are considered to be a portion of healthy food and they are quite dense in energy. Same with dried fruit I remember the day like it was yesterday to my horror when I realized that each of those little tiny bites that were peaches, dried peaches was an entire peach. And I was just eating three of them in my mouth it was! So drying them it doesn't get rid of some of the calories and effectively gets rid of the water so you never actually can gauge just by taste alone how many calories you're having if you just choose healthy foods, which makes it kind of confusing.
Now typically if you choose healthier foods Yes, you will be having fewer calories. But the caveat is if you're telling yourself it's healthy food, your body may naturally want to eat more of it. So it's a very strange situation in that regard. Furthermore, there's a look into some other factors in your lifestyle.
So how many hours are you sleeping typically, it's not just about how long you sleep, but it's also about the quality of sleep. Read my post on the relationship between sleep and gains here. So there are these things called sleep cycles. So when you go into your rapid eye movement, sleep rem, and deep wave sleep. And apparently, we need to go through that five times per night. And you can sleep for eight hours and not necessarily get all five of those, which is why we can sometimes feel that we're tired, or if our sleep has been interrupted in one of these cycles, we can also feel tired as well. With that extra tiredness, it means that we're less likely to have movement and so we're less likely to burn incidental calories but on top of that we may make poor food decisions. When we're tired, we start to crave more satiating foods, which tend to be higher calorie load, higher sugar, and that sort of thing. And we tend to crave a lot more calories than what we require for the day so typically they say 500 to 700 calories more we crave for the day, despite the fact that we don't require the excess energy just from being sleep deprived alone, but for some reason, we crave it. So that's another reason 500 700 calories and you do that over the course of a week. 3700 calories you starting to add an extra pound of fat to your body, give or take. These are very broad generalizations.
On top of that, so you were on a calorie-controlled diet. And you were reducing the number of calories that you're having. Your body is smart, especially for females more than men, your body will actually conserve a lot more energy because you're eating less. And so what happens is, you do a less incidental activity like walking to the other side of the office because you want another cup of tea or moving around as much or even scratching your own nose. And that incidental activity helps to burn more calories. But your body's responded to the fact you're taking in fewer calories by burning fewer calories. Also when we're hungry, be less likely to want to walk fast, for instance, or just some of the choices that we're making because we're feeling tired or we go to bed earlier. So that's another way so there's a whole host of things at play there.
The final one is stress. And stress can cause us to be in a kind of fight or flight mode as opposed to rest and digest mode. If we're in the rest and digest mode we've got less cortisol, the stress hormone but if you do have more of the stress hormone in your fight or flight mode, all of a sudden, your body tries to inhibit you from losing fat it thinks that you're running away from a tiger. The thing is when you're running away from a tiger or a lion usually you get away where the tiger gets you. It doesn't usually last for that long. But our cortisol system was never designed for running away from life stressors constantly for the space of 30 years. So this is another reason why you might be at that point where you can't seem to shift the weight even though you're exercising well. Lastly, for more information, I have a post on what you can do to stop stress eating.
On your, you have a good diet. I recently did see a post, just like what I'm describing on a Facebook group I didn't notice that there were a lot of personal trainers that just jumped in and immediately diagnosed the lady with perimenopause which, yes, to some extent it could be a consideration for the lady to take into account. There are also a number of reasons outside of menopause and perimenopause. It could cause someone to hold extra weight or put on extra weight when they're intending to lose weight regardless of the hormone pace. And so my fear is that if we just jumped to the conclusion that its hormones, and somehow hormones are out of our control. We are making people feel powerless and that there there isn't a whole host of reasons that play into these things.
We can very quickly become disillusioned and start trying to accept our fate. And that's not really in our human nature. And the empowerment I see in people when they suddenly realize that they've got a lot more control than they thought they had. It's quite a powerful experience and emotion. Does any of this resonate with you please let me know I hope it was helpful to you. Want to have a chat or find out more about coaching that suits you? Reach out here. Or share this with someone who might be finding themselves lost about how to navigate their health journey when they feel their body is working against them.