Most women experience weight gain during the menopause transition.
It doesn’t have to be this way!
Although the hormonal changes that characterize this stage of life are inevitable, the way our bodies respond to them varies tremendously. Many women view perimenopause and menopause negatively, while others view this stage of life as one of empowerment and vitality. Being prepared and proactive is the key to making this transition painless. As we move into the menopausal years, our levels of estrogen and progesterone fall. This change is typically erratic and unpredictable at first. In addition to causing changes in the timing and duration of the menstrual cycle, most women experience vasomotor symptoms (hot flushes and night sweats) as a result of these hormonal shifts.
The Standard American Diet causes elevations in the hormone insulin. Insulin is the biggest player in the accumulation of visceral fat (the stuff around our midsections). During our reproductive years, estrogen works against this process. We often don’t realize how much estrogen is helping us fight this battle – until it’s gone. Although taking supplemental estrogen can help with some of the other menopausal symptoms, it’s often not enough to halt this process of central weight gain once it has begun. Optimizing our diet to diminish insulin stimulation (and reverse insuiln resistance if it’s also a problem) is key to combatting this process.
Night sweats can significantly disrupt our sleep patterns. Disrupted and/or insufficient sleep causes predictable elevations in some of the hormones that promote weight gain – especially the accumulation of visceral fat. In addition to making us physically hungrier, these hormonal shifts worsen cravings and increase impulsivity when it comes to making food decisions. Optimizing sleep quality and quantity can help bring these hormones back to baseline.
At Heartland Weight Loss, we know A LOT about the intersection of menopause and weight gain!
Dr. Courtney Younglove, the founder and medical director at Heartland Weight Loss, is turning 50 in 2024! Fully immersed in the menopausal transition herself, she is thriving – personally and professionally. Despite having three teenage boys to keep up with and a thriving career, she is maintaining her nutrition and physical fitness. She is also putting additional energy into working on sleep and stress. Dr. Younglove spent nineteen years as an OB/GYN before moving into the Obesity Medicine space full-time. She has lectured nationally about the intersection of menopause and obesity and is passionate about empowering women during this phase of life. Dr. Younglove has spent a great deal of time making sure the entire team at Heartland Weight Loss understands the nuances that come with this phase of life and is equipped with all of the tools necessary to help women during this transition.
Dr. Maribeth Orr, the medical director of the adolescent program at Heartland Weight Loss, is also turning 50 in 2024! In addition to working full-time and raising four teenagers, Dr. Orr is continuing to push herself physically. Over the past year, fully immersed in the menopause transition, Dr. Orr has competed in an Ironman competition and placed in the top 10 in multiple triathlons. She placed first in the women’s division of the Bad Astra gravel race and the Mudwater Olympic triathlon. Although she spends a lot of her free time training at the gym, she also attributes much of her success to focusing on nutrition, sleep, and stress management – the foundation of what we teach at Heartland Weight Loss.