Understanding weight changes at menopause Print

Struggles with menopausal weight gain is one of the most common nutrition challenges we see in our nutrition counselling practice as well as in the participants in my online nutrition course. While there may be a shift in body composition at menopause due to a more central or upper body fat distribution, the majority of changes in weight have a lot to do with the natural decline of muscle mass experienced with age. As muscle mass declines, so does our metabolism and how much food our body requires. At menopause sleep disturbances, lowered energy levels, and emotional roller-coaster mood changes can trigger overeating, more food cravings and emotional eating. All of these factors couple to make weight management throughout menopause challenging.

Many people feel defeated or frustrated by their attempts to lose weight. Although weight loss seems simple, it is actually quite complicated. Understanding all the factors that influence why you weigh what you weigh can help.

When it comes to weight loss, one size does not fit all. Your best strategy is to work out a personal best weight you can live with for life.

Why do I weigh what I do?

The diet industry would have you believe you will lose weight if you just eat less or shift your diet. The fitness industry continues to perpetuate the myth that you only need to exercise. In reality, changing your diet or exercising more may or may not result in weight loss. Although your weight reflects your nutrition and exercise habits, it is not as simple as ‘calories in versus calories out.’  

Your weight reflects many complex factors  that are above and beyond your food and activity habits. Understand that while we can change some factors, we must learn to live with other stubborn, unchangeable ones. Work at the factors you can control, like nutrition, exercise, stress and sleep. Then, remind yourself that like everybody else, you have a unique weight that your body will steer toward.

What influences weight?

Just as we have different shoe sizes, we have different body sizes too.  Many factors influence your weight:

  • personal genetics
  • family history
  • age and gender
  • medical concerns and medications
  • amount of exercise
  • stress and sleep levels
  • nutrition and calories consumed
  • dieting, fasting and starvation
  • fluid intake and hydration status
  • sodium and carbohydrate-rich food intake (as these can make your body store water)
  • and body composition (bone, muscle and fat mass).
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How much ‘should’ I weigh?

Perhaps you have been told to use the BMI (body mass index) to assess your weight. This chart correlates height and weight into a health range. While the BMI does give a broad starting place, you are an individual. A chart cannot determine your health or how much you should weigh. Charts like these oversimplify the range of factors contributing to your weight. They cannot reflect what we have learned about the science of weight management.  

More and more health educators and researchers, including the Canadian Obesity Network, are moving towards individualizing target weight goals.

What is a personal best weight?

Identifying a personal ‘best weight’ gives you a realistic target. You are likely never going to win an Olympic gold medal or a Nobel Prize. However, that does not mean you should stop shooting for your personal best.

“Your best weight is the weight you can achieve while living fully. Living fully is about living healthfully AND soulfully.”

Your best weight is a personal best. It is not based on a graph, chart, app or number provided by a so-called ‘expert.’ You are your own best expert.

As you look at nutrition, activity level and other lifestyle considerations, keep a few points in mind. You are most likely to be at your best weight when you:

  • get enough sleep
  • manage stress and emotions in healthy ways
  • eat healthfully and mindfully, without striving for perfection
  • exercise in a non-punishing or extreme way
  • live soulfully, with enough fun and flexibility to feel that life is social and fulfilling

 

 

About Andrea Holwegner

CEO, Registered Dietitian, Counseling Practice Director & Professional Speaker

Andrea the «Chocoholic Nutritionist» is founder and CEO of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. since 2000. She is an online nutrition course creator, professional speaker and regular guest in the media. Andrea is the recipient of an award by the Dietitians of Canada: The Speaking of Food & Healthy Living Award for Excellence in Consumer Education....Read more

Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. Andrea and her team really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Andrea is an excellent teacher and motivator. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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