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Menopause and weight loss

by E B
(Stoughton, Ma)

I am 55 years old. I am very active as I have a dog walking business. I eat very well balanced meals and moderate portions.

I have packed on 10 pounds in the last few months. Nothing seems to work. It's so frustrating.

I am wondering if even though I walk over an hour 5 days a week and do pilates. Do you think that adding some high intensity exercise can move this weight off me?



Do you need a little more help with your weight?

Note from Dr. Dan

Dear EB,

What you are going through is a very common problem. The changes in your hormones after menopause affect all the cells in your body.

When hormones decline the cells tend not to be as active, and if they are not as active they don't burn up as much energy. And when they burn up less energy you tend to gain weight.

So what's the obvious thing to do? Well, most women decide that they should diet. But there's a limit to that.

You are already eating a well-balanced diet and moderate portions. So you can try to cut down.

But when you do you tend to go into starvation mode. That means your metabolism shuts down even more. And that means you burn even fewer calories. It's a vicious cycle.

So, first make sure that you have all the basics in, meaning adequate sleep, water intake, daily vitamin supplements and all the rest.

If you do have all your basics, then the next step would be high intensity exercise.

It sounds like you are in good shape already. But your body has gotten used to the walking and it isn't going to help you lose the weight.

So now for high-intensity exercise. You'll want to look into two kinds of exercise.

The first one is resistance training. Resistance training is pushups and pullups for the gymnasts, and it's weight lifting for the rest of us.

Weight lifting? Yes, weight lifting is for everybody, not just the bodybuilders. They make one pound weights, you know. Here's a link to a weight training program that you can use.

Weight training exercises cause your muscles to fatigue after a limited number of repetitions. It is this muscle fatigue that stimulates muscle growth and that supercharges your metabolism.

The second one is high-intensity interval training. High intensity interval training includes exercises like sprinting.

Now, if we were 21 again we'd just put on our running shoes and go out to the park and do a series of hard, fast sprints and end up feeling great.

But, in our "fifties" we're not going to do that. No. High intensity interval training for us means walk, jog, walk, jog. Fifteen seconds walk. Fifteen seconds jog.

Then in a few weeks, when your body is used to it, you pick up the pace. Run a little faster each workout.

And when you're ready you leave out the walking. Then it's run, jog, run, jog.

Now, you have to keep in communication with your body. You do NOT risk an injury. You do NOT hurt your knees or your back doing this. So if you can't do this and feel BETTER by doing it, then you don't do it.

In that case you go to the gym, and you get on the elliptical trainer. No knee stress. No pounding. No heel injuries. No...

Well, you get the idea.

The elliptical trainer is a fantastic tool. It's got hand grips so it trains both arms and legs. It's got a timer so you know how long your intervals are.

You just go flat out for 30 seconds. Then slow down to your own pace for 30 seconds. Then flat out again. It will maximize your metabolism and help you drop those extra pounds

There's some more information about menopause at this link.

I wish you luck. I know that you can do it.

Yours truly,

Dr. Dan

Comments for Menopause and weight loss

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Me Too
by: Another dog walker

Everything I have read makes complete sense - I walk about 21 miles per week with my dog and did lose weight at first but now I guess both of us are used to it.

When you are a salad eater, don't drink coke, eat Mc D's and stuff - generally eat OK - it is most upsetting to keep on gaining weight.

I think I will try the "fifties " running - cheap and quick - joining a gym is very time consuming and expensive.

As a veggie my protein choices are limited though, and I am interested to see that you can have too much fruit.

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