Menopause

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS – BEAT THE STATISTIC’S!

 

 

A very belated Happy New Year to everyone! Yeah, I know, I’m rather late. I’m going to blame it on a very busy last couple of months for me, okay? Come to think of it though, the time from mid November through the first part of January always seems to fly by in a blink of an eye for me every year. So I guess this past year was no different. It’s probably the same with everyone else too. During that time of the year there is always so much to do and I might as well add right here, so much to eat. And then, all of a sudden, your spinning world comes to a halt and you find yourself in January standing in front of your closet looking for your “after holiday” clothes.

Ugh! So you stand there and berate yourself because you realize that, “Once again” you didn’t take care of yourself (health-wise) like you promised yourself you would do. Or maybe it’s the bathing suits that are now hanging in the stores that has abruptly brought it to your attention. That’s where the New Year’s resolutions come into play — not that that’s a bad thing. But if they are made more so of a knee jerk reaction because of a momentary sense of regret then you will probably find yourself in the percentage of people that don’t stick to them throughout the year. I know I’ve talked about this before but it bears going over again.

Even if those resolutions are made with good intentions, let’s be honest. Research shows that it doesn’t take long before they are gone by the wayside. Let me share with you a couple of statistics from the Statistic Brain Research Institute.

  • According to research done in 2016, the number one resolution made in the new year was………you guessed it, to lose weight and or to eat more healthy.
  • 72.6% maintained the resolutions through the first week. By 6 months that percentage had gone down to 44.8%.
  • People over the age of 50 were less likely to achieve their goals than people in their twenties.
  • Only 9.2% felt they were successful in achieving their resolution.

Now the reason I show you these statistics is in no way to give you an excuse for NOT making a health related goal for the new year. Rather it is to acknowledge that it’s obviously not easy or else the percentages would be higher. Right? And also to encourage you that if you did make a resolution to lose weight to push through so you can be counted amongst those that do make it! Those people are out there and you can be one too!

So what do we take away from this? Yes, people make resolutions and sometimes are not successful. Okay! So what? I’m going to say that at least for a little while they had a goal. They tried! Maybe this year will be the year that they stick with it. Maybe you will be one of those in the 9.2%. One thing is for sure though, you 100% of the time won’t reach your goal if you never make one in the first place. So let’s give the people in this research props for at least attempting to complete their goal.

And besides, you know what these statistics really show don’t you? It shows that a large percentage of people gave up and quit. That’s what we DON’T want to do! Think about all the achievements you have in your life. Aren’t you the most proud of the ones that took some struggle to bring about the results that you wanted?

Really, to be successful at this “getting healthier” thing, you have to retrain your brain into a new
way of thinking — to create and carry out good habits. And let’s face it, just like an unruly kid, your mind doesn’t always want to mind either. When we feel like we might be deprived of something, sometimes we turn into that little kid at the grocery checkout throwing a fit because he can’t have what he or she wants! You know what I mean?

We also live in a microwave society where we expect everything to happen fast in mere minutes. But there’s nothing fast about weight loss. You’ve heard the old saying, “A pot watched never boils.” Theoretically, we know it’s going to boil, but when you stand over the pot and wait, it seems like it takes forever. So don’t get discouraged and give up when you don’t see immediate results. Resist the tendency to slip back into your old habits. Stay the course!

And just a note on slipping back into old habits. From one of the statistics above we see that it’s even harder to lose weight the older you get. Maybe it's because it’s just easier to follow your old habits having  done them for so long you don’t have to think about it. But I also know for us women in the pre/menopausal years it can be quite challenging to lose weight. Our bodies do not respond in our 50’s like they did when we were in our 20’s. But it doesn’t mean it can’t be done.You just might have to go about it in a different and more determined way.

So, let’s wrap this up. We are now in the latter part of January. And even if you made some resolutions and you haven’t followed through with them, it doesn’t matter. You can start over. In fact, today is a good day to start, don’t you think? Start out by making a daily goal, then a weekly goal, a monthly goal and so on. Don’t let the time frame of a whole year intimidate you. And if and when you blow it, don’t let it be an excuse to totally give up. Forgive yourself, square your shoulders and get right back on the path that you need to be on to reach your goal. Do it for yourself, you're worth it!

 

Holidays, Menopause – No Need for Weight Gain!

holiday-food

Well, here we go. I can’t deny it any longer. Time obviously did not get my memo to slow down. Thanksgiving is really knocking on my door now and I guess I am going to have to answer it and quick!

Now once I open that door I know what’s going to be on the other side. Temptation! That’s what! Do you know what I mean? It’s really the start of a two month long food fest known as the “holiday season” Literally! Whether it is well meaning neighbors sharing their goodies or office parties, family gatherings, you name it. But I am determined to remain strong and still enjoy the holidays! Who’s with me? — Hey! Where did everybody go?

COME ON! We can do this! This advice can be for anyone, but today I’m going to focus on us women who have entered the middle age era of our lives known as menopause. Yep! Those of us who have gone through it or are going through it. Gone are the days of nibbling on that yearly tradition of eating the 5 lb. tub of Grandma’s homemade chocolate fudge that she keeps making for you (bless her heart) without some lasting consequences.

Something happens to our metabolism as we approach that time of our lives. It mostly sneaks up on us gradually until one day we look into the mirror and we think, “Well, how in the world did that happen?” It can be quite frustrating because you know you haven’t changed the way you eat and yet either the pounds kind of crept up on you slowly or the pounds you have always carried somehow have shifted to other parts of your body where they are not supposed to be.

I have heard from women who say they had never had a weight problem until they turned 40. And the weight just doesn't want to come off like it used to. It can be depressing, or cause anxiety, anger, and even lead some into falling into an attitude of “why bother?” and give up entirely. So today I am going to give us all a pep talk (myself included) and say, “Don’t fall into those kind of temptations (attitudes) either.”

Besides, there is way more to enjoy about the holidays than what we eat or can’t eat! You know, it’s crazy if you really think about it. But for some reason it can be hard not to indulge in everything laid out before us. But, if we really put it into perspective there’s nothing on the table that can’t be made any other time of year. We don’t have to gorge on all of it right now. Sometimes I find that’s when I have a talk with myself and say, “What do I want more, that piece of whatever, or do I want to feel good about myself later on?” This year, it’s going to be that I want to enjoy the satisfaction that comes from me making smart choices. Choices that benefit me in the long run.

We are not getting any younger. And sometimes you just have to make a stand and say, “today is the day, I am going to take charge!" So if that’s you, I’ll list a couple of tips to help you through the next couple of months.

LIMIT THE ALCOHOL AND SUGARY DRINKS
It’s inevitable. Where there’s a party, there is usually going to be alcohol, sugary punch or soda. And people usually drink more alcohol during the holidays than other times of the year. Those calories really add up fast. Something else to keep in mind is that alcohol actually reduces the amount of fat your body burns. So don’t drink your calories.

LIMIT THE APPETIZERS
A lot of times these little bits might taste great but can add up to 1000 calories before you know it and you haven’t even sat down for the meal yet. Look for a low calorie appetizer that will take the edge off your appetite so you eat less of the rich food offered.

PRACTICE MINDFUL EATING
Pay attention to what you are putting in your mouth. Pause to enjoy and really taste the food you are eating. Don’t get so caught up in the festivities that you are just mindlessly eating what is on your plate and before you know it, you look down and it’s all gone and you didn’t listen to your body telling you that you might have had too much.

BE CHOOSY
Go ahead and enjoy your holiday favorite but be choosy with the rest of the meal. Look for a tradeoff, if it’s a high-calorie side dish you really want then go easy on the dessert or vice-versa. Make your portions smaller and don’t load your plate with all the “sinful” pleasures.

SNEAK IN SOME EXCERCISE
Yes, it is possible! I don’t know about you but it seems like I am always going to the store for something. Park your car farther away from the door. Bundle up and go for a brisk walk even if it is for 15-20 minutes before a meal. It will rev up your metabolism. Watching a movie? Don’t sit the whole time, do some sit-ups or push-ups, lunges, or squats for 20 minutes. And the best way of all? Play with your grandkids. They have a way of helping you to burn energy you didn’t know you had in the first place!

In closing, I would like to say that maybe us women might face some challenges, such as hormonal changes that can lead to weight gain, loss of bone and muscle mass during this time, but you know what? People of all ages face some sort of challenge throughout life so let’s not make that an excuse not to do something about it.

As long as we are still up and kicking we can make a decision to educate ourselves and take the bull by the horn and tackle it. AND be successful! So when you open that door on Thanksgiving Day, focus on your family and friends coming through the door. Be thankful for the good things in your life. Even be grateful for the time of life you find yourself in. It has it benefits too! So, have that piece of Pumpkin Pie (with whipped cream even). Sit around and take a moment to relax, laugh, revisit memories with loved ones. Whatever you do, ENJOY the moment! Thanksgiving Day only comes around once a year! And one more thing, don’t forget to send the leftovers home with someone younger!

Is Menopausal Weight Gain a Trick?

life tricks 2

 

I have come to the conclusion that life likes to play little “tricks” on us. How so you ask? Well, it starts out when we are little. We want something such as candy, ice cream, etc., when we are young and our parents say, “No, it’s not good for you!” Now, our little minds really can’t understand that and so we say to ourselves, “When I grow up I am going to buy all the candy I want” or “When I grow up nobody is going to tell me how much ice cream I can eat.” Do any of those statements sound familiar?

Then we get a little older and one day we’re given some money from Grandma or some chore done around the house and when somebody finally takes us to the store we sadly find out that we don’t have quite enough money to purchase all the candy we want. However, in all of our 7 year old wisdom we know that when we grow up and get a job, THEN we’ll have enough money to get that candy.

Well, you know how that works out. By the time we get that job in our teens we aren’t thinking about the candy anymore. We have moved on to important things like clothes and movies. (wink-wink). And so goes the “wants” and “means” as they evolve over time going through many phases.

So I was just thinking one day on how as kids we want something and an adult tells us we can’t or shouldn’t have it and we have no choice but to accept it either willingly or kicking and screaming at the check out . And then fast forward to the day when we find ourselves being the adult and having to tell ourselves, “No, you can’t have that, it’s not good for you” even though we have the freedom and the means to buy it for ourselves. This being one of the many little tricks that I was talking about.

Wow! I said all of that to say this. I am now considered a “mid lifer.” That is someone of middle age for those of you that don’t know (yet) but hold on you will eventually. And with that middle age comes something called menopause for us women.

Now when we are let’s say in our mid to late 30’s we might be thinking, “Come on menopause!” It’s time to move on from “certain issues” in our lives and we think menopause will solve some of those. But au contraire, anyone who has truly reached menopause knows that in fact your so called “certain issues” have just been traded for “other issues.” Hence this being another little (or big) trick depending on what’s going on and how your body has reacted to the “change of life.”

But for the sake of this blog I’m just going to talk about one of the new issues that seems to pop up, (or should I say pop out) and that is weight gain. Even though we know we haven't changed our eating habits we wonder in frustration what in the world is going on when we try to fasten our favorite jeans.

Menopausal weight gain has been reported to be one of the most frustrating symptoms of menopause. Have you noticed a change in the size and shape around your abdomen? Maybe a bulge above your waistband that you didn’t have before? Some people refer to it as the “Middle age spread.” This is usually caused by a change in your hormones.

Even if you have never had a weight problem in the past, you might find it harder now to manage your weight when you find yourself approaching menopause. Many women gain around 10-15 pounds during the perimenopause to the actual menopause period at a rate of around 1 pound per year on average. And you will probably notice that your weight is not distributing itself the same as it used to be. And while some women might not see an actual weight difference on the scales the proportion of body fat has increased. Can we all just say, Yippee, Yippee Yay?

Now remember when I said that the weight gain could be attributed to hormones? Well, that is just partially true. Our hormones do play an integral part in influencing menopause and weight gain in relation to our appetite, metabolism and fat storage. However, there are other factors as well.

Age and lifestyle are the main culprits. Aging is associated with slowing of the metabolism. In fact most women experience a 5% decrease in metabolic rate per decade. And because metabolism slows as women approach menopause, they need about 200 fewer calories a day to maintain their weight as they enter their mid to late 40’s. Our lean body mass also decreases with age while body fat accumulates throughout adulthood. Another Yippee Yay right there right? Also, women generally become less physically active as they go through their 40’s and the years beyond. So it’s really not hard to see that because we are less active our weight and fat mass increases and with decreased activity our muscle mass decreases.

So, what are us “mid lifers” to do? Do we have to accept that it is inevitable we are going to gain weight? Not necessarily. Although there’s no magic formula to avoid weight gain as we age, the strategies below can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight:

  • Be proactive. Get ahead of the game. Knowing that weight gain is in the cards don’t wait for the weight to add up before switching to a healthier lifestyle. One interesting fact is that menopausal women who manage to retain their “youthful figure” are usually those who have always been active and continue to do so. They might notice a change in the distribution of their weight but overall they look trim, fit and healthy.
  • Increase your physical activity. Find an activity that you enjoy (think aerobic) such as jogging, dancing, cycling or good old fashion walking, and do it on a regular basis for at least 45 to 60 minutes four to five days a week thus boosting your metabolism which aids in burning fat.
  • Do strength training. Exercises such as weight lifting can boost your metabolism as well as increase muscle mass and strengthen bones. Use resistance bands or use your own body as resistance and do push-ups, squats, or lunges. Even heavy gardening such as digging or hoeing weeds can be classified as strength training. Building muscle mass is also more likely to protect against future weight gain.
  • Watch your diet. You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Take a good look at your diet and see what you can do to improve it. I’m sure you can find some refined carbohydrates hiding in there somewhere that can be cut out. It doesn’t hurt to look at portion sizes either, remember, women need about 200 fewer calories a day just to maintain their weight as they enter their mid to late 40’s. But don’t forget to keep up with the daily calcium requirements if you are simultaneously trying to lose weight though as women are at an increased risk of bone density loss at this age.

Whew! that was a lot of information. Hopefully you are not dealing with menopausal brain fog and you got all of that. Okay, a little humor there! Well, that’s it. I guess we have more control over weight gain than we would like to admit. We can’t just blame it on menopause. We have some responsibility too.

So if you are nearing or in the “change of life” time frame and would like some coaching to help you put these strategies into motion to ward off menopausal weight gain, please call me at (616) 516-1570 and together let’s just see if we can’t play some tricks of our own on menopause.

PERIMENOPAUSE AND THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE

 

Spring is right around the corner and while I can’t wait for it to finally arrive, something did occur to me that made me sit up a little and say to myself “oh my!” And that would be my wardrobe. Yes, I said,“my wardrobe.” Let me explain. It’s not exactly the clothes in my closet so much as me fitting into those clothes.

Soon it will be time to shed those long sweaters, the cute coats of winter and long scarves that we have hidden ourselves in while we plodded our way through this excruciatingly brutal bitter cold winter, (did I make myself clear how cold I think it was)? While I am looking forward to shedding the boots and slipping on a pair of cute sandals, the thought of shorts, short sleeves and bathing suits causes me to pause just a little.

It’s funny how you can hear about something for years and you know it happens (to other people of course) but when it happens to you you’re a little taken back. For some reason, some of us can tend to think maybe it won’t be like that with me. But then you start to notice some changes and then you realize Ugh! This must be what “they” were talking about.

There is so much information out there about perimenopause and weight gain. And frankly, you can find some differing opinions about what causes it. Just like everything else health wise it seems like information is always changing and you don’t know who to believe. Some say low estrogen and some say high estrogen. Meanwhile you just want to know why you can’t button your pants even though you haven’t changed any of your eating habits or physical activity level.

I guess what makes sense to me is that yes, our hormones are changing and during perimenopause our estrogen levels have decided to take a ride on a roller coaster. I’m sure many women can attest to the fact they can tell their hormones at this time are all over the place. However, there is only so much we can do about that. Nature IS going to happen whether we want it to or not. What we CAN do though is to be aware of our body changing and figure out how to cope with it to the best of our ability.

Staying positive and informing yourself about perimenopause and its physical effects is a good start. It’s also important to figure out if your weight gain is due to physical (hormonal imbalance)
or psychological factors (e.g. anxiety, emotional stress ) Once you have that established you can work out the most effective method for weight loss. Here are a few things to be aware of:

EMOTIONAL EATING

As hormones change at perimenopause, emotions can run wild and it can be easy to slip into patterns of emotional eating. Maybe the emotional triggers were always there to a lesser degree but suddenly they can ramp up a notch. Or, they are showing up for the first time as we try to work through the complexity of changing hormones and emotions and we start looking for emotional comfort and stability. The problem here being, no one reaches for a bowl of steamed broccoli when looking for comfort. It’s more likely a piece of chocolate cake or something else that isn’t too nutritious. So we need to be diligent in eating healthy and not just focusing on the quantity of food but quality of nutrients and the right mix of fats, proteins and complex carbohydrates we consume.

LACK OF SLEEP

Most women do not get enough sleep. We actually need between 7-9 hours every night but most women get between 5-7. There are so many processes that take place in our bodies at night while we are at rest. When that cycle is disrupted, hormones are disrupted, mental processing can become impaired, as well as our ability to maintain a good mood and manage anxiety, anger and depression.

Many experts believe that sleep is as important to our overall well being as diet and exercise. There are multiple studies that reveal weight gain can be associated with inadequate or inconsistent sleep. It may be challenging to get a good night’s sleep when your body is out of whack, but it has been noted that one of the most effective sleep inducers is making sure you take enough magnesium. Calcium and magnesium need to exist in our bodies in a ratio of 1:1 but we tend to be calcium heavy and lack the magnesium our bodies require for a good night of uninterrupted sleep.

STAY ACTIVE

As we age, our bodies begin to lose muscle mass and this naturally decreases our resting metabolism, as muscle uses up more energy (calories) than fat. Even though we tend to exercise less as we age, it is perhaps the most important time in life that we DO exercise and combine it with some form of strength training to build up our muscle mass.

Our bodies are complex beings and hard to understand but absolutely awesome when you think about how everything comes together and does its own job keeping us up and running. However, with that being said, perimenopause and through menopause is a period of time that even though it is a “normal” process that every women will go through, it can play havoc with our system and sometimes we need a little help.

If you find that you too are in the “battle” and would like some help working through it or are feeling discouraged, I would like to meet with you and together see what we can do to help you achieve your weight management goals. You can either call me at (616) 516-1570 or use the contact form on the website.

Do You Have an Anxious Brain? Feeling Depressed?

Check out interesting information at www.hendersoncounselingservices.com
under the "Depression/Anxiety" tab

Depression & Weight Gain

Postmenopausal Depression & Weight Gain Linked to Chronic Disease

By Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on June 14, 2013

Postmenopausal Depression and Weight Gain Linked to Chronic Disease Researchers have made a connection between postmenopausal women who use antidepressant medication and suffer from depression,  a large waist circumference, and inflammation with an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

In the study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, University of Massachusetts Medical School researchers investigated whether elevated depressive symptoms and antidepressant use are associated with biomarkers for glucose dysregulation and inflammation, BMI, and waist circumference.

The three main findings indicate that both elevated depressive symptoms and antidepressant use are each significantly associated with higher BMI and waist circumference.

Elevated depressive symptoms are associated with increased levels of insulin and insulin resistance. Antidepressant use is associated with higher leves of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation which increases the risk of type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

“It may be prudent to monitor post-menopausal women who have elevated depression symptoms or are taking antidepressant medication to prevent diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” said Yunsheng Ma, PhD, MD, MPH, lead researcher.

Postmenopausal women were recruited into the study from 1993 to 1998, and data for this analysis were collected at regular intervals through 2005. Using data from 1,953 women who completed all relevant assessments, the study found that elevated depressive symptoms were discovered to be significantly associated with increased insulin levels and measures of insulin resistance.

Researchers found that throughout the entire 7.6 years, women enrolled in the study with depressive symptoms (or taking antidepressants) had a higher BMI and waist measurements than those without depressive symptoms, with the strongest association for waist circumference.

Analysis of data from 2,242 women showed that both elevated depressive symptoms and antidepressant use were associated with higher CRP levels.

“Identifying these markers in women is important for diabetes prevention because they can be monitored for possible action before progression to full-blown diabetes,” said Ma.

Few studies have examined the association of BMI, waist circumference, and biomarkers of glucose dysregulation and inflammation with depression, antidepressant medication use, or both.

The current study included a large, racially and ethnically diverse sample of post-menopausal women.

Because the analysis was epidemiological, it could not determine a causal relationship, so further study is needed to confirm the results through clinical trials.

Source: University of Massachusetts Medical School