We hear it so often, it has almost become background noise: maintaining your weight is best for your long-term health. But how do we most effectively manage our weight year after year? Does menopause cause weight gain, or why does it seem to get harder and harder to maintain or lose weight as we get older?
There's not a causal relationship between menopause and weight gain, i.e. once your ovaries stop producing estrogen in menopause, you don't automatically gain weight. "But as we age, our metabolism slows down,” says Leanne Olshavsky, MD, OBGYN. “Every decade, you need to eat about 100 calories less to maintain your body weight.”
According to Dr. Olshavsky, this means your caloric intake should be different when you’re 20 years old versus 50 years old – and 300 calories is a big difference! Many of us don’t actively think about adjusting those calories down as we age.
Many apps can be downloaded to your phone to help you track your daily calorie intake, which can be a fun and interactive way to stay accountable.
The American Heart Association [link to: www.heart.org] recommends 150 minutes each week to get out and move your body. That’s just a little more than 20 minutes each day—something we can all achieve with a bit of planning. Quick ideas to get your body moving include:
- Take a walk around the neighborhood with a friend.
- Turn on YouTube for a 20-minute yoga video.
- Jump rope with your kids or grandkids.
- Invite your partner to play a round of tennis.
Biking, hiking, swimming and aerobic classes like Jazzercise can also be fun ways to get active. As a bonus: you might strike up a few new friendships in the process and begin grabbing an occasional cup of coffee after yoga class.
As we get older, our lives can get more complex. Children grow up and move away to college, and our own parents become elderly and often need caregiving support.
“All those things tend to add up,” says Dr. Olshavsky.
When the stress feels overwhelming, try out one of the following suggestions:
- Drink enough water—hydration is so vital to our overall health. It can also help temporarily curb your hunger, helping you to avoid grabbing a snack you might regret.
- Get help when you need it—whether you need to talk to your best friend once a month or see a licensed therapist once a week, figure out what will help and create a plan to make it happen.
- Share with your partner—share household responsibilities and also share your concerns and your fears. Having support on the home front will help to decrease your stress and improve your well-being.
- Join a class or pick up a new hobby—maybe you’ve always wanted to get your yoga teacher certification or perhaps you’re interested in joining the local adult swim team. Adding a new hobby is a great way to handle stress—and to move your body.
Being proactive about your health also means staying up-to-date on yearly checkup appointments with your physicians. Our team of compassionate, experienced women's health experts are here to help. Schedule an appointment online with one of our women's health experts today.