08/02/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

9 Ways to Put the Brakes on Menopausal Weight Gain

Turn "mean-o-pause" into a time of body beauty with these nine tips.

If you're just entering menopause, you might be thinking, is menopausal weight gain a given? What's happening to my body? Why have the Scales of Injustice turned on me? Aren't these supposed to be the best years of my life, not the fattest? I promise you that I am eating and exercising the same way I always have!

As a Health & Wellness Coach, I hear a lot about "mean-o-pause" pounds. And I'm sorry to say there may be some physical evidence that women do gain weight and get thickened waists as their fat settles in their midriffs during menopause. This happens because as we age, we tend to exercise less, lose muscle mass, and eat more. Muscle drives our metabolic rate; therefore, less muscle means a lower metabolic rate, which means fewer calories are burned during exercise. Bottom line: weight gain.

But rejoice! There are ways to steer clear of that "spare tire" look and do your body some healthful favors at the same time.

Discover the first defense against menopausal weight gain...

Pump up the Potassium
Studies show that women who ate foods high in potassium kept more muscle as they aged. The nutrient helps to shield against acids that break down muscle tissue. A partial list of prime potassium-rich fruits and vegetables are apricots, bananas, oranges, kiwis, lima beans, spinach, tomatoes, meats, poultry, and fish. (Source: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition)

Keep the Calcium Coming
Menopausal women need a considerable calcium intake: 1200-1500 mg per day, or the equivalent of a serving of dairy at each meal. How to get that calcium? Remember, there's nothing like the real thing. Incorporate nutrient-loaded low-fat milk and yogurt into your daily food plan. And as a "woo-hoo!" bonus, milk can help you manage your weight. Research suggests that women who drink three or more glasses of milk daily tend to be leaner than those who do not.

Eat Platters Full of Healthy Foods
It might seem obvious, but here it is: eat real food. This means whole and unrefined foods, such as whole grain breads, fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, fish, soy foods, lentils, dried beans, and nuts.

Mini-Meal Me
Research shows that "older" women who eat less but more often burn fat equally as well as younger women who eat three larger meals per day. And they increase their energy! Keep your metabolism burning bright, eat sparingly, but often.

Develop a Recipe for Movement
Maintaining an active lifestyle and exercising is really important. Walk two to three miles a day, toss in an aerobic exercise routine (to enhance your cardiovascular fitness), and start a regimen of strength training to preserve muscles and bone density.

Water Thyself
Drinking 6 to 8 to 10 glasses of water daily is always a good idea. So many of our bodily functions rely on the body being adequately hydrated. Consider this:

• Our bodies are more than 75 percent water
• Our blood is more than 80 percent water
• Our muscles more than 75 percent water
• Our brains more than 76 percent water

Water is also a natural appetite suppressant and helps us to digest our food. It even promotes weight loss and helps the body to metabolize fat into energy.

Ask: Are You Really Overweight?
A good question to ponder! Maybe you have naturally moved toward your body's new "healthy weight" that reflects your age, genetics, body composition, level of activity, and lifestyle. Seriously, isn't it time to toss out those unhealthy body image ideals and focus on being healthy, fit, energized and happy in this new phase of your life?

Be Your New Menopausal Self
As Oscar Wilde so fittingly stated, "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." Let go of worrying about how you others perceive you, think about you, what they might be saying about you. Let go of worrying about the aging process! Relax into this fabulous phase of life.

Celebrate Magnificent Menopause!
Certain doors may have closed, but others are now wide open. (Feel the breeze?) Rejoice your newly found freedom. Buy yourself something nice with all the money you are now saving since you don't have to stock up on sanitary napkins and anti-cramp medications! Celebrate!

Spread the word ... NOT the icing,
Janice Taylor is a Health & Wellness Coach, Hypnotherapist, author of the Our Lady of Weight Loss books (Oprah Book Club, Summer Reading 2009), seminar leader and 50 pound big-time-loser.
Visit: Our Lady of Weight Loss

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