Did you wake up one day as a midlife woman transitioning through menopause and wonder what happened to your body, weight and confidence? If so, know that you are not alone.
Weight gain seems to appear over night!
While research suggests that the average weight gain during menopause is around 2-4kg, many women I speak to share a different story. Not only have they gained considerably more weight but their body shape has also changed significantly and it all seemed to happen overnight!
Personally, I naively considered that my fit and healthy lifestyle would prevent me from experiencing the weight gain I heard many women ‘complaining’ about. I have to admit I was even a little smug thinking that I had it all worked out. That was, until everything started to change as my menopause transition gained traction. I cringe now when I realise how ignorant I was back then.
Is it possible to ever feel good about yourself again?
In addition to dealing with other menopause issues, suddenly none of your clothes fit, nothing looks right and your confidence levels may drop to an all-time low. Yes, I’ve been there. It’s challenging and messes with your sense of identity and self-esteem and you may wonder whether you will ever feel good about yourself again.
As women, our bodies go through many changes throughout our lives – from the moment we start our menstrual cycle, to possibly giving birth, and eventually reaching menopause. Menopause, in particular, can take us by surprise and throw us for six. We often hear about the hot flashes but less about the impact of how the changes to our body can challenge us to the very core – especially when our core doesn’t look the same as it did pre-menopause!
Menopause weight gain is complex and multi-faceted
These changes can be frustrating and even distressing to deal with, but it’s important to understand that there is no one explanation for menopause weight gain. The reasons are complex and multi-faceted, including factors such as the depletion of reproductive hormones, the natural decrease in muscle mass with age, increased stress levels, and even disrupted sleep patterns.
While menopause weight gain can be managed, quick fixes are not encouraged, and the most important thing you can do in this moment is to rebuild your confidence levels so that you feel good about yourself, regardless of your weight.
Challenge outdated beliefs
My personal evolution to body love, acceptance and better health has taken place over a number of years but I’m happy to say that I’m now feeling good about myself again, even after some weight gain. This journey has resulted in me moving forward into this next chapter of life healthier, happier and with more confidence than ever before and that’s what I want for other women.
One of the most important things I found helpful for myself and many others, was being able to acknowledge that it’s totally okay for your body to change as you transition through menopause. Society often puts pressure on women to maintain a certain ‘look’ regardless of age, but maybe it’s time to challenge that ideal.
Embrace the beauty of menopausal bodies
At other times during major hormonal shifts such as puberty and possibly pregnancy, female bodies change. Of course, we would never tell our daughter’s or a teenage girl that it’s not acceptable for their body to change at puberty. Perhaps, we also need to remind ourselves that it’s okay for our body to change at menopause? A menopausal body may not look the same as a pre-menopausal body but it can be just as beautiful. It may just look a little different.
Focus on health rather than slimness
Another important step forward for me personally and one that I encourage my client’s to adopt, is to focus on health rather than slimness. This involves moving your body regularly in ways that bring you joy, fuelling your body with nutritious foods that you enjoy and making time for rest and rejuvenation.
When you approach health in this positive way, you’ll likely find that your body eventually settles into its own natural set weight for whatever age you are. As you love and take care of your body, you will naturally begin to feel good about yourself from the inside out and your confidence will follow suit.
Menopause weight gain doesn’t define you
Yes, menopause weight gain can be a challenging but it doesn’t have to define you. By acknowledging that your body will change throughout your lifespan, altering your own narrative about what a beautiful menopausal body should look like and loving your body enough to take care of it, you can feel good (even great!), regardless of your weight.
In fact, if you are like me, your menopause transition may even allow you to challenge some of your own outdated beliefs, create healthier habits and evolve into the very best and most confident version of you yet.
You are not alone
Remember, you are not alone, and there is help available to guide you through this journey of wonderful transformation.