You’re not going to like my answer (or rather follow-up question), but what’s wrong with that belly fat?
Sure, you’ll tell me it doesn’t look good or that you preferred your body without that belly fat. But did you know there is a reason to that new belly fat?
During menopause, your body stops producing estrogen and progesterone, hormones that are essential for the reproductive process and to regulate other parts of the body, such as the brain, heart, and bones. That’s why, with the loss of these hormones, we have a higher risk of heart disease and osteoporosis, among other things after menopause.
As you can see, if we stop producing a hormone that has many benefits (ie being protective to our heart and bones), our body will try to find another means to produce it. Although it’s mostly produced by the ovaries, it can also be formed by other tissues, such as skin, muscle, and… body fat!
Yes, an increase in body fat is our bodies’ way of adapting in order to regulate estrogen production as we age. More estrogen = fewer symptoms!
So you see this extra belly fat can be good for us? Do you still want to lose belly fat after menopause knowing it can be beneficial?
I’m sure I still haven’t convinced you that extra belly fat is OK, especially since our culture is rooted in weight loss and values small bodies. And you probably don’t want to buy bigger clothes. So what we really need to get into is what an acceptable body is. Unfortunately, this is a personal thing and I don’t think I have an answer that will be satisfactory to everyone. What I can help with, is start the questioning around the issue. The first step in assessing our needs is asking ourselves the following questions:
- Are you concerned about the belly fat because of its potential effect on health (whether that might be true or not, see previous blog post)?
- Or are you concerned because of physical appearance?
- In either case, how will your life be different if you did lose the belly fat?
- How is this belly fat affecting your day to day activities?
- Is constantly obsessing about it going to help you achieve your goal
Our issues with increased weight aren’t always related to the health effects of the weight itself, but our perceptions about weight gain.
There is no magic food or pill that will make you lose the belly fat
The weight loss industry makes billions every year feeding on our fear of weight gain and/or death. Wouldn’t you think that if we had the answer to weight loss we would all be using it (not that we should pursue weight loss)?
I am not against weight-loss
I don’t want you to think that I am against weight loss. What I am against is the constant pursuit or weight loss. There is so much more to weight than food and exercise, so if eating well to lose weight is causing stress, why put yourself through it? Stress is probably a bigger factor in overall health than food is!
To sum up, yes, there are likely going to be some changes in body composition after menopause due to the lack of estrogen, some of which can be beneficial. But changing our focus to nurturing our body rather than changing our body shape/size can help you stay motivated in making healthy changes in food and exercise without the stress!