14 Apr 2016
How to Banish Meno-Middle with 3 Simple Steps
Do you feel like you’re barely eating enough to keep a bird alive? Tired of marathon sessions on the elliptical trainer only to see the numbers on the scale climbing?
You wonder what you’re doing wrong.
And your meno-middle (AKA muffin top) keeps growing.
The good news is that YOU may be doing nothing “wrong”. The bad news is that your cortisol may have climbed into the driver’s seat in your body…and you’re going to have to put her back where she belongs.
Cortisol can be your best friend or your worst enemy. If a speeding train is heading toward you, she’s your BFF for sure…a rush of cortisol will spur you to jump out of the way.
But in overdoses, cortisol is the “mean girl” in your body.
Cortisol is released in stressful situations. On a short-term basis, this is healthy. Long-term, it leads to chronic illness, body breakdown and weight gain. Unfortunately, something can be stressful to your body without you actually FEELING the stress in a big way. Three excellent examples of this are lack of sleep, eating at irregular times and overtraining.
In all of these cases, your body goes into “fight or flight” mode and begins to produce more cortisol and hang onto fat. YOU, on the other hand, notice the weight gain and begin to cut back even more on food and exercise harder. You lie awake at night wondering what the heck is going on and your body never has a chance to repair itself.
This sets up a vicious cycle that cannot be broken by pushing through it.
3 Steps to Get Back on Track
- Get enough sleep. There are reams of data that prove sleeping less than 6 hours a night leads to weight gain. We don’t need more studies. We need to go to bed. Seven to eight hours a night is ideal.
- Eat on a regular schedule. Your body expects to be fed at regular intervals. When that doesn’t happen, it thinks it’s going into starvation mode. Cortisol rushes in to save the day by preserving fat stores…this is the exactly what you DON’T want! If you are so busy that you forget to eat, set an alarm that reminds you to do this. Include plenty of protein, fiber and healthy fat to keep blood sugar swings to a minimum.
- Be gentle on your body. Believe it or not, it is possible to overtrain. If your workouts leave you feeling exhausted rather than invigorated, that’s a sign you may be overdoing it. Also, your body needs time to recover, so give it a break some days. Add in some yoga or a contemplative practice or try gentle exercise like walking to moderate your cortisol levels.
Using these 3 practices is a great start toward achieving your weight goals because unless you conquer cortisol, your efforts will feel like slogging through molasses. If you want to go deeper, it’s possible to map out your daily cortisol pattern to help you target your management efforts. This can be done with a simple saliva test. Knowing your baseline cortisol levels allows you to track the effectiveness of changes you make and tweak your plan if needed.
Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim parts of themselves they thought were gone forever.
Find out more about working with her at https://www.drannagarrett.com/work-with-me/.