There are two surefire ways to gain weight:
1. STRESS your way there (cortisol)
2. EAT your way there (insulin)
A little while ago, I was stressed, overwhelmed and gaining weight. I was juggling work, family, ageing parents and financial responsibilities. I was placing so many unrealistic expectations upon myself, whilst trying to be seen as a strong, coping ‘super mum’. I said “yes” to everything and everyone, however the more I committed to, the more stressed and overwhelmed I became.
I couldn’t sleep, often falling into bed exhausted and rolling out of bed exhausted. I constantly felt anxious thinking of all the things I needed to get done as I raced (and so did my mind) from one task to another. I was in a vicious cycle of using coffee as a pick me up during my daily energy slumps and wine to relax in the evenings. I also began comfort eating, suppressing my feelings in a bowl of ice-cream. And, self care? What was that? Such a foreign concept given my whole life revolved around helping others. At my lowest point, I began gaining weight (especially around my belly) and started experiencing symptoms of adrenal fatigue – a condition brought on by prolonged periods of stress.
Cortisol (stress hormone) and insulin (helps balance out blood sugar levels from food), combined together in higher amounts over a long period of time (in my case, prolonged stress and eating fatty, sugary foods / wine), pushes the female body into fat storing mode. The constant release of cortisol raises your insulin, alters your appetite, reduces your ability to burn fat and increases the rate at which you store fat.
High stress = high cortisol = high insulin = elevated blood sugar = weight gain, especially around belly
This is a bad combination for any woman, however peri/menopausal women are affected even more so. Fluctuating estrogen and progesterone levels can accentuate these symptoms, as well as create chemical changes in our brain, where we may feel like we’re on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. One minute we’re happy, the next minute we’re cranky, we overreact, then we feel guilty. We’re motivated and ready to take on the world one minute, then we feel unappreciated, resentful, anxious and depressed in the next. We get to the point where we feel like we’re going a little crazy.
The truth is, menopause is natural part of a woman’s evolutionary process.
20% of women don’t have any problems in the lead up to menopause; 60% of women may experience some mild-moderate symptoms, while 20% of us may have more severe problems.
Unfortunately, for the longest time women have accepted their ill health and weight gain as “this is just what happens with menopause”. Plus, its never openly talked about. And, as days go by, our hormones become more and more unbalanced, we get used to how bad we feel and start to accept our aches and pains, tiredness, bloating and cravings as ‘normal’.
This is NOT normal. Your symptoms are a result of stress, eating and hormonal changes due to menopause. So, you are NOT going crazy, you are NOT alone and there is NOTHING wrong with you. The problem lies with unbalanced hormones.
And, you are NOT powerless to change.
You CAN lose stubborn body fat
You CAN feel better
And, you CAN improve your mood, energy and life by facing your symptoms head on and taking a proactive approach to your health.
1. Get to the root cause of any hormonal imbalances by having your hormones tested.
This promotes a good preventative health practice and helps to identify specific imbalances associated with your symptoms. You can then, start off on the right foot by getting the correct treatment and as a result, regain optimal health and wellbeing.
2. Unravel and Reframe Stress
Stress is the common underlying denominator with ALL women’s health issues related to:
Cortisol – STRESS
Insulin – STRESS & FOOD
Estrogen – STRESS, LIFESTYLE, MENOPAUSE
Thyroid – STRESS
Unfortunately, through our conditioned patterns of over responsibility and selflessness, we’ve learned to put others first. For me, I saw my mum put others first while neglecting herself and her health, so inevitably that’s what I learned to do also.
Consider how much stress you’re creating for yourself by not asking for help or trying to “do it on your own”.
Also, consider that by being everything to everyone, and forgetting about yourself, you’re teaching your kids that very same pattern.
Women have come a long way in redefining our roles in society, it’s time for us to start redefining our NEW normal when it comes to our health, happiness and life aged 40 and beyond.
I’m not asking you to put yourself first, I’m simply asking you to put yourself IN the equation. I’m sure your kids (and family) will thank you for it!