Menopause: beat the belly bulge

The classic hourglass figure – we see it as a part of a woman’s beauty, the Marilyn Monroes and Jessica Rabbits, with all those curves going gently in and out with not a bulge in sight.

cropped shot of a woman sitting at the gym with pink pilates ball But as we get older, it’s perfectly normal to get a little thicker around the middle. And the belly bulge can be something that women dread as they approach menopause, especially if it’s something they saw with their own mother and even grandmother.

If you’ve noticed some extra pounds around your middle, you might have started to cut back on calories to shift the weight, or invested in some slimming underwear. Perhaps you’ve found yourself sucking your tummy in when you’re getting undressed in front of your partner… sound familiar?

So, as much as you absolutely loathe what’s happening to your waistline, you’ll just have to put up with it, right?

Wrong.

A feminine figure into menopause and beyond

No matter what your age, you can continue to enjoy the same sexy and feminine figure well beyond the menopause without needing to resort to corsets.

The real reason why your waistline is thickening isn’t quite what you think. Your metabolism hasn’t come to a screeching halt overnight, nor are your genes responsible for your changing shape.

So what is really going on?

During menopause, your production of oestrogen and progesterone slowly tapers off and your body has to work extra hard to achieve hormonal balance under these changing conditions.

And your changing hormones can have an effect on your weight and where your body stores fat. The drop in oestrogen tells your body to store excess pounds on your tummy instead of your bottom and thighs.

Secondly, these hormonal changes, and the way they make you feel, can send your levels of the stress hormone cortisol rocketing. This increases your changes of gaining yet more tummy fat.

Thirdly, the quality of your sleep can by affected by hormonal changes, which further impacts upon your symptoms of your menopause and that dreaded belly fat. Thanks to decreased levels of appetite suppressant leptin and increased levels of appetite stimulant ghrelin you are also far more likely to make poorer food choices and overeat.

It’s a belly-bulging combination.

But not every woman gets rounder…

Not everyone automatically gains belly fat once they hit the menopause. So what is their secret?

The answer lies in their lifestyle choices.

If you’re eating the wrong foods for your body, aren’t getting the right nutrition, still have toxic lifestyle habits, are under chronic stress, or neglect your own health, you’re going to be in trouble with many aspects of your health including your weight.

But by looking after your health and hormones you can carry on looking trim into your 50s and beyond.

Banish the belly fat

As well as keeping your younger, sexier shape, making positive lifestyle choices will keep you fit and healthy, too. Here’s how to get started:

Reduce your stress

It’s important to relax as much as possible to keep stress at bay. This means asking for help when you feel your stress levels rising. Increased cortisol means you’ll pile on weight and become prone to overeating, and can make you feel really rotten, too. So put your feet up more often.

Get more active

Just half an hour three times a week can make a big difference to our hormonal balance, blood flow, brain health and bone density. You need to get out of breath for it to be really effective, so it’s time to get moving…

Know your nutrition

To keep menopausal symptoms and belly fat at bay, you need to be eating plenty of lean proteins, healthy fats, fresh fruit and plenty of mineral-rich green leafy veggies. At the same time, you should think about reducing or eliminating processed grains and sugars.

A healthy mind

What do I mean by this? Well, stop being down on yourself, stay positive, try meditation and yoga and keep your cortisol levels down. A healthy mind can help you stay happy and keep your hormones in check at the same time.

So as you can see, cutting calories and buying big support pants isn’t the way to tackle belly fat. And neither is resigning yourself to it as part of getting older.

A few lifestyle tweaks and you’ll soon be feeling healthier and happier… with no belly bulge in sight.

Pamela Windle

About Pamela Windle

Hi I'm Pamela in my 40's and I've lived in Nottingham all my life, I studied Psychology & Sports Science at NTU and raised my daughter here too, so I'd say this is my home. As a Therapist and Coach I aim to inspire and empower women by guiding and enriching their knowledge, encouraging you to take positive self care, so women can overcome self-limiting beliefs that we’ve been sold to over generations. I'm a qualified Hypnotherapist using NLP and also a Personal Trainer. At Smarter Change I have combined my 18 years of working within the health and well-being industry to support women through different stages of their lives, expectant mothers, perimenopause and menopausal women. I work with women one to one and online. I get so much enjoyment out of what I do, I wish it could be free for everyone, but unfortunately I have to pay my bills. I do run a complimentary Easibirthing workshop every second month that I enjoy and will continue to do, as I know it helps expectant mums to feel calmer about childbirth. Please get in touch if you have any questions I’m here to help. BSc Hons, Dip Hyp, GHR Reg, GQHP

  • Thank you for this useful advice. I think I’ll start with the easier one: get more sleep!