Middle Age Spread or Menopausal Muffin Top?
Managing weight can seem like a constant battle for many of us women, but it seems to be a full-scale WAR in our *ahem* middle years. Or “middle age spread” years.
Your muffin top seems to be making a bid for freedom out of your jeans.
You LOOK at a cake and it goes straight to your hips.
You eat lettuce and do lunges and still can’t lose that pesky half stone/stone/3 stones… delete as applicable.
BUT middle age spread is not about WEIGHT really. It’s about FAT. And body shape.
Here’s why …and later learn some helpful hints on marmalising your mid-life muffin top.
Watching “weight” or fighting “fat”?
What you weigh, doesn’t really tell you that much about your health. Even BMI (Body Mass Index which measures the ratio of our weight to height) isn’t the be-all and end-all when trying to stop middle age spread.
That’s because muscle weighs more than fat.
So an athletic, fit-as-a-flea, six-packed Gym-Bunny might weigh more and have higher BMI than that of your average-build Couch Potato Princess.
Gym Girl could even register as overweight on a weight chart! But she is likely to be much leaner, fitter and healthier; carrying more muscle than flab compared to her sofa-surfing sister.
Are You Changing Shape?
Body shape is another useful indication of health – and also hormones – in mid life. A good measure is waist to hip ratio.
Last year, I started to notice that my previous bootylicious “pear shape” was becoming a bit of an “apple” … so-called middle age spread is another sign of perimenopause.
Basically, Mother Nature makes up for dwindling oestrogen levels with the gift of fat around the middle, because tummy fat produces oestrogen. How cruel!
But hey ho, a LITTLE extra fat isn’t a big problem, it’s when you laying down a lot of fat, you need to take it in hand.
If you divide your waist measurement by hip measurement and you get a number bigger than 0.8, it’s not healthy, lovely.
There are long-term health risks associated with middle age spread. And metabolism slows with age, so it’s not going to get any better, without some new habits.
Start managing it downwards now.
How To Stop Middle Age Spread
Let’s start with how NOT to manage menopause muffin top.
DON’T GO LOW FAT – eating fat doesn’t equal becoming fat. Choose essential fats as part of a healthy diet from nuts, seeds, avocado and oily fish for overall health and FAT BURNING. Yes, that’s right. Reduce saturated fats and trans fats from processed foods.
DON’T CHOOSE “DIET” PRODUCTS – ever seen that meme on social media? The one that says ‘For “diet” or “lite” read “chemical sh*t storm” ‘? They can contain sugar for taste, which is linked to weight gain. Or artificial sweeteners which can lead to weight gain by confusing your body – your body triggers appetite when it gets a sweet “hit” with no calories.
RESIST COUNTING CALORIES – scientists have proved that all calories are NOT created equal. The same number of calories from different types of food can have very different effects on the body. The old notion of “calories in versus calories out” for weight loss has been debunked over time. See GO LOW CARB below. Eat for health. Food is medicine as well as fuel.
DON’T SKIP MEALS – balance blood sugar by eating little and often. Eating this way balances insulin (fat storing hormone), reduces cravings and gives you better energy. Eating your largest meal during the day, not late in the evening can also help.
DON’T DIET – it may be a quick fix, but over time it messes with your metabolism and can lead to a cycle of yo-yo dieting. Create healthy eating habits you can keep.
And now onto those key healthy habits to create and sustain to reduce that middle age spread …
GO LOW CARB – that’s low not NO. Carbs – especially refined ones and that includes SUGAR – cause excess insulin which encourages fat storage. Have carbs in moderation and choose from a whole variety of wholegrains – rye, spelt, buckwheat, millet, barley, rice, quinoa, oats, wild rice, wheat and more. I’ve been getting freaky with freekeh, recently.
EAT GOOD QUALITY PROTEIN – and I mean with each meal or snack. It’s great for balancing blood sugar. Choose from organic meat or poultry, eggs, fish and seafood, organic dairy, legumes, nuts and seeds and more. One of my snacks of choice is a piece of fruit with some nuts …sliced apple spread with a little almond butter is the aces.
BUILD ACTIVITY INTO YOUR LIFE – note I didn’t use the E word… “exercise”. It even brings me out in a rash. Hehe. Exercise always sounds like such a chore. And my fave activities – yoga, zumba, dog walking and gardening – are never a chore. Vary your activities to include some fat burning and some weight bearing exercise for maximum benefits.
FOLLOW THE 80/20 RULE – choose healthy habits at least 80% of the time, always. It’s not a “diet” we’re on, it’s a way of life.
So let’s fight fat, watch body shape and eat for nutrition in the war against middle age spread, sisters. Who’s with me?