One of the biggest lies women believe is that weight gain is inevitable during menopause.
Let’s dismiss that right now… your stage of life does NOT need to determine your health, size, or energy level. The power to stay trim and healthy (not to mention FULL of energy) is at your fingertips!
Yes, it is very common for belly fat to appear during your perimenopause and menopause years.
You continue eating right and exercising, doing all the things that have worked for you for decades, but suddenly… your jeans don’t button.
You look in the mirror and wonder where in the world that muffin top came from, and why it won’t go away even with stricter diet and more intense exercise.
Here’s the secret: your body’s needs are changing. The exercise and diet rules you followed in your 20s and early 30s just don’t apply any more. In fact, intense exercise and some diets may make the problem worse instead of better.
So if you are one of the thousands of women who feel like you’ve tried everything to shed stubborn belly fat, only to have it reappear (or not budge in the first place), I have good news for you today—there is still hope.
Weight loss and achieving the healthy body of your dreams is still possible over 40 (and 50, and 60… you get the idea).
But it’s probably just going to look a little different than you expect.
Let’s take a minute to get to know the hormones that are causing your stubborn weight gain. Then we can be on the same page when it comes to making a plan to help you see results ASAP!
STRESS, CORTISOL, AND JEANS THAT ARE TOO TIGHT
Yes, you read that right. Perhaps even more problematic than sugar and carbs, the toxic effects of stress can lead to stubborn belly fat, especially if you’re over 40. Here’s why…
Adrenaline and Cortisol
When you feel stressed, your adrenals release two hormones—adrenaline and cortisol.
Adrenaline signals to your body that your life is being threatened—traditionally, lions, tigers, and bears (oh, my!). Except now, in today’s world, it may be more like finances, work trouble, relationships, and never-ending pinging from your phone.
Next, your biological instincts kick in—fight, flight, or freeze—causing blood flow to stop its normal support of the digestive and reproductive systems and redirect to your extremities for a full-on battle of survival.
Then your brain sends a message to the body to protect yourself, and here comes the cortisol!
Cortisol begins its parade of “stop everything to survive” and shuts down bodily systems in favor of saving your life.
All of a sudden, your brain thinks you need a jolt of energy NOW and to store some away for later. This signal leads to breaking down muscle in order to get the glucose needed in the moment, plus extra fat storage.
Fight or Flight and Progesterone
The “Fight, Flight, or Freeze” response causes a bodily shutdown of other hormones as well, primarily progesterone.
So this decrease in progesterone increases your body fat and leads to fluid retention. This makes you puffy and bloated, in addition to causing brain fog, exhaustion, anxiety, depression, and more.
Due to long-term stress and breaking down of your muscles to attain the fuel needed for a fight, there is less muscle mass available to which to return the excess glucose.
So where does it end up?
This deposits around your middle to protect your vital organs during this time of dire straits. And you look in the mirror and think, ‘Yikes! I’ve got to get this under control!’ causing more worry, more stress, more cortisol, more issues…
And what do you do? Eat less because we’ve been taught that dieting is the only way to lose weight.
But guess what that tells your body?
“Food is even more scarce than we thought! Danger, danger!”
This leads to a perpetual cycle of stress, weight gain, fat deposits, and overeating because our bodies don’t know that food is readily available.
THE ESTROGEN PROBLEM
Responsible for the way people respond to eating and drinking, estrogen is involved in SO MUCH more than just reproduction. One of the biggest problems women over 35 experience related to their hormones is estrogen dominance.
This occurs not just with high levels of estrogen—but mainly when you are lacking the progesterone to balance out the effects of estrogen on your body.
Estrogen is stimulating, progesterone is calming. Estrogen keeps you on high alert, progesterone allows your body to relax and heal.
During perimenopause and menopause, estrogen levels fluctuate so wildly that it’s no wonder your body feels extra stress! Plus, as I outlined above, any external stressors cause progesterone production to decrease, just compounding the problem.
Even post-menopausal women with lower estrogen levels may suffer from estrogen dominance if their progesterone levels are significantly lower than their estrogen levels.
Estrogen and Blood Sugar
One of estrogen’s primary jobs is to keep your body balanced by managing blood sugar. If it is thrown off, your body can become resistant to insulin and begin expanding your fat tissue to store more glucose.
Science has shown that estrogen plays a big role in your metabolism, as well. When estrogen levels decrease (as in menopause), your metabolism slows down and your energy levels decrease.
But you already know that because you feel it!
To make matters worse, as you approach menopause, your body distributes fat a little differently—primarily around your midsection.
This fat secretes chemicals called adipokines which, in turn, increases our resistance to insulin.
This creates yet another vicious cycle of fluctuating estrogen, insulin resistance, excess glucose, and—as you now know—extra belly fat to accommodate it.
4 STEPS TO LOSE STUBBORN BELLY FAT FOR GOOD
Stress, cortisol, estrogen, insulin… it’s a lot to take in.
As you can see, just dieting is not going to solve the problem. Yes, healthy foods will help, but there’s a reason you can’t shake the weight even if you’re eating right. You have to go back to the hormones behind the belly fat and treat your body as it needs it NOW (and not like when you were 25).
Here are 4 easy ways you can shed belly fat (and keep it off) by supporting healthier hormone balance:
1. Keep Moving Your Body (but maybe not in the same way you have been).
Strenuous, intense exercise may have been your go-to for decades—and that is awesome. But if your workout suddenly leaves you more drained than before, seems to make zero difference in your midsection, and is just not jiving with your body any more, it’s time to re-evaluate.
Gentle exercise in menopause is going to be more effective than intense training. Strenuous exercise causes more stress on your body. When you’re in your 20s and early 30s, this is actually healthy stress for your cells and leaves you MORE energized and more likely to lose weight.
But the stress of fluctuating hormones plus everyday stressors of this stage of your life have changed the game. Resistance training, gentle weight lifting, yoga, walking, and even dancing are going to be more effective to help you lose weight than your HIIT would be!
2. Stop the Sugar Habit.
Snacking, carbs, and sugar are the enemy of your waistline (and not just because of the calorie count).
Your body’s insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels are an essential piece of warding off the dreaded menopause weight gain. Changing estrogen levels are causing more resistance to insulin and altering your metabolism. Therefore, it’s more important than ever to avoid the things that are going to worsen the situation.
Plus, constant snacking (especially if you’re resorting to sugary or carb-filled options) interrupts your body’s digestion cycle. It essentially prevents your body from fully breaking down what you’re eating. This is a recipe for more belly fat, more bloating, irregular digestion, and so many of the other things I hear from women every day. Here are some practical ways to make this work in your life:
- Instead of having snacks throughout the day, stick to 2-3 nutrient-dense meals.
- Intermittent fasting is another way you can boost your metabolism and stabilize your insulin levels to kickstart weight loss and prevent it from returning.
- Eliminate inflammatory foods like sugar, grains, dairy, and alcohol. This will enhance your body’s digestion and allow your hormones to balance without being held up by dangerous gut and cellular inflammation
It’s about resetting your daily patterns, not totally depriving your body (since that will just continue the cycle of cortisol, insulin resistance, etc.). If that feels overwhelming, one of the best tools I can offer you is Crave Reset.
This supplement is designed to rebalance the brain chemicals that drive you to stress eating or constant snacking. It resets your habits and enable you to lose weight without going on a strict diet. See more about Crave Reset here >>
3. Protect Your Sleep.
There are more lasting effects from troubled sleep than just yawning through your morning meetings or guzzling coffee all day long. Yes, exhaustion and brain fog are the obvious results of a lack of quality sleep, but your stubborn belly fat may also be connected.
When you sleep, your body goes through a process of re-stabilizing your hormones and fully digesting any foods or nutrients you’ve eaten. It also takes care of some of the cleansing/detoxing/hormone balancing processes that just don’t happen during your awake hours.
So if this time is cut short, your hormones WILL be out of whack. Your body WILL be dealing with accumulated toxins and excess hormones. And not only will you feel exhausted—but also you’ll have to deal with excess belly fat, cravings, and more.
Sleep. Is. vital. Do whatever you need to do to make it a top priority each and every day. Click here to learn some of my top sleep-promoting tips (specifically designed for women over 40) >>
4. Supplement for Optimal Hormone Balance.
Since the biggest contributor to belly fat in menopause is NOT diet or exercise related, it’s vital to address the hormones that are landing you here in the first place. Here are some of the top supplements that can eliminate inflammation and support optimal hormone levels (especially over 40):
- Magnesium is my #1 recommended supplement for ALL women. This is especially true if you’re dealing with sleep struggles, bloating, migraines, or cycle-related issues like PMS on top of your stubborn belly fat. Magnesium plays a vital role in eliminating excess estrogen from your body. This is the key to healing from estrogen dominance and all of its effects.
Not all magnesium supplements are created equal. Some cannot even absorb into your body, and others are known to cause significant digestive upset, even at low doses. I formulated Magnesium Restore for optimal absorption so your body can reclaim balance quickly and easily. The combination of magnesium glycinate and magnesium oxide delivers both short- and long-term stability so your body can rebalance and heal. Get Magnesium Restore here >>
- Hormone Balance is my customized blend of hormone-loving ingredients to supply your body with exactly what it needs to find its happy place again. This stellar blend of vitamins, minerals, botanicals, and nutrients is an all-in-one solution. It can calm stress, speed up weight loss, keep your body energized, and so much more! Get it here >>
- Declining progesterone (whether because of age, stress, estrogen dominance, or some other factor) is one of the biggest root causes of stubborn belly fat. That means improving progesterone levels is a guaranteed way to bring relief to your body. I cover several lifestyle practices that can improve progesterone levels in this blog post. However, the easiest way to get immediate relief is with a topical, bioidentical progesterone serum.
I recommend Progest-Restore because it is guaranteed to be pure, with no toxins or synthetic ingredients. It’s safe, natural, easy to use and guaranteed to deliver fast results! Get it here >>
This is just scratching the surface on how you can use supplements to support your body and heal your hormones. Click here to download my popular guide: Top 11 Supplements for Hormonal Balance and unlock even more solutions for sleep, energy, weight, hot flashes, PMS, and so much more!
THE BOTTOM LINE
There’s SO MUCH MORE to your weight gain and stubborn belly fat than your diet. Yes, eliminating sugar and watching what you eat will help. But ultimately even that is just a bandaid solution that’s not addressing the root cause.
What is the only way to ensure your body will continue to stay in balance and be able to prevent weight from reappearing? It is by addressing the hormone imbalances that are leading to the stubborn weight in the first place.
Ready to learn more about hormones, menopause, and building the life and body of your dreams (even at 40, 50, and beyond)? Check out my summit The Perimenopause and Menopause Relief Summit below to get a detailed breakdown of everything that’s happening in your body during this transition and practical tips for eliminating the biggest symptoms before they get the better of you!
FREE DOWNLOAD: Dr. Mariza’s Top 11 Supplements for Hormone Health
Ready to take charge of your own health?