What You Can Do About the Middle Age Spread
Have you always been a pear but find yourself turning into an apple as the years pass by? Well, you are not alone. During perimenopause and menopause, many women see their curvy hour-glass shape gradually turn into a more rounded apple. One of the culprits is decreased estrogen levels. Estrogen helps determine where fat is deposited on the body. As levels go down, the body works harder to convert calories into fat cells which produce estrogen. Unfortunately, fat cells don't burn calories as efficiently as muscle cells resulting in weight gain.
Belly fat is not just skin deep--it includes visceral fat which surrounds your abdomen and internal organs. Increased visceral fat may cause a whole host of problems as it produces hormones and other compounds that may increase blood pressure, bad cholesterol, estrogen levels, and decrease good choleserol and insulin sensitivity. These changes may result in cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, colon cancer, and even premature death (regardless of weight). For women, a waistline of 35" or greater puts you at greater risk.
However, don't despair -- there are a few simple lifestyle changes you can make to fight back!
1. Eat healthy. Add more fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins to your meals. By eating more of these foods you will naturally cut back on the calories you consume and lose weight in the process.
2. Cut back on saturated fats and increase your intake of mono and polyunsaturated fats from foods such as fish, nuts, and olive or canola oil. Eating "healthy" fats will decrease the risk of conditions such as cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.
3. Watch your portion sizes. Huge portions equal huge calorie increases -- when eating out, try eating half your meal and taking the rest home for later or share a meal with a friend. Don't forget--smaller portions equal fewer calories resulting in weight loss.
4. Exercise. 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise such as brisk walking or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise such as jogging is recommended. Also try to do some type of strength training such as lifting weights twice weekly. The most important thing is to find an activity that you enjoy doing and will be able to fit into your schedule on a regular basis.
Remember: Slow and steady wins the race. Try a goal of losing 2 pounds each week to keep the weight off for good!.
About the Author
Susan Taylor, RD, LD, CLT is a licensed and registered dietitian specializing in helping people suffering from adverse food reactions and weight management. If you are ready to start feeling better, I invite you to visit http://www.rdoncall.com and start working with a registered dietitian in making your healthy lifestyle changes.
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