Weight just going up and up? Waist line expanding out of control? These are common complaints during the menopause. Most women will gain weight and this usually settles as increased fat around the middle of the body. But what about if you’re a runner? Are you exempt from this because you exercise regularly? How does this impact your running? And if it’s happening to you, what can you do about it?
For me personally, the changes to my body composition seemed to happen over a matter of days. Suddenly the top button on my jeans was tight, my belly felt solid when I was doing up my seatbelt in the car and I didn’t recognise my profile in the mirror. I was fully expecting some midlife weight gain, especially around the menopause, but I wasn’t expecting it to happen so quickly and dramatically!
Perimenopausal weight gain happens to the majority of women. The changing hormone levels in your blood stream affect numerous systems in the body including your metabolism, sleep, appetite and muscle mass. It suddenly becomes very easy to gain weight and harder to lose it too.
Different types of fat
The thing is, the weight that you gain is largely fat and importantly, it’s the type of fat that can make you unhealthy and increase your risk of major diseases including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. The bulk of this fat gain is stored as visceral fat. Your viscera are your internal organs and visceral fat sits deep inside you, around organs such as your heart, liver, gut and muscles. This is different to the soft, squishy fat just under your skin which is called subcutaneous fat.
It’s important to know that even if you aren’t seeing a change in your profile shape or any upward movement of the dial on the scales, your levels of visceral fat are likely to increase when you hit perimenopause. This means that regardless of your shape, size or activity levels, it’s a good idea to make some lifestyle changes to help counteract your tendency to store visceral fat.
Reducing visceral fat
Thankfully visceral fat is responsive to physical activity. So, by moving more you can help to reduce your visceral fat levels and that’s the case whether or not you actually lose weight. You are making yourself healthier from the inside out and that’s the same for everyone of any size. You can be skinny and have significant amounts of visceral fat. Of course, it’s vital to look at what you’re eating too and consistently make healthy food choices. You can’t do one without the other and expect all the benefits.
It’s hard to lose weight in the perimenopause
There is one problem though. Perimenopausal runners are finding it hard and are getting very frustrated. What I’m hearing from many is:
- My body composition changes are happening despite running regularly and eating a good diet.
- My weight changes are having an effect on my running because I feel slower and heavier and running just feels harder.
- I feel really out of control of the situation.
- My usual tricks for shedding a few pounds to get back to where I feel comfortable have stopped working.
- I want to take some action to keep healthy but I don’t know what to do.
It can be very frustrating and can lead to you losing your motivation, particularly if you use to using running as a way of staying healthy and maintaining your weight.
Steps to controlling your weight in the perimenopause
If you’re nodding your head as you read this then I have something that will help. Don’t worry, it’s not a magic supplement for hundreds of pounds or even a ring that you wear that magically melts away fat (yes, someone is trying to sell that!). There are no quick fixes here and don’t believe anyone who says there are. Nope, I’ve written a Runner’s Guide to Perimenopausal Weight Control to explain more, share my top tips and point you in the right direction. Click the button below to download it for FREE. I’ll explain the steps you can take, as a runner, to alter your routines and feel in control. I’ll also sign you up for my weekly newsletter which I fill with tips, motivation and more for perimenopausal runners. I think you’ll love it but you can of course unsubscribe at any point!
I hope you enjoy it. Let me know by leaving me a comment here or on social media.