As a weight loss doctor who works primarily with women over 40, I see two types of clients in my practice.
1. Women who have been overweight most of their adult life and have tried many different diets.
2. Women who have been slim all their life and then in their 40s, 50s or even 60s started to notice the weight increasing, sometimes very quickly.
This blog post is about the second group.
Why would someone who has been thin all their life suddenly notice their weight increasing?
First of all, we should always exclude any medical problems. This involves a visit to your GP/ family doctor to get some tests, especially thyroid function tests. This might be the cause of weight gain in a small minority of women
But for most women (and even the women with medical causes) the following factors will also be at work:
1. Slowing metabolism.
As we age, our metabolisms slow. This means that we require less food as we get older. In fact, a woman in her 50s may require 400 fewer calories than a woman in her 20s. This means over time, even if our diets remain unchanged, we may still gain weight.
Contrary to popular opinion, menopause doesnt cause weight gain. But what it does do is cause a change in body shape. Most women, before menopause, carry most of their fat in their hips and thighs. After menopause the distribution of fat changes so that more is stored in the abdomen.
Practically speaking many women notice their belt size changes or that the waist of their trousers or jeans gets tighter.
3. Creeping bad habits
Over time, its easy for bad habits to creep in. Even small changes in daily calorie intake (that chocolate muffin you decide to have at morning tea) can have a large effect over time.
These three factors can be all it takes to cause significant weight gain in someone who was previously slim. But the good news is that you dont have to sit back and be a spectator to all these changes.
1. Your first weapon is awareness. Be aware of what you are eating. What habits have snuck into your life and dont really contribute the value that justifies the calories?
2. Make small changes. Dont do anything drastic. Its better to make slow gradual changes that add up than large changes that you cant maintain.
3. Stay active. Activity can include walking more, going to the gym, doing more things around the house and taking up hobbies like dancing and cycling. Anything that makes you more active is good.
Most of all, take a long term perspective. You wont have gained weight over a week, so dont expect to lose it that quickly either. You are going to be maintaining your weight for the rest of your life, so treat it like a long term activity.
It can be disturbing to notice your weight go up suddenly over a short period of time. But rest assured there are others who have been through this and have turned things around. You can too.