How to lose weight and exercise smarter as your hormones change

Try these health and workout tips to keep your body in balance at any stage of life.
By Stephanie Mansour

As a health & weight loss coach for women for over a decade, many of my private weight loss clients come to me because they’re having a hard time losing weight during times of hormonal change, like menopause. In fact, many of them think that it’s an impossible feat.

However, when you have the right approach for your body, weight loss is not only possible, it can even be simple.

Check out my five ways to change your weight loss approach as you age and hormones change.

Combat Muscle Loss

When women enter menopause, it’s not uncommon for them to begin to lose muscle mass. Loss of muscle mass is a problem for weight loss; we need muscle to burn fat. By adding strength training into your weekly routine you can help combat the problem.

Believe it or not though, there are some strength training exercise routines that will only take up 5 minutes of your time and call for no equipment.

Try this routine that offers a great full body workout.

Frog Jump

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Stand with your feet apart and arms lowered in front of your body. Crouch into a squat position to touch your fingertips to the floor, and then jump up. Land into a low squat. Repeat this frog jump 10 times. For a modification, skip the jump and simply do a deep squat 10 times.

Squat Lunge

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Stand with your feet apart and lower into a squat. Hold the pose for a moment then press on your heels to return to a standing position. Step forward on your right foot and bend both knees until the left knee is bent to a 90 degree angle. Push through your right foot to return to a standing position. Switch sides and repeat. Complete five reps of the whole move (both sides).

Mountain Climbing Plank

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Assume a push up position. Bring your right knee up towards the center of your chest. Hold the pose for 10 seconds then return to your starting position. Repeat with the left leg and then for a total of 10 reps.

Repeat this routine of three exercises, three times. That should be a total 5-minute workout!

Fuel Up with Protein

The natural decline in estrogen as women approach menopause has been linked to both decreased muscle mass and bone strength. Adding extra protein to your diet can help combat this. In the U.S., the recommended daily allowance of protein is 0.36 grams per pound of body weight for everyone over 18.

However, for menopausal women it’s recommended that they increase protein to 0.45 to 0.55 grams per pound. Foods that are highest in natural protein include lean red meat, eggs, legumes, milk and low fat cheese. You can also add protein powder to smoothies and even in your baking!

Check Your Hormones

Menopause causes all kinds of hormonal shifts, and some of them may prevent you from losing weight as easily as you did before. A visit to your doctor will help establish if you have an imbalance in hormones and can then advise you on the best ways to fix the problems. Not all hormone imbalances are directly linked to menopause, either, so ask your doctor to do a full work-up.

Reduce Cortisol Levels

Everyone’s body produces cortisol naturally, but too much of it can be a problem when it comes to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. The problem is that cortisol is essential to lots of bodily functions —including maintaining the right glucose and blood pressure levels — but too much of it can lead to weight gain, especially in the midsection. Stress is one of the reasons women develop high cortisol levels and stress is hard to avoid.

However, making a conscious effort to reduce it is a must for your overall health. Yoga, meditation and breathing exercises are all great ways to do this and they are easy to fit into even the busiest daily schedule because they can be performed anywhere!

Not sure what yoga poses to do? Do some simple breathwork and stretching by inhaling as you reach your arms up as high as you can, and then exhaling as you bring the palms together at the center of your chest. Repeat this 10 times.

Get Enough Sleep

Not only will not getting enough sleep make you grouchy, but it can be bad for your health and your efforts to maintain a healthy weight. Here are a few simple tips for a better night’s sleep. First, create a better bedroom. Our bedrooms are supposed to be a haven for rest and relaxation. However, too often we put a television in the bedroom as well as the iPad and phone. Try moving screens slowly out of your bedroom.

First, put them on your dresser so that you have to get up to get them from bed. Next, move them into the hallway. And finally, move them into a separate room altogether. Make the barrier to entry greater so that you have to put in more effort to access them!

Your bedroom should be a quiet place, easily darkened so that you can fall asleep faster. It shouldn’t be too hot as becoming overheated wakes a lot of people when they do finally go to sleep. Especially if you’re having hot flashes, you’ll want to make sure that the thermostat is set to a cooler temperature than it is during the day.

Finally, when you were a kid, chances are you had a bedtime routine. Re-establishing a regular nighttime routine as an adult can help combat insomnia as well. It really does not matter too much what that routine is as long as it is one that is relaxing to you personally. You can try taking a bath, reading a book, or even writing in a gratitude journal to unwind at the end of the day. The idea is to train your body to learn what time it needs to rest.

Stephanie Mansour is a health & fitness expert and weight-loss coach for women. Join her complimentary health and weight-loss challenge here!