Okay ladies, aren’t we always looking for these excuses as to why it is so much harder to keep the weight off as we age? I remember an article from a few years ago with some interesting facts about the three hormonal events that change a woman’s life and affect the size and shape of her body.
As you may have guessed, these hormonal events are puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. These are the first times women gain weight and then stop losing it. Overall, women in the United States are more obese than men, and women are more prone to large weight gain than men throughout their lives and in all age groups.
Dr. Eckel, who studied here at the University of Colorado Health Science Center in Denver, claims it’s not as simple as “sex hormones.” Removing the female ovaries did not reduce the potential for weight gain in his subjects. The higher susceptibility to weight gain persisted. His personal hypothesis is that the female body will protect its ability to maintain fertility and milk production at all costs. This includes a healthy body fat percentage, usually around 20-25%. The female body wants to store body fat for protection, especially when body composition deteriorates.
The first stage at which a woman’s body weight can gain rapidly is during puberty. The age of a girl starting her period appears to affect and be affected by body weight. From a study by Tufts University, they found that obese children are taller and have their periods earlier than non-obese peers. The same study claims that women who hit puberty at an early age have an increased risk of developing obesity later in life.
Pregnancy marks the second time in a woman’s life with worrying weight gain. An important factor in this phase of life is weight before pregnancy; Women who are overweight before pregnancy tend to gain and hold more weight after pregnancy. Excessive weight gain during pregnancy can also lead to obesity after babies. The post-pregnancy obesity trend is that for every pound a woman gains during pregnancy, a woman keeps up to half that pound after pregnancy. In addition, breed has a significant impact on post-pregnancy obesity. Studies have shown that black women with the same number of children put on weight more than white women.
After all, menopause brings higher body fat percentages, but that doesn’t mean that all women are doomed to be fat. As with puberty, obese menopausal women are most likely to gain weight during menopause. Is it a hormonal change, a slowing metabolism, or an age-related decrease in activity? It’s a combination of all three.
A study done at the University of Pittsburgh suggests that aging is more related to weight gain than to menopause itself. What does that say? My take on this is that with every sore joint and rotten bone that occurs in old age, we let ourselves become sedentary and weaker. As we end the many seasons of our lives (e.g., raise our children, have scheduled jobs, downsize, bury parents), we become more sedentary and begin to think that it is okay not to do so much and don’t try so hard.
I’m telling you it’s not okay. In all honesty, there is no reason not to fight fatherhood in order to maintain a healthy weight and continue to be functional. Why not slide into the broad side of the grave, completely used up, completely exhausted and proclaim: “Wow, what a ride! I enjoyed every minute! ”Don’t you want to be able to do that?
This is not information unknown to us. We know that our body changes daily with age and has the potential to change permanently. It is the persistence towards weight gain that we want to avoid and that we need to recognize at every stage of our life.
So, as women, we need to work extra hard on our healthy lifestyles and accept the changes we are going through. Remember that 75% of weight control is done through dieting and 25% in the gym.