Okay, ladies, aren’t we always looking up those excuses for why it is so much harder to keep the weight off as we get older? I’m remembering an article from a few years ago with some interesting facts regarding the three hormonal events that change a woman’s life, effecting the size and shape of their bodies.
As you might have already guessed these hormonal events are puberty, pregnancy and menopause. hese are the primary times that women gain weight and then fail to lose it. Overall, within the U.S., women are more obese than men and women are more susceptible to major weight gain than men throughout their lives and across all ages.
Studied here at the University of Colorado Health Science Center in Denver, Dr. Eckel claims that it is not as simple as “sex” hormones. Removing the female ovaries did not reduce the weight gaining potential in his subjects. The higher susceptibility to gain weight remained. 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 percentage of body fat, usually around 20-25%. The female body wants to store body fat in order to protect, especially when the body composition is dropping.
The first stage where body weight can increase rapidly for a female is during puberty. The age of a girl beginning her period seems to affect and be affected by body weight. Coming from a study out of Tufts University, they have noted that obese children are taller and have their periods earlier than non-obese peers. This same study claims that women who enter puberty at an early age are at an increased risk of obesity later in life.
Pregnancy is the second time in a woman’s life when there is troubling weight gain. A big factor in this season of life is pre-pregnancy weight; women who are overweight before pregnancy tend to gain and maintain more weight after pregnancy. Also, excessive weight gain during pregnancy can lead to obesity after babies. The obesity trend for after pregnancy is that for every pound a woman gains during pregnancy she will maintain up to half of that pound after. Additionally, race has a definite impact on obesity after pregnancy. Research has shown that black women gain more weight than white women with the same number of children.
Lastly, menopause brings with it higher levels of body fat, however this does not mean that all women are doomed to be fat. Like puberty, obese women going into menopause are most likely to gain more weight during menopause. Is this a factor of hormone changes, a metabolism that is slowing down or age-related reduction in activity? It’s a combination of all three.
A study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh suggests that aging is more related to weight gain than menopause itself. What is that saying? My take on this is that we allow ourselves to become sedentary and weaker with every achy joint and lazy bone that happens when we get older. As we finish the many seasons of our lives (i.e. raising our children, working scheduled jobs, down sizing, burying parents) we become more sedentary and begin to think that it’s O.K. to not do as much and not try as hard.
I’m telling you, it’s not okay. There is honestly no reason that we shouldn’t fight father time so that we can maintain a healthy body weight and continue to be functional. Why not skid into the grave broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn-out proclaiming, “Wow, what a ride! I enjoyed every minute of it!” Don’t you want to be able to do that?
This is not information that we are unfamiliar with. We know that our bodies are changing every day with age, and they have the potential to change permanently. It’s the permanence toward weight gain that we want to avoid, and we need to catch at each stage of our lives.
So as women, we must work extra hard at our healthy lifestyle and accept the changes that we go through. Keep in mind, 75% of weight control is done through dieting and 25% in the gym.