As a young woman, I swore I would never succumb to wearing stretchy pants. You know, the kind older ladies wear that are made of 100% polyester stretch with an elastic waistband that makes them easy to pull up or down. They are wide-legged and come in many different colours ranging from basic black to pastel purple.
Fast-forward a few decades. I find myself almost exclusively wearing pull on, stretchy pants.
Why? Weight gain and belly fat.
I am 5’3″ and small-framed. Up to recent times, I have been fortunate enough to have a fast metabolism. And, only a weak emotional connection with food.
After menopause, I gained 5-6 permanent pounds. But last year, I “kicked” a habit that I had indulged in for decades (you know which one…) and gained 12 pounds which now sit in my belly and rear end. My clothes fit badly. I have a muffin-top aka Buddha belly aka menopot. I often feel bloated and cannot bear to have anything tight around my waist.
It took my body 8-9 months to get used to the new norm of reduced hormones and stimulants. I believe that I am taking in the same amount of daily calories and if anything, I am eating healthier since I mainly cook from scratch. And while I am not working out of the home anymore, I play Tai Chi or walk over 10K steps at least 5 of the 7 days in a week.
Why does the menopot happen?
Women store fat in their lower body mainly due to the presence of estrogen receptors in the hips, thighs, and buttocks. After menopause, when estrogen level decline, the fat storage moves up into the subcutaneous area of waist resulting in the dreaded menopot. To make matters worse, a weight gain of more than 2-5 pounds means that these fat deposits are laid deeper under the abdominal muscles as visceral fat. This is the type of fat that can lead to serious diseases like diabetes.
Yikes! How to get rid of it?
So if I am not eating more than before, then I must be burning fewer daily calories. Based on Livestrong.com, women in their 50s should be eating at least 200 fewer calories per day. I don’t know what my daily caloric intake is and may never know. But, I do know that the sneaking of salty snacks and the occasional Belgian chocolate has got to stop. Weight loss will be key in getting rid of this menopot. Good news is, I do drink a ton of fluids in the form of water and herbal tea.
Action: What modifications can be made to my diet to include more polyunsaturated fats, calcium-rich food, and veggies while reducing meat and grains? Figure out how to count calories. And look into organic apple cider which I hear might kickstart my metabolism.
Tai Chi done correctly incorporates a lot of squats, leg raises and muscle resistance. You work up a sweat. I’ve checked my Fitbit, my heart rate goes up to a fat-burning 85 beats-per-minute; even higher after a brisk walk of 60 minutes. But maybe I need more strenuous cardio, even interval training. Livestrong says at least 250 minutes of intensive cardio every week is enough to lose weight. That’s roughly 35 minutes per day or 70 minutes every other day.
Action: I get a great discount at Goodlife Fitness. Maybe it’s time make the gym part of my weekly routine again. But this requires commitment.
As I mention above, Tai Chi is great for muscle resistance. So are the planks and crunches I do. I guess I just need to do more of them. I know that weight training will build muscle which in turn, burns more calories. It will also help maintain bone density and might reduce the severity of the osteoporosis I am likely to suffer later on (my mother has severe osteoporosis and I already have arthritis in my knuckles). Plus, I wouldn’t mind arms like Michelle Obama either!
Action: More reason to join the gym. But if I don’t, what can I do at home?
If All Else Fails
Wear stretchy pants that rock. Lululemon is my choice. While their demographic skews toward millennials, they also offer pieces in their “To & From” category that work for all ages. My favourites are similar to the Jet Pants (I own black Jet Crop Slims but they aren’t available right now) and the Street to Studio Pants (I own 4 pairs in different colours). Stretchy waists, perfect lengths, great quality and detailing that mimics dress pants. Their clothing is pricey but worth every penny to me.
I have been obsessing over my menopot for a while. It’s one of those things that I cannot accept without a fight. I need to find the self-discipline (sigh…) to be successful. I’m sure I will. But in the meantime, I finally have come to understand the appeal of stretchy pants. And, I am grateful that I can find stylish ones that rock.