Many women find that along with menopause comes a change in their figure. Fat that used to settle on the hips and thighs relocates to the abdomen — what's the story with this unpleasant shift in shape?
Like other menopausal symptoms, declining hormones are behind the transformation from a pear-shaped body to an apple-shaped one. Add that to all the other changes experienced during this time, and you may begin to feel like a stranger in a body you barely recognize. But it's important to know that extra weight around the waistline can increase your risk of a variety of health conditions, from heart disease to breast cancer. In other words, it's more important than ever to fight the battle of belly bulge.
Women with waist-to-hip ratios of more than 0.8 are considered "apple-shaped." To figure out your waist-to-hip ratio, simply measure around your waist and around your hips and divide the numbers. I should note here that, for women, obesity is defined by a waist circumference of about 35 inches or more (no matter what the ratio).
Luckily, it is possible to stay fit and healthy, even during menopause. Consider the follow tummy-firming tips:
Avoid foods that cause bloat.
Beans and broccoli cause bloat, not to mention, uncomfortable gas. Instead, opt for dark, leafy greens such as spinach or flavorful asparagus. If you can’t resist your cravings for broccoli or beans, make sure you drink plenty of water before and after to help flush out the bloat.
Look out for salt.
Salt can lead you to retain water, which can lead to belly bulge! Look out for salty foods like pretzels and popcorn and keep an eye on the sodium count in processed foods like frozen diet fare, lunchmeat, and canned soups. Even seemingly innocent cottage cheese contains a good deal of sodium. Keep an eye on those nutritional information labels, maintain a healthy balance of sodium in your diet, and find other ways to curb that salt craving. (For example, instead of pretzels, try carrots and hummus, or Laughing Cow Cheese with reduced sodium Wheat Thins.
Make tummy-friendly choices at dinner.
If you load up on carbs the night before, you are going to wake up to a less than flat tummy. Instead, try to eat the majority of your carbs early in the day so that you have time to digest them properly. Then, opt for a low-carb dinner such as fish and veggies, chicken and mashed cauliflower, or even a veggie omelette with turkey bacon! You will wake up to a flatter tummy and a happier, healthier you!
Strengthen your core.
The best way to fight the bulge is to strengthen your core. Crunches can help to keep your tummy taut, but there are other exercises which can tone you from the inside out. Try the “plank”, a core-strengthening move that will have you swimsuit ready in no time. Lay flat on the floor and then raise yourself onto your forearms. Then, push yourself up on to your tiptoes. Pull in your belly and keep your back flat, and hold this position for 30 seconds. The more often you do it, the longer you will be able to hold the position.
Watching your weight to make sure you keep fitting into that favorite pair of jeans is great, but doing it to maintain good health is crucial, especially as you grow older and are at greater risk for serious illnesses. But by following these tummy-friendly tips, you’ll minimize those risks. Plus, think of it this way: the healthier you live, the healthier you look. And the healthier you look, the healthier you feel. It’s a win-win situation, all the way around!