Unexplained Weight Gain Around Your Midsection?

Mar 11, 2022
Woman journaling with a cup of tea.

Hot flashes?  Night sweats?  Unexplained weight gain around your midsection?  Cranky mood? Depression?  Insomnia?  Anxiety?


If you are over the age of 40 and have any of the above, it just may be your hormones.  You are not losing your mind.


I actually remember the day I realized that my body was beginning menopause.  About three years ago, my managers at the investment firm where I worked called me into the conference room.  It felt like a typical request for project support was looming.  


I sat in an office chair and listened to them explain a bonus coming my way. A certain excitement bubbled up, but I also felt a bead of sweat dripping down the right side of my face.  My entire back was soaking wet from a hot flash, all while I’m trying to keep my composure and stay present for this great news.  


I felt embarrassed as they stared, but also confused wondering what was happening.  My career was on the uptick, but my body felt like it was deteriorating.


The research:  


According to Josh Gitalis, Functional Medicine Practitioner, “The body is a complex ‘soup’ of a variety of chemicals that communicate information about how our tissues should respond. Hormones are key players in this communication network. Their messages have profound impacts on our physiology. They need to be in balance much like all of the instruments in a symphony need to be tuned. When the hormones are “out of tune” symptoms and disease can ensue.”


An overwhelming hot flash was the symptom I experienced in that moment and for many more subsequent moments.  I was miserable for quite some time.


After a few doctor visits and slew of blood tests, my suspicions were confirmed.  My body is in the menopausal process. 


“But you’re so young at the age of 49 Michelle,” you say.  Well, thanks, but it is still true.  LOL!  Some of us hit this change in hormones around the age of 40 and others of us not until our late 50’s.  


Estrogen typically begins to fade in women’s bodies (bodies that contain female reproductive organs) at midlife.  Estrogen or estradiol, is really key for energy production in the brain. 


We hear a lot about menopause, but I’d also like to highlight MANopause, also known as andropause, in humans with male sex organs.  We may have different cycles and different concoctions of hormones, but men’s bodies change significantly after the age of 40 as well.  Anyone heard of the Dadbod?  It is not caused by raising children and drinking too many beers - although these things can certainly add stress to your body.  


MANopause is caused by a progressive reduction in testosterone and can be accompanied by similar symptoms that occur in menopause.  Most of us do not escape the symptoms from fluctuating hormones.



So how do we fix it?


Of course we are about to talk about nutrition.  We are also going to chat about mindset and fitness.  All three help to support our brain health which then supports healthy hormone function.


Let’s start with the basics first:  


Sugar, processed foods, wheat, and dairy products can all throw your system for a loop.  Yes, I understand that a lot of this food is easy to grab and you are likely living a busy life and don’t have time to cook.  Unfortunately I do not have an easy answer for you although it remains simple:  eat whole foods with an emphasis on vegetables and plants.


I have a few recipes to inspire your healthy eating here.


When I completely released the dairy products, sugary foods, and caffeine, my hot flashes disappeared.  I also noticed that slight flushes recurred in moments of stress.


Michelle, what do you mean by mindset?


Stress is a major cause of disruption to our well-being.  I don’t need to tell you that, as you can probably recount how you felt the last time you watched the local news.  Can I get an amen?


Meditation and affirmations are what center me in the morning and keep me grounded throughout the day.  My life is far from perfect, but I have learned how to manage the various stresses that come my way.


Yep, fitness is key too!


Yoga is an accessible and healing way to get your body moving.  Running, dancing, kickboxing, are all great too!  I am a champion of practicing yoga as it is a great way keep your body top-of-mind and to get in tune with your breath.


Here are a few hormones that benefit from exercise according to Dr. Anna Cabeca:


  • Insulin ~ exercise helps to prevent insulin resistance and also regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Cortisol ~ exercise can drive away excess cortisol (goodbye belly fat) in your body, brought on by chronic stress.
  • Oxytocin ~ exercise increases this love and bonding hormone. It is one of the reasons you feel so great after a workout. 
  • Glucagon ~ the pancreas releases this hormone in response to low blood sugar. Once in circulation, glucagon stimulates the release of fatty acids from fat stores and increases blood glucose levels, both of which help fuel exercise activity. 


You want more answers?  Your girl’s got you.  Follow me on Instagram or Facebook for a few more tips.  It is my sincere desire to create and support healthier communities.  I know we can do that one person and one choice at a time.  


That is where you come in.  


What is one simple change you can make this week?  Add more green things to your grocery list and ultimately to your diet?  Throw away any white sugar or white flour that may be in your pantry?  Experiment with eliminating gluten for 3 days in a row?  These are just a few suggestions to try.


You were not meant to struggle in your body.  Stick with me and I will show you how to create a body and a life you love.  It truly is possible!


Yours in health,


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