How To Fend Off The Menopause Midriff

menopause midriff

“Healthy Diet Won’t Stop Menopause Weight Gain”

menopause midriffThat’s a nice scary headline for women of a certain age, isn’t it? It’s one that did the rounds of online news sites a couple of weeks ago now.

Not so scary really when you stop to read the fine print though!


In a study of 7000 healthy Australian women age 48  to 56, researchers found  those who ate the most healthy foods gained just as much weight over the six years of the study, as those who ate the least healthy foods – about 1.7 kilograms.


Is the middle aged spread unavoidable?

Well, not really. If you eat too much of anything you will gain weight, regardless of the health value of the food. So whilst eating healthy food won’t stop you gaining weight in your late 40′ s and early 50’s , eating less of it will. Chief researcher, Clare Collins said “Women, on average, will gain two kilograms over the menopause years and the only women who resist that are women who put either extra focus on their diet or extra focus on physical activity or both,”


“Our earlier research had found people who had a higher diet quality score also consumed more calories, because if you have a greater frequency and variety of healthy foods you also consume more energy,” she said. “So the good news is we showed they don’t gain [more] weight.”

Analysis of the study’s data also seems to be finding a link between high fruit and vegetable intake and less weight gain. Collins suspects this is due to switching from unhealthy foods.


My experience

A couple of months ago, I was the lightest I’ve been since year 11 at school. I was training for a half marathon, so doing quite a bit of exercise, though not the mileage I’ve done for previous races. I upped my resistance training, which I think really helped with fat burning, and yes, I was watching what I ate very closely for the month prior to the race. Before I popped something into my mouth, I considered whether it would help me go faster, or whether it would just end up being dead weight I’d have to carry around the course. Getting on for two months later, I am still sitting on the lighter side of my usual adult weight range. It’s unlikely this is due to loss of muscle or bone mass due to the type of exercise I do. It is due to eating less food and being pretty much alcohol free. Even just a couple of glasses a week gives your calorie intake a boost of up to 400 calories.


So… how to fend off the menopause midriff?

The peri-menopausal and post menopausal health message is pretty much the same as at any other time of your life.  If your diet isn’t up to scratch, include more fruit and vegetables in your diet. Eat less food, drink less alcohol and exercise more to fend off the menopause midriff.

Training Logs are not just for 50 year olds

training log


All you need to keep your own training log is pen and paper. They are one of the simplest, yet most effective training tools going around. You can go down the technological, gizmo route if you want to, but truly, you simply need a notebook and a pen to be able to track your training. A combination of both is often useful, as you can upload your workout to your PC and look at heaps of pretty graphs.



 Why keep a training log?

  • There is less of a tendency to skip training if you know you are reporting on it, even if you are only reporting in to yourself.
  • You can share your training with others to keep you even more accountable.
  • It keeps you focused on the task at hand.
  • You can look back on past training logs to see what works for you and what doesn’t.
  • If you happen to suffer an injury, you can analyse your training to assess whether over training, or a particular type of training, may have been the cause.
  • Looking over past training logs can help you get your taper right.


Paralysis by Analysis?

The more information you have on yourself the better, however there is no point being so overwhelmed by all the metrics, that you give up and keep track of nothing at all. You need to find a level of record keeping that you are comfortable with and will be consistent with, for a training log to be of real help to you.

At the minimum, I’d suggest:

  • Type of exercise
  • Distance and/or time, or in the case of resistance exercise, set and reps
  • Intensity
  • How you felt/how the session went
  • Where you trained
  • Terrain
  • Surface

Stepping it up a level, I’d also record

  • Resting heart rate daily- ie your heart rate when you wake up first thing in the morning – this can help you determine if you have been over training. An elevated heart rate for several days is often a sign.
  • Type of shoes you ran in
  • Weather conditions
  • Unclothed weight before and after training (especially in hot weather) to determine how much fluid you should be replacing
  • Who you trained with – were they a suitable training partner – were you able to run at the right pace for you, or were you struggling to keep up with them/had to slow down?
  • Sleep
  • Appetite
  • Mood
  • Heart rate whilst training – during efforts and rest intervals

Most of these things need not much more than a watch with a stopwatch function, though a heart rate monitor is best if you want to record your heart rate whilst training. A lap timer is also a very handy function.

However you record your training, it needs to be something which you can quickly and easily access at the end of each training session, and if you are keeping track of your resting heart rate, something you can access easily form your bed, with minimal effort.

Keep clear records which you and other people will understand. You may need to share them with a coach, physio or doctor if you need help with pinpointing what’s going right and what could do with a bit of tweaking.

For that reason, I love the notebook and pen option. Other ideas are storing it on your phone, uploading information recorded on heart rate monitors/GPS style training watches, a simple spreadsheet on your computer.

I’d normally just keep a notebook style training log, but I’ll be putting my training log up on this website in the countdown to my fiftieth birthday. That will definitely keep me honest, and it’ll be a good guide for anyone wondering about suitable training volume and intensity. You might be surprised at how little I am doing first up. But, I’ve had a five week layoff, and I can’t expect just to pick up where I left off.

May 2015 Update: since I wrote this blog post, my training has been up and down. I didn’t keep a training log on this site – I just didn’t think it was worth it at the time. A little niggle which I didn’t look after turned into a nagging chronic discomfort. It still hanging around, but I’m happily dealing with it, and for the first time in about 18 months I’m running consistently. There’s been lots happening in that time, and whilst I didn’t sit back on my bum and do nothing, it’s not been the fittest time in my life.

It’s taken quite a while to get back into any kind of running shape, and for a while there I was officially the slowest runner in our household. Yes, both my kids beat me in a couple of fun runs. I know I’ve got no hope of catching the 11 year old (but then, he does run at state level so there’s no shame in that), but I’ve definitely got my 8 year old’s measure after a victory over him in our last 5km. There’s fight in the old do yet! So,whilst I’m still not back to being as fit as I’d like to be, I’m on the way, and am thoroughly enjoying running. That 18 months out was probably just what I needed.




Putting Myself First



When I realised I was staring down the barrel at my fiftieth birthday and I was nowhere near the kind of shape I’d planned to be in, I knew I needed to figure out why. So I took at look at what has happened since my last run, the Gold Coast half marathon.



  •  I had a niggling injury which I’ve allowed to escalate by not taking care of it
  • I had a few too many champagnes the night of the half and as I’m intolerant of yeast and fermented products, it knocked me around a bit
  •  I’ve had a gastric bug
  •  I’ve had sick children demanding to be looked after
  • I’ve had a sick husband looking poorly all weekend
  •  I’ve been feeling bad as I haven’t seen my aunt who’s in a nursing home, for nearly three weeks now (not to mention my mum, who’s not in a nursing home but likes to see me)
  • I’ve been helping my kids with their sport, regular homework, projects, spelling bees, public speaking, table manners, controlling their temper – you name it


The list could go on, but the point is, I haven’t been putting myself first. (Ironically, my first title for this post was “Putting Yourself First”)


The fact is, you need to put yourself first at least some of the time. You are no use to anyone if you are so worn out that you can’t cope. I was fine about putting my interests and running on hold for a couple of weeks after the half marathon.  I needed a rest anyway, one of my children had an important sporting event coming up so I was happy to support him, the other one had written in a self assessment that he doesn’t like school because he misses his mum (so I figured I need to be putting a bit of time in there), but all of a sudden that couple of weeks has turned into five weeks, and I’m not feeling at all good physically. My clothes aren’t fitting so well, my joints are a bit achy, I feel like I have a low grade cold, and I’m definitely not getting enough sleep. It’s not only effecting my physically, but mentally as well,  which in turn, makes me less able to do all the things that need to be done to maintain relationships with those who are close to me.


So how do I plan to turn it all around? Well, figuring things had to change, I started with a haircut a couple of days ago, I have a doctor’s appointment next week, I will book a massage as soon as I stop writing, and no matter what happens, I am going to the pool and swimming a km this afternoon, followed by some injury specific resistance exercises.

I’ll tell you more about my “get fit quick” plan in my next post. It will probably be more like a “get fit sensibly and safely plan”, but it doesn’t have quite the same ring to it does it?

In the meantime, I’d love to hear how you manage to put yourself first – I reckon we should just all do what our husbands do and say “no” a bit more frequently.