How to Lose Weight During Menopause

Podcast Episode #028: How to Lose Weight During Menopause

You have a healthy lifestyle and your body is feeling great. Then menopause hits and everything changes...

Suddenly a few pounds creep on and they just won't go away. Your energy is zapped and exercise feels so much harder than it used to. And even though you're still eating a healthy diet, your body just keeps storing fat in places it never used to.

What's going on? How can you reverse these trends actually lose weight during menopause?

Episode Resources:

How to Lose Weight During Menopause [Full Text]

Hey. Thanks so much for joining me in this episode of the Make Your Body Work Podcast. This show is all about answering your questions about health, fitness, living well, and just having happier, healthier lives in general.

I just want to say that anyone who’s looking for the show notes for this episode because there’s going to be some resources that you’ll probably want to check out, you can simply go to makeyourbodywork.com/28. Just the numbers “28,” and that will take you right to this episode.

We have a ton of content to cover today, so I’m going to jump right into today’s question, and it’s from Pat. Pat says,

“I’m 52 years old, and I’m going through menopause. I’ve always eaten a very healthy diet, low sodium and lots of vegetables. I live a very consistent lifestyle, but as of late, I’ve gained some weight. I believe it just could be hormones and menopause, but now I’m not sure what I can do to shake this off. Help!”

It’s interesting because right before I started introducing our guest and filming this podcast episode, I had 2 more emails that were almost identical to Pat’s, from women who are going through menopause and basically saying, “I never changed anything. I’m still exercising, I’m still eating relatively healthy, and all of a sudden, this weight is starting to creep on.”

As a man, I don’t feel like I’m qualified to answer this question, so I brought in one of my favourite clients, Beate Probst. Her and I have been working together for about 6 months or a year, but even before we met, she’s been on this same journey...going through her 40’s, and then into her early 50’s, dealing with changes hormonally and just shifts in her body in general, and really working hard to overcome those shifts. And so I thought she’d be the perfect guest because she’s found very practical ways to change things in her life that did shake off menopause.

To answer Pat’s question, Beate has done it, and so I’m really excited to introduce Beate and to have her share some of these strategies that I know are going to help you and allow you to make some changes in your life as well, so let’s meet Beate.

Beate, thanks so much for joining us today.

Meet Beate Probst

Beate: Yeah. Thank you for having me.

Dave: Yeah. I know you and I have gotten to know each other pretty well over the last 6 months or a year, but our audience has never met you before, so I was wondering if you could start off by just telling us a little bit about your history in terms of fitness and wellness, and a little bit about your journey so far.

Beate: Okay. I approached my 40’s, and I realized some changes has happened, and I did gain the weight that I didn’t really want to gain by not being active and not doing a whole lot, eating whatever I want, things like that, but I realized that I just … I needed to step it up. I needed to do something in order to just feel good, look good, be happy, and just do it, so I knew I was going to have to do something. I knew I had to lose weight, and I knew that’s part of eating and that’s part of my nutrition too, so those two were the main things I knew I had to change.

Dave: It’s interesting hearing from you that you were at a point where you weren’t really active and weren’t eating well because since I met you, you’re like my inspiration about how active you are and how committed you are to healthy eating, so did you just change? Did you just change it all at once, or what was the process for you?

Beate: It was a process because I was starting to read some articles about what options do I have, and there are so many resources out there. It was very overwhelming, but I read this one article, and I … As you know, I read this one article about this Asian culture, how they only eat until they’re 80% full, and then they stop. That’s how they keep their weight, they’re very healthy, and I thought,

What the heck? How do I know … 80% full? How do I know I’m 80% full?” I had no clue, and that’s when I realized I know nothing about my body. I know nothing about how my body responds to food, how good it is for me, what is not good for me.

Only when you really understand your body are you able to take control of it

Click to Tweet

I had no clue, and then I realized, “Okay. Something has to change because if it keeps going, then I’ll just … You get lost, and you get into a wheel, and it’s no good.” That’s when I realized, “Okay. I need to know when I’m 80% full.” I knew I had to lose, so I need to know when I’m 50% full basically, and then I just read other things and knew I got to slow things down and just really think about what I’m doing.

Losing 50 Pounds By Age 50

Dave: I know you set an actual goal for yourself like you told me you set the goal of wanting to lose 50 pounds by your 50th birthday.

Beate: I wanted to take years for that, so that I can give myself that freedom of learning and experimenting, and if it doesn’t work, then I’ll start or do something else, but I wanted to give myself that time frame because I knew I did not want to rush things at all, and it worked.

Dave: I love that approach. I know I had a podcast interview recently. I think it’s podcast episode 26, so any listeners, if you’ll go to makeyourbodywork.com/26, I had a figure competitor on, Joanna Dominguez, and she talked about how in the figure competition world and just in life in general, there’s so much pressure to do it now like lose all this weight in weeks or months, and I love your slow and steady approach.

Weight-loss doesn't have to happen quickly. Take you time. Experiment. Learn about your body.

Click to Tweet

What were your first steps then like you talked about taking inventory of when you feel 50% full or 80% full? What did you do after that?

Beate: After that, I knew I just had to really slow down before I even started to eat, so I would just have my plate. I would look at it. I would just eat with my eyes first. I would just meditate on it, “How much do I really … does my body really nourish from, and how much does my brain tells me I want to eat because I’m not feeling good because I’m going through something or my body is changing?”

You have all these cravings, and you have all these things you think you have to have, so look at my plate, and I didn’t actually change any of the food items first. I started with portion control and mindful eating.

I would meditate before I started eating, and I would tell my husband, “Just help yourself first. I’m just going to look at this, and I’m just going to do a couple minutes of thinking about what my body … how am I going to process this?” That’s actually how I did it.

I just really started with … I would eat still anything that was on my plate, but I would really be very careful of how much I put on that plate and very slow eating. I would really take my time, and enjoy every chew, every bite, and really learn what food is all about, what does this food do to me, and so that’s basically how I started.

Dave: I like that you used the word “mindful eating” like that whole practice exactly you just describe, that’s the perfect picture of mindful eating. I picture you sitting there and meditating over your meal, and your husband just diving into his plate.

Beate: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah, totally.

Getting Started With Exercise

Dave: The portion control obviously is like a huge thing, and then can you talk to us about what happened to your physical activity because you said you’re at a point in life then in your early 40’s where it didn’t sound like you were doing a whole lot of physical activity?

Beate: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yes. I was always in little bit active, but more in spurts. I would do lots, and then I would do nothing. Lots, nothing. It was that regular way of moving that I knew I had to change. I also knew I needed some motivation, so I started basically just with walking. I would walk every day, and then I knew I wanted to build up a little bit my strength too. Of course, I was intimidated to go to any kind of gym, so I thought something for women only, which first for me was the answer at the town that I lived at that time, and so I started with Curves.

They really, really helped me to … just to give me some feedback about my body, how it works. Then from there, I realized, “Mm, you know what? This is just not enough anymore. Now, I need to step it up again.” I wanted to feel and look better, both, and I knew I had to do something a little bit more, maybe a little bit more with the weight, use my speed a little bit more with running, my performance just slow.

Every time I realize that this is getting too easy, I knew I had to step it up another step. I didn’t want to stay with the easy anymore because I did that for so long to stay with the easy and think it’s good enough. I know it’s time to step up to the next level.

In order for your body to change, YOU have to change. Do something differently

Click to Tweet

Dave: I know that those that are listening in, you haven’t actually met Beate before, but she’s a machine in the gym, so her and I have been going through some workout programs, and it’s just so neat to hear that you started out walking. That’s all it took, and then progressively over the course of years, you’re … I’ll say it again. You’re a machine in the gym.

Beate: Boy, if you would see me, Dave, I’m sometimes not so much a machine. More like breathing hard. Darn, Dave.

Dave: No, I love that you get in there and challenge yourself though. That’s the important part. I do want to go specifically to Pat’s question here, Beate, and she says … I’ll just recap for the listeners, but basically, it says, “I’m 52, going through menopause,” and she laments that, “I am doing everything that I’ve always done, healthy diet, consistent lifestyle,” but she notices that the weight is creeping on.

When you saw her question, Beate, did that resonate with you like do you remember going through that?

Beate: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Even though I was already in a considerable healthy, fit way of life, but when menopause hit, you think you hit a brick wall. You think that’s it, you cannot do anything else, you cannot change anything, nothing works. “I changed up so many things already. This is like … so now, I got to change more?”

"When menopause hit, you think you hit a brick wall."

That was the biggest challenge to realize there is even more. This is a whole new ballgame. This is a whole new thing that nobody ever experienced before they experience this, before they actually experience it, so it’s … Yeah, it’s quite some … I could totally relate to that. Yeah, absolutely.

Dave: I just want to recap or say that again because that’s so powerful, what you just said is that even though you’ve made all these changes already, when menopause hits, it’s a whole new ballgame. You still have to change something else.

Beate: Yeah, totally.

Making Changes to Lose Weight During Menopause

Dave: What was it for you? Did you have to significantly change the way that you’re eating, or is that a point when your exercise really changed? Can you tell us some details on that?

Beate: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yes, just the … Like the exercise, I still do the weight, still do the cardio, but I had to change how I implement those two. For me specifically, it was the HIITs like the high-intensity interval way of working out. That was very effective for me.

I could tell, “Okay. My body is getting challenged. My heart rate is completely different. I feel different.” I knew that my body is going through a little bit of a state of shock and saying, “Whoops, wait a minute. This is not what she usually does,” so that’s totally what I experienced, and so that, I had to change. That was the biggest, the biggest realization that when I do that, my body loves it.

Now, I’m somewhere … With the eating, absolutely. There was absolute … I had to make decisions on how much I eat of what like when I joined your program, I learned about these ideas of the sugar, the gluten, the wheat, the healthy grains, the diary. That was a big one. I never knew about the dairy, how it can affect you and the changes I experienced after I really drastically cut down in dairy.

That for me was a big stepping point, a big learning curve to implement that into my diet, and that’s why I contacted you because I was at that point where I didn’t know with the diet anymore so much what I should do, or what I could do, or what my options are, so that’s totally changed too completely.

Dave: Okay. You had a lot of really neat little subtopics in there. I just want to go back and dissect a little bit because I’m hoping that women who are going through menopause and listen to this will come away feeling as though they have some action steps that they can work on, so let’s go back to your training.

You mentioned HIIT, High-Intensity Interval Training. For those in the audience who have never done that before, can you tell us a little bit about what would a HIIT workout look like for you?

Beate: For me, it was always difficult because I’m very quickly short of breath. I’m very quickly discouraged that way because I see all these other women that are maybe … have 20, 30 pounds more on them than I do, and they can just jog on that treadmill, and they can just keep going, and they don’t have to worry, and I can’t do that. I knew I had to challenge my lungs, so I would perhaps be on the bike, on the spin bike, or on the treadmill, and I would do a nice pace fast walk for 2 minutes and maybe a little bit uphill, then I knew, “Okay. I have enough energy. I can step it up a bit.”

I would do for 30 seconds, maybe go a little bit more medium way, so challenge myself a little bit, and then I would just go … I started very slow with this whole program, so then I would maybe 20 … I would slow down again for another 15, 20 seconds. Then, I would challenge myself a little bit more for 20 seconds. I will go a little faster than I did before, slow down again, and then I would do it for 10 seconds, and I would slow … I made my own program a little bit to feel myself out, but I knew I had to use that certain approach.

Basically, what my absolute favorite is … right now, and it works absolute amazing as like I told you before, It’s a 10, 20, 30 where I do a 30-second normal spin bike way, and for 20 seconds, I go … I intensify it, and then for 10 seconds, I go full on out, and then I reduce again to 30 seconds regular, 20 seconds more intense, 10 seconds full on out, and I do that for 10 minutes, and I get a really good sweat. I can tell just from that, my body is responding just even from that, so I have to do that regularly. I cannot just go on a nice little jog. I have to challenge it every time.

"I have to challenge it every time."

Dave: Okay. You’re saying so much valuable content here. That whole 30, 20, 10, just again for the listeners if they haven’t heard of it. Basically, what Beate is doing is it’s an interval, and for 30 seconds, you go to slow pace, for 20 seconds, you go to medium pace, and for 10 seconds, you go as hard as you can. Beate, you said it could be on a bike, it could be on a treadmill. You could do it on the elliptical like any piece of equipment, right?

Beate: Yeah, exactly. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dave: Perfect.

Beate: I like it on the bike because I can use my speed. Plus, I can use my intensity when biking. Same with the treadmill. You can change it up, and you can really … In 10 seconds, it’s so easy to do. In like 10 seconds, go full out. They go in no time, and that’s why I love it much so.

Dave: It’s so cool. I just literally just …

Beate: It’d got to be fast, simple.

Dave: Yeah. I was reading a research study just the other day that was talking about 30, 20, 10, and it basically said that people loved it so much because like you said, 10 seconds of hard work is so surmountable, and then the researchers also found that the participants liked it because you didn’t even need a stop watch. They said with such short intervals, you can just count that off in your head like 10 seconds. You can count to 10.

Beate: Yeah. Yeah, exactly, and it’s cool. Every time a minute is over, so you know you can do however many rounds you want to do, and every round is 1 minute and easy to calculate.

Dave: You’re getting me excited. It makes me want to go running right now.

Beate: Yeah.

Eating For Weight-Loss During Menopause

Dave: That gives us a glimpse. Again, for women who are in menopause, that idea of changing up and specifically introducing some different levels of intensity to your workout, and then Beate, you mentioned about a bunch of different diet tweaks. I know you’ve been a longtime member of my 10 in 4 program and have been following some of the stuff that we talk about in there. Can you talk about some specifics that were big changes for you?

Beate: In concern of … matter of diet, I would say the biggest change again was the variety that is possible without … When you eat 10 in 4 compliant you … At first, you think there’s so many things you need to cut out. But then, I realized there’s so many things I can add that I didn’t even know about.

Healthy eating isn't just about restrictions. It's about finding new foods to add to your diet too!

Click to Tweet

I had no idea about all these options of beautiful grains, and foods, and vegetables, and legumes, and all these things that you can use that are so filling, and satisfying, and the spices, so it was … What particularly worked the best for me I would have to say is the cutting out of the … Actually, all of it, the diary, the gluten, the bad wheat, the … I haven’t cut out my alcohol, so my glass of wine, I still have it.

Dave: You’re not supposed to tell anyone that. It’s our little secret.

Beate: You had a podcast on that.

Dave: That’s true.

Beate: Four ounces a day.

Dave: That’s right. For the other ones like let’s talk about dairy specifically. One of the things that I teach in 10 in 4 is that for most people, dairy is quite enough inflammatory food, and it can really mess with your digestive system.

Beate: Yes.

Dave: Did you cut it out completely or you just wean off the quantity that you’re eating before?

Beate: I haven’t cut it out completely, but definitely, the quantity. It’s once a day where I have a dairy product, and that’s it, so that’s absolute my limit. I really noticed, especially in that time of menopause, we do get a lot of the … way more the bloating, the uncomfortable feeling in the stomach area that is there. For me, anyway, in my face, and I’m right in the middle of it. It really helped. It really helped to eliminate that, and if I do get it, it just goes away faster because of that. It only extends with the inflammation. It’s all there.

I don’t get any colds. It’s just an overall feel better, and when you have a … I guess once you watch your body a little bit, with inflammations, they can come in so many different ways that once you don’t … Once you eliminated dairy and realize what changes, and then you realize, “So, this probably was an inflammation in my system, but it’s not there anymore,” then you know. Then, you know it’s worth it.

Dave: I love that you said that because I get a lot of emails from people that will say, “Oh, I don’t need to cut out dairy because I digest dairy very well.” You know what? I’m not saying that everyone should cut out dairy completely. I’m not saying that at all, but for most people, they haven’t experienced what it feels like to have a digestive system that works well. Exactly like what you said, then you experience, you think, “Wow, I didn’t know it could feel like this.”

Beate: Exactly. Yeah.

Dave: Again, I’m sure people who are listening right now are thinking, “Well, gluten. Did you cut out all bread? Do you not eat any pasta?” What does your diet look like that way?

Beate: We’re Europeans. We love our breads. We love our pasta. It’s not easy, especially if your husband is not on that same type of restriction, right? Although he feels good and he eats when I cook, but there’s lots of times when he cooks, and he will make something that he has in his repertoire of cooking, and I love it, and I want to eat it, so I don’t cut it out completely. I’m just really … Find more structure in it to say, “Okay. This day, this day, and this day, I’m not going to have it, and I’m going to make sure that I do the cooking, and that I prepare something.”

Then, another day, I know I’m totally swamped. I don’t have time. My husband is going to cook, and I’m going to be fine with it, but for me, for the week, most part of that week, those things have to be cut out, and they are. I totally don’t miss them then because I know like we know with the cheat day.

For me, the cheat day every week is a different day right now because the schedule changes right now rapidly all the time, so that … but that commitment of certain days completely free of these things, and then allow myself for one day. Sometimes, “Okay. It’s 2 days.” But then, the week after, I tweak it more again, and I’m more stricter, but I will never … For me, it’s always a 70-30 or 80-20, something like that, and that already to me is life-changing.

Aim for healthy choices 70-80% of the time! That's all you need in order to see results!

Click to Tweet

Dave: Okay. That’s fantastic. Pat, who asked the question here, if you’re listening, that’s something that I really want to just emphasize is that you don’t have to be perfect. I know so many people and women particularly, they’re going through hormonal changes and menopause and think, Oh, geez. Like what else can I do? I’m already so healthy.” Beate, what you’re talking about is just experimenting with your body and experimenting with your exercise and your diet, figuring out what works, and then like you said, 80% of the time do it.

Beate: That’s proven. It’s given. I am living proof. I’m telling you.

Dave: That’s why you’re on the show is I know you’ve done so well. Let me ask you this. We like to keep the podcast poignant and very actionable. For any women out there who are going through menopause and experiencing what you experienced, what would you say they can do today? What’s the one thing they could do today to help them get on the path that you’ve been on?

Make Your Body Work Takeaway

Beate: Really, look at yourself. Look at yourself, and analyze what your lifestyle is like, and just be open for a change. That’s for me the biggest thing. I work in a gym now, and I see so many women come in that want to change, but they want to see it in others, but they’re so afraid of doing it themselves and not to worry about others. Just look at yourself and say, “Okay. I’m going to change something,” and it doesn’t have to be everything at once. It can be one thing at a time like I did.

What's one thing that you can change today that will be a step in the right direction?

I didn’t change my diet. I changed my portions at first. I didn’t change my exercise. I just started with walking. It was that one thing, and doing it, and then taking it to the next, but realizing that … “What is it that I’m doing that I need to change?” Perhaps, write it down. Make a list, and look at it, and eliminate certain things or add other things, but I think that’s the most important thing to realize that … to change and not to be afraid of it. See it as a good, positive thing that that change is going to get me to where I want to be.

Dave: That’s so powerful advice you just gave. I like to use the word “mastery.” Pick something that you can change and master that before you even think about changing anything else.

Beate: Yeah.

Dave: Beate, thank you so much. I really appreciate you coming on the show and just sharing your experience. I know there’s going to be a lot of women there listening to this that will make that change.

Beate: Yeah. I hope. Thank you.

Dave: Thanks again, Beate, for joining us in this episode of the Make Your Body Work Podcast and just for sharing your experience and some of the tactics or strategies that you have proven to see success from. I know that’s going to be inspiring to Pat and to all the other women who are dealing with these changes that are going through the body as they experience menopause.

All the women out there who tuned in, I just really hope that you listen to Beate’s advice and start today. Just pick that one thing, and make that change, and then see what happens to your body. Give it a week or two, and then make another change. Baby steps just like Beate experienced for herself.

Thanks for joining me today!

You May Also Want to Check Out...

Dave

Dave Smith has been a personal trainer since 2001 and was chosen as Canada's Top Fitness Professional in 2013 for his dedication to his clients' success. Download his "Sweet Spot" plan [FREE!] to begin your weight-loss journey today!