Ask Stavroula: Dealing with Menopause

Dear Stavroula,

I am 52 years old and have been in menopause for two years. Although I watch what I eat, I have put on a lot of weight and I cannot lose it no matter what I try. I look in the mirror and I do not recognize myself. I my clothes don’t fit me, I hate how clothes look on me, and all I wear are loose dresses and baggy pants. I’m trying to accept myself, but it is very difficult for me having been a very beautiful woman, and having even occasionally been involved with modelling. I’ve tried every diet and while I lose some pounds, the minute I let myself go a little, I put the pounds come back on straight away. I do not know what to do.

S.

Dear S.,

Most women, when entering menopause, feel that they lose control of their bodies. They have many troublesome symptoms such as hot flashes and sweating and weight gain. The problem is mainly due to the change in hormones. This is exactly what happens to you. You write to me that you have put on a lot of weight but you do not tell me how much. And although you focus on appearance, it is very important to keep your weight stable for health reasons.

Strict diets often result in weight gain, because the body gets used to food deprivation and resists losing weight and then stores more fat. This makes it difficult for you to lose weight. I would therefore suggest that you visit a dietician and follow a program designed for your own needs instead of trying random diets that can harm your health.

At the same time, it is very important to follow a fitness program and change some of your daily habits. If you do not have time to go to the gym, there are plenty of mobile or tablet apps that allow you to exercise at home. Choose a program that suits your age and does not burden you physically; start with a few minutes of daily exercise that you can gradually increase.

Try to walk as much as possible, increase the consumption of vegetables and fruits, and reduce alcohol. Reduce the amount of food and try to completely avoid sugar and white flour. Do not eat late at night and drink plenty of water. Focus on healthy diet and lifestyle and not on weight loss.

But what I think you need to do is to accept yourself as you are and to love your body with its changes. You are fortunate to enjoy your menopause. In the past, women were struck down by serious illnesses at a younger age. I understand that for you and for those women who have worked in beauty, the image of themselves is important, but each of us is far more than what she sees in her mirror. It seems that you cannot really see what you are at this time of your life. It’s definitely not easy and it takes a lot of work, maybe with the help of a specialist as well.

What you could do in the first place is to talk honestly with yourself, find out why your self-esteem is trapped in the way you see yourself. Remember all that you have accomplished in your life, write down the positive elements of your character and appearance, and think about those positives whenever you do not like yourself in the mirror. Every night, when you take account of your day, note the things you did with your body. Be grateful for your health, for all these little self-evident things, such as breathing, walking, dancing, swimming.

Finally, I would suggest you read some self-help books. There are many available to choose from online and in bookstores which can offer practical advice.