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Is Weight Gain Inevitable After Menopause?

Gaining weight isn't a given as you age. These simple steps can help you keep the pounds off.

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The gradual changes in hormones and metabolism that occur in a woman's body during the menopausal transition can result in weight gain if she is not prepared to deal with them. What it takes to keep those unwanted pounds at bay are gradual adjustments in diet and activity level. Taking these  steps can also lower the risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes that can accompany weight gain at menopause:

Make a Substitution: Because your metabolic rate slows down with age, you can begin gaining weight without eating more calories. To offset this, look for something you eat or drink every day and find a substitution that has 50-100 fewer calories. You can get that by switching from cream to low-fat milk in your coffee or eating a 4-ounce chicken cutlet at dinner instead of 6 ounces.

Add an Activity: As all the running around you once did with the kids begins to wind down, you need a new activity to keep you moving. This is a perfect time to sign up for dance lessons, volunteer to usher at a theater, or do some digging in a community garden.

Stand More: Every new appliance and technological gadget you've got in your home and job increase the time you spend sitting, and that expands the area you sit on. Take a stand and find reasons to get up off your butt. You can stand when letting your freshly painted nails dry, waiting for your hair color to set, talking or texting on your smart phone, flipping through a magazine in a doctor's office, waiting for a prescription to be filled.

Do-It-Yourself: It's tempting to use your extra income to outsource household chores, but that just denies you the chance to be more active. Washing the windows, mowing the lawn, vacuuming the floors, polishing the car, painting the bathroom, and weeding the flower beds are all great ways to stay in shape!

Change the China: The amount of food we eat and beverages we drink is directly related to the size of the plates, bowls and glasses we use. By switching to smaller ones we can scale down our portions without even noticing the change. Measure the diameter of your plates and the volume of your bowls, glasses, and mugs and look for a 25% reduction in the replacements.

Spread Out the Protein: Muscle mass diminishes as we age, and the less muscle we have the slower our metabolism becomes, which makes it easier to gain weight. The best ways to preserve muscles are to use them in resistance exercises and feed them plenty of protein. Including at least 20 grams of protein at each meal will do a better job than consuming most of your protein in just one meal.

Weigh Yourself Regularly: You may have never reached your personal goal weight, but by this point in your life you should know what your best weight is. Give yourself a reasonable fluctuation range of 3 pounds around that number, then step on the scale on a weekly basis and be ready to take action if you go beyond that.