I have to admit, when I see women who seem to have by-passed the normal menopausal weight gain I wonder how they got so lucky. What is it in their genetic make-up that skips the estrogen storage in fat cells, and why didnâ€™t my ancestors mate with that lineage? Ah well.
One of the reasons women tend to gain weight, particularly around their midsection, as the premenopausal phase takes hold is estrogen storage. Our bodies, because they love us far more than we usually love them back, want to protect us. When the body sensesÂ estrogen fluctuations, itÂ goes into high alert. â€œQuick! Store any excess estrogen in the fat cells for later use. What? Not enough fat cells? Plump up the ones that are there, or make more!â€ Â Love = protection, right?
When I sawâ€”via photographsâ€”that I was gaining weight in my 40â€™s even though nothing else had changed in my lifestyle, I seriously thought about crash dieting. It was frustrating to be able to get into a pair of jeans one day and not even have the zipperÂ teeth within wavingÂ distanceÂ the next. Fortunately my common sense took over, and I decided rather than panicking maybe I should do a little research. That’s when I read Outsmarting the Midlife Fat Cell by Debra Waterhouse.
I love this book. It helped me realize my body is doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing at this stage of life. Did you know fat cells actually produce estrogen? And did you know that it is the fat cells around our midsection that grow the largest because they are better equipped to produce and deliver estrogen than other fat deposits in our body?
Iâ€™m thinking my body loves me sooooo much it put on an extra thick fat layer to cover all the bases of my hormonal needs. Â Seriously though, researchers are just now linking together information about the function of fat, and itâ€™s quite complex.
Iâ€™m here to say, be kind to yourself. Â Â StopÂ feeling bad because our AmericanÂ youth lovingÂ culture insists we look a certain way regardless of what our bodies are designed to be and do. Â Next week I’m going to take a quick detour into the role of progesterone and estrogen. I hope you’ll not only visit again, but will leave a comment on how you are transitioning in midlife.