I have planned a strategic mission to search for and rescue myself.
“With discipline, you can lose weight, you can excel in work, you can win the war.”― Amit Kalantri, Wealth of Words
The above quote is only partially correct. Society has imposed this mindset upon millions of women who struggle with their body concept, especially during menopause. Discipline doesn’t always result in weight loss. Many of us try without success.
I know this to be true because I have battled with weight my entire life.
I’ve been up and down, here and there, fighting skirmishes because I hated the enemy — fat. I even invented a new term: faticide. Like any word ending in –cide, I wanted to kill the fat, destroy it, melt it away.
At least, that was my goal. One of many when it came to weight loss.
Until I entered menopause.
It was then I finally realized I was fighting against myself. I had to regroup and device a new strategy — to fight for myself.
Now, I teach others to fight. To begin, we have to secure the perimeter, map out the plan, and learn how to navigate the landscape.
To successfully complete this assignment in our victory handbook, we should discuss the composition of fat.
We have to know a thing in order to address it. There is no need to focus on a kidney or a toe.
Are there different kinds of fat? Can fat be good or bad like cholesterol? Do we need to eliminate all fat? I know you all have so many questions. I admit, at first, I knew so very little about fat.
The first task at hand is to research the definition of fat.
I was confronted with a plethora of meanings and definitions.
They ranged from urban slang of fat (equivalent to my generation’s use of “That’s the bomb”) to a greasy/oily substance under the skin to dangerous visceral fat under the muscles that were initially intended to protect vulnerable organs.
Many of you may ask, “What about our babies?”
I’m getting to that. From our earliest beginnings, humans had cute, plump baby fat. My mother told me it was to keep babies warm. That may be true, we will have to wait and see.
Babies do, however, need their fat for several reasons. For example, human infants require a large amount of fat reserves to burn and help their big, beautiful brains to grow.
Next, the energy needed from fat is used for the development of the body and to fight off illness. Babies, also stored fat for times when food was only marginally available.
So, let’s fight for the right to cuddle and feed those bouncing bundles of cute fatness!
Turn the page in your handbook, and let’s look at the different types of fat.
Did you know the human body has four kinds of fat — brown, beige, white subcutaneous, and white visceral fat? Please, take notes, there may be a test later.
1. Brown Fat
Brown fat is good fat and provides energy for our cells. It eats the drops of white fat and helps you to lose weight. It is known as brown adipose tissue (BAT) and controls our core temperatures. (I guess mama was right.) Brown fat is located on the back of the neck and chest. I imagine this may be the reason we wear cool cloths around our necks to cool down when we are overheated.
2. Beige Fat
Beige is a combination of brown and white fat found along the spine and collarbone. When we exercise, a hormone, irisin, is released, which converts white fat to beige. This fat was discovered in 2015 at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and is triggered by blocking proteins in white fat. When fat begins to brown, the cells heat up and burn calories.
3. White Subcutaneous Fat
This is the jiggly fat that you can see and pinch which is the fat we want to consider. I admit my belly is a pinch and see how much I can grab battle, more or less. Too much of it leads to heart disease and even cancer. Usually, a BMI of 25+ indicates you have too much white fat.
4. Visceral Fat:
This fat is stored in the abdominal cavity protecting vital organs such as the liver and intestines. Visceral fat increases insulin dependence and can lead to diabetes. It is about 10% of all body fat.
Now that we know about fat, we have to develop a strategic plan to achieve our goals.
1. Diet During Menopause
Eat a high protein diet of lean meat, eggs, seafood, beans, (Oh, how I love the brown ones!) and dairy products. Remember, protein burns fat. Our soldiers are lean meat-eating machines! Cut out anything white such as bread, rice, and noodles. My doctor once told me, “If it’s white, it ain’t right.”
2. Exercise in Menopause
This activity is vital to burning fat. You can walk, jog, run, weight train, and practice yoga. Even our older and disabled veterans can exercise by using an exercise band to help move those muscles. If you can only sit, pump those arms and legs! Develop a plan that works for you.
3. Meditation and Menopause
Mindfulness meditation is helpful to curb emotional eating. I practice this myself. For example, begin with slow, deep breaths and focus on your breathing. If you have wandering thoughts, place each one on a leaf or cloud, and watch it float away.
When I sit to practice, my thoughts are lined up at the starting gate, ready to let loose. Anyway, meditation releases the feel-good chemicals in your brain, and you may de-stress stress eating.
Finally, everything we have learned works together in a coordinated loop to reinforce each other. Awareness, diet, exercise, and information arms us with the ability to deploy our tactics in the fight for our lives during menopause. Think about what we have learned today.
This briefing is now over. Good luck out there!