menopause_symptomsOne of the most common complaints I hear from clients is that they can’t lose weight no matter how much they diet and exercise. This is incredibly frustrating!

Unfortunately, it may have nothing to do with what YOU’RE doing.

It may be your hormones.

Hormone imbalances lead to difficulty losing weight and an increased risk of obesity and they can’t be solved by dieting alone. If you’ve been unsuccessful at losing weight chances are one or more the following hormonal imbalances could be the problem:

1. Inflammation

Digestive disorders, allergies, autoimmune disease, arthritis, asthma, eczema, acne, abdominal fat, headaches, depression or sinus disorders are ALL associated with chronic inflammation, which has become recognized as the root cause of obesity and most diseases associated with aging.

Inflammation causes production of cortisol which is associated with that muffin top you just can’t lose.

2. Too much insulin

Insulin’s main function is to process carbohydrates in the bloodstream and carry them into cells to be used as fuel or stored as fat. The main culprits in this imbalance are: stress, consuming too many nutrient-poor carbohydrates (the type found in processed foods, sugary drinks and sodas, packaged low-fat foods and artificial sweeteners), insufficient protein intake, inadequate fat intake and low fiber consumption.

Heart palpitations, sweating, poor concentration, weakness, anxiety, fogginess, fatigue, irritability or impaired thinking are common short-term side effects of high insulin. Your body typically responds to these unpleasant feelings by making you think you’re hungry, which causes you to reach for high-sugar foods and drinks. It’s a vicious cycle which only furthers weight gain and ups your risk of diabetes and heart disease.

3. Depression or anxiety

Serotonin exerts a powerful influence over our mood, emotions, memory, cravings (especially for carbohydrates), self-esteem, pain tolerance, sleep habits, appetite, digestion and body temperature regulation. When we’re depressed or down, we naturally crave more sugars and starches to stimulate the production of serotonin. And then we become more depressed because we’re gaining weight. The stress of this creates more cortisol which creates more cravings!

4. Chronic stress

Under situations of chronic stress — whether the stress is physical, emotional, mental or environmental, real or imagined — our bodies release high amounts of the hormone cortisol. If you have a mood disorder like anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder or exhaustion, or if you have a digestive issue such as irritable bowel syndrome, you can bet your body is cranking up your cortisol….even if you don’t FEEL stressed.

Prolonged stress results in a raging appetite, metabolic decline, belly fat and a loss of hard-won, metabolically active muscle tissue. In other words, stress makes us soft, flabby and much older than we truly are! And it wears out our poor little adrenal glands, resulting in adrenal fatigue.

5. High levels of estrogen

Researchers have identified excess estrogen (in both sexes) to be as great a risk factor for obesity as poor eating habits and lack of exercise.

There are two ways to accumulate excess estrogen in the body: you either produce too much of it on your own or acquire it from your environment or diet. We’re constantly exposed to estrogen-like compounds in foods that contain toxic pesticides, herbicides and growth hormones. A premenopausal woman with estrogen dominance will likely have PMS, too much body fat around the hips and difficulty losing weight. Menopausal women and men with too much estrogen may experience low libido, memory loss, poor motivation, depression, loss of muscle mass and increased belly fat.

To compound all of this, fat cells MAKE estrogen…so the more fat you have, the higher your estrogen is likely to be.

6. Low testosterone

Testosterone enhances libido, bone density, muscle mass, strength, motivation, memory, fat burning and skin tone in both men and women. When testosterone is low, an increase of body fat and loss of muscle may still happen – even with dieting and exercise.

Testosterone levels tend to taper off with age, increased obesity and stress, but today men are experiencing testosterone decline much earlier in life — an alarming finding, considering low testosterone has been linked to depression, obesity, osteoporosis, heart disease and even death.

7. Hypothyroidism

Without enough thyroid hormone, every system in the body slows down. People who suffer from hypothyroidism feel tired and often have constipation and weight gain. Other common symptoms include extremely dry skin, hair loss, feeling cold, brittle hair, splitting nails, and decreased libido.

If you think you may have a thyroid condition, make sure your doctor assesses you and your full range of symptoms, not just your blood work. Even levels of TSH (an indicator of thyroid function) within the normal range have been proven to accelerate weight gain and to interfere with a healthy metabolic rate in both men and women.

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About the Author: Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause and hormone expert, a pharmacist and the “Chief Mojo Officer” at her practice. Her mission is to help women who are struggling with the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. If you’d like to know more about the complexities of weight gain in midlife, please join me TONIGHT for Cracking the Midlife Weight Loss Code: Your 3-Step Plan to Stop the Yo-Yo FOREVER! You can find all the details at www.DrAnnaGarrett.com.

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