For many women, gaining weight after menopause seems inevitable, and losing it nearly impossible. However, a new study from the University of Pittsburgh suggests that a few simple changes can make a big difference. Researchers followed 465 overweight and obese postmenopausal women for four years to evaluate weight-loss strategies that worked best. The women were divided into two groups. Those in one group underwent intensive nutrition and exercise counseling, while those in the other group received a more general weight loss program. All of the women kept a daily record of what they ate, and where they ate, for the duration of the study. When the investigators reviewed all the factors that made the difference for the women who successfully lost weight, they found that the winning strategy was replacing meats and cheeses in the diet with fruits and vegetables. Eating fewer desserts and drinking fewer sugar-sweetened beverages also proved important. The effect of substituting fruit and vegetables wasn't noticeable at the study's six-month mark but had the greatest impact on sustained weight loss and prevention of weight gain over the long-term, the researchers reported. The study was published in the September 2012 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
So less meats and cheeses. More fruits and veggies...it's so simple and it CAN be done!
This is one of the techniques I'll be learning in my Integrative Medicine Fellowship starting in July. I will mostly be using it for stress reduction and weight loss, but now, maybe for menopausal symptoms too. Here's what Dr. Weil has to say...
"It takes some training, but practicing mindfulness meditation does seem to help ease hot flashes, night sweats and insomnia in menopausal women, according to study results from the University of Massachusetts. Researchers there taught mindfulness meditation to 55 women between the ages of 47 and 69. A comparable group of 55 women of the same age who had the same symptoms were placed on a "waiting list" for training. The women in the first group attended classes once a week for eight weeks and also had a full day of training in mindfulness meditation, which involves focusing on the present. When the study began, the women reported five or more moderate to severe hot flashes or night sweats daily. After nearly two years of practice, the meditating women reported their symptoms bothered them about 15 percent less than they had at the outset, compared to a decrease of only 7 percent in the women who were on the waiting list. The study was published in the June 2011 issue of Menopause.
My take? Mindfulness is the technique of bringing all of our awareness to the here and now, to the sensations in our bodies and our breathing, for example, rather than letting much of it slip away in contemplation of the past and future or of other subjects that are not in the present. The assumption is that when we act with full awareness, our actions are more likely to achieve what we intend. These study results offer further evidence that mindfulness meditation can have a positive effect on health. Other than hormone replacement therapy, women have few options that they can count on to address menopausal symptoms. Mindfulness meditation is a risk-free method that is certainly worth trying."
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