(Cathy Garrard/ Everyday Health) — Weight gain may feel like it’s inevitable once you’ve entered your fourth decade, but the truth is, it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Natural hormonal changes mean you may experience symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings, but you shouldn’t fatalistically accept that the number on the bathroom scale will skyrocket, too.
Here’s what’s going on with your body if elastic waistbands are now your go-to fashion choice: Weight distribution changes as you hit menopause, with the added pounds accumulating right around your belly. “I named the extra fat that collects around your middle the ‘menopot,’” says Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, author of Body for Life for Women.
Before, during, and after menopause, your estrogen levels begin to wane and your metabolism slows, making it more difficult for you to lose weight, particularly around your middle. And belly fat isn’t just annoying — it’s also unhealthy. A study published in the journal Menopause found that menopausal weight accumulation around the middle — even if you haven’t gained a single pound — puts you greater risk for cardiovascular disease. (…)