Fit vs. Fiction's Blog

Puberty and menapause: Taking the Worry out of healthy weight gain

I found it very interesting that within 48 hrs of explaining the normal, healthy weight gain that comes with puberty to the mother of a Tweenager, I then found myself having a very similar discussion about menapause with a woman in her 60s. In both cases, I was offering reassurance that a certain amount of weight gain is to be expected and not feared at different times in our lives.

I think it’s easy to take for granted all the things our bodies accomplish every single day; they are amazing machines that, for some reason, we have a difficult time trusting when it comes to weight.

We really need to start working with our bodies instead of against them. If we live a healthy lifestyle, complete with a balanced diet and plenty of exercise, then we need to trust that our bodies will take whatever shape and form they need to.

I hear from a lot of parents who tell me that they’re starting to notice their  daughter gaining weight, even though they’re very active and generally eat well, and are worried that they will become overweight. They come to me for advice on how to either stop or reverse the weight gain; my answer is usually, “DON’T.”  It is not uncommon to confuse puberty with unhealthy weight gain which results in some very anxious moms and dads, but the good news is that they can STOP worrying.

It is so important to understand that weight gain is not only expected but is neccessary during puberty. Kids go through so many physical changes at that time and the LAST thing we want to do is try to impede that growth process whatsover. Puberty can take place anytime around the ages of 8-16 years old when our bodies are preparing for adulthood. Girls will usually become curvier and gain weight around their hips and breasts, in preparation for womanhood and it would be unhealthy to try and stop it. We need to teach our daughters to APPRECIATE and respect the changes that are happening as they are just an example of our bodies doing exactly what they’re supposed to do. Puberty offers a great opportunity to talk about healthy living with our kids because it gives us a chance to talk about all the work their bodies are doing and how important it is for them to fuel themselves with high quality foods and ample amount of exercise. It’s important to keep the focus on HEALTH and not WEIGHT. Kids shouldn’t see these changes as something negative that needs to be feared, but as something positive that should be celebrated.

Now skip ahead about 40 years… if you thought puberty was confusing, wait until you hit MENAPAUSE.

There are a lot of similarities between those 2 phases in a woman’s life and the most IMPORTANT one is that we tend to confuse a normal, healthy change with a negative one. Many women experience menapause in different ways, but one thing that most women complain about is the weight gain. Oftentimes, our bodies start redistributing our weight in ways we’re not used to. While we used to gain around our hips, waists and thighs, we now start to notice more weight gain around our abdomens. This is NORMAL and not a reason to feel shame or dissappointment in ourselves. Just like our pre-teen counterparts, it can prove futile and even dangerous to try and stop this process, however, being somewhat vigilant of the foods you eat and making sure that exercise is a regular part of your daily routine can certainly help.

Our society has become so FAT PHOBIC that we tend to worry anytime the scale goes up or our pant size increases, but we really do have to remember that not all weight gain is bad weight gain and sometimes we need to TRUST that our body is doing what needs to be done and the best thing we can do is treat it with the kindness and care it deserves.

Self-worth should not be measured in pounds!


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