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19th of January 2018

Men



It's Time to Stop Being Ashamed of Fat

My 47 year old body has changed. My 47 year old body has gained some fat.

Menopause can be a very confusing time for a woman. This might be down to a lack of awareness about what is happening, but it seems that every day brings with it a new physical or emotional challenge, then on top of this our body starts to look and feel different.

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Menopause comes along with a whole set of ideas of what we should expect and yet none of them seem to meet our expectations and we feel as though more shit is being thrown at us constantly, making the change harder to accept.

I recently sat down and chatted with my good friend, Krista Scott-Dixon, who is the Curriculum Director at Precision Nutrition. The pair of us are experiencing menopause and have chewed the fat on a few occasions about why women find it so hard to accept fat gain on their body.

Despite being conscientious about my exercise and nutrition, my body has more fat on it today than usual. I am a lean woman who has never had weight struggles, yet I have seen my body change. I follow my base habits around nutrition and movement, my good habits, but other stuff has been taking its toll, there has been a constant state of just handling my everyday stresses. Fat gain was one of the end results and this happened for a reason.

Interestingly enough for me this change in my body wasn’t as horrendous as I expected it to be. The symptomatic side of menopause has been nothing short of hell, but I have not been so disappointed with a little extra softness and curves. I had inherently always been afraid of getting bigger, or the number on my scaler getting larger, yet this weight gain which resulted bigger boobs and a softer belly have surprisingly found me quite enjoying the way it looks. Now I am only 5lbs heavier than my normal, but as individuals any change is often hard to accept. My point here is, even though I was dreading it and I feel different and that different is not that bad.

This change was the driver behind my conversation with Krista. Why is it that women are so ashamed of fat and how can we change this narrative from an evolutionary standpoint, not just a body positive point of view.

Let’s start at the very beginning. From an evolutionary process, fat is seen as a wondrous substance. Fat is adipose tissue, which is an active endocrine organ. Whereas the misconception is that fat is purely used for energy storage and thermal insulation, yet it is so much more than that.

Most women have at least 20% body fat, usually in the range of 25-35% and there is a reason that ¼ of our body is fat. Adipose tissue contains numerous other cells that are able to produce certain hormones in response to signals from the rest of the organs throughout the body. Through the actions of these hormones, adipose tissue plays an important role in the regulation of glucose, cholesterol and the metabolism of sex hormones.

Obviously, during menopause our ovarian production of hormones declines, so our adipose cells picks up some of the slack. It produces a different type of estrogen, but it does help to preserve our hormone production, so it really is quite a wonderful thing.

There is a problem that modern day sees body fat as a problem. We see fat as a way of the body rebelling and turning against us. Our social context is to despise fat and look to thin lean role models as our inspiration, yet from an evolutionary perspective, these role models would signify starvation. We are talking about 2 million years of evolution and we have reached the place where we consider fat to be a problem, instead of looking at the ways fat can aid our health.

How Can We Reframe What Is Good About Fat?

Firstly, lets just put it out there, we are looking for that sweet spot when it comes to fat. Clearly too much fat can lead to major diseases that are plighting our health. The point of this conversation is to understand that some fat is good for you and demising fat looking for the pursuit of an overly lean body, might not only be detrimental to your physical and mental sanity, it is also doing your body a disservice.

We must be better at interacting with our body. If you think that your body is working against you all of the time then you will never accept the process your body is undertaking from a natural perspective. It is not trying to mess with your head, it is trying to survive and thrive. Whereas if you change the narrative to, “we are in this together as partners” and then realise that evolution is doing it’s thing and then your fat storage will regulate itself.

End goals for not being ashamed of fat. Here are some positive things to remember about fat:

Fat is not just some icky, unwelcome substance that we should try to rid ourselves of, its an active sensing, dynamic responding tissue. We need some fat in our body. Fat on your thighs and butt will tell the brain how much energy we have available. It makes us soft, juicy and curvaceous, it’s what helps our sex drive. Our sexual health, pleasure and desire need fat to secrete the good loving hormones. Bone density is impacted by fat production. Bone is active tissue and it needs a lot of help and body fat can help with that.

Menopause is hard. It’s like going through another rebirth, a new dawn. With this comes some fat gain on our body. Let’s learn to be in a new body as we age, it’s going to keep on happening the older we get and that is perfectly ok. By refusing to be frustrated and instead learning to live in the new body, when this happens then you can start to thrive again. It is then that you can start to create the life makes you the best version you can be of yourself.

Look at fat gain as part of this new body process. Keep in mind why your body needs fat. Stay healthy and educated in your pursuit of happiness and know that leanness and our societal constructs that drive our desires are not always the healthiest option for your body.

Coach Amanda Thebe is launching her new online coaching Menopause Hacks in January. This 6-month program is for women who want to be strong, take control of their lives and build resilience throughout their menopausal years. Registration is open now. Read More




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