Holiday Weight Gain and Estrogen
I watched an episode of Doctor Oz recently where he had a group of women on who were at their emotional end about how to get rid of their belly fat. It is very difficult, beyond psychologically, for a woman to so negatively watch her body change so let’s first take a moment here to empathize. Typically as a woman’s weight goes up, her self-esteem, her self-worth, goes down. Beyond anything a husband or boyfriend can say, for her, walking into a store and asking for- “the next size up” from last time- can be emotionally traumatic. Try to understand that when a woman gains weight around the middle it changes her symmetry which her system, at a subconscious level, knows is detrimental beyond immediate health, to her attractiveness to a partner or potential partner. Evolutionary Psychology has made it quite clear that it is not so much a younger but a healthier partner that is sought by a potential male mate. As a woman ages her hip to waist ratio, the golden measurement, changes. She tends to get thicker around her waist and loses muscle and muscle tone in her hips, further influencing a change in the youthfulness of her appearance. No amount of patronizing from friends or even a devoted mate can change the look she wants to receive from admirers, especially that devoted mate.
So what happens, especially during the holiday season to make what is supposed to be “the most wonderful, the most feared time of the year”? Long before your clothes begin to fit tighter around the waist you may notice you start feeling emotionally closed in and closed down during the colder months. Seasonal Affective disorder may play a part in this but more so, as mammals, we are designed to hibernate and slow down for the winter months. As a result we sometimes put on “the seasonal slow- down” pounds. Consequently, this makes it an especially untimely time for all those Holiday Parties.
Also, for many the Holidays are a time of reflection and not all of our memories are good. Family issues, tough times when you wish you could give more and often a feeling of sadness for not achieving things or worse being who and how you wanted to be sneak in and make it difficult to keep up the happy face you put on for others. So when you get to go to Holiday Parties, some of which you don’t really want to be at, you find yourself eating “not be to feel good but to not feel bad”! This is when people, especially women crave carbs! How many of you can honestly say when you feel bad you crave broccoli?
One of the reasons this takes place is that when you’re stressed, as most people are, during and after the Christmas rush, your brain is in overload and tries to keep up by over fueling itself with glucose that usually comes in the form of cookies and cakes (not saying I don’t enjoy that myself), rather than the much hallowed complex carbs which are not so simple to stick to during our difficult moments. There is a reason why what we choose are called comfort foods, especially during the holiday. They seem to be most readily available and right on the heels of Thanksgiving which we are still somewhat (excuse the expression) still “stuffed from”.
Left- overs anyone?
Another problem that affects women is the now –but little- known scientific fact that when a woman’s ovaries reduce their production of estrogen, their body purposely adds belly fat from which to draw w estrogen. That’s right, beyond keeping down your calorie count; you’ve got to be concerned with keeping your estrogen count up. Ever wonder why HRT’s put on belly fat? Your body knows what it needs, wants what it wants and will do what it needs to do to get it even to the extent of telling your brain- go ahead- have another cookie! And, in case you forgot, stress, especially due to all the chaotic running around during the holidays, causes you to produce more cortisol. Cortisol, as you may recall, also causes you to put on belly fat. Like you really need one more thing to deal with during the Season to be Jolly?
So what can we do about this? What can we do when we are at all these parties and we are under, not only peer pressure but our own inner stress? What can we do when everything we are has got us on a search and destroy mission for all things sweet, sticky, gooey or crunchy? If you want to stay “Fit for Love” for the Holidays you need to start thinking inside out. The answer, “Fill up before you go out”! Start where it all begins, not in your stomach but in your-you guessed it, your mind. Your mind is actually designed to get your body to do what it thinks it needs for survival- at least temporarily. Start smart and eat at least a somewhat healthier snack to provide little room for the doom and gloom belt loop expanders of the buffet table. Try watching some comedies or comedians to take off the edge rather than using “the happy punch”. Remember the more punch you drink, the more punches you may have add to your belt.
As my effort is to try to keep you “Fit for Love” remind you,
“Tis better to BE Dessert than Eat Dessert!”
Here’s to a Happy New You!