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Why You Should Exercise Less and Eat More To Manage Your Weight At Menopause


Exercise less and eat more? Are you serious?

Yes, we most definitely are.

Indeed, we know that one of the biggest challenges for women entering perimenopause and moving through to post-menopause is weight gain. 

It’s a common complaint and the research in our own community confirms it.

All too often we hear women saying they’ve cut right back on food and are working hard on exercise. It’s what we’ve always been told right? To lose weight we need to eat less and exercise more.

But. And this is a big but. What we’ve been taught doesn’t relate to women in perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause.

What’s more, what’s always worked for us before when it comes to food, exercise and weight loss may not work for us now.

The goal posts have shifted.

Exercise Less & Eat More

Many women have a go-to solution for weight reduction and it’s worked well through their 20s and 30s.

However, if they begin gaining weight in perimenopause it seems the harder they exercise and the less they eat the more it clings. In addition, if they can’t get it off then it sticks around in post-menopause.

And it sits predominantly around the middle.

You’re not imagining it. It’s real. 

And it’s not your fault. Don’t beat yourself up. Self-compassion is important here. 

The good news is you can get it off but it does require a change in your thinking. 

Furthermore, a change in your habits is probably on the agenda. But don’t run to your bed and hide under the covers just yet. You still need to exercise to optimise your health – and you don’t have to live on salad for the rest of your life. 

In fact, in many ways that can be counterproductive. Stress, sleep, exercising for hours, your thyroid health, food choices and dairy – yes dairy for some people – could be making you weight loss resistant. For today though let’s focus on exercise. 

Why Everything Women In Menopause Learned About Exercise May Be A Lie

Debra Atkinson explains more in her TED Talk “Why Everything Women In Menopause Learned About Exercise May Be A Lie.” Debra’s been in the fitness industry for 35 years and has trained for eight Ironman marathons. She now helps women in midlife through her business FlippingFifty. In her TEDx talk Debra explains how movement is different from exercise and how her body transformed when she exercised less.

We hope you enjoyed Debra’s talk. 

If you need help with losing weight read our other stories (we have an extensive library under the ‘learn’ section). Or get in touch with Jennifer, our health coach, here.

7 Wellness Pillars of Menopause

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This is the time when menstruation is well and truly over, the ovaries have stopped producing high levels of sex hormones and for many ladies, perimenopause symptoms subside.

Estrogen has protective qualities and the diminished levels mean organs such as your brain, heart and bones become more vulnerable. It’s also a key lubricant so your lips may become drier, your joints less supple and your vagina might be drier. In addition, your thyroid, digestion, insulin, cortisol and weight may alter.

At this juncture, a woman might experience an increase in the signs of reduced estrogen but she should have a decrease of perimenopause symptoms. That said, some women will experience symptoms like hot flushes for years or even the rest of their lives.


Peri = ‘near’

Most females begin to experience the symptoms of perimenopause in their mid-forties. Your progesterone levels decline from your mid-30s but it’s generally from around 40 that the rest of your sex hormones begin to follow suit. 

Perimenopause is a different experience for every woman and some women may barely notice it. The first indicators are usually changes to the monthly cycle. This means that for some ladies, this can be accompanied by things like sore breasts, mood swings, weight gain around the belly, and fatigue as time goes on.

For those with symptoms it can be a challenging time physically, mentally and emotionally.

Importantly, perimenopause lasts – on average – four to 10 years. The transition is usually a gradual process and many women enter perimenopause without realising.