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How I'm learning to love my 'meno belly'

Beauty Editor Donna Francis, 48 explains how a shopping trip inspired her to put a positive spin on her physical changes 

Donna Francis
Contributing Editor US
Updated: 6 days ago
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I'm two years post menopause and I can't believe how much my body has changed. The belly fat has been steadily creeping up, the back fat is protruding and the orange peel skin is appearing in areas that I could never have dreamed of. 

And while I’m a big-time advocate of embracing age and all that comes with it, even I can admit that the physical changes that come with menopause, such as 'meno belly' are hard to learn to live with. Let alone love. 

Despite working out five times a week and eating relatively healthily, I simply can’t seem to shift the fat around my middle. And I know I’m not alone.

Donna is trying to embrace her meno belly with a renewed joyful perspective towards aging
Donna is trying to embrace her 'meno belly' with a renewed joyful perspective towards aging

What causes meno belly?

"Meno Belly is the increase of stubborn fat around the entire middle area which can include the back, due to the change in hormones such as oestrogen," explains Zana Morris, a nutrition expert and author of The High Fat Diet - How to Lose 10lb in 14 Days. "A drop in oestrogen can cause an increase in insulin - a hormone that encourages converting sugar into fat around the belly - and this leads to the meno belly."

During a recent shopping trip for bikinis, me and my friend spoke about how much our bodies had changed post menopause and how those physical symptoms such as ‘meno belly’ can affect our confidence and self-esteem. 

Bikini bottoms don't fit like they did when you were in your 20s. Those string bikinis just show off your ahem, bum crack rather than your six-pack, and your belly hangs over the top of your pants. 

But then my friend and I spoke about how age can help to give us a different perspective towards body image. Added years can give us confidence that our trim and toned twenty-year-old selves would never have had. "Youth is wasted on the young," as they say and maturity brings a newfound self-worth that transcends more than what you look like in a changing room mirror.

READ: I'm 48 and don't have Botox or filler. Will this non-invasive treatment lift my menopausal skin?

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Embracing my meno belly

Humour helped me embrace my 'meno belly' during that shopping trip. 

Amongst the barely-there bikinis, I tried on a beach dress that had cutouts that should have sat around my waist, but instead formed 'windows' for my boobs to hang out of. I was cracking up! My friend said that I should have taken a picture, and I'll admit it did cross my mind. I honestly wouldn't care showing off my lumps and bumps if it makes other menopausal women feel more 'normal' and represented - but I'm not prepared to show off those particular bumps right now!  

I realised that shifting your perspective can help us to accept the changes. The bikini that you wore and loved in your twenties may not fit anymore and, if it does, it likely looks a bit different. But we must all remember: that is normal.

Gravity and time will inevitably creep up on all of us - but as our faces and bodies get baggier, it's habits such as eating healthily and remaining active that we must focus on. And of course, laughing about it with our friends! 

Let’s try and learn to love that bit of belly. 

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