Anyone with this problem?

Discussion in 'Healthful Living / Natural Treatments' started by jbrain, Mar 5, 2009.

  1. jbrain

    jbrain Member

    Hi All,
    I meant to join this group about a year ago but never really did. I have a question for postmenopausal women. Do you find that once you put on 3 or 4 lbs (say at Christmas time) you can't get it off even though you go back to eating and exercising the same as you were before you put on the extra pounds?

    I am so frustrated! I have gained about 15 lbs or so since going through menopause about 8 yrs ago and just can't seem to get it off. I just keep gaining a few pounds every year. Also, I am always hungry! I eat well, try to keep it at about 1800 calories per day but I get so ravenous. I walk briskly to and from the parking lot at work each work day (about a mile each way). I would like to work out with my weights to increase my metabolism and tone everything but I had shoulder surgery in January and am not at the point yet where I can do weights.

    I just get so discouraged at seeing no results--you know how it is, when you see results it encourages you to keep on going but when you see nothing for your efforts you just want to go eat a bunch of chocolate!

  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I've just spent a year on doctor-mandated strict diet, and it worked. I also was on diet pills, the ones that stop your body going into famine mode. I don't know how much help I got form them, because since stopping those pills in October, I haven't gained any weight, which is apparently what usually happens (you gain back a bit, but it all stabilises at a much lower weight than when you began).

    What my doctor told me - "you're over-nourished. I don't care what the dieticians tell you about how much you're supposed to be eating, you were getting too much for your body, your age and your condition."

    The other part of the problem for me, and I gather it's fairly common, is that the liver gets loaded up with fat and when it's not working as well, it makes it much more difficult for you to lose weight. Throw in the problem of repeated dieting over the years slowing your metabolism, and you are where you are now. Menopause just adds to the whole thing. Or at least, peri-menopause.

    The thing is, I've been trying to lose weight literally for decades. The weight was slowly piling on, then at times not so slowly. I successfully lost weight but couldn't keep it off because the diet I lost weight on, was unsustainable.

    I do think, from my vantage point now of a year down the track and able to maintain, that a big part of the problem is twofold:

    1) the food available to us is too plentiful and too loaded with simple carbs; and

    2) we are conditioned to beleive we need to eat far more than we really do. When I say "we" I mean "we" as middle-aged women. I increasingly now believe that the amount a person needs to eat varies wildly, depending on who that person is.

    I had access to a very useful and informative book - it's an Aussie book, the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet book. It's written by a government-funded scientific organisation, CSIRO, so it's got good cred. And in that book there was some very useful info on how to calculate the amount of calories you burn, and then how to adjust this to calculate how many calories you should cut back to. If you overdo it, you go into famine mode and your burn-off slows.

    What I learned from the scales and the calculations - males lose weight far more easily. Younger people lose weight more easily. All because they burn more calories, just by breathing. You burn more when you exercise more, but exercise also makes you hungry. As you lose weight, your calorie burn also drops simply because there is less of you to carry around. So not only do you risk having your metabolism slow (and hence drop calorie burn) but you naturally slow down calorie burn as you lose weight. That's why when you start a diet and it's working, you lose a lot more to begin with than later on, when you can get discouraged. You actually have to cut back even further, when you begin to plateau due to the weight loss.

    My doctor scared me, badly. I was borderline diabetic, my liver was 95% saturated with fat and I was feeling sick constantly. Looing better didn't figure into it. I had seen dieticians who said that I actually needed to eat more, not less, because I had been trying to diet for so long that I was already eating less than most dieticians consider enough for a "normal" diet. And still I gained weight.

    Now, from my vantage point, I can see that for me, the dieticians were badly wrong. The charts that say I should be eating four slices of bread a day, two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables, also assume I'm able to exercise a lot more and I'm far more active. They also claim the same amount for a 20 year old male, as for a 50 year old female. Ludicrous!

    Over the past year, I've learned that I can get by on far less.

    My doctor's final instructions were twofold:

    1) "Cut out all fat, all sugar and cut your calorie intake back far enough so you begin to lose weight. I don't care how far you have to cut it back - eventually you will reach a low enough calorie intake forthe weight to begin coming off. Ignore what is supposed to be a 'normal' diet. It's not normal, for you."

    2) "I know you're not that big, but your liver is that full of fat and your diabetes is ready to tip over into full-blown. If this doesn't work, I will have to recommend gastric bypass. That will definitely cut your calorie intake."

    I thought about that second point and figured, I know I have the self-discipline to cut my calories. So why wait until I've had gastric bypass? I may as well begin now, eating as if I have already had the surgery. of course I will be hungry, but it's better than having to have the surgery. So I will live now, as if I've already had the surgery. People who have had gastric bypass have to make radical adjustments tro their diet and whatever a dietician says, no longer applies. And they can get along quite well for years and years, eating a vastly less amount.

    So that's what I did.

    In past diets, I also observed just how much our fast food is packed with carbs. Even 'healthy' fast foods, such as a Subway sandwich, is served on a large 'spare tyre' of bread. If you order Chinese or Indian food, it is generally served with a large amount of rice. Serve sizes are huge. I remember buying a rice paper wrap thinking it was a healthy option, to find it packed with rice vermicelli - the simple carb load was more than 50% of the snack. There was a thin sliver of chicken and about two snow pea sprouts, and the rest was rice flour in some form.

    So I followed the rules I was given, plus swapped all carbs I could for wholegrain options, plus cut carbs back. Not so far as on Atkins, because that is too far and is unsustainable, but still a lot. I would still have stir-fried Chinese food but with brown rice (about quarter of a cup of cooked brown rice) instead of white. I would cook a larger quantity of brown rice and keep it in the fridge for a few days, microwaving a small serve to have with a mostly protein and vegetables meal. I even used brown rice to make fried rice (a low fat version in a non-stick pan).

    Other rules on this diet - eat small meals often. That was the "gastric bypass" part of the diet. If I was ravenous, I would find something like a healthy mini-meal and eat about four bites. It was generally enough to stop the hunger pangs. If I got hungry a couple of hours later, I would do it again. But I also found tat often, when I thought I was hungry then a big drink of water (or water equivalent) would slow me down. So I got into the habit of having the big drink FIRST and THEN eating.

    Water can be boring, but low-cal drinks make a good substitute. I make an iced coffee (Greek-style) that is virtually no calories but very thirst-quenching. I use decaf coffee to avoid the problems of caffeine. I try to have at least a litre of this a day.

    Because I don't eat enough for a healthy diet (according to all the charts - but I look good and I feel good) I began to take extra vitamins. especially calcium. Because I have bladder problems (which actually have got a lot better since losing so much weight) I also take cranberry capsules. Don't drink cranberry juice (or any other juice) because it's loaded with fruit sugars and is a waste of your calorie allowance.
    For other vitamins, I take a sugar-free vitamin supplement. Mine is high in B and C, but mainly because I can't take most vitamin supplements.

    My diet (according to the book I mentioned) had me cutting back on fruit to one serve a day, max. For a while I had this as mango nectar, frozen, as dessert. I've since found a "no added sugar" ice cream which is really very nice. It's also low fat, but tastes really sinful. I'm currently having this two ways - either with a fresh mango chopped up all over it, or as affogato (a shot of unsweetened concentrated espresso coffee poured over it, hot).

    I also have two squares of good quality dark chocolate a day. It's also got some valuable vitamins in it, plus it helps me feel as if I'm not deprived.

    My biggest secret weapon is what I call my Magic Muesli. I make my own muesli with wholegrain ingredients, some nuts and some unsweetened dried fruit. And lots of bran. I fiddle with it until it's how I like it, and make a large amount at a time and keep it in an airtight container. I've put the recipe up here already a couple of times. I eat it in a one cup ramekin, because it really is very filling. And when I get the munchies, regardless of when, I sometimes have another bowl of it.

    I had to change my mindset and turn away from food pyramid, and the usual quantities we're told we should be eating. When I compare what I eat now, qwirth what a dietician would say I should be eating, I estimate I'm eating about a quarter the amount. No wonder I was gaining weight! And yet I wasn't eating as much as a lot of other people.

    I now look at how much other people eat, and wonder. I really wish I could burn off more calories than I do, so I could eat more again, but I now understand that I'm eating the right amount for me. I haven't really lost any more weight for months (probably six months or more) but I'm maintaining. I also feel good - no feelnig of being drained and weak due to not eating right.

    And the best thing - I've turned around the diabetes. Plus my liver is improved. It still has a fair way to go (hence I need to maintain for another few years if I can).

    I also look good now. According to weight charts I'm still overweight, but according to my dress size, I'm normal. Average. But all that is a bonus. It does help keep me motivated.

    One last tghought - a previous time when I was trying to lose weight and having trouble (because I was doing what rthe dietician said!) I was, for a while, keeping my weight constant. The doctor I saw at that time said that for pre-menopause and not able to exercise, simply maintaining was a good achievement.

    So Jane, if you are able to NOT gain, then you are achieving.

    I reckon I'm into menopause now, through peri-menopause. It's been surprisingly easy for me (once I went on HRT to stop the unbeleivably heavy periods) and I had to go off the HRT when my blood pressure began to climb and actually had little trouble. I've been on this diet during this period - taking the HRT and then having to go off it instead of being put on blood pressure pills. I'm currently taking prednisone, which has made me hungrier, but I've managed to avoid weight gain. It's been harder.

    It really isn't easy, and I think that's why so many of us find it hard - because it is, and because we're conditioned to think we MUST eat everything we're told.

    If you do what I did, be prepared for people to be horrified, and to tell you you're making bad choices. To that end, make sure you have good medical support for what you are doing. My doctor is a gastroenterologist who actually did a PhD on fatty liver. Having him back me up gave me the confidence to keep going even when other people said it was insane.

    And the way I am now - it's the justification for it all.

    It worked. At last.

  3. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I forgot to say - the diet says to also make sure you have protein for at least two out of three meals. The amount of protein - it needs to be lean protein - is the size of the palm of your hand. I have found that although I have to limit things a lot, I can eat a fair bit of lean protein and not gain.

    Sauce as condiment - unlimited, but be reasonable of course. So I will spread a single slice of wholegrain bread with mayonnaise (sparingly) instead of butter or margarine, then pile on cooked chicken, shredded lettuce, a sliver of onion, maybe some capers and a slice of tomato - and eat it as an open sandwich. Or use a wholemeal burrito and have a wrap.

    Use flavour. Add fresh herbs to your salads, use marinades for your meat, don't specifically look for low-fat commercial foods because the'yre often loaded with added sugar. Read labels. Remember you don't need to eat anywhere near as much and so go for quality and taste instead of quantity.

    As for feeding everyone else - again, aim for quality. But let them eat as much as they want/need. If I cook a casserole, I cook it as low-fat as I can, but that's all OK for everyone. I might make a big bowl of mashed potato, put in lots of butter - but potato is off my list because it's pure carb. Instead, a few spoons of brown rice (no butter, of course) is what I have.

    Some foods I have found can be eaten in unlimited quantity. Strawberries, for instance. Lean chicken. Sugar-free coffee. It will depend on you and what you notice about your body.

    This can work, but you need to be vigilant, strict with yourself and dedicated. And if you break your diet - don't get angry with yourself. I did have a couple of times when I skipped the diet for a night or two. Then I just went back to what I had been doing, no guilts. I just remembered the roast pork with crackling and the pavlova and chocolate mousse, with a smile on my face. And it made it all the easier to eat the teriyaki chicken wraps and the chicken tikka.

    It's all a habit now, which I why I think this is still working so well. I'm in a routine and it's easy to stay that way. If I go away for the weekend, I take my muesli with me.

    I hope this helps you.

  4. Yeah Jane,

    I'm there with you. I've been completing a food journal for about a year now on an online program. I find that 1400 calories will maintain my weight (if I routinely exercise at the Y). If I want to lose, I need to aim for 1000 calories.

    Menopause is not proving to be my friend. Between the lowered need for food and the hot flashes, I really ready to send it packing. Bring back the cycle!!!
  5. jbrain

    jbrain Member

    Thanks for the replies--I have been sick all weekend so haven't been on the computer til now. I will update soon when I feel well. Oh, one bonus--I have lost a pound or 2 being sick.

    P.S. Yeah, I would much prefer to keep having my periods--menopause was a drag. I get really angry when I read how it doesn't really make you gain weight--yes, it does! Also, it wrecked my sex drive and my body just doesn't look the same. I am on HRT for the hot flashes and it helps and also helps with the sex drive since I have testosterone as part of the treatment but I get all kinds of grief from people for being on HRT.

    Thanks, guys!

  6. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I just skimmed the responses/looked quickly.

    However...I've got to say that what Marq. said...made much sense to me.

    I do think, esp. after menopause, we have to be extra careful. Bottom line: we just don't need as many calories as we might think. We don't burn as many. Period.

    Generally, I think to lose the weight it means eating healfthfully, smaller portions and less sugar. Personally, I think it is fine to have sugar (I'm talking in the form of a dessert) for a special treat now and again. So, perhaps on the weekend or for an obvious special occassion...birthday, Easter, etc. But then, keep it a small portion. Same with alcohol. So not too often...and then in small portions. Exercise...also important.

    Bread: Limisted and then only whole wheat
    Lots of veggies, a little fruit, lean meat, a little low or non fat dairy, plenty of water.

    30 minutes of exercise...four days of week seems perfect. Build up to it though. Add weights later...perhaps two times a week. Get in some natural exercise...walk the dog, wash the car, clean the house.

    Keep your thoughts uplifiting to friends.

    Get to bed on time.

    All these things add up, done consistently....the weight will come off.

    Get support...if necessary.

    Hang in there.
  7. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Thoughts on sugar - because for me, I had to lose weight and nothing else had worked for decades, I had to give it ALL up, at least for a while. Because having ANY sugar makes it easier to have some, and it's vert difficultto quantify "some". Also, your body is used to having sugar and the insulin resistance can't go away while you're having a little bit of sugar regularly.

    I had been on the diet about four to five months, when husband were out to dinner and I splurged. I had a little of everything I wanted, and then happily had the dessert I wanted. I just took the night off ffrom the diet, and went back to where I would have been, next day. No guilts. But at that stage of the diet, I had to get back to what I had been doing and carry on again.

    Taking a break from the diet, having a bit of somethnig sweet once a week at the most - it's OK. But if nothing else has worked, you do need to seriously consider cutting out ALL sugar, at least for a while. My exception - two squares of dark chocolate each day, as a "vitamin pill". Plus a calcium pill, plus a multivitamin, because there is no way my diet would be sufficient. Take iron and folate too, if your body tolerates it.

    Switching to wholegrain - brilliant. Push the fibre.

    HRT - if you feel your body would benefit from it, then so be it. Nobody has the right to give you grief over it. Frankly, nobody need know, unless you tell them.

  8. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Marq...unless your dark chocolate that you have daily is sugar are having sugar daily. Perhaps it is sugar free or has very little sugar in it. Is it just plain dark chocolate/no sugar? They say it has medicinal value...good idea! Your doctor sounds like a great source!

    I tend to agree with you. I think that many people need to give up sugar (what I call an obvious dessert) altogether so that the insulin doesn't spike and cause cravings. Or at least give it up altogether at first and then add it back using (portion control...of course).

    Some people, I have found, become too frustrated if they have to give up dessert totally or get too frustrated if they get it in their head that they have to give up sugar completely. They want a little treat. It varies. Some want their tiny treat nightly...some want it just on Saturday (or the weekend) and some want it when there is a special occassion. I like it on the weekends and then if something special comes perhaps twice a week (max).

    Personally, I have found that knowing I can still lose weight and have a little as a treat on the weekend and during the week if the occassion a relief and it also seems more like "real life." It seems more like a life plan.

    Everyone is different. in my humble opinion, it is wise to know your body. I think it is wise to know where you stand with sugar and alcohol. No doubt..too much of it will hamper weight loss. There isn't much room for leeway, I think. Knowing where you stand is key.

    I think taking vitamins is very important...I personally like a multi and the B vitamins. (in my humble opinion).

    And I think anyone who continues to struggle...should get support. It is well worth it.

    Your informaiton is wonderfull and I am glad you posted the details. I am following a plan that is similar.

    when I have weight goes up a bit. I know how to get it back down and quickly take care of it.
    For the most part, I've been able to stay at my goal weight. :D

    p.s. Note to jbrain...Think about writing down everything you's very helpful. Hang in there!
    Lasted edited by : Mar 10, 2009
  9. jbrain

    jbrain Member

    Hi All,
    what has worked for me in the past was to keep a food journal--write down everything I eat and drink and stick to 1800 calories per day. No longer working. I hate to think I might have to give up sugar and alcohol! My husband and I really enjoy going out for drinks and talking.

    I guess my other choice would be to just accept my body as it is now--I seem to be maintaining the same weight with what I am currently doing--and quit being so worried over it all. I am only about 10 lbs over what I would like to weigh and my husband seems to still find me attractive, it is my own self that is so upset over all of this.

  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    About the chocolate - yes, it's standard chocolate, with some sugar, with some fat, but by limiting myself to two squares only, and making it the only exception, it acts as my only treat that stops me from going totally screamingly cold-turkey.

    But I have found a treasure - ice cream with no added sugar, also low-fat! I double-checked the nutritional info, it really is both low fat and low sugar. Therefore it's also low calorie. And the real miracle - it tastes and feels like the richest vanilla ice cream, it's fabulous! I've been having it as affogato (a shot of fresh, strong espresso coffee poured over ice cream). Or in summer, with a fresh mango.

    I've been a bit naughty today, I had a couple of chocolate biscuits. But I normally avoid eating those by simply not having them in the house.

    Jane, the most important thing you need to change is often your attitude to yourself. Sometimes with the reality TV weight loss programs, the people lose buckets of weight but if tey don't change how they feel about themselves, they're going to have a struggle not gaining the weight back.

    What made me lose weight, was my desperation for my health. I just needed to be motivated enough. My appearance - not a factor. I had long ago given up ever looking young or attractive again, I had resigned myself to always needing to buy 'fat' clothes from special 'fat' stores. But because my mental target was improved health, THAT was my payoff. Losing 5 Kg meant I was breathing better at night, which made me more comfortable at night. That gave me the motivation to keep going.

    But as my looks changed (improved, mostly) it gve me added motivation to never go back to the way I was. And hopefully, I won't. My health still needs me to stick to my diet, and actually looking better now is making it more difficult - the mirror tells me I have won, I don't always have blood tests in front of my eyes to say, "The war's not over yet."
    Losing the weight turned around the borderline diabetes. It knocked down my high triglycerides and cholesterol (they're now beautifully low). The insulin resistance - gone. And it could be insulin resistance that is making your weight loss so difficult, which is why cutting out ALL sugar (except for my two squares of chocolate a day) may be necessary, at least to begin with, to make it happen.
    But the liver enzymes - still in the hundreds, when they should be in the teens.

    So maybe a suggestion, if you feel you really need to get it all in balance and perspective - see your doctor and discuss the problem. Get the tests done (LFT, triglycerides, cholesterol, BiPolar (BP), fasting glucose, fasting insulin). Maybe also get your hormone levels checked (thyroid hormones, adrenal hormones, testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, the various hormone binding protein levels) just to make sure there isn't an explanatory underlying problem needing to be dealt with.

    Having those levels as a beginning benchmark can help you see how your efforts are going, overall. because maybe even if you don't actually lose any weight, if you can bring about an improvement in your test results, then you are doing a good thing for your body. Something to be proud of, just for itself.

  11. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member


    listen to your body. That's the biggest advice I can give. If those ten pounds do not prevent you from doing what you want and you feel healthy, so be it. Have the 10 pounds affected your sugar levels, blood pressure levels, etc.?

    I also believe it is important to not just count the calories. I think it's important to also look at what kind of calories they are. For example, empty white bread calories with refined sugar, or whole grain bread with fiber to keep your body working and bulk in your stomach to make you satisfied longer.

    How is your exercise routine. Maybe adding 10 minutes of extra cardio to each workout will make a difference?

    It's a daily struggle........