The Fountain of Proof begins!
Updated: Jul 18
As I entered my 40’s … and beyond … I paid close attention to how my body responded (and at times didn’t respond) to my diet and exercise. Throughout my teens and adult life I’ve always been active and worked out. It wasn’t until age crept up on me, that I began to experience difficulty in maintaining my weight. My petite frame screams “I’m hitting the edge of reason for my weight”, with the addition of simply five pounds! The good news is… I paid attention. It has never gotten out of control to the point I couldn’t reign it in. Human beings simply change with the decades. Specifically women. The things I was struggling with were no different than any other woman struggles with as she approaches perimenopause and menopause.
I began searching for answers on why I wasn’t losing one pound, after focusing on healthy eating, low refined carbs, and longer work outs. I asked trainers, connected with a few nutritionists (one wanted $1,800 over an 8 week period - I thought, “I want to lose 7 pounds… seriously???), attempted to find information via online forums, blogs, even medical websites. I couldn’t find anything to specifically address the 40+ women who was experiencing what I was experiencing. I visited my parents and My Mom handed me a book. She said, “I found this on my bookshelf. I read it years ago and it helped me. I thought you might like it”. It was “Ageless”, by Suzanne Somers.
I was in AWE when I read it. It was exactly the information I was looking for! I couldn’t believe it never populated on my online searches.
She writes about her own journey with aging, surviving breast cancer, and how hormones are key to aging well. Reading her book was the first time it was so clear just HOW important a role hormones play in all aspects of our daily lives. From the ability to sleep, to burn energy in the form of fat, to insulin resistance, she outlines very clearing how important it is to pay attention to your hormone levels. To me, after years of reading books, articles and participating in hours worth of discussions regarding health and wellness, this was the most clear and comprehensive look at why hormones are so important.
After reading “Ageless”, I had a couple of take aways, that may help you. I want to say up front that she interviews a lot of great Doctors that have pioneered and worked in the functional medicine space for years, most have been trained in Western Medicine. They are all ‘findable’ on line and are passionate about why functional medicine is important. (Look for another blog post on that topic)!
1) I realized that Yoga is great for women with thyroid conditions, as well as adrenal fatigue. My NP had encouraged me to do yoga, but I thought I could live without it, simply due to the time involved, and wanting to make the most of my workout time for most calories burned. I did it occasionally and when I practiced always felt great afterward. I thought, “Why am I not doing this more often as part of my weekly workouts?” So, it is now incorporated.
2) Consider looking into supplements. Make sure they are high quality. It’s an investment but I immediately noticed a difference.
3) If you are looking for help to simply ‘feel better’, start with a functional medicine Dr. that can run appropriate labs and see what your hormone levels are. Do not be afraid of bioidentical hormones. Synthetic hormones are the Rx’s to stay away from. Often, bioidenticals will assist with weight loss, and simply giving your energy back to exercise.
I’ve been on bioidentical hormones for years, as well as a natural thyroid Rx. It’s only been recently that I noticed some changes in my body that led me on the search for more information. The last visit with my NP who prescribes them was a year ago. At that point, my NP, and friend, said, “I know you don’t want to hear this, but women your age …. “. That was all I heard. WOMEN YOUR AGE - AGGHHHH!!!! I had finally arrived. Arrived at the point of a belly I DIDN’T earn. I don’t eat junk food, and I am very disciplined with fitness. And that is only 7 pounds worth! Imagine how I would react if I’d gotten to 20lbs overweight or more.
If you know me, you know I’m very motivated to workout, and eat well! I worked out 3 days a week at the corporate gym with a trainer in HIIT classes, I walked on the weekends with my dog, and some mornings, and walk the golf course playing a round on the weekends. I felt I was doing more than ever and yet no results. Even when I cut back on carbs, followed Keto for a week or two, etc. I was not seeing the results I once saw. In full disclosure, eating well, doesn’t mean I don’t indulge. It means I eat really well! I drink good wine, because life is simply too short! My husband loves to cook, and every night is a ‘creation’ that is fairly healthy and nutritious. Sometimes it’s burger night, but for the most part, we eat better at home than what we can get at any great restaurant where we live. I have my limits as to what I’m willing to give up and what I feel is a healthy balance for my lifestyle. Wine being one of those things! Cutting back, sure. Cutting out all together, never! It’s a balance. I do use an app for tracking calories, and know I’m not over eating, or under eating. My macros are usually within decent ranges. I try to eat a well rounded balanced diet. So, what the H E double Hockey Sticks was going on?
My NP told me that I would have to completely change how I was working out. What’s been working, simply isn’t anymore. My body is changing. She knew I wanted to walk and she encouraged me to do that. Stop interval training… just walk. So, I would get up early and walk the dog most mornings. I continued my HIIT classes. I was given the gift of time in 2019, when I had a shift in my career. While I still worked out, in April I decided it was time to really get into a serious routine, ratchet it up a notch, and see what would happen. I had nothing but time. This is week 20. I see major difference in my muscle tone and I know I’ve gained muscle weight, but I haven’t lost 1 pound after walking the dog every monring, 3 HIIT sessions a week, and golfing (walking the golf course) 3 days a week (which I burn over 3k calories in a 24 hour period when I golf). I am starting to incorporate yoga this week. We will see if that makes a difference. I just want to see a loss around my middle. My husband says he doesn’t see it. But, I feel it and I see it. It’s a work in progress. I also know, that muscle weighs more than fat. I still think I should see a shift in weight. I’ve also visited the local ‘bod pod’ for a very accurate look at my body mass indices. Fortunately, I weighed less there, than my smart scale!
I would offer one more thing that has stayed on my mind since I read it. We read the NYTimes every Sunday. One week, there was a full spread on health, fitness, and wellness. I believe it was in the spring of ’18 (if you care to find it). There was one little paragraph that quoted a famous trainer. He said that weight management is basically 90% what you eat and 10% exercise. That the most weight you can really lose, on average, from exercise is less than 8lbs. That was very profound to me. Here I was putting all of this effort and time into working out hard. Likely, hurting my adrenal glands, putting unnecessary stress on my body, and all I could think about was that some tweaks to my diet might be the answer. Spring ahead to ’19 and it’s clear with the tweaks I still have an issue (likely hormonal, likely estrogen) that needs to be addressed.
I’ll report back in late October, and let you know progress after my next visit to see where my hormone levels are. As I am using myself as the ‘focus group of one’, I’m happy to state my progress!