Ok, apologies for the title 🙂
It is my contention that to know if a weight loss programme really works you need to wait a while after the target weight has been gained … to see if it is sustainable. If the weight goes back on .. it isn’t. This blog post is a bit of the proof of the pudding – or proof of ‘not the pudding’. It has been a long time since I blogged anything about Fat Woman Thinning. In fact if you had joined this blog in the past six months you may not even know anything about it.
Fat Woman Thining, or FWT as it became known, was my day by day, then week by week, documented attempt to lose weight post menopause.
You see I had been eating sensibly and exercising moderately for years to maintain a reasonable weight. I am not saying it was ideal, far from it, I was on average a stone over MY ideal*. (This being at the top end of the normal range for my height and weight at 9st 7lb*)
Then came the menopause. Did I take my eye off the ball? Probably. But when your body starts playing tricks on you like serious hot flushes (flashes if you are American) you don’t watch other stuff so carefully. I gained weight. I wasn’t eating more, I wasn’t exercising less – but I gained weight. Looking back it was about 7lbs a year. Doesn’t sound much like that does it – but it only takes a few years and all of a sudden instead of being a comfortable one stone over ideal I was now two and half over – and feeling it. Feeling it in my knees. Feeling it in my breathing. To say nothing of the clothes that didn’t fit anymore.
January 2011 I vowed to lose this weight. I began to monitor my eating closely – sticking to the regime that I knew in the past had always worked for me. You see I knew a bit about nutrition, not only had I taught it but I had learnt the hard way back in 1974 through to 1976. (yes – that is a long time ago) the facts about what makes you fat. Facts that had seemed to be forgotten by even our own government (who had taken up the USA model of nutrition).
I added extra aerobic exercise to this extra careful eating, however, by April of 2011 I had only succeeded in losing 2 lbs! Something was wrong. I began to look at information about menopause and gaining weight. At that time just about all the sites said something to the effect ‘You will gain weight after menopause.’ And ‘to counteract this a cut in calorie intake is required’ To be honest, I gave up. I didn’t splurge, or stop exercising, I just went on as normal.
By Christmas of 2011 I had reached 12 stone – at 5ft 3 this was NOT GOOD. I was moaning to my sons about the ‘unfairness’ of a natural condition where you will just ‘put on weight’ even though you are doing the same exercise and eating the same. One of my sons, #3, bless him, is into weights and muscle-building and is a SERIOUS scientist.
Within a few minutes (because he knew what he was looking for) he showed me evidence that said ‘women lose on average 1 lb of muscle per year following menopause’ OK. So what? That’s losing not gaining.
What I didn’t understand then was the metabolic use of energy by muscle is such that the loss of 1lb of body muscle meant 35 – 50 fewer calories being burnt by your body every day. That number of calories not burnt everyday would equate to 5 – 7 lbs of weight gain per year! This was exactly what was happening to me.
So, cut calories? NO! This BAD advice would only put you onto a vicious cycle. Cut calories and the first thing you lose is …. Muscle. Lose more muscle – gain more weight! What I needed to do was GAIN MUSCLE. Now I put on large muscles too easily. Ten years ago I joined a gym and used it on a regular basis. I ended up with huge biceps and calf-muscles. I did not want that happening again. But, NO, those, it seems, were the wrong type of muscles. What I needed was tight lean muscles – they would burn energy best. This sounded better.
Here’s where #2 son came into it. A series of long ‘motivational’ talks ensued. We were trying to get to the base line – what exercise I could commit to on an everyday basis for the rest of my life! After all – the symptoms of menopause were not going to go away.
The result was that #3 son then worked out a system for me that incorporated my requirements:
1, Took me LESS THAN 15 minutes a day
2, I could do AT HOME
3, Required very LITTLE EQUIPMENT in the first instance (and at the most a pair of dumbbells with various weights a and a couple of big weight plates)
4, WASN’T too BORING
5, WAS FLEXIBLE (so I could do it at any time of the day)
I combined this with my Sensible and Sustainable lowish-carb way of eating that is easy to combine with feeding a family and that I had followed for years, but now finely tuned using new nutritional data, and started the whole thing and my FWT blog on January 1st 2012.
12months from that, December 31st 2012, I had lost 2 stone 7.5 lbs.
I continue with the weights programme everyday and eat within with the same eating guidelines (this is not ‘a diet’) to stay as I am now. I have a whole lot of science now that backs up this way of losing weight and keeping it off after menopause. PLUS… the weight that had wrapped itself around my abdomen has gone. That ‘central ‘apple’ shape of fat that is considered the worst type of fat for your body to store, is not longer there. I’m a size 14 (UK) again now – not a thin wraith by any means, but happily more healthy.
The proof of the pudding – Today I weighed in at just 2 lbs over that Dec 2012 weight (Last week it was spot on – a little variation happens – I just make sure it doesn’t go up two weeks in a row)
How many people do you know who have lost weight (especially on a weird diet or a ‘group monitored scheme’) then put it all back on six months later?
One day we hope to put this all together in a book form. It’s not a fast miracle cure, it’s steady, sustainable and it takes everyday commitment – but it works and it suits me, a very busy woman who cooks for a family and likes to eat a wide variety of food.
Have you encountered the ‘menopause’ effect on your weight?
How have you dealt with it?
What features do you look for in a weight management plan?
Do share – you know I love to hear from you.