Weight for it…

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)


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.

side view Jan1 2012
side view Jan1 2012
Side view Dec 1 2012
Side view Dec 1 2012


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.




One Pound to GO!

Here I am, 48 weeks from the start of my journey, 2 stone six pounds lighter, that 34 lbs down and just one pound left to go to my target weight – so I thought it an opportune time to catch up on how the Method, that my boys and I have worked out, has been going.

When I started my Fat Woman Thinning? part of this blog, I put a question mark on the end. After all I was not sure if this would work.

A brief history of what came before, Nineteen seventy three I weighed nine-stone and set off to America to work for the summer in one of their summer camps. just eleven weeks later, having been quite active each day and having eaten the types of foods provided and available locally, I returned to the UK weighing eleven and a half stone!

From then on I followed a reduced carbohydrate way of  eating ( as suggested by professor John Yudkin – not a diet book as such) and slowly but surely I lost that extra weight over two years… and by and large kept off that weight (though  managed to gain a bit with each child born that I didn’t quite shed – so have spent, since my fourth son was born, weighing about a stone to a stone and a half over  my optimum weight.)

No problem – really, I felt ok, was able to be as active as I wanted – clothes still looked good and on the whole I was a UK size 14. Until menopause

Well, menopause hit me with a number of whammies. You know – it’s just not talked about enough and when it is it seems it is in tones reserved for talking about your ‘period’.  Anyway – hot flushes (flashes if you’re USA reader) befuddled thinking  – the works …. AND weight gain. Weight gain that ‘they’ seem to say is inevitable  and that settles itself around the midriff – again – symptomatically – this is just what happens!

Having tried being really strict with myself on the carbohydrate front ( my tried and tested method ) and found it no longer worked (3 strict months in 2011 I lost just 2 lbs – this was when the photo below left was taken)   I was three years into menopause and now topping twelve stone – and feeling it – in my knees, in the effort taken when out walking or dancing, in my breathing. But what on earth to do? (Having read Yudkin I have never believed in calorie counting diets – or faddy diets – or dieting as such and wasn’t about to do it now knowing what  I did about the bad effects diets have on you.)

After an ‘excuses kicking’ session with one of my boys and a resistance weight chart tailored to meet my needs (to take less than half an hour and to do at home) I began my menopause weight loss journey on January 1st 2012 and began blogging it as Fat Woman Thinning ?

And it has worked??  No question about it!! The Fat Woman HAS Thinned!

I tried to re-create the same photo which was originally taken to display my Nero slate cheeseboard – left summer 2011 (a photo that shocked me) and right – yesterday Dec 2012.

And what I have learnt along the way?   How menopause weight gain isn’t  ‘inevitable’, how certain type of exercises, done daily, can build lean muscle, how this doesn’t have to involve expensive equipment or going to gyms or even leaving home, how lean muscle burns energy, that the eating methods Yudkin proposed are still the best basis for what to eat (though a little complicated), that this way of eating is sensible, easy to do (using my rough guide) within the context of feeding the family, sustainable and better for you. Moreover there are some important types of food you need to eat more of if in menopause – rather than less, and that simply cutting calories, as such, at menopause (the way recommended ) is a bad idea. That many of the messages we have been fed by food businesses and even the government have been seriously wrong – and are being proved wrong.

All in all I have drawn from so much useful information, some of it from very new research papers and reviews, and from experience and wisdom down the ages to create a method of weight loss specifically for the women at menopause. Yet – it is something all women need to know about – long before they reach that stage – as prevention of muscle loss is even better – prevention of weight gain better still – really it’s what every woman needs to know about menopause and weight loss.

Friends have been asking me what I’ve been doing to lose weight – telling me how good it looks. One said ‘You’ve lost the mumsy look!’ and that is so true ! In fact, being a grandmother, I was on the way to a grandmumsy look. They’ve even asked for it to be written down, so they can work on it to shift that weight and regain their shape – and that is what I am doing!

So, watch this space – sometime soon I’ll be launching a book – sharing all I have learned on this journey to lose weight!

So what do you think? Do let me know!


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