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Menopause and Weight Loss - So much more difficult

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Old 02-09-2008, 10:07 PM   #1
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Default Menopause and Weight Loss - So much more difficult

Since I first started losing weight 2 and 1/2 years ago, I've entered full blown menopause, according to my hormone levels. A little early, since I'm 41. Well in the last year, since I was last tested, I've also had to fight so much harder for every lb I've lost. And boy, it has really gotten hard. There is definitely no room for even small cheats anymore, and if I'm not exercising, I'm not losing. So far, I've been very lucky, I guess, in that I've not had some of the other symptoms and discomforts associated with it.

I'd love to hear any tips anyone has for weight loss while menopausal. Or just commiserate with me, if you're having the same issues.
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Old 02-09-2008, 10:15 PM   #2
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Your post resonates with me, Tammy. I never imagined that it would be this hard. I fight for every single lb. that I lose. I agree that a combination of PERFECTLY on plan eating and exercise is the secret. One without the other does not work for me.

I have found that 6 small meals, consistently eating protein with each of them, and making sure I get a good breakfast have really helped me.

For exercise, I rotate through yoga, pilates, weight/resistance training, and cardio. I try to do either yoga, pilates or weights in the morning and a cardio or weights workout in the evening. This seems to be a good mix for me.

Being a vegetarian, I do incorporate a lot of soy in my diet. This seems to have helped with some of the typical symptoms.

If I had known 5 years ago, what I know now - I definitely would have gotten this weight off sooner! Ah, hindsight ...
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Old 02-10-2008, 04:24 AM   #3
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Tammy, menopause happened to me when I lost weight, and probably for the same reasons. You really ARE young, though!

I was 46 and had periods as regular as clockwork before June 1, 2001, when I started losing weight. When I started restricting calories and doing a lot of exercise, I didn't have a period at all for the first three months. Then there were three semi-normal months, then a period every two weeks for a few months, then nothing. I had the blood tests too, and couldn't believe it when my doctor told me I was in menopause. (I cried because I felt so old, so can imagine how you feel at age 41 )

I'm curious what your doctor told you because mine said that it was definitely due to the weight loss. He said that estrogen is stored in fat, especially abdominal fat (which is one of the reasons that it's so deadly) and when we lose a lot of weight, we get a huge estrogen dump in our bodies. And the effect for me was to shut off my estrogen production and put me into premature menopause.

So I lost the weight and have maintained pretty much the whole time while in menopause. And I totally agree with both you and Counting Down that perfectly on-plan eating and exercise is mandatory! We just can't get away with anything, can we?

I'm amazed and jealous at the calorie levels that some of our other maintainers can eat and still maintain, but it ain't happening for me (and Tammy, I know that you're hypothyroid like me, so that may be playing into this too). But -- it is what it is and this is my body, so I'll do whatever it takes to keep the weight off.

I think that exercise is absolutely essential for post-menpause weight loss/maintenance. We can't create a sufficient calorie deficit or maintenance level otherwise. Without my daily exercise, I would probably have to eat 1000 calories or less to maintain and I am definitely not going there!!

So when you reach a point that you're stalled out and not losing but don't want to lower your calories any more, the only thing to do is increase exercise. It doesn't necessarily mean more TIME -- it can be increased intensity. Studies show that we burn more calories and fat with interval cardio (periods of moderate intensity cardio interspered with high-intensity sprints). That kind of cardio elevates our metabolisms and keeps us burning calories for hours afterwards.

And of course, weights are critical for post-menopausal women. The message is finally getting out and I love seeing all the older women lifting weights now in my gym! It's great for preventing osteoporosis and maintaining and building our declining muscle masses. And of course, what could be more fun that being a mom with muscles?

Counting Down has exactly the right exercise mix -- cardio for calorie burn, weights for muscle maintenance, yoga for balance and flexibility, and pilates for core strength (I need to work on those last two).

Tammy, I wish I had the Magic Pill because I'd be taking it too! But I think you, Counting Down, and I know what we have to do. It's tough to stay focused all the time, but ... when I think of what the alternative is, then it's an easy choice.
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Old 02-10-2008, 05:27 AM   #4
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Once againg Meg I've learned something I didn't know. I am also in Menopause at 46 and my doctor knows how much weight I've lost and never said anything about the connection.
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Old 02-10-2008, 05:36 AM   #5
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Sharon, I think that those of us who have lost a lot of weight without surgery are the orphans of the medical system. Doctors don't know what to make of us and sure can't seem to answer our questions! Whenever I ask my PCP a question about metabolism after weight loss or skin or anything like that, she always says she doesn't know and that I'm her ONLY patient who ever lost this much weight, let alone kept it off. So she's learning from me.

I think doctors just don't know very much about what happens to our bodies when we lose a lot of weight without WLS. It just hasn't been studied.
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Old 02-10-2008, 07:09 AM   #6
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My weight loss was after menopause, and I don't know whether it was easier or not--I just had to work with whatever it was! But my own experience is that increased exercise is a key for weight loss, and 3 times a week won't do it for me if I'm trying to lose. It has to be 5 or 6. Exercise is what will allow me to lose without eating 1200 cals all the time, which is very hard.

btw, I was delighted to get rid of my periods. I found them a complete bother and never equated them with anything positive. Good riddance!

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Old 02-10-2008, 07:54 AM   #7
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I'm another one who got thrown into early menapause due to the weight loss. It's just about 9 months now. My doctor said 1 year without my period is when I can consider it really "official". But she says my estrogen levels are so low - it's for all intents and purposes over with. I was 43 at the time, I turned 44 in November. I had horrible, horrible, HORRIBLE periods, due to a large fibroid (that I might have to remove one of these days), so on that level, I'm glad they're over with. But I can't help but think what have I done to my body, sending it into forced menapause and I see a big obesity factor in the causes of fibroids.

Anyway, yes, I certainly can commiserate with you - it IS harder to lose and MAINTAIN weight loss. There really is no room for "error". Again, all my doing and it angers me at times when I stop to think about it. Luckily, that isn't too often - I'm too busy exercising and chopping up veggies in order to stay on plan - .
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Old 02-10-2008, 08:17 AM   #8
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Wow, I can't believe that the same thing has happened to so many of us!
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Old 02-10-2008, 12:08 PM   #9
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Add me to the list; my story is exactly the same as Meg's but I was thrilled. I had endometriosis which caused incredible pain for about half of each month, so menopause was a delightful side-effect of the weight loss. I don't eat soy, but have rarely had any menopausal symptoms since about 6 months of hot flashes in my early forties.

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Old 02-10-2008, 12:24 PM   #10
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Quote:
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menopause was a delightful side-effect of the weight loss. Mel
I wish it would be a side-effect of my weight loss! Having periods is annoying.

I wonder if there are actual studies about early menopause and huge weight loss. Does the National Weight Control Council (is that what it's called?) ask about menopause?
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Old 02-10-2008, 12:32 PM   #11
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I've done four or five NWCR surveys and they've never asked about menopause or really any other side effects of weight loss, like excess skin. Their surveys focus pretty strictly on what maintainers do to keep the weight off, eating and exercise-wise.

Thank heavens the NWCR exists, or else we'd have virtually no scientific knowledge about weight maintenance -- but there's a crying need for so much more research. Don't you think that if people knew in advance what ALL the challenges of a large weight loss are that they'd be better prepared for maintenance? As it is, most of us are clueless about keeping weight off and what life after weight loss is like.

In the meantime, our best resource is our ever-growing group of maintainers here at 3FC.
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Old 02-10-2008, 12:57 PM   #12
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Tammy, menopause happened to me when I lost weight, and probably for the same reasons. You really ARE young, though!
Oh great. I am 37 and my periods have gone right off the chart lately (come 22 days - 34 days - when before they were regular). My doctor insists that I would be too young but seeing this thread did I push myself closer to an early menopause! Great.

But I did want to say I am also having to fight for every lb now. I think it may have more to do with getting closer to goal than any hormone changes. I have decided to give up dieting in the winter because it is counter productive to have me attempting to diet and kind of failing daily because I couldn't get the exercise I needed or couldn't be as strict as the summer usually allows me.
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Old 02-10-2008, 01:16 PM   #13
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Add me to the list of going into menopause when I started losing weight. I was 45 at the time. I also find that keeping the weight off is extremely challenging. For me there is no room for straying, a small infraction results in a gain for me everytime. Without my exercise, I also would not be able to eat more than a 1000 cal's a day (regardless of what the calorie counter charts show).
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Old 02-10-2008, 01:20 PM   #14
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Wow, so interesting to hear from all of you.

Actually, there was an 11 year stretch where I did not go to the doctor because I was ashamed of my weight (yes, I know how stupid this was and I think I could have benefited from a massive dose of anti-depressants during a large chunk of those years but that's behind me and I can't change any of that), and during many of those years I had awful, awful, horrid periods. Robin, they sound similar to yours. Some months I half-jokingly compared it to childbirth, it was so very, very heavy and painful. By the time I took control of my health and started losing weight, I had already quit having periods (so that's been at least 4 - 5 years ago). It was a huge relief, like Jayell said, to not have a period anymore after those last few horrid years. I wasn't seeing a doctor at the time, but I can't say my weight loss caused it as much as my weight may have caused it. I didn't think to ask her if the early menopause would have been caused by my weight or weight loss, although in my mind, weight loss couldn't be the culprit because I stopped having a period years before I started losing weight. Of course, my FSH levels just dropped to the level where it can officially be said that I'm menopausal, so maybe that is contributed to the weight loss.

Meg, You're right! I'll do whatever I have to do to keep the weight off and if I can't eat at as high a calorie level as some of our lovely maintainers (and I already know I can't) that's ok.

I'm reading a book right now called "The premature menopause book" and I was surprised that the book didn't list weight or weight loss as one of the possible causes of early or premature menopause. A few medical websites that I looked at did.

I just have to tell you all that it is wonderful to see you inspiring losers and maintainers telling me that it is definitely possible to lose weight, maintain weight and go through menopause.
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Old 02-10-2008, 01:30 PM   #15
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Quote:
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I just have to tell you all that it is wonderful to see you inspiring losers and maintainers telling me that it is definitely possible to lose weight, maintain weight and go through menopause.
AMEN!
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