Archive for weight gain
We likely enjoy the actions that cause our weight gain, eating tasty food and lots of it. Or maybe it feels like the only way to get in nutrition; we are busy so we reach for fast food, convenient food or even quality restaurant food. It all tastes good. Of course, that is the point of the food industry. Keep us coming back for more.
The problem is that most of our health issues start with weight gain. And stress, with the associated behavior changes that come with stress. Smoking, eating, drinking, not sleeping, and probably not exercising.
So the question is how do you want to live your life? And what are you willing to do to achieve this?
You may not feel empowered to make the changes needed to avoid illness and disease that your genes may predispose you to. Or you feel it is inevitable. You may not feel you have the time and energy, or deep down, deserve the time and energy to devote to yourself. It could be a combination of all or none of these reasons. Granted there are many exceptions to this, diseases that a life style change will not prevent or treat. Or it feels too late and medications are needed to improve and prolong life.
Most likely your medical professional has not devoted the time to talk with you in depth about diet; they may not even be very well trained in this themselves. Add to this, the confusing internet barrage of diets promising a quick fix. This is why the drug industry has become “big pharma”.
But most of it starts with weight gain.
Weight gain causes inflammation and a host of hormonal responses that makes it extremely difficult for the body to maintain its balance. As a result, systems start to malfunction, causing production of other substances that more profoundly affect the balance within our body. This can even set us up for cancer.
If you want to avoid all this, it is not too late. But you do have to change, and maybe change big-time; but not necessarily all at once.
Some simple rules to live by:
- Eat 3 meals daily, starting with a lot of protein at breakfast. Eat enough to space meals 5 hrs apart at least; and do not snack. If you must snack, make it healthy.
- NO SUGAR, or anything that acts like sugar when you eat it. This includes processed foods with any sort of fructose corn syrup or any syrup, agave, honey, sugar. No white rice, white potatoes, white pasta, white bread, white tortillas, snacks like pretzels, chips, cookies, cakes, pies, candy etc. No biscuits, donuts, bagels. They are all compressed white flour and are the equivalent to sugar in your body and brain.
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep at night. I cannot stress how important this is. The hormones that regulate your appetite and food metabolism are actually to some degree, secreted and regulated at night. Not sleeping interferes with this.
- Do not eat after dinner. Your liver needs a rest from all of this food metabolism and giving your body a 12 hr fast during the night helps it to work at producing the right hormones at the right time. This is also why not snacking helps.
- Get rid of as much stress as possible. I know this can be a hard one. You have one life to live and your life would be so much better if stress were reduced. Some things we cannot get rid of, but we can change how we react. Look into meditation, even 5 minutes a day is beneficial. Exercise helps to reduce the stress hormone cortisol, which contributes to the unhealthy cascade that aging can bring. And sleep of course, helps reduce stress as it places parts of your brain in standby mode, helping to reset certain functions.
Ok, this all seems overwhelming perhaps.
Pick one item on the list above and work on it for a month or so. Figure out what will work for you. Then start on the next thing. You do not have to do it all at once, but you may notice a curious affect. When we change one habit for the better; sometimes other habits change without us really making an effort.
It is up to you, but I am here to help. Trust me, I have seen it, done it, lived it; and to some degree successfully changed it. Contact me with questions, and consider contracting for some coaching time if you are stuck and need help.
All this change may seem hard, but it is really not hard once you start taking steps.
There is no doubt that much of the world has a weight problem, and the associated diseases that come with being obese.
And there is no doubt that entering menopause causes us to gain weight, and this can be frightening when hearing about the statistics of illness associated with weight gain.
There is also no doubt that the primary reason for weight gain in our current times result from the type of foods available in terms of processing, the overabundance of unhealthy food; as well as the increasing sedentary and stressful lives most of us are living.
New guidelines for the UK address some of these concerns with the recent recommendation of decreasing the amount of free sugar consumed from 10% of recommended calories to 5%. This translates to 25 gm for women and 30 gm for men of added sugar. This recommended amount of consumed sugar is also the recommendation put forth by experts concerned with promoting health.
Added sugar is table sugar and sugar added into drinks and foods, along with what occurs naturally in juices, syrups and honey. 1 tsp is equal to 5 gms, so that is basically 5 tsp. of sugar daily as the limit.
Looking at the nutritional label can often tell you the content of sugar, it is usually named in grams.
This is helpful information for trying to limit sugar intake, but it quickly becomes obvious that it doesn’t amount to much sugar!
Additionally, recent studies have identified stress hormone receptors in our taste buds. It appears that when we are under stress, these stress hormones can make the sweet taste buds less sensitive. As a result, that afternoon cookie may not do it for you, so you reach for more. Sound familiar?
It appears that stress can trigger us to eat more of the sweet stuff for the same fix, even at such a simple level as our taste buds! It hardly seems fair.
Sugar is indeed part of our lives, and eating foods high in sugar directly hits our reward center. When stress is involved, this circuit often bypasses the control center of our brains.
How can we change something so innate and seemingly basic to our psyche?
Strengthening the control center is how. This is done through mindfulness and meditation, practicing substituting other comfort measures to employ when we are stressed. It is well documented that both of these practices strengthen the part of the brain that is responsible for conscious control. This is the prefrontal cortex, the conscious decision maker.
I recently decided to enact my own plans for substituting the mindless eating of food the minute I walk in the door from work.
I love the outdoors and so decided after spending all day inside, I would spend some time in the garden. Evening is a good time to water the plants, so that is what I try to do.
I also practice delay tactics by telling myself I can have those snacks I crave after I water the garden, if I still want them. The trick is getting by the food cabinets on the way to changing my clothes!
Weight control and weight loss at all ages, but especially that associated with aging requires being aware of the type of food we eat in terms of the level of processing with added fats and sugars. Along with this is the need to control stress and comfort food eating, as this type of eating is usually unneeded calorie consumption.
Here are some tips for decreasing foods that undermine your health goals:
- You can practice delay tactics by telling yourself to wait 5 minutes before eating that candy bar.
- You can identify the times of day that you are particularly vulnerable to mindless eating and devise a diversion; eg. talk to a coworker instead of walking to the snack dispensing machine
- Don’t buy anything in a box (or bag) to have at your house
- Substitute a serving of fruit, or drink a flavored seltzer water
- Make yourself have to physically go to a store to buy something sweet, the time it takes to do this my dissuade you from the errand
These are just a few tactics, write in with your own tricks fostering better eating! We can all use some help in improving our diet and health. The focus on food as pleasure continues as we age, and we just don’t seem to burn it off like we once did!
Who is responsible for your health, is it you?
Our goal at Female Menopause Mentors is to help women through the menopausal transition, with its’ myriad of symptoms; and beyond. You may wonder why so many of our recent posts are related to diet and fitness. You may be thinking there is much more to menopause than weight gain, you may not want to make any changes in your diet or your lifestyle.
You are right, in part. There is much more to menopause than just weight gain, however, virtually all of our health arises from what we put into our bodies and how much we move on a regular basis. Yes, genetic plays a big part, but it is what you do or don’t do that can trigger your genetic tendencies. Weight gain is one of the biggest complaints I hear from women going through menopause. The weight gain that can occur with menopause can cause problems with joint pain, fatigue, sexual desire, and sleep issues. This can lead to self esteem issues, and relationship problems.
So who can take responsibility for this? YOU! You can control what you put into your body, what you eat. So what is keeping you from achieving the changes you know you need to make.
That is the sticking point. Many of us look to outside reasons as to why we can’t make certain changes or achieve a certain goal. I understand that time is a big issue for people as they work and deal with personal and family issues. However, looking deeper for reasons for a lack of commitment to making changes is the key to successfully engaging your motivation and keeping it engaged.
Perhaps you don’t really want to make a change, maybe you don’t feel you will be successful and that scares you. Maybe you don’t want the people around you judging you, or not supporting you in your change. These can be only some of the potential barriers to making changes, whether it is diet, exercise, smoking cessation, adopting an new hobby or even changing a job.
The interesting thing about motivation is that for every barrier, there is a way around but you have a compelling reason to make the change. Let’s take reducing weight as an example.
A recent patient of mine had arrived at menopause without the best health habits. She didn’t smoke or drink alcohol to excess, but she didn’t exercise much and half halfheartedly watched her diet. She wasn’t on many medications and didn’t have hypertension or diabetes, so felt she was in decent health and was sort of just going along. Then she began the menopause transition and gained quite a bit of weight. In the middle of this process, her son became engaged and the wedding was looming in the not so distant future. She was very excited for her son, but she was dreading the thought of being just off center stage, with her current body shape. She wanted to look good in a pretty dress, we can all relate to that! What was a previous lack of motivation, became engaged. She had a compelling reason to engage her motivation. I helped her with the tools of food choices and guidance on beginning exercise, but she activated the motivation within herself and kept it going. She focused on herself, how she wanted to look initially; then how much better she felt. She did not motivate for someone else, or something else; she did it for herself and her own self esteem. She discovered something important that kept her going past the wedding; control and responsibility for her own health. This was very empowering for her.
As you think about the changes you want to make, it is important to acknowledge why you have not been successful in the past. There are many external or superficial reasons why you have not made the changes you want to, but lack of success is most often from a deeper, more fundamental reason. There are always ways to deal with issues of time, place, the knowledge of what or how to make a change; it takes a firm decision and commitment to clearing those obstacles from your path to change.
Menopause is a time of major change. You can use this time as a starting point to finally working on being healthier, with all the positives that improved health brings. You can focus on your mind as well as your body, as it takes both to successfully make long term changes. We, at Female Menopause Mentors, are committed to helping you through this process. Look for our upcoming videos on improving willpower and commitment to healthy changes. I welcome comments and suggestions on different strategies for works for you, what you have done to successfully change a part of you.
How many of us depend on news reports to give us the information we need? Many of us scan the headlines daily, and if a topic catches our interest, we read the article. For the most part, we probably take what we read at face value. We believe what we read to be unbiased and true. Be careful what you believe to be true!
A recent article published about the cost benefit analysis of gastric bypass surgery caught my eye. As I read the article, I heard my inner voice saying “now wait a minute… I am not so sure about that“. This article was published in the journal Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases and reviewed in Medical News. The author states that a recent study revealed that the cost of surgery was re-couped for diabetic patients after 2.5 years through savings in medication and the cost of care when gastric banding was the procedure used. Here is link to the article: Gastric Band Surgery
So on the face of this article, it sounds great. Pay your money, get your gastric banding done and you or your insurance company will recover your costs within 2.5 years. While I agree that gastric banding and other forms of gastric bypass grafting have their place in the treatment of obesity, it should not be taken lightly! This procedure results in a MAJOR change of lifestyle, and it should be considered seriously and thoroughly. It does not always work for the long term either! To maintain any weight that is lost, you must continue with calorie restriction and exercise. It may very well result in significant cost reduction of medical care in some people, but I have seen plenty of patients that would not come under this characterization.
The problem with these studies are that they are often funded by groups in which there may be a conflict of interest. In the case of this article, the study looks to be funded by Duke University researchers. Duke University Medical Center has begun to perform many gastric bypass surgeries, although I will admit that gastric banding is not the procedure used most frequently by their surgeons. The article linked here, is written by the manufactorer of the gastric banding device! Hence, the possible issue with veracity.
Obesity is a problem in our country and the world, no doubt about it. Many people are desperate for help to gain control over their weight and it can be frustrating and even frightening for some. It is important to keep in mind that there really are no short cuts that work. Whatever you utilize to help you lose weight, proper diet with help and guidance if needed, as well as a program of activity is the cornerstone of achieving control.
There are many programs such as Weight Watchers available to help people gain control over their choices. We have designed a program here that can be used in conjunction to other programs. I would like to help people learn to make good decisions, learn to combat stress related choices, and how to put a program in place and keep it in place. Try it out and see if it helps, just click on The Menopause Guide above….and please give me your feedback!
The Zone Diet
is a nutritional approach linked to genetics and evolution of man.
The theory is: since grains, potatoes, and breads did not exist 8,000
years ago, humans are not genetically able to efficiently digest and process these
foods. There has not been enough time for adequate genetic mutation to have occurred
for this digestion to exist as it should for these foods to be a proper energy
source for us.
Historically, diets thousands of years ago were high in natural carbohydrates such
as vegetables and fruits, as well as lean protein. Now, our diets tend to be
high in simple carbohydrates. This causes spikes of insulin which causes food
energy to be stored as fat.
Insulin production can be controlled if the diet consists of complex carbohydrates,
protein and fat. Both protein and fat do not cause the spikes of insulin that refined
carbohydrates can. This control of insulin production is the cornerstone of
The Zone Diet.
The Zone Diet claims that keeping insulin within a therapeutic “Zone” causes a improved
burn off of excess fat, improved mental focus, improved energy and vitality. Every
meal is designed to consist of 40% carbohydrate, 30% fat and 30% protein.
The rules of The Zone Diet are as follows:
1. Interval between meals is 4-6 hours
2. Have a meal or snack within 1 hour of awakening
3. Have a meal 2-2.5 hours after a snack
4. Before each meal or snack, assess hunger level. If you are not hungry and your mind
is clear, you are in “The Zone”
5. Drink #8, 8 oz glasses of water daily
6. Start your meal/snack with a low fat protein and add healthy carbohydrate with low
glycemic index and healthy fat such as olive oil, raw nuts
7. Meal protein amounts should be 3 oz for women and 4 oz for men
This diet is effective and like other successful diets, causes weight loss mainly
because of calorie restriction due to low intake of starchy carbohydrates and
sugars. It is meant to be combined with an exercise program in order to help
with weight loss. It allows grains, and the website can give you a specific meal
plan day by day for people who like this sort of specific help. It also has numerous
recipes for people who want to devise their own meal plan.
There is a list of foods that are allowed as well as foods that are to be restricted,
giving more guidance on what The Zone Diet considers a low density carbohydrate or
healthy fats. There is separate plans for men and women, as well as vegetarian.
The problems with this diet is that the food groups are divided into segments. When
you plug in your information, you are told you can eat X amount of segments from each
food group. You then go to the food list page to choose your foods. This utilizes the
idea of exchanges which is effective but can seem confusing. It can also take more
time and energy to figure out what you may want to eat for a given day.
Additionally, if you want a bread or a pasta you are encouraged to buy it from them
via the Internet store. This does not teach you healthy choices in the real world.
This is otherwise a fairly good diet with a wide arrange of choices and recipes
that seem simple to cook and prepare. Most of the program on the website is free, books
are also available as recipe guides. Additionally, the diet does encourage continuation
as a maintenance diet.
The Dean Ornish Diet was developed in the 1970′s by a physician and cardiologist,
Dr. Dean Ornish. He developed this diet to help patients with high cholesterol
and cardiovascular disease. This diet has been well studied in its’ day and felt
to be effective and revolutionary in its claim to reverse cardiovascular disease.
This diet consists of eating a plant based diet that is extremely low in
fat and absent of all animal protein and most dairy. Dr Ornish claims this will
drastically improve your health and help you to loose weight. The diet plan also
advocates exercise as part of its success, aiming for 30 minutes a day of
mixed exercise. This diet was initially developed to reverse heart blockages, so
was not necessarily marketed for everyone.
The diet consists of limiting your fat calories to 10% of total calories consumed.
You can have unlimited amounts of most vegetables, grains, and legumes. You are
encouraged to avoid the following:
- all meats, fish and fowl
- nuts and seeds
- oils, bottled salad dressings, butter and margarine
- sugar and sugar containing drinks including alcohol
- any commercially prepared item containing more than 2 gms of fat
Foods that are allowed are as follows:
- Beans and legumes
- all vegetables except those mentioned above
- all fruits
- non-fat dairy is allowed in moderation
You are not required to count calories as this diet ends up eliminating
most high calorie items. This is a high carbohydrate, low fat and low
This diet could work because:
- It is low calorie and low fat
- Encourages exercise
- Foods are healthy, recipes are tasty
- A great diet for vegetarians
This diet would most likely not work for most people because:
- It is too restrictive
- Fat allowance is too low and as a result you could be hungry
- Hard to maintain a restrictive and low fat diet
- You may not like vegetables this much
- More recent research has shown the benefits of healthy fats
While I agree that a plant based diet is probably the healthiest, I do not
feel this is an appropriate diet for most people. I think it may be a good
diet for vegetarians although I would advocate for a higher content of
The Atkins Diet was devised in 1972 by Dr Robert Atkins, a cardiologist, to aid in weight loss.
It focuses on controlling levels of insulin by limiting intake of large amounts of carbohydrate.
Carbohydrates in the form of starches such as pasta, rice, breads, and potatoes, are generally
quickly digested resulting in a quick rise in blood glucose. The body then releases a load of insulin
to handle this quick rise of glucose. Because this quick release of glucose is usually not needed for
immediate use, the insulin causes this glucose to be converted to fat (triglycerides). This quick rise and fall of
blood glucose can cause food cravings and excessive hunger. Complex carbohydrates in the form of
vegetables and whole grains that have not been processed, or stripped of their outer shells, are
more slowly digested. Protein is not digested quickly and does not cause this rapid rise and fall of
glucose and insulin. Fat, additionally, slows digestion and helps with feeling full and satisfied.
The Atkins Diet is a 4 phase eating program combined with use of vitamin and mineral supplements, as well as
regular exercise. It involves eating a very low carbohydrate diet as well as higher levels of protein
than most people are accustomed to. This causes the body to switch from glucose burning for energy,
to fat burning for energy. This is called ketosis. When glucose is low, insulin is low and the body
turns to stored fat for energy.
Phase 1 is called Induction. The calorie consumption from carbohydrates is limited to 20 gms a day.
This would include salads, and low starch vegetables. Fruits are limited as the increased sugar
content of fruit increases its grams of carbohydrates.
Phase 2 is called OWL for ongoing weight loss. Nutrient density and fiber rich carbohydrates are
added. The allowed grams of carbohydrate allowed becomes 25 gms week 1, then 30 gms weekly until
weight loss slows or stops. Then the person is to reduce carbohydrates by 5 gms if additional weight
loss is desired.
Phase 3 is the maintenance phase. Carbohydrates are increased by 10 gms daily each week until weight
is stable or weight loss is very gradual.
Phase 4 is last phase where additional carbohydrates are added and weight is carefully monitored so
as not to cause weight gain.
This diet is effective for weight loss and it helps you loose your cravings for sugar in the form of
sweets and desserts, as well as the starches mentioned above (white rice, bread, pastas and potatoes).
In The Atkins Diet Revolution, the claim is made that the body burns more calories on this diet than
other diets. Studies have been done to evaluate this claim. In general, it is felt that this is not
accurate but that weight loss occurs because this diet is low in calories due to lack of carbohydrates.
The problems with this diet are numerous.
It will not work if you are vegetarian.
It is hard to stay with over time because of the highly restrictive nature.
It tends to be much higher in fat and can cause a rise in cholesterol and triglycerides if care to
choose healthy low fat meats is not taken.
Your brain and muscles need glucose for metabolism and cramps, fatigue, weakness, diarrhea and rashes
tend to occur
Some studies suggest dietary fat from vegetables are associated with 30% lower risk of heart disease
as compared to diets containing fat from animals.
The increased protein consumption can cause problems for the kidneys. This diet is NOT recommended for
people with any degree of kidney impairment.
The restriction of carbohydrates can cause vitamin deficiencies if supplements are not added.
Remember to evaluate any diet you choose for whether it feels right for you. Talk with your provider
before starting any diet that seems to restrict large groups of foods to ensure it is safe for you.
Choose a diet you believe you can stick with and that works with your lifestyle.
How to lose weight
When deciding to lose weight, diet is the most important change
you can make. What you eat directly relates to your weight. It
is important to change your diet in a way that enables you to make
this change a permanent part of your daily routine. The best diets
contain the types of foods you eat regularly with the exception of
most high fat and high calorie foods. The right diet for you should
be relatively easy to fit into your lifestyle and contain tasty,
easy recipes made with foods readily available and affordable to
I have reviewed The Atkins Diet Revolution,
The South Beach Diet, The Zone Diet, Weight Watchers and The Dean
There are numerous, what I call quirky diets, that I have not
specifically reviewed. The most popular ones are the Master Cleanse
Diet (otherwise known as the Lemonade Diet) and The Cabbage Soup
Diet. These diets are effective for immediate short term weight loss
but it is primarily water weight that is lost. Any weight lost is
usually gained back immediately upon stopping the diet. These
diets are so restrictive, they can only be done for one week and
in some cases can be dangerous.
There are also many diets that are administered by a company, and
food is purchased or provided at a cost. Examples of this would
be The Jenny Craig Diet, and Physicians Weight Loss. These diets are
also effective in producing weight loss, however they take the
thinking out of your plan. This may help at first but for any diet
to be effective, you have to learn on your own how to choose and
prepare food. These plans are also very costly and may not be
sustainable for very long, certainly not a lifetime.
Any plan to loose weight must include a commitment to continue
with healthy eating measures that were adopted during the diet.
Most people gain excess weight because of unhealthy eating, and
you will gain lost weight back by going back to these habits.
Read the following diet summaries and see if one of them may be
for you. Have some fun with your diet and choose one that does not
make you feel restricted.
Congratulations on your decision to improve your health!
THIS IS PART TWO OF THIS ARTICLE RESERVED FOR FREE MEMBERS ONLY.
Tricks to use when you are at a party:
- Don’t park yourself next to the food table
- Use a small plate and start with vegetables and healthier dips
- Choose lower fat desserts
- Avoid the rich drinks or drinks that are very sweet such as egg nog, punches; and have wine or seltzer based drinks
- Circulate around the room so that you are distracted in order to avoid too much eating
Fitting exercise in:
- Try shorter workouts if you are feeling pressed for time
- Try strength training and leave the aerobics for when you shop or are cleaning your house.
- If you need to reduce number of workouts, increase the intensity and add 5-10 minutes to the workouts you can fit in
- Get plenty of sleep so you have lots of energy
- Park in a space farthest away from where ever you are going, this can add a few minutes of extra exercise to your errands.
Another study performed through The National Institute of Health (NIH) illustrated the importance of
having a consistent eating plan and sticking to it during the holidays. Their study revealed that people
defined as being at a healthy weight averaged a weight gain of 1-2 pounds. This was primarily due to the
fact that these people had a firm regimen of healthy eating which helped to avoid added weight gain.
Those people defined as overweight gained an average of 5 pounds or more. These pounds were less
likely to subsequently come off during spring or summer months. This weight gain is then added to in
subsequent holidays and becomes a cumulative problem.
While the holidays may not be a time to lose weight, they need not be a time to gain weight. For some
people, the idea of moving through the holidays with health as a goal may seem impossible. For some
it may not be a way they care to enjoy the holidays. The above measures can be easy, small ways to
remain reasonably healthy and can also be a start for a new or renewed health program for the New
MEASURES TO REDUCE WEIGHT GAIN DURING THE HOLIDAYS-AND WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT
So the holiday season is upon us and many people feel
it is an impossible task to remain on a healthy
program of eating and exercising during the holidays.
While this is probably not the time to attempt
weight loss, there are many measures you can take to
remain at your current weight and not gain
Many people wonder why they should even bother.
A recent analysis of several studies performed in
past years concerning obesity and its effects on longevity of life
has indicated that obesity does shorten life.
Past studies have been inconclusive regarding this supposition.
A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine addresses link between the increase
of early death and obesity. The study found that a BMI of 25 or above was associated with an increase in
early death from all causes including cancer, heart attack or stroke.
What is BMI? BMI stands for Body Mass Index and it is a measurement which combines weight to
height. Normal is felt to be 18.5 to 24.9, overweight is 24.9 to 29.9, obese is 30 to 35 and severely obese
is over 35.
Currently, 17% of American women are obese and 11% of American men. This is a major health
problem for our country and the question is whether you are a part of this health epidemic and do you
want to do something about it on a personal level.
Are you an overweight woman with a BMI of 25 to 30? Your risk of early death is increased by 13%. If
you have a BMI of 30 to 35 your risk is increased 88% and 250% of your BMI is over 40. So what does
this mean to you?
It means that being significantly overweight does more than makes you tired, hurts your joints, and
causes you to feel bad about how you look. It means that there is a very good chance you will die early.
The studies recently published illustrate the need to control weight for overweight and obese people
in this country. The increased rate of heart disease and diabetes will create a health burden in coming
years that could prove difficult for our country and health care system to sustain.
So what measures can you employ to avoid weight gain?
- Plan your meals so that you can control your calories while not socializing.
- If you are going to a party or a dinner, eat very lightly for your other meals that day
- Have a stock of healthy meals you have cooked, frozen, so that you may pull these out when you get home late after shopping.
- Try shopping in a place where you will park once and walk quite a bit between stores, instead of making frequent short trips.
- Bring healthy snacks with you as well as a water bottle, so that you are not tempted to buy fast foods.