diaryofthemenopause

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Losing Weight after Menopause

The-Keys-to-Losing-Weight-After-Menopause

When I was asking people why they took HRT, other than the hot flushes and night sweats, the next biggest reason was how difficult it is to lose weight after the menopause.  My neighbour successfully came off HRT and admitted she found it more difficult to lose weight, but did remain off HRT.

I gained a lot of weight after my hysterectomy and I hit my highest ever weight.  Looking back I really deserved this.  My recovery was slow and I ate anything I could get my hands on.  I was working 12 hours shifts, 2 days, 2 nights then 4 days off, and my nightshifts were a diet of curries, Chinese takeaways and kebabs, followed by whatever chocolate and crisps I could get from the vending machine.  I knew I had a problem so with one of the guys at work, we set up our own weigh-in club once a week.  Knowing I was far heavier than him should have rung alarm bells for me, but it didn’t.

I came off shift nearly 3 years ago, and instantly lost 1 stone (14lb) in weight by just not having the takeaways and the anti-social eating hours.  Following a family holiday in France, I saw a photo the children had taken of me and my husband.  We were both huge. How did that happen?

Calendar

I had failed to lose weight on my own, and I don’t have time to fit in a diet club around work, so I joined Slimming World On Line.  Between January 2016 and June 2016 I lost 2 stone (28lb).  As I lost my battle with depression and anxiety, I gained 1 stone 3lb (17lb) of that back on between June 2016 and January 2017.  At the end of January 2017 I decided it’s time to battle this again.  Since then I’ve had my ups and downs after the initial 14lb was very easy to lose and since then my weight has stabilised, or worse, slightly increased.

blood sugar

My turning point came when a few things happened one after the other, starting with an article on stress, depression and how it impacts you during the menopause, along with foods to avoid.  This was immediately followed by a BBC TV documentary “The Truth About… Stress”, which said almost the same thing as the magazine article.  The third factor was a diabetic friend of mine trying to maintain his diabetes without the reliance on medication using the 8-week blood sugar diet.  This diet not only works on diabetics, it also works on the menopause (well for me it did).  I didn’t follow this initial diet (it starts off with 800 calories), instead my friend talked me through the diet and the food groups and it became clear a lot of it was similar to what I had already pieced together using the menopause article and the information from the documentary.  It was then applying what I had discovered worked and didn’t work for my body.  My mood and my ability to cope with stress is impacted by my blood sugar levels, once my levels raise I will binge on chocolate.  So avoiding “white” carbs works for me – no eliminating, just minimising. I don’t believe in eliminating anything, as I will fail if I think I can’t have something ever again.  So I limit pasta, bread, rice.  I don’t miss these as I do eat the foods lists in the diabetic healthy list, bulgur wheat, lentils, etc which luckily I love.

I lost a stone (14lb) and stabilised.  I was getting very despondent until I started a Food Journal. I write down everything I eat and drink and it was glaringly obvious I was going over on my Slimming World Syns, by a lot actually. I’m amazed I didn’t gain more weight.  I am now 2 weeks in with the Journal and have lost 3.5lb in the last 2 weeks.  I am now officially the lightest I have been for over 6 years.  My battle is by no means over, I have around 16lb-20lb more I’d like to lose before I try and maintain it.  I also know the importance of exercise and keeping active to go alongside a diet after the menopause.

So in my personal experience, the menopause has not made it more difficult for me to lose weight, I’ve managed to do that all by myself.  I have had to adapt what food I eat more off and now eat a lot more fresh fruit and vegetables, along with different pulses each day.  I don’t feel I’ve missed out at all and the difference I feel is incredible.  I am now nearly 3 stone (42lb) lighter than I was the year after my hysterectomy, that has to be good for me in the long run, as long as I can keep it off that is.

I would like to thank my friend David (Ginge in Germany – germanginge.wordpress.com) for his guidance and support for the last 8 weeks, and for helping me finally work out what I needed to do and helping me get there.

 

 

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Hot Flushes? Air-Con Heaven

The UK is in one of its unusual heat wave cycles.  The UK is an Island protected from extreme hot and cold by the Gulf Stream.  This is a Geological way of saying the weather is always mild, wet and boring.  This means we have central heating and no air-conditioning as standard in houses.

Although I have my hot flushes under control, when my average room temperature range becomes  28C to 32C, my hot flushes have some company.  By the time my room gets to that heat, my normal coping mechanism of removing layers doesn’t work, as I have no layers to start with.  I had a lovely tower fan which was great for blowing already hot air around the room, and my husband moaned at the warming food as I tried to climb into the fridge,  so last year we decided to replace an old stand-alone air-con unit I had with a new one.

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My new tip for hot flushes?  Just stand in front of an air con unit for about 10 mins.  I love this unit, we live in a Townhouse and the entire top floor is our bedroom and bathroom, so it’s a big area and yet it can cool it down enough to make me comfortable.  I’m just spending all future heat-waves in front of my air-con now.

I just need to convince my husband we need this on all year round now.

 

 

 

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3 Year Milestone – Let’s Talk

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I have made it to the 3 year milestone.  I’ve never once used HRT during this time, so it’s highly unlikely HRT will be in my future.  I have managed a natural menopause.  I should be celebrating, but the past 3 years have taught me the menopause is never what you expect it to be and there are hidden surprises just waiting for you.

The medical professions attempt to force me to take HRT in the first place did make me question my decision, but in the UK they aim to get you off HRT by 50.   I was only 3 years away from 50 when I had the hysterectomy.  In hospital after my surgery, my notes were marked “patient refuses to take medication” just because I didn’t want HRT.

3 years

So, what would I change if I could go back 3 years?  The first thing to say is I don’t regret my choice.  Not having HRT was right for me, that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone though.  Younger woman should really do their research as the benefits of HRT can far outweigh the cons in a lot of the population.  I thought I was ready for the menopause, but I wasn’t fully prepared.  I focussed on the hot flushes and the mood swings too much, purely as I believed these would be my tipping point and send me running to my GP for HRT.  I was wrong, I found out quickly how to control them (again this is for me, other people have very severe flushes which adversely impacts their life.  I was lucky).

I missed depression/anxiety, aches and pains and I also didn’t fully look into diet and the menopause.  The whole “natural menopause” advice on eating high Soya products, taking supplements, etc, didn’t make any difference to me.  I have Vitamin D deficiency, so I do take Vit D, it’s the only supplement I now take.  The depression and anxiety were my most difficult issues.  Had I realised sooner they were linked to the hysterectomy, I would have addressed it sooner.  In fact, I should have just done something about it no matter what the cause.  There is an embarrassment when dealing with any mental health issues, and I just didn’t want to appear weak to my family by saying I needed anti-depressants to get by.  However I did, and I strained a lot of relationships by not sorting this out.

mental health

There are a whole host of wonderful menopause symptoms out there and I now understand it’s like entering a lucky dip competition, you have no idea which one you will get or how it will impact you. Every single person is different and the menopause is your own personal challenge.  I do now have a better understanding of diet and how what you eat impacts your life in more ways than weight gain.  Controlling your blood sugar levels is not only good for diabetes, it’s good for the menopause.  Your body is clever, it can sort itself out if you allow it to.  There are aches and pains which come with the menopause, and losing some weight and keeping active becomes important.  Just a 10% loss in weight has significant health benefits.  I have found keeping active is vital to my life minus my uterus.  My biggest tip to anyone though would be to talk.  I kept a lot of things bottled up, mainly around the depression and anxiety.  It took me to breaking point before I asked for help, by which point I had caused a lot of problems at home, as I took it out on those closest to me.  When you talk to people you do start questioning why you feel that way, is this normal, do they feel the same way to?  Generally they have a friend, or a friend of a friend who has been there.  It was because of talking to a friend, and then with the help of another friend, who just happens to be diabetic, I have managed to control my depression and anxiety dramatically by controlling my diet.  Talking to my husband wasn’t easy as he didn’t fully understand what I was going through, but I was given Counselling and they taught me how to broach the subject and how to deal with his lack of understanding and try to get him to support me more.

If I could go back in time, I’d tell the me sat in a hospital bed right now, to talk about it all. The flushes, the insomnia, the night sweats, the back ache, the pain shooting down my legs, but most importantly the feeling of uselessness, the inability to cope with every day life, the panic at the thought of leaving the house, of being told someone is coming over to the house, of having to sort out a house full of people each and every day and trying to battle the voices in my head telling me it would be so much easier to just get in the car and drive far, far away and make it all stop.

After 3 years I feel I can now deal with whatever is thrown at me next.  I am the first of my friendship group to go through this, so hopefully I can make other people’s menopause less of an issue.  This blog and people I have met through this, and the Hyster Sister’s website have been a massive help too.  We all need to talk, even if it is to someone via the Internet.

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