September 06, 2011

Menopause and Weight Gain

Even Hallmark Came Up Empty On This One.
(Photo: smussyolay)

Does going through menopause automatically trigger a metabolism shift? Or is it only middle-aged lifestyle changes that cause so many women to pack on pounds during their menopausal years?

And perhaps more importantly: just what the hell are you supposed to do about it?

(BTW, for those younger women and men not the least bit interested in menopausal weight gain: normal general purpose whining will resume shortly.)


So Does Menopause Itself Cause Weight Gain?


Well, let's see what the experts say.

The Mayo Clinic--normally a respectable, sensible source of health information--says this about weight gain during menopause: "Hormonal changes alone don't necessarily trigger weight gain after menopause."  Instead, they say, "weight gain is usually related to a variety of lifestyle and genetic factors."  They insist menopausal women tend to exercise less, and "sometimes, factors such as children leaving — or returning — home, divorce, the death of a spouse or other life changes may contribute to weight gain after menopause. For others, a sense of contentment or simply letting go leads to weight gain."

To which Crabby McSlacker says: screw you, Mayo Clinic!

I swear it's not the lifestyle, it's the hormones. But perhaps I'm being overly swayed by anecdotal evidence? Especially as I'm now myself becoming an anecdote.

Crabby's Sad Tale of Hormonal Weight Gain

Actually, you can go ahead and put the Kleenex box away and tell those violins to stop playing--it's not really all that sad. We're only talking a 5 pound gain or so (albeit a scarily fast 5 lb gain). In fact, up until recently, I thought I was magically exempt from the menopausal weight gain thing. Remember how I was whining about my hysterectomy recovery? I couldn't exercise at anywhere near my former intensity for months and months (not just from surgery, but also from foot problems and a broken arm).  I didn't cut calories, yet somehow, I managed to stay the same size anyway. Whoopee! I was really psyched when I could start working out hard again.  I fantasized I might get leaner and stronger than ever!

But then... what the hell happened?  I started noticing something strange once I got back to my old routine... my pants started getting tighter!  My annual physical confirmed what I was trying not to see in the mirror: I was gaining weight. Also, my formerly brag-worthy cholesterol and blood glucose numbers suddenly shot skyward.

Coincidence?  I think not.  And for me, I swear it's not lifestyle factors. Even with the occasional indulgence (hello, kettlecorn, my new bff!), I eat healthier than I ever have.  I get more (and smarter) exercise, and I'm even using a supposedly calorie-torching stand-up desk instead of sitting. Nor am I, as the Mayo Clinic suggests, tearing my hair out worrying about my kids boomeranging back home and starting a garage band. (Not having kids makes that one a cinch). So where else can I place blame but The Pause?

It also fits in perfectly with what I've heard from quite a few other active healthy women:  something changed with menopause, and the old numbers suddenly stopped adding up the same way.  Even though my 5 minutes on google exhaustive scholarly research failed to turn up convincing research validating this theory (menopausal weight gain studies seem to be conflicting), I don't think we're all hallucinating this connection. And it only adds to the huge sympathy I have for those who struggle with uncooperative metabolisms. (I've always admired the heroic efforts those of you on the bigger side who are so conscientious about healthy eating and exercise and yet still battle the scale. It's so unfair!)

But Post-Menopausal Belly-Fat is Definitely Real


Even the buttheads at the Mayo Clinic (who think we must be sitting on our asses all day scarfing Doritos and weeping over our children in order to be gaining menopausal weight) do concede that dropping estrogen levels affect fat distribution. Thus, they admit, menopause can lead to excess belly fat. The Mayo folks also creepily remind us that belly fat increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, certain cancers and premature death.

Does HRT Help With Menopausal Weight Gain?


Hmm, you would think if my theory about hormones was correct, then going on hormone replacement therapy would help prevent weight gain after menopause. But yet again the HRT and weight research is conflicting. If there's any preventative effect at all, it certainly doesn't look to be huge.  But who am I to let silly evidence get in the way of a good theory? I'm still blaming my missing ovaries for those extra pounds, damn it!

So What's The Best Way to Deal With Menopausal Weight Gain?


Well, when you go off googling, the general advice on preventing menopausal weight gain seems to be aimed at sedentary consumers of junk-food. It consists mostly of the obvious suggestions to eat healthy, limit portions, and get some exercise. Duh, right? But what if you've already been doing all that?

As I see it, there are a couple of sensible options:

1. Forget the Scale and Your Clothing Size, and Focus on Health.

Remember the study that come out a few years ago that said thin people actually die younger than those who are overweight? It's only when you get to be obese that longevity is compromised. (Funny, isn't it, how there's never much publicity about this?)

So if that's the case, then rather than worry about the girth of your hips, thighs, butt, etc, it would make most sense to focus on getting a good variety of exercise, eating healthy foods, and paying attention to whether you're become more of an "apple" than a "pear." If you're putting on weight in the belly, that's more dangerous, but there are more targeted approaches for losing belly fat. You can find more of these at WebMD and Mayo Clinic and elsewhere. (Just don't fall for the One Rule for a Flat Stomach ok?)

2. See if You Can Tweak Your Eating and Exercise Routines Just a Little More.

What if you think you're doing everything you can already? Well, some of you are, and you may be out of luck. But some us just pretend we are, when we know damn well that there are steps we could be taking that we just don't feel like doing. For some of you it could be doing more weight training, or cardio intervals, or cutting out a big hunk of refined grains and sugar, or commuting by bike or on foot instead of driving. Chances are there is something you used to do once that you let go of, or some new thing you've been reading about that you know makes sense. Take a minute and see if the answer isn't right there in front of you, waiting for you to just get motivated enough to give it a try.

Is it worth it? Perhaps not! Then see #1 above.

Crabby's "Sad" Tale: To Be Continued...

Alarmed at the prospect of having to buy new pants (I loathe clothes shopping), I instituted a new Healthy Eating and Exercise Program a couple weeks ago. It's early yet, but... wow, it seems to be working! I'm not feeling deprived, my pants are fitting better, and I'm enjoying saying a big "F@#ck You" to menopausal weight gain.

Is my new approach Shocking and Groundbreaking? Hell no, it's the oldest trick in the book. Would my approach work for everyone? Of course not! Nothing does; we're all unique little snowflakes, remember?

If I were a less lazy blogger I'd outline it right here, right now, but this post is long enough already. In the unlikely event you're actually curious about my recent experimentation, stay tuned, and I'll post about it next Monday.

So, anyone else struggle with Menopausal (or Perimenopausal) Weight Gain? Or have other metabolism-based frustrations? I'd love to hear what worked (or didn't) for you!



70 comments:

  1. Other than deferring to Jody, I'll say this. We have to play the cards we are dealt. Improving our diet, exercising smart, and learning about hormonal replacement options will do the best for us, in my opinion.

    A recent study has supported cardio as the best way to eliminate belly fat, by the way.

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  2. OK Crabby, I have so much to say on this subject that I will have to come back later as I have a weird schedule & need a couple more hours sleep right now BUT this I can say: YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT! IT IS HORMONES! I don't care what Mayo says! I work out as hard of not harder than when I was in my late 40's, 50 & 51. At almost 54, menopause hit close to a year ago but I have been seeing changes since my late 40's & perimenopause. BUT there is nothing like my 50's when all heel broke lose! It is craziness! I am actually going to write about this tomorrow AGAIN as I write about this age shit alot BUT I am eager to hear what you are doing. I know I am working out HARD & I have had to change my food plan & calories bit by bit as each year it seems to get crazier!

    OK, more later but to me, it is HORMONES!

    Thx Dr. J! :-)

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  3. Of course it's menopause, you silly Mayo Clinic, you!

    I exercise moderately, I eat well and clothes are still getting tighter.

    Husband's away currently so I'm eating less, but at frequent intervals. I think my metabolism is resetting. That may change things.

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  4. Oh good, so I'm not crazy? Or maybe all of us are!

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  5. Yes.. I am in the club too! My best advise came from my gyno doc. Yes, the hormones and the levels dropping are real. And her advise fits the proof of Jody...

    She said that resistance and weight training HAD to be added to the mix of exercise No matter what size you were as that helped to balance the hormones...

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  6. Absolutely hormones. I only had to think about dropping a pound in my 30s and it was gone. In my 40s, I could remove some culprit food from my diet and all would be well. Early 50s everything started changing. It took a lot of work to lose some poundage.

    Now I just seem to be losing that battle. Add a recently badly-sprained ankle into the mix and I'm wondering how to fight the weight gain which has crept on while somewhat infirmed. Menopause is a mean bitch.

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  7. Mayo needs to update. I believe in the hormone monster.

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  8. I vote for hormones. Before menopause, I had great cholesterol numbers, a healthy weight, and no b/p issues. All that changed about the time menopause set in.

    I just found your blog today and am following.

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  9. "Healthy Eating and Exercise Program"? What did this HEEP consist of? Any specific exercises that you recommend specifically?

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  10. You guys crack me up. (And welcome Jo!)

    Merry, I didn't even catch the handy acronym, thanks! Hope to have a HEEP of (totally obvious) suggestions next week.

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  11. I, too, have become an antidote. The Mayo Clinic has compromised its scientific reputation with this nonsense. It's definitely the effing hormones.

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  12. Anecdote! Jeez. If I was an antidote to menopausal weight gain I wouldn't have time to be posting comments here or anywhere else. I'd be suddenly more popular, powerful and perhaps wealthy than Oprah herself.

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  13. Lee--that's hilarious. And yeah, Oprah would have nothin' on you if you were the antidote to menopausal weight gain!

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  14. Been battling crazy hormones all my life. Yes, they are the one culprit we can do nothing about if we can't convince the doctor that they are a problem.

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  15. OK - back I am. Let's just say the change in the hromones due to perimenopause & menopasue cause this. I will have a post tomorrow on my experience but I know we are all different. Menopause brought even more probs due to the HORMONE changes. I am fighting even harder & att he samw weight, the bod DOES look different AND the body fat is higher at the SAME weight.

    For me, I was already doing all I was supposed to do in terms of clean eating, weight resistance, cardio & more so all I could do was change up my exerise AND the FOOD! I really could not work out much harder than I already was in my 50's when it got really bad with the hormone fight the body thing. I had already increased my intensity to a MAX! SO, it was the food & I have made many changes since my late 40's & especially the 50's in terms of how much I eat, the types of food & the make up of protein/carb and the types of carb. As for the fat - I eat about the same % fat cause I eat the healthy fat mostly so it came down to the protain/carb ratio, the types of carbs & yes, slowly reducing the calories over time. I still eat a lot more in calories than some younger folk BUT I had to reduce my intake even though I am still working out as hard if not harder. SUCKS big time for women!

    There ya have it Crabby & you can read me tomorrow but it will say basically the same thing! ;-)

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  16. Thanks Jody, I knew I could count on you for good advice (And commiseration!)

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  17. Mayo Clinic is beyond full of poopoo on this one. I used to be able to lose 2 to 3 pounds without much exercise until about age 30, then my thyroid died and losing weight was laughably harder. After menopause nearly 3 years ago, I have to workout like a fiend and eat a pittance to lose 1 to 2 pounds week. To lose 3, I have to go low carb to pee out the rest. ; ) Or really burn up calories, like exercise madly.

    THERE is totally a big different. I will say that I've had hypothyroidism for 2 decades, and that didn't help. I've never had to eat so little and move so much in order to lose a pound to 1.5 pounds a week or just NOT TO FRICKEN GAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    BIg thumbs down to the Mayo-nators on this one.

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  18. You're not crazy, it's totally the hormones. In the last year, my weight gain has taken on the momentum of a freight train and getting it to stop has been very trying. I turned 40 this year and all hell is breaking loose - for the first time ever, this pear has fat around her belly. I'm a pear!! Pears aren't supposed to get belly fat dammit!! Anyway, so yeah. Stupid hormones.

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  19. I haven't had this happen. In fact, in the past year and a half (five years post-menopause) I've managed to lose twenty of the twenty-five pounds I slowly gained since age 30. I'm also hypothyroid, and have been since puberty. Perhaps my hormones have had a long time to get used to being screwed with?

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

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    1. Are you exercising? What are you doing? I am 42 and can't seem to lose the weight!

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  20. So funny I just wrote my own post about Menopause and what I've been taking to help regulate my hormones.

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  21. very informative article on this topic. The majority of my clients are woman over 50s with a few having started menopause. This information will be passed on to them. Many thanks for this helpful advice .

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  22. Lol...this should help my missus keep her weight. Real interesting!

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  23. I'm 59. I have been (and remain) very active and very healthy. I have excellent "numbers" -- low cholesterol, good blood pressure readings, etc. I exercise at a level that most 20 year olds couldn't keep up with -- Jari Love, The Firm, and various yoga practices. So what's the problem? The hormones! Thirty seconds after discontinuing HRT, my skin lost all elasticity, my hair thinned, and I gained 22 pounds. And 20 of those 22 pounds ended up as muffin top and above and below bra fat. I used to secretly laugh at those with muffin tops and bra fat because my excess fat was in my thighs. HOW did that weight so quickly appear and appear in places I've never had fat before? Baffling.

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    1. I'd love to know what are the real changes that happened, not just to you but to all our sisters. I don't know if I'm being to hard on myself, thinking that I should look better, when perhaps I look great! I have difficulty with self-image. I do know that I've never had belly fat, and now I do, but it's not huge, though there is cellulite and flabbiness. If these latter qualities did not exist, I would not be bothered by the girth. What do you think about his Pamela?

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  24. Definitely hormones! At 40 something I asked the Dr to test my hormones, she refused saying I was 'too young'to have any issues, what a load of tripe! I got them tested myself and 4 out of 5 were too low. Still battling along on my own to find some happy hormone balance but at least I know and am learning more and more everyday. The sad, bad awful feelings have gone, sadly they didn't take the weight with them but that's ok, one day balance will be mine and the tummy will disappear in a puff of smoke!

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  25. Definitely hormones! At 40 something I asked the Dr to test my hormones, she refused saying I was 'too young'to have any issues, what a load of tripe! I got them tested myself and 4 out of 5 were too low. Still battling along on my own to find some happy hormone balance but at least I know and am learning more and more everyday. The sad, bad awful feelings have gone, sadly they didn't take the weight with them but that's ok, one day balance will be mine and the tummy will disappear in a puff of smoke!

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  26. Hey Lynz, glad you were persistent and hope things continue to get better!!

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  27. I have to agree about the hormone issue. I have been on HRT for 15 years and maintained a consistant weight until my GYNO talked me into reducing the mg and then the weight started creeping up. I'm just cut back to 1mg 4 months ago and gained 6 lbs virtually overnight. I workout in boot camp, spin class, cycle 32 mile weekly, hike 5 miles with my dogs. and just completed a Warrior Dash. I eat basically the Beach diet. I'm 63 yo. My GYNO said weight gain has nothing to do with hormones but I beg to differ, with my experience. I am thinking about increasing my dose to run a test and see if the weight deduces.. Any thoughts on this

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  28. I agree about the hormones. At 51 I was able to lose 40 pounds pretty much thu starvation and manic exercise. Now 57 and 30 pound secretly creeped back. And the belly fat !!!!! What is weird is that my pants fit but are so tight at the waist. I tried removing dairy, gluten etc No change... Really believe that reducing starchy and simple carbs and increasing protein does help. I am a nutritionist ( yeah, yeah...nutritionist heal thyself) so I have a vested interest in menopausal weight gain. Belly weight gain isn't just vanity issue it means that those of us who suffer with it are at a greater risk for a dance with diabetes and a date with heart disease both of which are increasing in this demographic (stress= belly fat).
    Have to agree with the doing resistance exercise of some kind AND cardio. Honestly my best results are when I do HIIT and weight resistance. My current love is the kettlebell I have four of em! Two 10# a 16# and a 26# do you know that swinging those babies burns 20 cal a minute? And gives you resistance plus cardio at the same time. I also belly dance to help with balance(it goes with age) and body image issues. Now for the good news... I work with senior patients and the ladies are always ticked off when they have gained but you know what? If you make It to your eighties or beyond we don't want you to lose. Losing weight is not a good thing in your senior years to be honest they can lose pretty rapidly for a variety of reasons so Ensure becomes the cocktail of choice and it tastes like crap. So up the PRO reduce the CHO drink the H20 watch the TYPE of fat (keep it plant based) push the weights and move the bod. oh, and ditch the salt shaker.

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  29. Chris from the midwestJuly 6, 2012 at 7:16 PM

    I am approaching my 46th birthday next week and as I sit her typing this, I just want to cry. All of my life, and I mean all of my life, I have been around the 110-115 lb range. I know what all of you are thinking-that's really little blah blah, but you have to understand that "that" was "me", I don't know any other person looking back at me in the mirror, but for the past 4 years I had been in permenopause and gained about 15 pds, then a 1.5 years ago all my female organs failed and I had to have a hysterectomy. I was put on hrt, low dose, but after about 8 months I wanted off of them because the risks just weren't worth it, the idea of breast cancer was too much to risk.
    I need to mention that I have always exercised and kept in great shape, and I now weigh close to 139, that is major weight for me, I'm 5'2". I have been off hrt totally since february. I also had a stress fracture in my foot a couple of years ago which has left me with mortons neuroma preventing me from being able to walk like I used to. I also have incredible joint pain and when I do exercise, the next day or two I can hardly move.
    I feel like I am totally falling apart, the person looking at me in the mirror is a total stranger and what's up with that back fat stuff anyway, what the heck.
    I need to embrace the new me, the larger me, but it's incredibly hard for me to do. I pray every day that I don't see anyone I know because they will be able to see the weight gain and I am not able to handle that, my self esteem is gone.
    I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me, I just want some advice on how I can accept my fate.
    Don't say I need to exercise more, I've practically starved myself to death and exercised 7 days a week and never lost the first pound.
    Horomones are everything and when your health fails and you have to have everything removed it is the most difficult thing to adjust to. I'm just grateful I have a wonderful husband who doesn't mind the extra pounds.
    Thanks for letting me vent.

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    1. I am the two years older and two inches taller and I have lived the same way ,health and active, at the same weight all my life until, my hysterectomy one year ago. I have the same exact problems as you. I'm fighting it still, threw sheer sweat, blood and tears. Did I mention starvation? LOl! I'm on HRT. I'm damn determined to get back to my regular weight. The fat just seems to move from one area to another. ugh

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  30. Wow, I applaud the honesty here. You women are truly amazing. I've help hundreds of clients through the change in my practice and each one seem to amaze me on a different way.

    Menopause is different for each person beautifully blazing through it. Here'sy super 3 habits tweaks that create Menopausr freedom and happiness through the Change.

    1) find a exercise modality that works for your body. Yoga isn't right for everyone, weights aren't perfect for everyone.
    2) hydration - Drink water, lemon water, decaf green tea
    3) stress reduction focus - find time to detattch from the craziness of life. - Mexitation, yoga, bpx

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  31. At 44, I committed to losing weight. I counted calories and worked ot religiously. A year and a half later I had lost 120 pounds. I still do to this day. I was so proud that I was finally at my goal weight after a lifetime of bad eating habits. I had accomplished what I wasn't' sure I ever could. I am now 48 and have gained 15 lbs. In 3 months! That's when I stopped menstruating. I want to cry. Actually, I do. I am still doing weight training and cardio, and watch everything I eat. My belly is huge and I don't know what to do. Someone must have an answer. I won't do any drugs, so hrt is not an option. I am so moody and depressed. Please help.

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  32. I went into menopause at the age of 42.. yep.. and I cant lose weight to save my ass. I used to weigh 130 lbs 9 years ago.. and now? I"m 170. I was never one to go to the gym and work out hard.. but I sure as heck didnt just sit around doing nothing.. I'd bike ride, swim, do housework.. so I dont want to hear that I'm too sedentary.. especially when I have a 7 and 9 year old. I have a definite hormonal balance and possibly hypothyroid.. and I say possible because I havent been able to see a doctor due to the cost of doing such in oh um probably 9 plus years. Even 9 years ago when I saw a doctor that was for my pregnancy.. then I had my second child and right after she was born the doctor told me it's offical.. you are in menopause.. (just like my mother had gone into at the age of 42).. I am now 47 and I will take whatever pill I can to lose weight.. I hate the weight around the middle and the back fat.. I loathe how I look .. but I cannot afford to see a specialist or a regular doctor for that matter.. hell I havent even ever gotten a mamogram.. why? cause i have no freaking flipped out insurance and I sure as S*&t cant affor the cost to walk in the door.. so what do I do?? I go without. there is no hormonal testing for me.. there is no HRT therapy.. there's NOTHING!!!! I get NOTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I get a husband who's employer shut down the business 3 months ago, two children and no way to feed or pay the rent. that's what I get !!! so screw the f-in menopause.. I cant do anything about it.. hey one good thing about the obama poverty life style is because I'm so poor we just cant blame it on fast foods now can we..? Hell, we went 9 days without food.. I cant pay the electric, cant pay the water, or the phone cable bill and yeah, we have to move. This rental house now has a black mold problem. I have been putting my resume's out all over the place.. the one thing I can say is if ever I go to sleep and just dont wake up.. then problems are solved.. I wont have to concern myself with bills nor will I have to contemplate the fact that I'm so f-in poor I cant even afford my own health care!

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    1. Oh wow, you're dealing with so much!! That sounds really crappy and discouraging.

      I'm thinking you must be a pretty strong person to weather all this and raise two kids. I hope somehow you are able to find some help, either from friends or family or social services or a church or charity because going without food or healthcare seems really tragic and unfair!

      I know you will continue to be strong for your kids, but this seems like a LOT. My thoughts are with you and hope things get better soon.

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  33. Okay I've been thin all my life. Never had to think about what I was eating or drinking. Now I'm 62, stopped HRT about 6 years ago, have put on about 10kgs and my hair is thinning. It's definitely hormones. I asked my doc if I could take a low dose to help with these things and he said NO. There's got to be something. I can't exercise more because I have a high stress job that is deadline driven and work long hours. I do actually eat quite well, some bread, unfortunately, but lunchtimes mean sandwiches usually. There has to be something I could take. Any advice gratefully received. Thanks ladies

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    1. I would go to salads and leave out bread. Candida can cause hair loss. This was my issue. Stress and staying up all night meant I needed sugar.

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    2. You don't have to listen to that doctor. Go back on hormones, but make sure you do bio-identical and get someone who knows how to work with balancing hormones. The studies that scared everyone off hormones were HRT, not BHRT.So try the bio-identical. It's trendy right now to tell women to cut wheat and grains and sugar and on and on, but it's the hormones.

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  34. It's ALL hormones!!! I've always been a very small person, gained 40 lbs in warp speed a couple of years ago and nothing I do helps. I weigh more now than when I had any of my 3 kids. I have started HRT. Two months into it. Estrogen and testosterone are balanced. I had a partial hysterectomy so I was not given progesterone...until today. I pitched a fit. You have to have ALL of the hormones in balance in order to lose weight. I am excited and hopeful that this works. I also work out and eat right with no success. Anyone who tells you it's not your hormones is WRONG!!! I use estradiol patch and testosterone cream, have had no adverse effects. Have begun the progesterone cream today and do not anticipate any problems. Something has to make this weight budge short of surgery.

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  35. I know this post is almost 2 years old, but I started going through menopause in the last year. This morning I went to put on shorts and absolutely nothing fits. I can pull them up but I cannot button them. I'm disgusted and discouraged.

    Weight gain absolutely is hormonal. Nothing about my eating has changed in the last year but I have put on 10 pounds seemingly overnight. Nothing of those 'risk factors' the Mayo clinic mentions applies to me.

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  36. Hey thanks so much those last 3 commenters who have stopped by, and sorry I don't get down here that often. But I really appreciate you sharing your experiences.

    I don't think we're all crazy... something has GOT to be going on with hormones!

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  37. In November of 2012 I had my levels drawn and it came back that I am post menopausal so my Dr. put me on Estratest hs and Prometrium. My hair fell out in clumps and literally in one month I went from 125lbs to 135lbs. I have always exercised and I eat organic foods. Lot's of veggies and lean meat. Havn't lost and ounce. I have given synthetic hrt a fair shot. I decided to take my self off hrt and started natural progesterone and natural estriol ( I only use the Estriol every other day). I feel soooo much better and can actually sleep ALL night now. I am starting to see the inches come off my stomach and hips. FINALLY. I do suggest reading Dr. John R. Lee's book "What your Doctor may not tell you about Menopause. He is a big advocate of natural USP progesterone cream therapy. He say's that even after menopause women still continue to produce some estrogen and that Progesterone levels are near zero. He calls it "Estrogen Dominance". All I know is since I started this regimen I feel happy again and just overall feel good. :}

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  38. I am finally losing weight after 9 years of fighting 40 or so pounds gained from bad injuries, plural. I was badly hooked on sugar and fighting candida, parasites, gluten intolerance, and maybe dairy intolerance. I kept giving up foods like gluten, have just given up hard cheese and ground chuck or beef. I find other substitutes like garbanzo beans with garlic. I found going raw helped and so does distilled water occasionally to flush salt. Also found certain herbal teas flush. My issues were health issues. One's colon must be happy to lose weight and I gave up most fish. I eat the paleolithic diet when I am a good girl but I am still only halfway down. I have lost 20 pounds from my high weight of 192 on 5'6" in late 2004. I had to press and limp back from walking on bad back and ankles to boost metabolism. I don't think my hormones are at issue, I think I have liver damage from medicine and diet coke. The aspartame and other stuff cause methyl alcohol in the liver. The best diet plan that worked for me was Marilu Henner's and the protein diet with modifications. Many a day afrom 2000 to 2004, I sat in my closet full of clothes, and cried due to my waistline exploding in 3 years. Nothing fit. I had always held my weight to a size 9-12 previously. I am now 54 and was 42 years old in year of first injury in a series of injuries; gaining 40 pounds in 3.5 years. Also, I found that doing lots of physical work makes a difference. I have also noticed that one has to exercise and diet through a plateau but I am eating way more than 1000 or 1200 calories. I eat about 1800 a day. I lose at 1400-1500. I am now about a size 16, and fighting the midriff, but thank you, I now realize why it has been so hard.
    Stress makes me reach for sugar and carbs; pain does also.
    I suggest to you all to look for interior or hidden pain if you have weird cravings. I also quit eating pork and Walmart meat at all to never have parasites again.

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  39. All of the comments on this thread resonate with me. I am sorry we all suffer with this, but I am so glad I am not alone!!

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  40. Thank you ladies. I will go to doctor, but You've alleviated my fears. And shared wisdom regarding any decisions I might have to make regarding hormones. You've also alleviated my guilt over weight gain. I know I've not eaten differently then I've had in years, yet all the sudden, boom! I really identify with ladies who've shared that suddenly nothing fits. My girth is huge. I'm so afraid I'm growing a tumor! No other symptoms then weight gain, so now I feel relieved that it is most likely Menapause. I've read about symptoms , I've experienced them, but the sudden weight gain is the worst!

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  41. Menopausal weight gain is absolutely related to hormonal changes. I've been a runner and cyclist all my life. Back in my late twenties, due to a muscle injury, I had to curtail my running for four to five months. I did not gain weight, or if I did, it was minimal. I started cycling and weight training back then and did not see weight gain until my forties. I started gaining serious abdominal weight in my fifties and no matter how long I ride or run, I hardly seem to lose weight. My diet is better than ever before but that doesn't seem to make a difference.

    I started to experience a lot of stress and sleep loss in my fifties, not so much because of life stresses but because I felt a lot more sensitive to stress in general. Doctors have no clue. All they do is say cut out caffeine and exercise more, which I am already doing. Doctors seem to have no up-to-date training regarding menopausal issues.

    Recently my sleep has improved quite a bit since I started taking a stress care supplement with ayurvedic herbs. I'm hoping that the improved sleep will reduce cortisol, which supposedly has an effect on weight gain.

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  42. At 60 when I stopped working I stopped taking HRT. For the first time in my life I developed a huge pot belly - my waist measurement is now bigger than my other measurements - I go out in the middle. I eat the equivalent of only one meal a day but cannot lose weight. I even tried to crash it off - fasted for 3 days only taking liquids and lost no weight at all. I have always been athletic - this is DISGUSTING!

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  43. I've been battling the muffin top since my periods stopped at the age of 48 and I am now almost 59. I've done everything since the early days when I saw my once flat belly growing out and around. I started by cutting calories to about 750 per day (eating healthy foods), became a personal trainer and opened a fitness bootcamp using cardio and weights and working out 3 mornings a week with my clients; after months of eating 750 calories per day (with no results) I started eating normally again. I continue to eat healthy and I do the 30 minute walking every day, as well as some Yoga. I tried Elixis and Lipolaser The muffin top keeps growing. I find no hope in this blog but I do find understanding and support, and I know I'm not alone.

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  44. The articles say to quit drinking soda (I don't drink it anyway) exercise (yadda yadda) and the weight will come off. Bull. I am at the point of not normal life: I can't eat the cake at weddings and birthdays--what message am I sending my child?

    I am beginning to think 2 things: If I spend all my life managing my weight, THAT's my life's accomplishment, because I won't have time to do anything else. AND: If my body wants to weigh 20 pounds more than my college weight that much, maybe THAT is what is healthy for my body.

    We will see. I am still in despair over losing my identity.

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  45. wow,absolutely amazing for once I do not feel like a complete failure. there is absolutely truth to the meneopausal middle what causes it is hands down HORMONES that's exactly why they call it the changes .my concern is what can we do about it ,and why does a wide range of the medical proffesion deny it ?

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  46. I used to be as dumb as the Mayo Clinic thinking I would sail through menopause without any problems since I always have exercised at intense levels, eat healthy and with little stress. I've been size 8 for the last 30yrs and thought overweight people were probably just like the Mayo clinic examples. At age 52 everything changed I gained 10# in 3 months and my waist was always 26" now 32" - 5" gain. I struggle to fight this but trying to accept since thus far nothing I try will budge even one pound.

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  47. I made it to 54 thinking I was going to escape. I have ALWAYS exercised and had a great diet. NOTHING has changed about that. I have gained 5 lbs in the last month. In shock. I am so afraid it won't stop. I have never weighted this much. Still exercising and eating the same!!

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  48. I spent 15 years working in health clubs teaching other people how to stay fit and I've always practiced what I preached. Like so many here I am counting calories and exercising daily. I've even kept a journal of my meals and snacks, water intake, energy level, sleep, bathroom habits, etc. and doing everything else that USED to work. Lately no matter what I do things just get worse. I'm 52 years old, 5' 2" and weigh 114 lbs. I know, I know, that doesn't sound too bad but after staying at the same weight for fifteen years after my daughter was born, I've suddenly gained six pounds in the last year. And it's all in my middle. My concern is that if I don't even have the ability to lose a few pounds now, where will I be in ten years? My grandmother also gained weight around her mid-section as she got older and now has Type 2 Diabetes. I don't know what to do. I look in the mirror and feel helpless. Then I tell myself to snap out of it and I get on my bike. I can't just give up.

    Wow, it feels good to vent but I sure wish we could find some help. I'm happy I came across this blog and all these comments from women my age going through the same thing as me. I feel better knowing that I'm not alone. It's unfortunate though that we all have to go through this without any guidance from our doctors. Why can't they help us?? We all seem to be suffering from a common cause, not to mention feeling miserable about ourselves, so why can't we get any helpful answers? Diet, check. Exercise, check. What else ya got? I'll keep looking and checking back here. Maybe one of us will find something and share.

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  49. Help...I've gained 3kgs I 3 days. And all I've eaten is salad. I've worked put gardening. ..literally loading trailer loads of stones. I'm 40 and have been postmenopausal since I was 38....what is happening to me?

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  50. I'm 52 years old. The sleep issues started at 44. The weight gain began in the last year and a half. I've gained 20 pounds. I eat no processed foods, no sugar, I eat healthy protein, lots of vegetables, and some fruit. I even have green vegetables for breakfast! I eat no dairy because it causes my body to be inflamed. I rarely eat grains. I exercise daily. I haven't lost an ounce. Very frustrating. Anyway, I came here to find an answer, but it sounds like we're all in the same boat.

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  51. Okay. Yes, this is real. Weight from space, mostly in the belly.

    But think about your grandma's friends. How many of them were svelte? And the one who was svelte, what did she look like? Not all that svelte, right? Wide hips, just not a big belly.

    THIS IS NORMAL. This is what late 40s and 50s looks like for women. The medical studies about waist-hip ratios are for MEN and COLLEGE WOMEN. You know what happens in your 60s? You get skinnier again. You already saw this in your own grandmas. Own it, wear it, be the grandma.

    Today I was at the dentist and the two cutie-pie receptionists were both so skinny, I was thinking, how do you be that skinny? And then I remembered, because that used to be me. You just have to be about 26 years old. Or even 36. But probably not 46, and unless you got some skinny, skinny genes, definitely not 56.

    Eileen Fisher is your friend. Go make friends with her.

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  52. I am so glad I found this blog. It is so supportive to read all your comments. I had always been thin and ate well. Had two children in my 30's and lost the weight no problem. Then BAM I hit 50 and all hell broke out!! I put on 20 lb.s and despite cario, weight training, and healthy eating I cannot lose the weight. My trainer is baffled and I cry all the time because I dont feel I look my best. I am tired of hiding my fat with oversized shirts and leggings all the time. It takes me forever to dress to go anywhere and I sometimes decided just to stay home becaue I feel so fat. My blood pressure is up and now I am on pills to control it. Hot flashes and night sweats are so common now I feel like I am in the tropics all the time but not in a good way. Thank you all for your stories. They are so encouraging and I hope in time this will all go away!! Just have to bear with it and stop listening to those who think that I lie when I say I am doing all I can. It is great to have this site.

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  53. I switched to a generic estrogen patch for about 5 months last year. Later found out that the delivery mechanism in the patch was faulty and switched back to name brand, but in that short time of not getting my regular dose of HRT, my fat cells shifted to my midriff, and the muffin top set up shop! Now I'm hoping to counter-act the damage.

    Never go off HRT (my doctor has women in their mid-70s still happily and healthily on HRT). Balanced bio-identical HRT provides benefits for heart, bones, stamina, and mental health. Getting fat and infirm as we age isn't inevitable. I recommend reading Thierry Hertoghe.

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  54. I have been active (weight lifter, cardio) since 1980. I thought I would be the last person that menopause would screw over. Was I ever wrong. Not only am i feeling flabby and gross (and fat), it seems no matter what I do, things don't change. I even tried hormones and seemed to get fatter from them. I'm off now, and the water weight is gone but I swear I've put on fat from those damn hormones in places I never had before. My skin is atrocious. I used to have very rock hard mostly lean thighs and now when i look at myself I see the ravages of crepey loose skin and weird fat deposits that look like they belong on an 80 YO. I'm not even 60 yet. my once shapely, firm arms are now flabby masses. I don't know where to turn or what to do. i'm at the point where i'm damned if i do, but maybe even more damned if i don't continue training. i sometimes think that if menopause happened to men (like it should since it's called MENopause), there would have been a ton of studies and there would be something men could take to make themselves not suffer the same way women do. THIS SUCKS!!!

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    1. TOTALLY agree! I catch my arms when I turn my head and I see cellulite and flabbiness. I was always so proud of my arms! I can't even look at my legs now ...

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    2. I'm with you! Sucks big time. I was always flat-bellied with some thigh fat, now I will not let anyone see me in a bikini. And yet, we're supposed to be free and confident at this stage in our lives ...

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  55. This blog is so insightful. I am in the process of doing a Biggest Loser Challenge at work. A little background, I'm 45 years old, I had my gall bladder removed at 28, had premature ovarian failure at 37, and have been in menopause ever since with nice 20 pound gradual weight gain. We've been at this office challenge since January 11th. I've only lost 2.8 pounds in 6 weeks. That's it. and I've been up two of the six weeks. I work out with a wide range of activities (HIIT, Body Sculpt, Yoga, Kickboxing and Running) - I alternate. I take bioidentical hormones and I am titrating off Celexa for the menopause hot flashes and anxiety. I feel frustrated that I'm trying to do the right things, but my body just won't give it up! :) The light in all of this, is that I've lost inches (5.5 inches in my waist and 2 inches off my hips and thighs) - but the scale is less of a friend than a year ago - to the tune of 14 pounds. How do I workout like a kung-fu master, eat clean and just stay put basically on the scale. Would the man behind the curtain kindly flip the switch? I've never wanted a weight loss challenge to be over so quickly - if I gain an ounce on weigh in days, I pay $3. I want to go back to the days when sleep was abundant, anxiety and hot flashes were not even on the radar, and 100 situps equaled a stunning six-pack. Since I just started the bioidentical hormones and am coming off the Celexa, I'm hoping to see some continued losses and progress. I can't give up on this.

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  56. OMG!! Thanks for this candid conversation. I was worried seeing the original post from 2011 but I kept reading and am seeing that it's still current! What a relief! Yes, I too believe this is beyond real and that each person is different. When I was a teen and then as a young adult, I had lots of issues with yo-yo weight gain, dieting, etc... aka, an eating disorder but not like we like to think of eating disorders. (I tried purging but was abysmal at it - which was something else to heap onto the pile of LOSERDOM - jk on the feelings of LOSERDOM.... maybe... ; > Fast forward healthy lifestyle and outlook changes later, two kids, moving around the country and the world, etc... I've maintained a healthy weight and lifestyle for many years now and things have been rocking along. I've felt leaner and meaner than ever - then yes, it all came to a screech. I remember my last cycle - since then, I've felt like I'm in perpetual PMS - everything feels bloated. BUT (screeeeecccchhhhh), now it doesn't return to normal after a week of PMS - it just stays the same and gets more bloated. I still work out anywhere from 5-7 days a week - pilates, aerobics, weight machines, walks/runs, etc.... I still eat relatively well (though I've had slippery slopes which is old CRAP - but the calorie numbers stay within an okay margin). This all being said, I'm happy y'all are here too though sad that it's such a deal. When I read all these posts, it makes me frustrated that healthy aging is SO DAMNED hard for us ladies - there's a lot more baggage tied to our thighs (speaking for myself). I'm afraid of tossing in the towel but having physical issues MAKES me continue exercising and grabbing brown rice instead of white, etc... Thanks again. I hope we continue the conversation.

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    1. Hi!! Like you I was so happy that there were current posts in this thread!
      I am 42....43 in 2 months. My gyno said I was probably getting ready to go into perimenopause the last time I was there because my period were sort of "wacky". Then about 3 months ago I woke up in the middle of the night, SOAKED with sweat and burning up. I am the coldest natured person I know. I knew this had to be the beginning.
      I have been a runner since I was a kid. Competitively, then for recreation. Since high school, I have been pretty much the same weight.....117-122lb. Except pregnancy of course. But even then, I gained exactly 30 lbs with each child and lost it within 3 months. When I would slack off exercising or have a poor eating bout, I would just buckle down, cut back and exercise more. The weight would come right off AND I would notice my "shape" would get back to where I liked it. This was the case up until now.
      Over the winter, I got up to 136lb. For my 5'3" frame, that is a lot. I felt bad....not just mentally, but physically.....like my body knows it shouldn't be that weight. So, spring hits and I am back at it. Running and training for a 5k every other day, starting some weight training at home, getting outside.
      We never eat red meat in the house.....fish and chicken and the occasional lean pork. No white, refined anything. Always whole wheat/whole grain. I love fruit. I do occasionally have a chocolate craving but try to do dark chocolate.
      The weight I see is of course under my belly button....and the muffin top....and I really don't get back fat....how does that happen??? More importantly, how do you get rid of it?!?!
      My moods have been off the chart too. Part of it is I am so upset at seeing my body shape morph right in front of my eyes....usually that sort of thing happens slowly and you don't really notice it until you see pictures of yourself. But this is like watching it in a sped up camera footage. It is surreal. The other part of mood is I seem to have like 2 PMS a month. Once before my actual period then again almost immediately after. When it is all said and done, I have like one good week of the month where I don't hate everyone/don't feel like crying and am not bloated as heck.
      Part of it actually sort of feels like that....not "real" weight....but bloat. I don't know what to do about it. *sigh*
      I would love to talk more and swap ideas or things that might work for you!!
      Robin

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  57. I'm freaking out. I'm 51 and have always and still am an avid exercise fanatic. I'm 5'6" and weigh 140 lbs and wear a size 6 jeans. I eat a very healthy diet, no processed foods, mostly raw, very little red meat. I do zumba twice a week, step aerobics once a week, spinning once a week, and a butts and guts class once a week. I'm having a hysterectomy on May 5 due to fibroids, but I get to keep my ovaries. I'm terrified I will gain weight. Any words of wisdom?

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    1. DON'T GET A HYSTERECTOMY--YOU DO NOT HAVE TO HAVE ONE FOR FIBROIDS; THEY ARE NOT, NOR WILL THEY EVER BE FATAL. I was talked into a hysterectomy for a large uterine fibroid and an ovarian cyst--they took the uterus and one ovary--and my system crashed. I have been in hell for 6 years. My soul was sucked out that day--don't risk it. Look around on the internet and read about the women whose lives have been destroyed by hysterectomy. It's castration--you can lose ovarian function even when they don't take your ovaries. There are less extreme options-for fibroids--but you should find someone who really knows how to work with Bio-identical hormones--and plan to spend a few months getting your hormones sorted. Hysterectomy is not like natural menopause. No matter what they tell you, it can destroy your mind and body. I went in with no worries, told I would be just fine with one ovary--and I've never been the same. Also think of your sexual function--you need your uterus and cervix--even if you don't know it. Your ovaries make more hormones than the ones that are commonly known--your problem isn't a bad uterus, it's out of whack hormones. Also, if you don't use hormones after menopause--replacement hormones--your fibroids will shrink down. Just live with them. My stomach was larger--so I thought I will get rid of this belly and be able to exercise more and get fit before I get through menopause. Now my stomach is HUGE and I have problems with my brain--neurological issues, unclear thinking--you name it.
      CANCEL THAT ELECTIVE SURGERY. No one needs a hysterectomy for fibroids.
      You will be worse off in some way than you are now if you go through with it.
      Good luck--see someone about hormone balancing and don't let your doctor reconvince you that a hysterectomy is a good idea. You don't solve an imbalance by cutting out part of your sexual organs. And you don't just need your uterus and ovaries to have children.

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    2. I hear you girls! I am 56 - worked hard for years to stay healthy and fit. I've worn the same size jeans/slacks for the past 12 years (size 8) - and some 6's - depending on the cut. I work out 6 days/week and am used to "just running around the track" to ward off the extra pounds I'd put on from time to time. But no more. 2015 it started becoming harder to "work it off" and the pants were a little snug. 2016 has been a nightmare! Out of the 8's completely and 10's "just" fit. I am so frustrated because I feel like I'm "killing myself" - for nothing! At the same time - I imagine what would happen if I didn't keep doing what I'm doing. I can only imagine. I'm very conscious of my weight because obesity is throughout my gene-pool. My parents died prematurely due to obesity-related issues and I vowed I would not let that happen to me so that I am around for my daughter for many years to come. Every day my toned body looks looser and flabbier. For me, it's not the apple - it's the pear. But it's too much PEAR! Hips and thighs - they've gone to jelly. I am so happy to talk to you girls about this because my family think I am obsessed or possessed. Not sure which one. I'm glad you all "feel my pain" and I'm not going completely crazy. When someone figures this out...DO SHARE. Don't forget US!

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  58. Wow someone who agrees with me at long last. I'm fitter now than ive ever been well I say that, I mean before the last five months happened. I've gained over a stone and half in 5 months and I'm eating clean everyday no alcohol no chic all the healrhy living recipes and high protein duet to train with everyday as I weight train. This time 5 months,ago I was at my fittest.lean and muscular then all hel let loose! I know feel like I'm so much older than 51 whereas before I felt 40! My belly is just yukky. I do pilates and planks for two minutes and 100 situps almost daily but nothing stops it..what's happening to my body..I had full hysterectomy in 20o6 and my Dr said last month it's not menopause it's impossible so why am I so hot all night long and hot flushes all day!!! Hate it . Please help
    Fiona, Exmouth, Devon

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