Ask Dr. Pat · Menopause

For Weight Loss Management in Perimenopause,
a Personalized Plan Works Best

Let’s take a look at what might work for you.

  1.  The circadian rhythm affects how humans store calories. So, commit to eating on the early time-restricted eating plan. Many bariatric medicine specialists suggest no eating after 7:30 p.m. most nights all the way through until 9:30 a.m.  (only water, tea or coffee without milk or sweeteners are allowed). I know you leave early in the morning, but have your coffee or tea before you leave and bring a thermos of tea or coffee for that 6-8 a.m. bus ride.
  2. Take 15 minutes and have breakfast at 9:30 that is devoid of simple carbs and anything that is easily converted to sugar.  Eat lunch around 1 p.m. Once again, avoid simple carbs and anything that is easily converted to sugar.
  3. In the evening, take the 6 p.m. bus home instead of the 5:30 one so that you can eat before you leave work.  Keep it lean and green. Salad and green vegetables along with chicken or turkey or an occasional steamed chicken and vegetable takeout. Know the calories that you are consuming and eat enough for energy. Eat at your desk Monday through Thursday night. Take an emergency V-8 vegetable drink with you for the commute home:  it is 70 calories of fiber that is filling and not fattening. Choose the low salt type if you have an issue with sodium.
  4. No booze. Alcohol is converted to sugar and sugar is laid down as belly fat.
  5. No simple carbs and no deserts. Ditto on the belly fat.
  6. Stress reduction: You have to think outside the box! Clearly your long commute is a serious and daily source of stress. Cognitive behavioral therapy may be helpful for you to “re-think” the inevitable bus ride twice a day, five days a week. It may help you feel differently about the commute and find ways to add activities to the long ride in and back to and from work.   This may help you to lower stress. You point out that you are a respected project manager in your firm.  Perhaps you could use your laptop with a WiFi connection to your cell phone to do work that you would normally do once you get to the office. This way, you could negotiate for reimbursement for the costs of the phone with the WiFi. If you work for a solid hour and half on the way in, you will be prepared for the day’s duties and could ask for an hour of gym time at lunch near your office instead of just sitting at your desk eating. Eat your lunch then head for the gym. If there is no gym, change into exercise shoes with good support and take to the stairs.  Get a watch that measures your steps and move, move, move. On the return trip at night, you might enjoy taking an online course to improve your credentials at work, or acquire skills for a job that could help you find work closer to home. You might also join an online book club. Read on the way home and add your comments to those of the other members of the book club. Take some time before you begin online work to listen to a meditation tape or to music that lowers that stress level.
    1. Consider your posture when you are sitting for two hours, twice a day on the bus.  Do not cross your legs because that affects the hip flexors and over time causes chronic pain in both the groin and the lower back.  Instead put your feet flat on the floor or if your legs do not reach the floor comfortably, put your backpack on the floor of the bus, take your shoes off and put your feet flat on a new surface height that is right for you. Carry a small lumbar pillow and sit up on properly to further decrease the dreaded low back pain.
  1. Find a meditation group on the weekend and practice this technique of proven stress reduction to decrease those stress hormones that increase appetite and lead to weight gain. Identify the sources of stress in your life and ask for help from your husband, friends and peers at work. If you need more support for stress reduction, look for a therapist who can help you make small changes in your life that may further reduce stress.
  2. Go to bed earlier.  Practice good sleep hygiene, which means no devices or television for two hours before bed. Work on falling asleep soon after getting into bed.  Inadequate sleep increases weight gain. It is also easier to control the urge to eat at night if you are sleeping.
  3. Find friends to exercise with on the weekends, especially friends who will make you accountable. Begin to lift weights in a class with a trainer who will keep you from injuring joints. Building muscle is harder as we age, but certainly possible.
  4. You will need support from your husband in order to manage this time restricted eating plan.  Tell him that your BMI is 30 and let him know what that means to your health. Those forty pounds took seven years to creep on and you won’t lose this weight quickly. But this personalized way of eating will work. If you commit to the early time-restricted eating plan with no simple carbs or food easily converted to sugar, you will maintain the weight loss once you reach your weight goal. Of course you will return to more normal weekend meals once you have achieved your healthy BMI.  These meals won’t always conform to your personalize eating plan but do continue to avoid simple carbs and sugar and finish eating early.

Hang in there. Recognize that you are in a transition that is not just a hormonal one, but a transition into that second half of life where your wisdom and determination to find and achieve your personal best is certainly attainable. Redesign your life with your personalized weight loss program and your long term health in mind.

 

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