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What happens when "eat less and move more" doesn't work?

"It used to be so easy to lose weight, now nothing works, and I’ve tried everything, and I keep gaining weight." If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Read on to learn more about what optimal weight means and how to get there throughout menopause.

February 16, 2022

It used to be so easy to lose weight, now nothing works, and I’ve tried everything, and I keep gaining weight! Could it be my hormones?

If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Many women struggle to achieve and maintain a healthy weight during menopause and perimenopause. The good news is that there is still plenty of time to change your health for the better during this time.

How, you may ask?

First of all, we want to re-define our definition of health and healthy weight. Most women know that they will not turn back the clock to their pre-pregnancy weight in their 20’s or 30’s and rightly so since that may no longer be a healthy weight for them. Instead of using charts, apps, and calculators to tell you what you should weight, we want to set realistic goals and achievable expectations. I recommend my patients think of the last time they felt healthy, comfortable, mobile, and energetic, and think of the approximate weight that was for them. We want to shoot for a “best” weight that is sustainable for a lifetime, not some imaginary ideal that will only contribute to years of frustration. Better yet, we want to focus more on health parameters OUTSIDE of weight such as blood pressure, mobility, cholesterol, how clothes fit, and many other health outcomes that do not show up on the scale.

When it comes to diet specifics, we can use nutrition calculations to determine a persons TDEE, or Total Daily Energy Expenditure. This is a measure of how many calories your body needs to maintain it’s current weight. From there we can calculate the caloric intake necessary to provide the body a stimulus for weight loss. The key here is to understand that excess body weight is simply extra stored energy, and that our bodies are designed to store energy. However, energy storage means that we don’t need as much energy intake on a daily basis as our body can release stored energy and use it for fuel!

The all too common advice to “eat less and exercise more” is rarely helpful for anyone, but the unfortunate reality is that anyone who has lived through famine or anyone who has treated overweight pets or animals knows there is some truth to this advice.

They key is knowing what to eat, when to eat it, and how much for you to lose weight and still feel good. Any dietary change you make should be thought of as a permanent change and must be highly tailored to your individual preferences, health history, and work/life schedule. I work with patients by teaching the fundamentals of nutrition science so that they know exactly how any particular food will affect them and come up with a plan together that is sustainable for a lifetime. Understanding the energy balance and nutrient content of foods empowers individuals to take control of their health, rather than relying on the latest fad diet to come and go. The old adage is very true in my practice: Give someone a fish – feed them for a day. Teach someone to fish – feed them for a lifetime!

The data gathered over the past 50 years is clear – diets don’t work! Though they may result in short term weight loss, they have been proven to fail in weight maintenance, hunger cravings, and cause weight fluctuations that can last for years and even decades in a vicious cycle of extreme food restriction followed by binging and weight re-gain. The alternative approach is a realistic evidence-based approach to small, but permanent, dietary and nutrition habit changes that lead your body to its optimal set point that can be maintained for years. This can and should include LOTS of nutrient dense foods, protein, fibre, colourful fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and yes, even some complex carbs. Oh, and the occasional treat such as red wine or dark chocolate can and should be included in any weight management plan.

We now realize that any sensible approach to weight management should be individualized and holistic, taking into account the unique variables that make you, YOU.

If you have any questions about the right weight management approach for you, or to learn more about Dr. Sheldon’s individualized weight management program offered at Dimension Health and Wellness, please call us at (778) 704-0621 or book a free 15 minute consultation online at dimensionwellness.ca.

An investment in your health is never a bad investment. Book your appointment today and begin your journey to wellness.

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Dr. Sheldon Bjorgaard, Bsc., ND, received his Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine from the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in 2016. Prior to this achievement, he completed his Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of the Fraser Valley. In addition to treating health concerns of all kinds, Dr. Sheldon has a clinical focus in the treatment of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and digestive health concerns. He also received additional training and certifications in Regenerative Injection Therapies for joint pain and injury, Intravenous (IV) nutrient therapy, prescriptive authority, acupuncture, and the use of Sublingual Immunotherapy for the elimination of seasonal and environmental allergies