So the other day I was moaning about middle-aged spread and menopause as well as the hard time I’m having losing weight in middle age. I kept feeling that maybe there was a piece missing in my diet/exercise equation, something I wasn’t quite getting.
And a few people chimed in with some interesting suggestions. And I remembered some stuff that I had read and half forgotten but was there lurking somewhere! Recently I went to see a Specialist Dr. for a review following recent illness. I had loads of blood work done and repeated every few weeks and this was to be the final follow-up. She had been concerned about my glucose levels and I kep being asked if I was diabetic. As you might imagine this started to freak me out a bit. I know I’m a prime target. I’m 53, overweight and wasn’t very active. I’ve also had a history of sugar addiction and at this point this had been out of control again. So I knew my blood sugar would have been spiking and falling and the chances of me doing some damage to my insulin levels was there. Whilst I was ill my blood sugars / glucose levels were in the diabetic range. Now that I’m well again they have fallen back to the ‘normal’ range. That is a relief of course but the Dr told me that she thinks I am ‘glucose intolerant’ ( I could have said that!) and so my body can go into a sort of diabetic state when I’m ill. This isn’t a scientific explanation by me you understand, but a sort of nuts and bolts one! So the conclusion I can draw from that is that my glucose intolerance puts me into a pre-diabetic category possibly and heightens my risk. So what’s the solution. Hey! Lose weight, get fit and balance my blood sugar. Eureka!
As it happens I’ve been following a great programme for the last few years, mostly on although sometimes off ( eg when I was ill recently). It is a programme for recovering from sugar addiction and includes a book called ‘Your Last Diet by Dr Kathleen DesMaisons. I hadn’t read it for a while but I was pretty sure there was something in there about losing weight ( genius, me!) and also about possible road-blocks like insulin resistance.
So home I went to my books. Here is what Kathleen says:
Insulin resistance becomes even more of a problem if you are overweight.Your fat to muscle ratio has a huge impact on how much fuel you need. Muscle cells contain insulin receptors because muscles need glucose as fuel. People with more muscle and leaner muscle need more burning power and have more insulin receptor sites. Fat does not have insulin receptor sites. It just sort of sits there passively waiting to be called. People with a higher proportion of fat to muscle have fewer insulin receptor sites than people with less fat and more muscle. People with more fat than muscle have way fewer places to burn. People with 44% body fat are going to burn a whole lot less than people with 27% body fat” YLD page 212
And bingo, I realised there is more than one thing going on here. Insulin resistance means that I may eat what my slim friends eat and exercise and still be fat. I need to make some other shifts. Kicking up the exercise is one of them. I need to do aerobic exercise ( tick) but I also need to work on weights. Building muscle is really important in terms of helping my body metabolism get that it can shift into fat burning mode. And I probably need to do More exercise. Like every day. For an hour. So I need to work on tis steadily ( I am). Two half hour slots are fine. A walk in the morning with the dog. A session on the cross trainer or in the pool or a class in the evening. And some weights at the gym.
Another piece of the puzzle is that some fats are better than others at fat burning. So making sure I sick with those omega 3’s and 6’s. Lots of fish and chicken, not so much of the sausages and beefburgers and Bolognese with red meat. Turkey mince is great 🙂
And abdominal fat is also caused by stress. It is much, much harder to lose weight when you are stressed. Your body produces cortisol in response to stress as the fight or flight adrenaline mechanism kicks in. So your little body refuses to let go of that fat that it might need to face the starvation of winter or the sabre-toothed tiger it expects genetically. So stress reduction, meditation and exercise all help with that. Calm is best for weight loss as well as for inner peace!
Some people also like the low GL way of eating for managing blood sugar nuts, seeds and fruit for great snacks to keep steady. And low GL to balance your carbs. Patrick Holford is pretty much the UK guru for this approach and I like a lot of what he has to say too. Optimum Nutrition is the watchword here and that is a pretty good message to live by too.
So for me I’m working on tweaking my existing plan a little while keeping with the basics which have brought me freedom from the sugar addiction and steadiness emotionally thanks to no more highs and lows from the sugar hit!
Steady complex carbohydrates – Im thinking of moving to the beans / legumes end of the spectrum more and much less of the wheat
Enough protein to provide fuel for fat burning but mainly of the white meat/ fish/ vegetarian variety
Good omega 3s and 6’s – olive oil, oily fish, supplements like flax oil in my protein shake
And exercise – I’m pretty pleased honestly with how I’m doing with that. I’ve gone from couch potato to using the gym / pool every other day. I’m thinking to try to build in a walk every day now as well. I enjoy it, the dog enjoys it and with my walking poles I’m much better at it. Win-Win.
Oh and lots of water!
Having just been away for a couple of days at a family wedding and eaten far too much cheese I’m now ready for action 🙂 It’s good to have a plan, have found some clues to help me get going again and to know what to do next. Keep watching this space I will report back!