I was a slender child, adolescent and adult. At some times, as a young woman in my early twenties, I was too thin – 5.7″ tall and at one point 8st 4lbs. I know this, because a doctor weighed me (I didn’t own scales at that point) and said to me with concern, “You aren’t dieting are you?’ I was delighted. Clearly, I was Admirably Thin.
However, since my first pregnancy when I was 27 I’ve been a binge eater – or probably, more accurately, since going on my first ever diet to lose the pregnancy weight. Still, despite that, and despite two more pregnancies which involved 4 stone gains each time, I’ve maintained a good weight (dress size 10/12) for most of my adult life.
With a few notable exceptions, that is – for instance, when my Mum died in 2003 from complications of the Type 2 Diabetes that riddles her/my family. I just started eating and I could not stop, and I didn’t want to. I saw myself getting fatter and I loved it and I carried on eating and I did it gleefully. My Mum was fat – 5.4” tall and a size 18. When I reached a size 18 myself I loved it. I loved being the same size as my Mum. I kept on gorging and in surprisingly little time I had outgrown a size 18. When I had to try on my first size 20 it was suddenly no longer fun. Suddenly it was horrible and I hated it. I realised that I had been trying to eat myself into a size 18 to be the Mum I had lost.
After that, I turned it around and lost that 6 stone. Having done a massive amount of research into nutrition, biology, hormones and exercise to try to understand what was happening to my Mum and might happen to myself, I decided to go against the Low Fat mantra that was still dominant then, and eat Low Carb. To be honest, I always found Low Carb tough – but it worked and kept me slender.
And I stayed that way for a decade – until I passed 50 and I started gorging again. This time I don’t know why, but I gained 3 stone in 6 months. Suddenly horrified by what I had done, I pulled myself up short, went low calorie (1000 calories daily) and lost 42lbs. Back to normal. Phew.
And then the weirdest thing happened almost immediately I regained my normal weight in May 2017 – I yawned one evening and the disk in my jaw joint slipped, and in so doing damaged the trigeminal nerve behind it.
It sounds nasty, painful and frightening and it was. I’ve been off work sick ever since as my job is in Special Educational Needs in the English Department of a Secondary School; and essentially, my job is talking which this particular injury makes impossible to do for extended periods. Over the months, the amount I can talk has improved but I was warned that full recovery would take a very long time.
For the nerve pain I was put on 2 drugs notorious for causing weight gain – Gabapentin and Pregabalin. I had to give up caffeine – which I adored – and nicotine in the form of the e-cigarette with which I had given up smoking two years before. I’ve been teetotal for over a decade, ever since alcoholism killed my brilliant but self-destructive eldest brother at the age of 46. So what was I going to do for comfort and pleasure now but start eating again? And I did. And regained 42lbs.
I’ve lost weight then through low fat, low carb and low calorie diets: but they’re all tough and all of them could have negative health implications – and anyway, my body simply no longer responds as it used to. So ths time, I want to find a new way to lose weight that is tailored specifically to the needs and workings of my menopausal body; is as healthy as possible and takes in as wide a variety of foods as possible; and is sufficiently pleasurable that my life feels enhanced by it, rather than over.
The Holy Grail of menopausal weight loss indeed! But you know what? I believe it is possible if we can just understand these new bodies of ours’.