Crystal at 40 (left) and 61 (right)
Dr. Jade Teta: Welcome to the podcast. This is Dr. Jade Teta. This is the Metabolic Effect podcast, and today I have a special treat for you because we’re going to be talking about one of the most frustrating things to do in a weight loss practice. That is dealing with women who are going through the menopausal transition and what menopause does to the female metabolism.
Here’s the deal. Basically we have to make a very clear distinction here. What has happened in the weight loss world and the body transformation world is two camps have been set up. On one side, there is the “calories in, calories out” people. On the other side, there’s the hormonal people. These two dichotomies are really a false dichotomy. The idea that it’s one or the other is simply wrong. Both are involved.
Here’s the deal with menopause. Calories in, calories out matters. It absolutely is critical. However hormones impact that on multiple levels, not just whether you’re craving certain foods and eating more, but also whether you’re burning a high proportion of fat or sugar, and certainly estrogen and progesterone, the female hormones, are playing a role in this. I’m going to cover some of the biochemistry of that in just a minute, but first what I want to do is I want to give you a special treat, because what I did this time around is to give you a glimpse into my clinical practice.
I got one of my clients, Crystal Pecora, who has a pretty incredible story. She started out in her 40s being overweight. Now in her 60s, she is the epitome of health and fitness, has a body that most 30-year-old women would die for. She was able to transcend this pattern of what happens to most women when they go through the menopausal transition. You’ll be surprised at how this happened over this 20-year period. She did running for a while, she did cutting calories for a while, she took the hormone approach, but when she hit menopause, she started hitting a snag with her old approaches and had to change things a little bit.
One of the things about her particular journey that I want you to listen closely to is the education and the fact that she stayed engaged in the process the entire time. That’s how she made this a lifestyle. Let’s get started with Crystal’s story, and then afterwards hang around for about 10 minutes because I’m going to give you a brief sort of review of what to do with menopause and some of the biochemistry behind it, but hopefully you enjoy this interview. Let’s get started with it.
So here is the deal, Crystal. Here’s what I want to know from you. Bottom line is when most people think about body change, when most people go through this process, it’s typically, I think, the mindset of, “I’m going to start an 8-week, 6-week, 12-week diet. I’m basically going to go on a diet.” What happens is they do this for a little while and then they tend to fail miserably.
You had a situation where at 40, we had before pictures of you where you were right around the age of 40, and staring at being overweight and worrying about your health and all this kind of stuff. What I’m interested in is now close to 62, right now you are the epitome of health. You have the body that most 30-year-old women would envy. Even 20-year-old women would envy. You are super-fit. How did this happen? How did you essentially go from 40 years old and overweight to 60 years old and the epitome of health and fitness? Walk me through the mindset and what happened to get you to this point.
Crystal Pecora: At 40, I figured if I didn’t start doing something now, at 60, I wouldn’t be healthy at all and I’d be stuck in this overweight body and that I was embarrassed to go out and do anything. I just wanted to make sure I had good health when I was older. I saw Oprah on TV. She actually started it, and I said, “Whoa, if she can do it, I can do it. Otherwise I’m just going to be stuck this way forever.”
So I just basically dropped junk food, which was hard then. It’s hard to remember back now, but I just stopped eating all the doughnuts and the extra food and eating out of emotion, thinking it’s going to make me feel better. I wanted to just be this way as I got older. I wasn’t going to make it just a diet.
Dr. Jade: That’s interesting. You started out with the mindset that, “I don’t really want to do a diet. I want to do this for lifestyle.” That’s interesting. That’s the first thing. It looks like you had this mindset of this is going to be a complete lifestyle change. Tell me a little bit more about that first step you took where you cut out junk food. Was it just literally like, “I’m going to only eat certain foods,” or “I’m no longer going to eat pastries”? Talk to me a little bit about what foods you specifically began to cut out.
Crystal: My mother-in-law used to come over on Saturday and bring apple fritters.
Dr. Jade: My favorite.
Crystal: And things like that, and things for the kids. They got older and they weren’t eating them as much, so who was eating them? I was eating them, so I finally had to just tell her, “You have to stop bringing those over,” because it was hard if they’re around at first. I can look at something like that now, but I couldn’t look at it then.
All you knew then was it was the low-fat craze, and so I just tried to cut out anything that was junk food to me — chips, Doritos, doughnuts, bagels even, and I ate potato with no butter and really lean. I do what Covert Bailey said, and then I started walking. He said, “If you could walk two times a day, do it if you have the time,” so that’s what I did. I started walking.
Dr. Jade: That’s interesting. The first thing that happened was you saw Oprah. She inspired you, and you were like, “Hey, listen. She can do it, I can do it. I need to make this a lifestyle change,” and then did you do both the walking and the cutting of the junk food at the same time or did one come before the other?
Crystal: No, I did them both. That was hard, because you had to be out there in public, and I wasn’t very secure in those days with the way I looked and people seeing… There weren’t as many overweight people then, I don’t think, either.
Dr. Jade: Yeah, it’s really interesting. What was that, back in the…? When was that, 80’s, early 90’s?
Crystal: Yeah, 1992, and there was no online support. There was none of that. Basically when I saw Oprah and I saw her wheel out that fat, I was like, “Oh, my God!” I actually got scared of gaining the weight back, that I was going to gain it back, and I said, “Oh, my God, she gained it back,” and I said, “I can’t do that.”
Dr. Jade: So that’s interesting… Go ahead.
Crystal: I got more into, after I walked, I just kept losing it. It was very slow, two pounds a month, but I really was determined that I wasn’t going to go on any more.
Dr. Jade: That’s interesting. Did you ever reach a point where you did gain the weight back, or were you just like, “There’s no way I’m going back”?
Crystal: No, I gained back ten pounds at a time, and that’s my fault, going overboard at Christmastime or something, eating some things, but I’d always get myself right back. I’d say, “No, just eat your regular way,” and it would go off.
Dr. Jade: Here’s what I’m totally interested in. Back then, right, there was the low-fat craze. You basically took the information of the day and used it to the best of your advantage. You basically said, “Okay, I’m going to cut fat. I’m going to cut out Doritos. I’m going to cut out doughnuts. I’m going to start walking.” You started to lose weight slowly, and then walk me through the process of what began to happen after that. It sounds like, especially the Crystal I know now, you’re very, very savvy in natural health and fitness.
What happened along the way? Did you continue to educate yourself? What were you doing to continue to make progress? Because right now to look at you, you basically have muscle, you have abs, you’re very fit-looking. What did you start to add on? Did you start getting involved with weight training? Did you jump on the other crazes that came along like the low-carb craze and that kind of stuff? Walk me through then what happened to build the momentum once you started seeing results.
Crystal: After I lost enough weight, I was probably 180, I started running, which was probably not good but I started jogging a little. I would do weights a couple days. I would jog. I read everything I could read about nutrition, and then once I got down to about 150, I went to running camp. I thought my friend was crazy to mention going to running with those die-hard runners, and I went for 10 years. I loved it. You met all kinds of people. You learned even more.
I hired a running coach and he was into the mind thing too. He had a Ph.D in that. I asked him, “Why do you work with me?” and he said, “Because you have the mindset,” even though he had talented people. He didn’t know how long it would take me to do my accomplishments, but I set my mind to it and I just kept at it and I kept learning.
I took a sports nutrition course to learn more about nutrition, not to make money. I just wanted to learn for health to help everybody I know about what to do, and I just kept going from there.
Dr. Jade: That’s interesting. Just to sum up for everyone listening, let me get the timetable right. Once you started saying, “I’m just going to cut out junk food and I’m going to walk,” then you started losing weight pretty slowly. How long did it take you before you started picking up running and wanting to get more involved in this? Was it that you had to start seeing yourself as, “Now I’m more thin and athletic,” or did that happen pretty quickly? What was the timetable there?
Crystal: It took me over a year to lose 100 pounds. Well, almost 100 pounds. Once I was around 43 or 44, I got into running a lot and that’s when I started going to running camp, when I was around 44 years old that summer and then I went for 10 years.
Dr. Jade: That’s interesting, the running camp part. Here’s a person who has been walking and watching what they eat and eating carbs, of course, but kind of being on the low-fat craze, and then you begin to pick up running. What happened to your physique at that point? Did things accelerate? Did you start to get some of the way that your body looks now? Walk us through how things happened, because you don’t do a whole lot of running now, right?
There must have been something that happened along the way and I, for one, I love to hear the story that running was such a part of your transformation partly because I do think running gets a bad rap, but in your particular case, it seemed to be something that you really loved, even if just for the social aspect. Walk me through then what began to happen with running, how you transitioned out of that, is it still a part of your life, how long did that take and what did to your physique and your health journey.
Crystal: Running, it just kept me fit. I did that until I was 56. I was running marathons at 56. That was a big accomplishment to run three marathons, the New York City marathon and winning first place in my age group for a year. That gave you a lot of confidence, but I was starting to get older and I wasn’t as lean as I am now.
I think it was because of all the long distance at that age, and I was starting to go through menopause and having all kinds of issues, and then I got the thyroid issue coming in. Once I got around 59, I’m doing well, I’m all right, but I’m not as lean as I want and I’m feeling tired, not sleeping well. I’m thinking what else can I do. That’s when I read your book actually and it had to do something with hormones. I just dropped the running, just like that, and no one still can believe I don’t do long-distance running, but I had to stop someday.
It was getting really stressful doing two-hour runs and three-hour runs to run marathons, and how long was I going to do that? They said it was starting to affect my bones. When I took the sports nutrition course, I talked to Dr. Michael Hogan and he talked to me a few times, “Crystal, you’re getting older. Just do things that are less stressful. Find something else you love to do. You love weights, do that, and stop running that much. Just do really short distance.”
Dr. Jade: Yeah, that’s interesting. What happened was around menopause. Here’s what I’m interested in. While you were doing all this marathon running and obviously doing some really high-end running, you got up into the sport there, did you continue to weight train or was running the only kind of activity you did at that point?
Crystal: No, I liked opposite. One day, I’d run, and one day, I’d do weights. I liked switching it around. I knew they were antagonistic to each other, but I still had pretty good muscle. I liked doing both.
Dr. Jade: That’s an interesting part of your story then. We should not get the idea from you then, that when you started running, you were just a runner. You also stayed engaged with weight training as well throughout that time.
Crystal: Right, I would do weight training. I started weight training maybe right when I started losing weight, and I did stuff at home, and then I joined a gym.
Dr. Jade: Very cool. So then you hit menopause, and people are saying, “Crystal, you’ve got some issues with your bones.” You start having some issues with thyroid, which can come up during the menopausal transition, and you start realizing, “Wait a second. These hormones are having a role to play here,” so how did you switch things around?
Because you’re saying you weren’t as lean then when you were running, and you’re actually leaner now after the menopausal transition, which I find pretty amazing, and I think most women listening would find that pretty amazing. I don’t want to misquote you either, but it sounds like you’re saying that after you went through menopause and you made some adjustments to your lifestyle and you stopped the running and started doing other things, you’re actually leaner now than you were prior to menopause. Is that what you’re telling us?
Crystal: Yes. I think that the long-distance running was just stressing my body out too much. I wasn’t sleeping well, and that right there was keeping my weight around 140, 144. It stayed around there. I didn’t gain, but I wasn’t sleeping for years and my doctors just kept saying, “Oh, it’s from the hormones. It’s menopause,” and that, I think, probably affected my cortisol, things I didn’t know then. I just was getting tired and not sleeping. It just gets old and I said, “I don’t know what else I can do,” so I kept reading things, and I think when I stop the running, I started sleeping better, I dropped weight. In fact, I was getting too skinny in 2012 and I had to start eating more.
Dr. Jade: Really interesting.
Crystal: Because I was just losing a pound a week and I got down to 115 and I said, “Oh, my God!” and I started eating half-frozen nuts so I could bring my weight back up.
Dr. Jade: How tall are you, by the way? You would say your weight and your body fat…
Crystal: About 5’6″.
Dr. Jade: Okay, so you’re definitely not a short woman, so 115 at 5’6″ is pretty thin. Where do you sit right now?
Crystal: I was starting to see too many veins, too much this. I was getting too skinny, and I looked in the mirror and said, “Oh, my God!”, because people were complaining. I think I look good around 125. It depends on your body fat. Now my weight, all of sudden, I’ve gone down a couple pounds the last couple of weeks, Jade, so I’m now at 128, 127, and I’m not really trying, I’m just going along with everything.
Dr. Jade: That’s the thing that’s interesting about you. It’s pretty effortless for you right now, so from what I understand about you, you basically sit around 130 and are very lean with a very lean body fat percent. This is somebody who was at one point in their 40s close to 100 pounds overweight or even more than that.
You lost the weight, has not only maintained that weight loss but has actually reverse-aged in a sense. I know that many women listening to this are probably blown away by this particular story, and what I want to, and of course you and I know, you and I talked about this at times where we say, “Not everyone is the same, not everyone’s going to find the same formula,” but what’s really interesting is Metabolic Effect put together a menopausal weight loss program from my clinical work working with so many menopausal women to help them lose weight. You were like, “Jade, that’s so funny. This is exactly how I eat. I naturally found my way here.”
Just so people can understand this transition that you made and the fact that now it’s pretty effortless for you, it’s basically a lifestyle. You’re not dieting. That’s what I think is really interesting about you. You’re not on a diet. You’re basically just living your life. Walk us through a typical day of eating for you, what it would look like and a typical week of exercise for you. What would it look like?
Crystal: It depends. If I behave myself, you mean? In 2002, I started having shakes… I loved having my shake in the morning. Usually I have berries in it, about half a cup. Maybe two-thirds, but half a cup, and that works for me better than none, and then I might have a snack but I might not. I just [inaudible 00:19:09] [crosstalk]
Dr. Jade: When you say shake, you mean protein shake, right? You’re saying protein shake when you mention shake, right?
Crystal: Yes, I do whey protein. That works good for me. I don’t have any issues with it, and I used to use just water and sometimes now I use coconut milk or almond milk unsweetened, and then I’ll have lunch. I love salads. I love vegetables and salads, so for me, I like having my salads. I just put some with some kind of lean protein on it, whatever’s around that I have in the house — tuna, chicken, salmon, buffalo, whatever — and sometimes a little fibrous veggie. In the afternoon, if I get hungry, I was having nuts, but sometimes those can be, you’re having too many of them. I usually just have, if I get hungry, some cucumber or a little protein, chicken, whatever.
I usually have little things in the freezer. You can just pop one out and have it. Sometimes an apple, but not that often. Dinner is always protein and veggies, and for a long time, I didn’t even have starch and I didn’t sleep good because of that, I don’t think. Now I do have a half a cup of starch or a small, small sweet potato.
I do the Metabolic Effect workouts. I do the Spark sometimes two times a week and Sprint two or three times a week and sometimes I do the upper body, the [inaudible 00:20:31] workouts. Once in a while, I’ll go crazy and do the six days so I can catch up with you.
Dr. Jade: That’s interesting. How many hours do you think you’re putting in? Because those metabolic workouts and for those who don’t know, Crystal’s referring to the Spark workout, a workout done with dumbbells, dumbbell-based weight training that’s pretty fast. It gets your heart rate up, but it only takes 20 minute, so if you have to say your total amount of time spent exercising every week, what would it be?
Crystal: Just 20 minutes a day, and that’s four or five… If it’s five… Usually it’s five days with me. I can’t lie. I try to do four, but I like five if it’s upper body.
Dr. Jade: Even with five days, what is that, an hour and 40 minutes? Less than two hours a week, then someone as lean as you is actually doing for exercise. That’s really interesting.
Crystal: And I walk.
Dr. Jade: Yeah, you walk like crazy, right? How often do you walk? Are you doing an hour a day, two hours a day?
Crystal: I’ve always walked and I used to even walk when I was running because I had a dog, so I’d always come back and take the dog. I walk an hour in the morning, sometimes a half-hour or so in the afternoon. I don’t get all caught up in that. I just do what I can. I got [inaudible 00:21:47] work and I do that in the summer. I forget what else I was going to tell you.
I think, though, it’s a lot less than what I used to do. Before, I was running an hour or two hours a day sometimes or an hour or three hours on the weekend, and also doing weight training and walking. It’s like doing half of that. I think my body perceived that as much less stress and was very happy with that.
Dr. Jade: Yeah, that’s interesting.
Crystal: And that’s [inaudible 00:22:16].
Dr. Jade: Just to repeat for everybody on the line, if you’re listening to what Crystal’s saying, she’s basically saying she was basically doing two hours a day of just running in addition to doing weight training and walking at times. Now you’re hearing her say she’s doing two hours of exercise a week and then she also walks. There’s this sort of discussion that Crystal’s having, and that I think is very wise, in that she’s essentially saying, “I walk regardless. That’s just something I do. I don’t really treat that as exercise,” and then she does two hours of exercise per week basically, but her exercise is intense.
The other thing and, Crystal, you correct me if I’m wrong on any of this, but I’m just trying to repeat back for people what you’re saying. The other thing I think is interesting about Crystal and this is exactly what we outline in the menopausal program for metabolic effect is that you don’t hear her saying she’s eating cereals for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch. She does a protein shake for breakfast, a salad for lunch almost always. Right, Crystal? Would you ever have a sandwich maybe on occasion or is it always shake and salad?
Crystal: No, I stopped having bread around 2002. Every time I’d have bread and bagels, I just never got lean with that. I never eat bread. I just don’t care about it. I’d rather have a cannoli.
Dr. Jade: But you will do that stuff on occasion, right? You will on occasion indulge in a cannoli or something like that. Interesting.
Crystal: Like this weekend, I had three bites.
Dr. Jade: It’s not like you’re fanatical.
Crystal: And I lost a pound, and then you don’t feel deprived. You just have a little there, and it’s just part of what you do in life.
Dr. Jade: It sounds like over the last 20 years, you’ve had a lot of practice with that too, being moderate in your approach.
Crystal: Oh, yes. Yes, it doesn’t just come overnight, I don’t think. I think you need to always learn, and I had plenty of times stumbling or gaining a few pounds, and I don’t like to do that. I like to stay about the same. I don’t want to have to go back and lose weight, but if you really overindulge more than a day, [inaudible 00:24:20] is you’re going to have problems. Your body is going to gain a little weight, I think.
Dr. Jade: Yep, but that doesn’t stress you out too much because you live the lifestyle, so it’s not like you’re going to slip back.
Crystal: I went overboard this winter on nuts because, remember, I told you I had to eat more to gain weight. Then it became a habit, so I had to get out of that habit, and that’s the only thing I dropped to get back to where I was. I said, “Oh, geez, I’m going to gain a little too much fat with this,” and then I just dropped those. I didn’t go crazy with diet, I just dropped that.
Dr. Jade: The theme that seems to come across with you big-time is the fact that this was a slow, slow transition, that you built on your momentum, that you had the mindset that this was not a diet, it was a lifestyle change, and that you also learned through some of life’s transitions — in particular, menopause — that there’s a limiting return for exercise, and you revamped your exercise and nutritional approach, and are now able to have a very easy lifestyle where you still have cannolis and things like that on occasion but you’re able to stay lean.
I think this is just a really, really interesting story, because to me it’s a reverse-aging story. You basically bucked the trend of 99.99% of everyone else and actually went in the other direction. Now at 62, you’re leaner than you were at 40 and perhaps even leaner than you’ve ever been in your life in terms of your athletic-looking physique. I just want to say thanks so much, Crystal, for sharing this with us.
It’s going to be really, really useful, I think, for people to hear from somebody like you who’s been living this lifestyle. All I want to say now is, is there anything else you think, one more pearl of wisdom or anything like that that you want to give people to say, “Here is something everyone should be thinking about”?
Crystal: For me, I love to exercise, and sometimes you need to just back off. If I do too much one week, the next week I should just do three days or four days, because otherwise it starts catching up with you, and then it starts stressing your body out and everything goes out of check. I think you have time to back off sometimes.
Dr. Jade: That’s really interesting. It sounds like for you it’s really been about saying, “Hey, guys, this is about balance and not just doing more and working harder, but having this smarter approach.”
Dr. Jade: Crystal, thank you so much for your time, really, really appreciate it. You’re amazing, and I really appreciate you sharing your story with us. Have a good one.
Crystal: Thank you.
Dr. Jade: Hopefully you enjoyed that interview with Crystal. It really gives, in my opinion, a real-world example of what is required for a real body change and also talks a bit about the hump that is pre-menopause, menopause and post-menopause for many women. It’s important for us to understand that the metabolism is not static. It’s not static day to day. It’s not static month to month. It certainly is not static year to year. It changes based on multiple factors.
Women are used to this in their younger years because of the way the metabolism changes with menses. Obviously the metabolism makes some pretty critical changes around the time of menopause and there are some rules that you can sort of follow and understand. First, you have to understand a bit about the biochemistry. Here’s the deal, the thing to understand. Estrogen and progesterone certainly are going to impact both what you eat and the example of that would be estrogen and progesterone impact brain chemistry – dopamine, serotonin, GABA, among other things that they’re doing in the brain, the receptors for these hormones all over the place. That can affect appetite and cravings and those kinds of things.
Most women know this when they get cravings near menses, when estrogen and progesterone drop off during menses. Well, the same thing happens at menopause. This can impact your ability to stay on a diet in the first place. It impacts things like hunger, energy and cravings or what I call HEC. Keeping your HEC in check becomes a whole lot harder when estrogen and progesterone fall off.
Secondly, estrogen and progesterone impact the ability to burn fat and/or store muscles. For instance, estrogen is a hormone that makes women more insulin-sensitive globally. That means it helps women hold on to their muscle mass and store less fat when they are in calorie excess than they would otherwise.
Having estrogen around makes women a little bit more able to tolerate dietary indiscretions. Estrogen is also an anti-cortisol hormone, so it helps to impact the negative effects of stress. Estrogen is there in a protective capacity to some degree for younger women. When estrogen goes away in menopause, that become a problem. Dietary indiscretions are more profound, more exaggerated and stress becomes more of a factor.
Progesterone as well. Progesterone is also an anti-cortisol or anti-stress hormone in women. When progesterone goes away, again women are far more reactive to stress. What’s interesting is that when stress impacts women in their younger years, there’s a really interesting hormonal environment that occurs that basically looks a lot like this – higher cortisol, lower estrogen, lower progesterone and higher testosterone levels relatively speaking.
The same thing happens at menopause. While estrogen and progesterone drop and so does testosterone by the way, but the relative difference between those hormones changes in favor of testosterone at menopause. Cortisol become more of a factor because estrogen and progesterone in that they are to balance the effects of stress, and you become more insulin-resistant. This is why many women around the time of menopause even if they don’t see weight gain will see a spread of fat gain to the middle of the body.
The idea then is this critical point. When you are starting to approach menopause and when estrogen and progesterone start to fall off, you become far more insulin-resistant and far more stress-reactive as a result of that. That’s why the calorie-counting approach alone may no longer work. Of course calories matter, we all know that, but once you start putting this hormonal approach into play, you can have better success. You may want to consider at this point lowering carbohydrates to some degree, not too low because too low can amplify some of the stress hormone responses. You may be able to tolerate carbohydrates less because you’re more insulin-resistant and even protein, which can be an insulin sort of mitigator as well, can raise insulin exaggeration in some women. It’s not just about carbohydrates.
Calories need to of course be low but then you may want to lower the proportion of carbohydrates in your diet understanding the biochemistry of what’s going on in menopause and as well move from very stressful forms of activity like lots of running and things like that to more relaxing forms of activity and also forms of activity that make you hold on to your muscle mass so you can remain more insulin-sensitive
A disaster for women at menopause is women who hit menopause, who never developed a nice, natural base of muscle mass that keeps you insulin-sensitive when you’re moving, and then all of a sudden they lose the influence of estrogen and progesterone. Let me give you an example of some real take homes from our menopause for women. A lot of this comes from also what you heard from Crystal.
Really simply we use what we call the S4 model in menopause as a starting point. Remember, do not treat this like a diet. The whole point of the Metabolic Effect podcast is that you are not the same as everybody else. You have to find what works for you, so we use what we call structured flexibility. We give you the structure and then it’s up to you to begin doing the flexibility and adjusting to your needs. The bottom line is this S4 method that we use basically goes like this. It’s a pretty simple starting point if you’re dealing with menopause.
Four S’s through the day. The first S stands for shake. In other words, instead of using cereal in the morning, you do a protein shake. This helps maintain muscle mass, helps satiate you, helps reduce cravings and is a far more likely nutrition choice to balance insulin than a cereal would. That’s the first S.
The second S would be a salad. Shake and then a salad. The salad would be a big bunch of vegetables with maybe some lean protein on top again trying to mitigate the insulin response to some degree and also both the shake and the salad are going to be lower calorie than a typical big bowl of cereal or a sandwich, which would be more typical of breakfast and lunch.
The third S would be a snack. This could be something related to something that you like or a protein shake or typically something that’s going to be vegetable based and/or protein based to satiate you but not completely going carb-free. This could be also fruit and things like that.
Finally, starch at the end of the day. This may be something that confuses people because a meal with starch at the end of the day… Carbohydrates going completely carb-free can raise stress hormone levels. Some women can lower thyroid and can adjust brain chemistry in a way that causes many women to have difficulty sleeping, which is a big, big issue at menopause. What I have found clinically is that, including some starch in the nighttime meal along with some protein and some fiber-based vegetables, that tends to help with sleep.
This S4 model — shake, salad, snack and a meal with starch at the end of the day – is very critical. When you think about the S4 model for exercise, it really comes down to the following. Strides, it would be the first S which basically means a base of walking instead of thinking about all of this high-intensity running and things like that. Walking lowers cortisol, keeps your body insulin-sensitive which again mitigates the two major things that are going at menopause.
The other S would be strength training, doing something to make sure that you are maintaining muscle. Walking and strength training become really critical.
The third S would be stress reduction techniques. These would be things like really prioritizing rest and recovery activities, things like going for a leisure walk like we talked about or doing some Tai Chi or yoga, relaxing techniques or taking a hot bath or getting a massage or doing some sauna therapy, things that are going to be more relaxing.
The last S in the exercise program would be sprint. This is oftentimes really confusing for some women at menopause because sprinting is seen as a very high-intensity activity. Remember, sprinting is really interesting, because at menopause, what you want to make sure you’re doing is you still want to make sure there’s a stimulus for bone growth and you still want to make sure that you’re doing things that are releasing human growth hormone and some of the hormones that help you hang on to your muscle. Sprinting does that. The truth of the matter is by sprint really what we mean is this is a different type of workout. It doesn’t necessarily mean going out and doing 100-yard dash sprinting. Basically what it means is that you are doing an exercise program that gets you breathless.
Sprinting has four components to it – breathless, burning, heavy and heat. When you do a sprint, you get this sort of breathless effect, this burning effect, this heavy effect and this heat effect where you get nice and sweaty. That’s what sprinting technically does. This could be done in a gym through fast-paced metabolic circuits. This could be done out on a track doing sprints. This can be done in any fashion. If you are thinking, “Hey, I’m frail. I really can’t do this kind of stuff,” it does not matter, because from this perspective, it’s just about doing things that will get you to that point even if getting up and walking across the room really fast or standing up and out of your chair 20 times gets this breathless, burning, heavy, heat effect, then that is what we mean by sprinting. In other words, you have to do some intense activity to get your body to respond and adapt so that it doesn’t continue to lose muscle, lose bone and become frail as you age.
Now this whole program is outline in the Metabolic Effect Menopause program online at metaboliceffect.com. You can check that out if you need more specifics. Hopefully this gives you a little bit of an idea about what it takes to buck the trend in menopausal weight again. Thanks so much for hanging out today and I’ll catch you guys next time. Be good, be well.
The Metabolic Effect podcast with Dr. Jade Teta is intended for educational purposes only. Nothing contained on the podcast is intended to create a physician-patient relationship or to replace the services of a licensed trained physician or health professional or to be a substitute for medical advice of a physician or trained health professional in your state or country. You should not rely on anything contained on the podcast and you should make sure you consult a physician licensed in your state or country in all matters relating to your health. Thank you so much.
Want to check our most popular weight loss program, the Menopausal Weight Loss Program? Just click the link.