Before you assume that this post is my attempt to suddenly shift professions- neglecting my interior design and DIY focus- to become a fitness blogger, let me assure you that is definitely NOT the case.
What I can tell you is that I strive to” keep it real”…no matter how uncomfortable and vulnerable my realness can be at times.
From the early conception of this blog, I have felt a strong calling to be an advocate for women (mothers in particular).
With each nugget of wisdom I gain throughout life, from home renovation tips to mental health matters, I feel I would be doing a disservice to my readers if I didn’t occasionally step out of my comfort zone and share the valuable lessons I have learned. (Hence my slogan: Hacks for the home body soul)
Although I am extremely apprehensive about sharing photos of myself in a bikini for the online world to critique, in the hopes of helping anyone out there who feels like they are stuck living in a “meat suit” which doesn’t match their inner beauty or reflect who they are, I am willing to ruffle some feathers by disclosing how I lost all of the weight I gained during the hell of a year that was 2020. So…
This post is for all my fellow, middle-aged (or upper aged) mamas out there who have struggled with their weight and were simply led to believe they were “lazy failures” by those implementing only conventional modalities of health and weight loss.
Blessed to find the professional support of a Nurse Practitioner and fitness trainer who dared to “think outside the box”, not only was I able to lose the weight that I had gained in the throes of 2020 isolation depression, I was also able to achieve the best physical shape of my entire life (even after two pregnancies).
I know that much of my success has come from alternative therapies (some controversial)which many of you may not yet know about or have access to, but hopefully some of this information can at least get you pointed in the right direction and even more importantly, give you renewed hope….it’s never too late, and you are not ruined!
Below, I am going to share some of the unconventional secrets to my weight loss , but before I get to the juicy stuff, I must give the obligatory disclaimer…
*The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. I am not a medical professional, so please consult with a licensed medical professional before implementing any of these tips. DESIGNING VIBES IS NOT RESPONSIBLE NOR LIABLE FOR ANY ADVICE, COURSE OF TREATMENT, DIAGNOSIS OR ANY OTHER INFORMATION, SERVICES OR PRODUCTS THAT YOU OBTAIN THROUGH THIS BLOG.*
Diet and Exercise Tweaks-
Before I get into the more alternative therapies I implemented to lose weight, let’s get the obvious, boring stuff out of the way….
I know many “experts” claim that fat loss is a simple matter of calories consumed versus calories burnt, but if that were the case, why was I unable to lose weight after killing myself in the gym on the daily and obsessing over food 24/7 (as pictured on the left above) ?
Busting my rear to lose upwards of ten pounds gained over the spring of 2020, I felt completely stuck in a body that didn’t reflect all of the hard work that I had been putting in for months.
Out of utter desperation, I decided to invest in one-hour personal training sessions five days a week. Much to my delight, this proved to be money well spent.
After assessing my diet and workout regimen for a few weeks, my trainer actually gathered that I was not eating enough carbs and that I needed to cut back on the cardio so that I wasn’t burning through all of my hard-earned muscle. (Remember…muscle burns fat and speeds metabolism)
I went from doing 30- minute steady state cardio sessions 5 times a week, to only two 20 minute plyometric sessions per week. In addition, I do one hour weight lifting sessions with an upper/lower body split which looks like this..
Monday- Lower Body Weight Training
Tuesday- Upper Body Weight Training
Wednesday- Lower Body Weight Training
Thursday- Upper Body Weight Training
Friday- Lower Body Weight Training
*TIP: To lower the cost of personal training, I actually split the sessions with my girlfriends. Not only has this made the investment more financially sustainable for me, my friends encourage me and keep me accountable more so than if I were just working out by myself. Out of the group, I am definitely the weak link, but the challenge and the sense of community has done wonders for my mindset.
Cutting back on the cardio, I actually now find myself eating less because I am not as hungry. While I don’t count macros, I try not to eat anything with over 4 grams of sugar in one serving. I mainly reserve my carbs for dinner so that I can eat fun meals like pasta and pizza with my kids (i do my best to make healthier, organic versions of comfort classics). On the weekends, I allow myself a treat here and there (and alcohol too).
All of this to say…..if your hormones are out of whack, which happens after having babies and getting older in general, diet and exercise won’t be nearly as effective. If it hadn’t been for my trainer, I never would have known this and I never would have known what to look for (as far as finding a health provider and knowing what lab work to ask for).
This leads me to my next tip..
Hormones and Weight Loss-
Feel like a hamster on a wheel when it comes to your weight loss efforts? Your hormones may be to blame.
After receiving a full blood panel from a licensed, integrative healthcare provider, it was determined that I had low levels of T3 thyroid hormone. Im sure you probably know by now that Thyroid is the main gland responsible for metabolism. Here’s the kicker though..
Most doctors only do a TSH panel. If this had been the case for me, my hypothyroidism would have gone completely undiagnosed. While I will have to be on thyroid medication for the rest of my life (the kind with not only T4 but T3), it is totally worth it for me. It’s helped with depression, energy and I do think it boosted my metabolism a bit as well.
*TIP:Not only did I demand my T3 levels be at normal range, I wanted them to be optimal. The key is to find a provider that will go more by your symptoms and not simply by the numbers in your bloodwork. As it turns out, I do better with my thyroid levels on the higher range (some people cannot tolerate as much).*
A little more controversial, is the matter of taking Testosterone replacement therapy. Yes…I am only in my mid-thirties, but my lab work indicated that I was estrogen dominant (hello belly fat)- with lower testosterone levels than female patients in their fifties. This completely explained why all of the heavy lifting in the gym never paid off. As soon as I began hormone replacement therapy, I had more energy and I started to see more muscle development (my increased libido and better outlook on life was an added bonus). To keep a happy balance with my hormones, I eventually added in bio-identical Progesterone as well.
Out of all “the things” I swear by, peptides are the most controversial. While there are about 60 different types approved by the FDA, many ignorantly categorize them in with illegal steroids. However, they are simply amino acids which can stimulate growth hormone and/or burn fat (just depending on the type you take). While I don’t have time to go into detail about the functionality of this therapy, it took about a month of use to start seeing results. Around this time, people began telling my how lean I looked. While this is a polarizing subject for healthcare providers, more integrative physicians are offering this modality in their practices.
While I have had great results with hormone replacement, there is a caveat.
Hormone replacement is basically a lifetime commitment as taking exogenous forms of hormone will suppress your natural levels. Not only this, but you will have to check your levels every 3 to 6 months as hormones are a very delicate dance. When I initially consulted with my doctor, I was very explicit in my goals. I wanted therapies conducive to weight loss, muscle development and energy . You also have to be very careful about who you choose to alter your hormones. Each separate hormonal function is integral to the other and it may take some time to find the best balance for your unique needs.
Prescriptions to help with Weight Loss-
As if working out with a trainer 5x/week, watching my diet and taking all sorts of crazy sh*t wasn’t enough, I have a few more tricks up my sleeve for you. Gah…getting older sucks!
There are two other factors worth noting. The first being neurotransmitters.
After the stress and anxiety of last year, I developed a dependency on wine and cookies. Now you laugh, but this was my brain’s way of getting the dopamine it was craving after all of the stressful stimuli it was receiving. While Sam-E is an over-the-counter option, I felt so hooked on sugar and booze, that I needed extra-strenth help. This is where Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) came into play.
In higher doses, it is an effective treatment for addicts, but in smaller doses it can help patients lose weight by curbing cravings for sweets or alcohol. As a result, I am not able to drink as much as I once could and this is a very good thing.
Shifting to matters of blood sugar and insulin, did you know that your insulin levels are a very big player in fat loss? If you find that your levels are off in your lab results, you definitely need to address this issue or you may have a hell of a time ever losing the weight (think stubborn belly fat). As it turns out, my levels were a little off.
While you can use over- the- counter supplements like Berberine to keep levels in check, I knew some friends that had lost weight taking the prescription versions (like Metformin or Ozempic). While I first tried Metformin, it gave me pretty bad headaches. I am now happily using Ozempic, but it did come initially with it’s own set of side-effects (mainly nausea). I have since adjusted nicely. It has also helped me gain a better relationship with food as I no longer have major cravings for sweets. It also keeps you feeling fuller longer.
With all of the information I have shared with you today, you can see that there is no one magic bullet for weight loss success, but more of a synergistic alchemy.
I did not implement all of these changes at once.
Instead, I gradually tweaked components of my strategy as I learned more about my body’s needs, about the science of weight loss , and/or as my body plateaued.
By now, I hope you realize that fat loss in your middle ages is not simply a matter of diet and exercise.
No you are not a lazy loser, and yes , there is hope!
Above all else, you must love your body at each stage of your life. Don’t rush the process and be gentle with yourself.
And just so you know, I am still on a journey of learning to love my body (especially after babies).
When I sit down, I still have rolls, and I am fully aware of my ever-present stretch marks and cellulite.
Losing the weight has not solved all of my problems, but it has given me a little more confidence to show up as a fuller version of myself.
Sending you all my love! You are beautiful at any size, but if you don’t feel like your body matches your soul, I urge you to research the more nuanced reasons why you may be struggling. If you want more information on the trainer or medical providers i use, feel free to reach out. (No one is paying me to promote this info!)
Ultimately, I wish someone had given me all of this knowledge when I was in the depths of my body struggles, and this is simply my way of being a proponent to other struggling women.
Now get out there and design some good vibes along with a fabulous life
If you found this post helpful, it would mean the world to me if you could share it with a friend or on social media! Thank you!