The effects of medical obstacles on weight loss can be discouraging when we fail to meet our weight loss goals. There are 5 common medical obstacles that could be preventing you from losing weight.
If you are among the millions of women over 40 who is having trouble losing weight, you are in the right place. My last post, Why It’s Impossible for Women Over 40 to Lose Weight: Part 1, is the first step to building a foundation for weight loss. After reading that post, you should have identified what your “why” is or in other words, your personal motivation for weight loss.
In today’s post, part two of the series, we will focus on 5 common medical obstacles women over 40 encounter when trying to lose weight.
Medical Obstacles to Weight Loss: #1 Perimenopause & Menopause
As we get into our 40s, women reach perimenopause and usually by early 50s, menopause. As women, our bodies go through a transition period. Not only will we experience hot flashes, mood swings, vaginal dryness, night sweats, but changes that aren’t as quickly noticed may also occur. Weight can slowly creep on as we continue to our normal eating habits. Our bodies will not burn or use the food/calories we eat as efficiently as when we were younger. The junk food that once didn’t cause weight gain will more easily be stored as fat in unwanted areas, most likely our belly.
More than ever before, we have to be conscientious of what we are eating, making sure to limit sugars while increasing fruits and vegetables. (If you struggle with sugar, click here for help for beating the sugar cravings.) As women over 40, our bodies cannot burn the foods/calories we could when we were in our 20s and 30s. Education is key to our ability to fuel our bodies properly through balanced nutrition. Daily tracking of not only total calories will be important, but keeping track of carbs, protein and fats – the macronutrients, will be vital to weight loss. Don’t worry, we will discuss macronutrients more in depth later in this series.
Also, increased exercise and overall activity level is important. Making sure to include strength training into your routine regularly will build muscle to improve metabolism.
Medical Obstacles to Weight Loss: #2 Thyroid Dysfunction
Our thyroid is responsible for regulating our metabolism through the hormone thyroxine, or T4. If the thyroid is not functioning as it should, it could be the culprit for not only weight gain but also the inability to lose weight. Due to the metabolism irregularity caused by the thyroid, weight gain is possible even when drastically reducing calories.
The doctor can have a TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) blood test preformed to measure thyroid hormone levels. If abnormal, your doctor can prescribe a low-dose T-4 hormone medication.
Medical Obstacles to Weight Loss: # 3 Injury & Chronic Pain
As women over 40, we become more prone to injuries or chronic pain such as hip, knee, shoulder, and back.Chronic pain can be due to stress on the joints from being overweight for an extended amount of time, or just a normal part of our aging process. Any one of these injuries or sources of pain can limit our activity level for weeks, months or indefinitely, sometimes requiring surgery to repair. Often we lose the momentum and motivation to exercise when faced with limited mobility, particularly if it was an injury caused by exercise.
Often your doctor can make a referral to a physical therapist to teach strengthening exercises to overcome an injury or chronic pain. However, sometimes a rest period is necessary before starting back an exercise program to allow the inflammation and injury to heal properly. In some cases, it will be important for you to make adjustments to your workout routine so that not to aggravate the specific joint or area of the body prone to pain. Be mindful of your limitations and be ready to make accommodations as needed.
Medical Obstacles to Weight Loss: #4 Food Allergies & Sensitivity
If someone mentions a food allergy, most likely we immediately think of nuts or shellfish with a severe reaction of anaphylactic shock requiring an epipen and perhaps a trip to the emergency room. There are many people with a mild sensitivity to certain foods who most likely don’t realize the connection between the particular foods being eaten and related symptoms such as bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, and difficulty losing weight. Symptoms often take up to 72 hours after the food has been eaten to present itself. Dr. Mark Hyman describes the gluten reaction as leaky gut syndrome, allowing small particles of partially digested food molecules being able to slip out from the intestines to the body where the body then attacks the molecules as foreign bodies. Over the years this can cause inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract causing celiac disease as a result of the gluten in the diet. However, according to the Journal of American Medical Association, celiac disease only affects 1 percent of Americans. Another 30 percent of Americans suffer from a non-celiac gluten intolerance causing the body to attack the gluten, a condition that mostly goes undiagnosed. Due to the timing of the symptoms, food sensitivities or low grade food allergies can be difficult to diagnose.
There are 3 things you can do to determine a food allergy is the culprit for weight gain. A doctor can have a blood test performed to IgG food allergens, go diary and gluten free for 6 weeks or go without some of the top food allergens such as: gluten, diary, corn, nuts, eggs, soy, yeast, citrus, tomatoes, bell pepper, potatoes and eggplant. If you try to identify the food causing problems for you, eliminate everything for 6 weeks, adding one back at a time slowly. Eat the food 2-3 times daily for 3 days to measure any reaction. If there is a reaction, eliminate it for 90 days. A probiotic could also be a good remedy to replenish the good bacteria in your digestive system.
Medical Obstacles to Weight Loss: #5 Side Effects of Medications
Side effects from medications can be a source of weight gain or make losing weight difficult. According to Dr. George Blackburn, Associate Professor of Surgery and Nutrition at Harvard University, some of the most common medications that could be causing weight gain include: beta-blockers, insulin, prednisone, anticonvulsants, blood pressure and anti-depressant medications.
Sometimes your doctor can prescribe an alternative to your medication to reduce the adverse symptom of weight gain. Never stop medication without a doctor’s supervision.
Medical obstacles to weight loss can be tough to deal with, but not impossible if action is taken. Many times there are solutions that your doctor and healthcare professionals can help with.
So far in our series on Why It’s Impossible for Women Over 40 to Lose Weight, we have discovered our why motivation and now reviewed some medical obstacles we may be facing and how to find solutions. We still have a few reasons women over 40 have a difficult time losing weight to discuss in this series. To ensure you don’t miss anything, enter your email address in the subscribe block on the right so that the posts will go directly to your inbox.
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If you feel one of these medical obstacles is preventing weight loss, make an appointment to visit your doctor to discuss concerns. Remember, I am not a doctor or a healthcare professional to diagnosis or treat any possible medical conditions. Make sure to visit your doctor before beginning an exercise program.
A special thanks to the following websites for references: