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I had a complete hysterectomy 6 years ago and I am now 44. I battle belly fat even after loosing 25 lbs. I've been told it is because I don't have hormones any more and I have never been on HRT since my hysterectomy. Would a natural HRT help me?

By Anonymous January 13, 2009 - 8:48pm
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I've been told without hormones, I will continue to store fat in my abdominal region, and there is nothing I can do. I recently lost 25 lbs. and still suffer from embarassment because of my dimpled belly fat. I vowed I would wear a bikini as soon as I lost weight, and fact is, I am repulsed at the sight of my own abdomen. I work out 5 days a week with no changes. Would natural HRT help me? I am not interested in pill popping, but hope maybe there is a natural alternative for me out there.

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Anony, you're so welcome. Come back any time you need a pep talk! I know that when I hit the 25-pound mark, I'll want to throw a party!

How did you lose your 25 pounds, besides your 5-days-a-week workout, if I can ask? Did you just work on calories and portion size, or did you go with an actual program?

January 15, 2009 - 9:07am

Anon, congratulations on that 25 pounds!! Wow!! That's a huge accomplishment and shows that you made a big commitment to yourself and your health. I hope you take time out to pat yourself on the back for that, often. You deserve it.

You mustn't feel like you're alone in your fight over belly fat. The editors of Prevention Magazine have just come out with a book called "The Flat Belly Diet," based on exactly the thing you (and I) wrestle with. They were motivated to come up with the book due to research that says even small amounts of extra belly fat increases our risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. (It doesn't hurt that 67% of Americans say their belly is the body part they most want to change!)

Here is a bit from the introduction, written by Liz Vaccariello, editor-in-chief of the magazine:

"For countless reasons that I will outline throughout this book, the belly starts letting us down around age 40. Sometime between our 35th and 55th birthdays (some earlier, some later, and some, God willing, never), the belly pooches, puffs, and starts spilling over our waistbands. First we suck it in, yet it refuses to achieve its formerly flat shape. Then we crunch until our necks scream, while the fat over the sculpted abs muscles remains. And eventually we diet, then watch with frustration as the weight disappears from our breasts and our faces and the belly fat stays put. Eventually, belly fat starts to feel like our destiny -- something that even hours on the treadmill or the strictest diet in the world won't budge."

Feel a little better? Me too. She goes on to say that she hired Prevention's nutrition director, Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD to comb the research on belly fat and develop a diet that would target it. The book is their result. It deals with both subcutaneous fat -- that fat that is directly beneath our skin -- and visceral fat, which is deep within our torsos and is more dangerous because of the proximity to our organs.

Their eating plan restricts calories and bad fats, of course, but it also deliberately includes a bit of monounsaturated fatty acids (which they call MUFAs) to the diet at each meal. Through the research that the Prevention editors studied, they found that the MUFAs are an essential part of getting rid of that abdominal fat. They occur naturally in olive oil, avocados, nuts, olives and dark chocolate, for starters.

Here is Prevention's site:

and their diet basics:

and an amazon link if you're interested:

The Mayo Clinic has a great page explaining why fat gathers in our abdomen and a few ways to target those abs (you may already be doing this):


This study seems to find a small connection between HRT and less abdominal weight gain, but cautions that it needs to be studied further:


This study researched whether HRT affected abdominal fat and insulin sensitivity; there was a slight connection for insulin sensitivity, but not in body composition changes:


And this study did find some changes in cholesterol, but not in weight. HRT did seem to affect somewhat the distribution of body weight:


I know those studies are kind of dense, but it's always good to be able to sort through the information and find the results that seem consistent.

And here's an overall U.S. News and World Report article on HRT and healthy women:


Bottom line -- HRT may not have much of an effect on belly fat, but it may not be as worrisome as we thought if you and your doctor want to give it a try. And in the meantime, check out those MUFAs! (I know I am, lol. Meet you back here in a few months and we'll see how we do!)

January 14, 2009 - 10:23am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Diane Porter)

Dear Diane P., Thank you SO much for the kudos. You are right, I do need to pat myself on the back for loosing the weight in the first place. Sometimes we overlook our accomplishments and still find imperfections that we have without looking at the BIG picture. I also brought my cholesterol levels way down and increased my HDL. So that is what is really important. I have heard about that Flat Belly Diet book and just wondered if it was a gemmick or not. I guess it isn't! I will be purchasing that book for sure now. I do try to incorporate most of those items into my daily diet but I need to know how much to eat of it and not overdo the MUFAs as well. Thank you for all the websites and variety of information. You have made me feel so much more hopeful and not alone. Good luck on your strive to reduce that mean old belly fat as well. lol anony

January 14, 2009 - 10:43am
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