Hi Gayle. Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you found Nutrisense.
My journey started back in 2018. I retired, and we moved to Florida. Things were great, but then menopause took a hit. I noticed all the previous weight I had lost pre-menopause and before retirement (65 pounds) started to creep back!
It was like somebody flipped a switch. I couldn’t put my finger on why no matter what I did, I kept putting on weight. I met with five different doctors, and they all said the same thing: “You’re 50+; you went through menopause; this is what’s to be expected.”
One of my doctors put me on phentermine, which I tried because I was desperate, but it affected my heart. I was so frustrated; I’d step on the scale, there’d be tears… I was gaining weight with no explanation. Nothing I tried worked.
And then, one day, I was researching why I may be gaining weight after menopause, and I ran into articles about estrogen levels and their impact on blood sugar. I started putting two and two together—I have a biology background, so I knew how to get to the ‘why.’
I started doing blood work and looking at my numbers, but the doctors kept telling me everything looked great and to keep doing what I was doing. But I continued to put on weight.
Then I saw an ad for Nutrisense and thought I’d try it out for a few months. That was in October 2021.
What is it that made you want to sign up for the program?
I was doing a lot of research, reading reviews and articles—when I found Nutrisense, it was a no-brainer.
The approach also seemed different from the average article you read, where they may tell you to cut out carbs or eliminate sugar, but they don’t tell you why. Or if it’s going to work for your body. I wanted to look into my data and see what was truly happening with mine.
And what made you stick around?
My dietitians were phenomenal. I started with Cheri (Bantilan) and then transitioned to Stephanie (Etherington) when Cheri went on maternity leave.
Initially, Cheri helped support me through various doctor’s appointments, motivated me, and taught me how to read the data. For so long, I’d tried so many things, and I just kept putting the weight on, and I’d never thought to look at things like my fasting insulin number or dig deeper into my body’s data.
Working with Cheri, I realized that my fasting insulin number was too high. It helped me begin uncovering the root cause of my weight struggles.
And how did learning all those new things about your body and glucose change your approach to your dietary and lifestyle habits?
I worked with Cheri to try new things that may help if I was experiencing issues like insulin resistance. I tried intermittent fasting for 12 to 14 hours overnight.
I began increasing my protein intake and lowering my carb number to a level that worked for my specific body. That’s when I realized it wouldn’t be a short three-month journey with Nutrisense. I would be with this program for a year at least.
That’s wonderful! What stood out about your experience with the dietitian support?
Having worked with Cheri for many months through the beginning of my wellness journey, I built a close relationship with her. And there isn't a doctor, friend, or family member I don't say this to—that woman is brilliant.
There are no words to describe the return on her investment of time. Some of the suggestions I've tried… It was like somebody flipped a switch.
And I had a similarly wonderful experience with Stephanie. One of the things that Stephanie immediately suggested was the introduction of a protein powder with breakfast because one of the biggest challenges I'm facing now this many months into the program is I'm not hungry anymore since I'm eating differently.
It all made a difference to my fasting glucose numbers, which used to be around 107, but with the nutritional changes I’ve made, they are down to 85.
Did you see any surprising food reactions right off the bat?
So many things were so surprising, like my reaction to rice. For me, just three tablespoons of rice and my blood sugar would stay at 190 for three hours. I used to eat so much rice because I thought it was the healthier option for me. Without Nutrisense, I’d never have known I had to tweak how much and what I paired it with.
One of my biggest challenges is learning how to indulge in pasta healthily! I grew up in an Italian home, and I love pasta. I now eat two tablespoons and make sure I have something like a whole chicken breast first.
Then there’s ‘healthy food’ like chicken Caesar salad wrap; I know from my body’s data that flour tortilla shells don’t help me, so it’s not as healthy for me!
What are some other dietary changes that have helped?
With the help of my dietitians as well, I noticed protein makes a big difference. So now, instead of using all semolina to make my pasta or Italian flour, I use about 50 percent of the flour and then use high-protein flour or bread flour (which has more protein). I also make a lot of my pasta and pizza bases myself rather than eat them out of a box so that I can control the ingredients.
I started making my own lasagna noodles with bread flour, and I cook lasagna with ground chicken or ground turkey—so these aren’t my biggest triggers anymore.
Once I began dialing in other aspects of my nutrition, I noticed reactions to things I would never have seen in the first few months.
For example, I was at a restaurant four and a half months into the journey: I got the same chicken dish I always get, and my levels were off the charts. I couldn’t figure out why. But because I was tracking and monitoring, I dug deeper and realized it was the type of lemonade they used in the Arnold Palmer I always drank (I usually did not react to it). And it had a different kind of or quantity of sugar! Now I get water with lemon or unsweetened tea with some stevia.
What were you surprised about that you thought would impact your levels and didn’t?
The sweets didn’t seem to impact me the same as the carbs. So, I can treat myself to dark chocolate with some mixed nuts. If I don’t overindulge, I don’t have to eliminate things like that.
I still have a hard time with bread, no matter what type, but I’ve learned that if I’m going to have it, I give myself 20 minutes to take a walk or do some exercise immediately after to mitigate the spike.
I’ve also learned to find things that suit my body on the menu when I eat out. It allows me to continue to ‘live a little’!
Another thing that worked for my diet though is how I eat. I am a lot slower and more mindful when I eat now. And the thing is, you learn what your body feels like when you have a spike because you have the data to see when it’s happening! I get flushed and feel a lot of exhaustion.
But learning all of this, I finally started to see the weight come off.
You mentioned it got tougher to lose weight with menopause as well. Would you say one of your goals was also to figure out how to feel better through menopause?
For sure. I also have a lot of aches and pains—in fact, one of the reasons we moved to the south from New Jersey is the weather. Both my husband and I deal with arthritis issues.
We retired early; we were lucky to be able to do so. I want to be able to go out west and climb a mountain, go hiking, and not be in pain, not be out of breath. I knew the weight had to come off to live that way.
And not only that but also to feel good, not to feel exhausted. As I once said to my doctor when she said, “Oh, I know you want to fit into that size four dress,”—I don't care about the size of a dress. I want to be able to go out to Utah and hike. I want to walk up my daughter's walkway and not feel like struggling because I don't feel secure on my knees because I'm carrying so much weight.
For me, it was an overall wellness journey. I don't want to be limited in my ability to live.
That’s wonderful! Speaking of physical activity—did you change your exercise routine as well?
One of the things that I've always done my whole life for weight loss and health maintenance was walking. I walked a lot when I was still working, whether on lunch breaks, taking the stairs, or getting my 10,000 in.
When I retired, I learned that walking is less entertaining than it used to be. It's hot in Florida in the summer, and staying motivated is hard. And the changes with menopause made it more challenging, and I didn't see the same return on the investment either.
Cheri asked me what I would like to do, and I didn’t know! All I’d ever known was walking or biking. She suggested weight training, and that didn’t feel like my scene. But being honest with her about my likes and dislikes helped me find a routine that worked for me. She suggested trying a resistance band workout for just 15 minutes a day. Since I was already doing physical therapy for my neck, I thought I’d try it out.
And it’s been such an attainable routine! I now have a wall-mounted resistance band program. I try to get three training sessions weekly, and along with my cardio and physical therapy, I do around 45 to 55 minutes two to three times a week. It’s working.
And you’re seeing the effects from all of this…
Of course, there were considerable differences in my glucose reactions.
I lost over 19 pounds in less than a year with Nutrisense, and I’m working on getting another 35 or so off. Inches are disappearing now too, and my clothes are fitting better.
And what about other lifestyle changes due to menopause?
Sleep for me started to be a problem at menopause, for sure. I know the weight doesn't come off if I don't get between seven and nine hours of sleep. I incorporate breathing exercises at night when I'm feeling stressed and getting the temperature right in the bedroom, which is crucial for me. If I'm overheated or warm, I won't sleep.
I think my biggest issue was the hot flashes from menopause at night, and the inflammation that I was experiencing in my hands and my feet were keeping me awake.
Some of the weight I’ve taken off has made me feel better overall, which is, in turn, helping me sleep better. The exercise helps as well. And I don’t get spikes overnight anymore like I used to. So, sleep has been a critical part of the journey.
What are some of your biggest takeaways from the Nutrisense program?
One of my biggest takeaways was learning why carbs do what they do—learning about this and more with my dietitians. And how they affect your genetic makeup.
You know, one of the things I always tell people when they ask me about the program is that there's no world where you can eliminate carbs from your diet completely. Because if you enjoy certain carbs as I do, most people won't sustain it.
It’s a process of learning how to fit it in, allowing for that occasional spike, but continuing to work toward not allowing that to happen regularly, watching for trends or unusual reactions. You know, things like: why did I see this spike? I had the same breakfast today as I had yesterday. Why did this react differently; what happened?
For me, the data is so important; it’s invaluable. You're not seeing everything without the CGM sensor and the app, and I can’t do without either.
It all works together. You have the data, the app, and someone to answer the questions you need answering so you can make better wellness decisions.