By Victoria Hansenvhansen@abcnews4.com
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- You exercise, you eat right, but still you can't lose weight. If you're over the age of 40, hormones may be to blame.
Cindy Cartmell knows the dilemma all too well. Even as she trained with friends for a half marathon, the scale wouldn't budge.
"I was in a size 8, I went to a 10, 12, 14 and then I had just started purchasing size 16 and I kept thinking you know this just isn't me," Cartmell said.
She was frustrated, but hadn't given up when she met Dr. Bright McConnell. He's an orthopedic surgeon who began studying hormones in relation to bone density.
"He told me you're actually more fit than you look, " Cartmell said. "I broke into tears in his office because finally somebody is telling me that there is actually a solution to this."
The solution started with a blood test, make that multiple blood tests. Cindy Cartmell gave more than a dozen vials of blood and Dr. McConnell with FitMed partners of Daniel Island began a battery of tests, including a specific analysis of hormones.
"When we talk about optimizing hormones, we're talking a hormone level back to about the 80th percentile of what you were say 30, 25, 30," Dr. McConnell said.
Dr. McConnell says as we age, our hormone levels diminish. He says hormones like estrogen, testosterone, cortisol and thyroid can directly impact our metabolism.
"The science behind hormonal modulation is strong. It's been out there. It's not new, just misunderstood," he said.
Dr. McConnell says hormones got a bad name when they were linked to breast cancer in the treatment of menopausal women. But he believes those naturally made in our bodies are okay, in the right amounts and combinations.
Cindy Cartmell is certainly a believer. Within nine months of starting hormone modulation, she lost 40 pounds. She exercised the same, ate the same, but added a prescription of hormones specifically mixed just for her.
"It really is designed for me, Cindy Cartmell, not just the mass population which is a huge difference," she said.
But weight loss wasn't the only change. She slept better, had more energy and found it easier to concentrate.
"I feel like a fog has lifted," Cartmell said.
Cartmell, like a lot of women over 40, had begun to believe weight gain and fatigue were just part of the aging process she would eventually have to learn to accept. That's not her belief anymore.
"I've told friends, 'You know if I'm comatose you better make sure that I keep getting that stuff because when I wake up I want to feel as good as I do right now.' "