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Is It Time to Train Your Midlife Middle?

AktivMotion Bar and Kymberly

I belly up to the AktivMotion Bar. Now to belly off!

Wonder how to lose menopause weight when eating less and exercising more hasn’t made a difference? Then you are in good company. Or at least Alexandra and I are in good company, as we get this request regularly from our group fitness class members, blog readers, and midlife friends. (Or would that be Bad Company, as we Run with the [NOT Six] Pack? I am cracking myself up here). Heck, I have this same frustration and know all the tricks of the trade. Or at least I thought I did. But it turns out even I, with over 30 years as a certified fitness professional had more to learn about dealing with menopause and the dreaded belly fat that puts the mid in midlife middles.

TransformAging webinar presentersYup, that’s how good the experts were for the recent TransformAging Summit  we hosted. (Click that link to see what the summit offered). When fitness specialists, Tamara Grand and Debra Atkinson presented their webinars, they shared Fun Fit Facts about hormones, strength training, and weight gain. Their strategies will help those of us wanting to get back our waistlines. But first we need to know what we are dealing with.

Test your knowledge on the role hormones play as we age when you take our quick quiz. The questions are culled from Debra and Tamara’s sessions. Once you put into action their suggestions, you will be able to:

  • Reduce fat;
  • Reshape your body with less cardio, less intensity, less impact;
  • Say good-bye to menopot.

That’s their promise, and I believe them. Perhaps more important than whether I believe (insert here some hallelujahs sistuhs and sistuhs) is that they base their comments on science and evidence. So it’s really a question of ACTION.

  1. First up, see how many of the following questions you get right;
  2. Next, ACT–ually do what they suggest (uh yeah, action’s the tricky bit, eh?);
  3. Third, check out how to access their entire presentations here:  TransformAging Summit
TransformAging with Debra

Live it Up with Debra’s Dead Lift

From “Resistance Training: Your Easy After 50 Weight Management Program,” presented by Debra Atkinson of voiceforfitness.com (We definitely encourage you to visit Debra and Tamara’s respective websites once you are done getting all the answers right to our quiz).

1. At what age does muscle mass peak unless you do strength training twice a week?

A. 25        B. 35      C. 45

2.While cardio burns more calories during the activity, strength training revs up your body to burn more calories over the course of the day.

T or F?

3. Which factor affects the weight of women over 50 the most:

A. calories in (food)        B. calories out (exercise and movement)        C. hormones

4. Where do you have a greater chance of injury:

A. Inside the gym lifting weights                     B. Outside the gym not lifting

5. Lifting weights can help relieve menopause symptoms.

T or F?

How are you doing so far? Are you getting the hint of what will help you regain your younger figure?

TransformAging session from TamaraFrom “Midlife Weight Gain, Hormones, and Menopot: Strategies for Staying Slim Without Losing Your Sanity,” presented by Tamara Grand, PhD of fitknitchick.com (Yup, we still urge you to hop over to Tamara and Debra’s websites to access more great ways to reach your fitness goals).

6. Which of the following causes weight gain in women over 50?

A. Experiencing more stress in midlife
B. Less movement with each passing year
C. Lower calorie requirement as we age
D. All of the above
E. None of the above. Quit looking for excuses.

7. Estrogen helps block the effects of cortisol, the hormone released under stress that causes the body to retain fat. By what percent do we reduce estrogen between ages 35-50?

A. 25 %                       B. 35%                 C. 50%

8. Progesterone helps use fat for energy and normalizes blood sugar levels. Yet progesterone also declines between ages 35-50. By how much?

A. 25%               B. 50%               C. 75%

9. Who is more likely to have more sensitivity to simple carbs:

A. Middle aged men                        B. Middle aged women                C. Both genders after 65 years of age

10. A walk can help with all but which one of the following:Tamara's slide for TransformAging

A. reduce menopause symptoms
B. boost metabolic rate long term
C. reduce stress levels
D. burn calories

No wonder we gain weight as we hit our fifties! Tell us how you did in the comments below. Brag for sure. Or let us know what surprised you the most. Are you ready to start strength training, eat fewer simple carbs, and take a walk? EmPHAsis on the strength training part, by the way.

Want more guidance, direction, and motivation? Debra’s session offers two ten minute resistance routines that are easy and effective. Tamara has simple “To Do” lists tailored to midlife women. Click to see how you can get their whole presentations and the four other webinars from the TransformAging Summit for less than the cost of a new pair of bigger pants …with an elastic waistband. Not that I’ve done that or anything….

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

PS. Did you want the answers?

1. A     2. T    3. C    4. B   5. T    6.  D (Aren’t you glad it wasn’t E?)    7. B      8.  C     9. B   10. B

PPS. Rancho la Puerta kindly sponsored our TransformAging Summit. If you are fortunate enough to book a trip there, you’ll find the perfect place to get stronger, leaner, and balanced!

Rancho la puerta


Hormone Hell to Hormone Heal: Guest Post by Debra Atkinson

Debra Atkinson, Guest Poster

Radio host, Debra AtkinsonYou are going to get a kick out of this guest post by the highly qualified, fully irreverent, fitness professional, and midlife specialist, Debra Atkinson MS, CSCS. After she interviewed us for her podcast, WellUAfter50’s, we knew you would enjoy her style and substance! We also hope you listen to the episode with Debra and us, Better Sex, Arms, and Knees as You Age.   After you read her solutions for hormone hell below.


The fitness world is abuzz with what to do for your muffin-top, belly fat, and bat wings. Diets offer abundant advice for melting it, blasting it, and banishing it. All the jumpstart workouts are usually prepared to take advantage of a woman’s desire to go sleeveless Saturday. Unfortunately, even the legit diet sense and exercise eloquence you know won’t matter if you’re in hormone hell.

If you’re in hormone hell, just keep going.”

To get the hormone bullies off your playground, discover your GPS for stopping the way hormones plot against your best efforts. Here’s how you can put up the good fight. No mo’ ho’s wrecking your plans for energy and vitality.

Sleep Tight and Right

Debra's book, Sleep Yourself SkinnyIf you’re short-sheeting yourself on sleep your belly fat may thrive. When sleep is down, cortisol is up. We know cortisol as a houseguest we didn’t invite. Truth is some healthy hormone stress is good. If you’re sleep deprived though, two other ho’s play games on you. Ghrelin tells you that you’re hungry and usually not for carrots and kale. On the flip side of things, when you’re low on sleep, Leptin never tells you that you’re full. Cortisol is going to help you store the extra calories from cravings in your belly. Not the kind of help you want.

Get Anti-Inflammatory Exercise

Now you’re thinking, “I’ve heard about aerobic and intervals, what’s the anti-inflammatory workout?” Look for exercise that keeps cortisol levels from going too high. A little cortisol for a short time is a good thing. Too much cortisol for too long is going to take advantage of your stress levels and elevate cortisol. Growth Hormone is another factor in your best exercise plan. You want to get the most growth hormone for the least cortisol. They’re on the teeter-totter playing nicely together. For best results we want higher growth hormone than cortisol. What works best? Short sessions of higher intensity intervals (bursts of your best effort) and longer sessions of moderate exercise. Take a moderate walk in nature without being a slave to a heart rate monitor and you’ve got a great cortisol reducing, immune system enhancing groove on.

Embrace Your Stress

All these years we’ve been told how bad stress is for your health. Run, Forrest, Run, they said. New news is that you don’t have to hire the mafia to rid yourself of toxic people or “Om” your way through your day. If you change the way you think about your stress you can change your body chemistry. You’ll live better, longer.

Your stress isn’t your stress. The way you think about your stress is the stress.

Studies show people who say they have low levels of stress lived longer and healthier than those with high levels of stress. No surprise, right? New studies also showed that among all the respondents who said they had high stress levels, those who thought the stress was “bad” died sooner. Those who thought stress made them stronger and more resilient lived longer with less incidence of disease.

Correct those well-meaning peeps who want to wallow with you. Surround yourself with some strong-minded stress-resilient friends. You’re still here after all; stress can’t be that bad!

Stop Dieting

midlife woman w/ tape at waist

You already know diets don’t work long-term. In fact, our rollercoaster weight loss and weight gain is what got many of us where we are today: frustrated that doing the right thing now doesn’t work. Diets are stress on your body. Women tend to think stress is emotional. It’s about relationships or finances or work pressures. Unfortunately, stress does not discriminate. If you’re exercising too hard or you’re eating too few calories or too much of the wrong thing, that’s also stress. There’s a 25% increase in cortisol among dieters. So, a diet backfires. Reduce calories and increase cortisol. Cortisol increases fat storage and cravings. Stress fat tends to go to the belly.

Reduce Caffeine

Wired and tired is the new norm. We’re exhausted but staring at the ceiling. Mid-afternoon if you’re reaching for that java or pop fix, think twice. Caffeine increases cravings by 23%. What happens if you give in and it’s not kale and carrots? Insulin teams up with cortisol and these two belly-fat bullies have their way with you. Once insulin is released all fat metabolism stops. You store and hold fat easier: a skill you don’t even remember working toward.

Try These Strategies

Know how much sleep you need. A simple sleep-need assessment can help. (link to include: http://bit.ly/1CyQtBg) Plan your exercise and plan your exercise-under-stress so you don’t let cortisol go wild. Buff your relationship with stress. Get your bring-it-on attitude staring it down. Take a diet cleanse. Just say no. If you focus on all the right foods you’ll reduce cravings naturally. Treat yourself to fresh foods in abundance and you’ll never have to go hungry again. Your hormones will thank you. They may thank you by dropping a few pounds or inches. Naturally rested with sleep and naturally juiced by plentiful nutrition you’re less likely to reach for a jolt of caffeine. If the urge comes try a natural pick-me-up like lemon or orange water.

You’ll be hormone healed in no time!

Debra Atkinson, MS, CSCS started teaching aerobics in 1984 with big hair, high top Reeboks and leg warmers. Lycra was the fabric of fitness and she embraced it. Over 30-years she’s taught, trained, managed, lectured and presented. Chief of Everything (COE) at Voice For Fitness, she’s a fitness speaker and consultant for personal training businesses. She’s the author of Navigating Fitness After 50: Your GPS For Choosing Programs and Professionals You Can Trust and the coming soon book The After 50 Fitness Formula For Women. Friend her on Facebook.









Ease Out of Stress

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Be Like a Dog with Stress

Are you time-pressed, overstressed, overbooked, underloved, underfed? Ok, I got a little carried away thinking of “It Never Rains in Southern California.”

Stress can take a toll on your well-being, weight, and ability to enjoy life. When we launched our VoiceAmerica.com radio show, Active Aging for Boom Chicka Boomers, we interviewed hormone expert, Tamara Grand on the subject of midlife weight gain. In looking at the effects of hormones, Tamara commented on the role stress plays in layering on fat. (Listen to the whole show, but the short story here is that stress triggers the release of cortisol, which slows the body’s metabolism and promotes fat storage). Oy vay, does that short story have an unhappy plot!

This connection between stress and fat levels going up together, triggered an email from one of our radio show listeners:

What’s the easiest way to reduce stress in a busy life?

Good question! Add in the aspect of “easy” being tied to “busy life” and the best methods probably also mean the quickest or least time consuming. The answer is … It Depends. What might be easy for you might be hard–and perhaps even stressful– for me. For example, I find a walk in nature relaxing and stress reducing. Walking outside might be anathema to you. You know I have to mention that even a 5 minute walk outdoors helps release tension.

Walk in Nature to Destress

Walk This Way

In researching meditation benefits for our post on its stress reducing aspects we discovered that meditating as short as three minutes make a positive difference.

Taking deep, refreshing breaths is another strategy that is easy, free, and quick.

So far so good — get into nature; move/ walk/ exercise; breathe deeply; meditate. What else?

First, let’s distinguish between chronic and acute stress. And done! Yup, go to our post “Is Stress Making You Fat?” to catch up on what chronic stress can do to you and what you can do it!  I feel better already knowing my work on that subject is already written. Whew!

Next, let’s consider more strategies that are easy, effective, and quick. For instance, laughing is a great way to bring cortisol levels down. Oh sha bam – again dropping my stress levels by having you link to this article from WebMD that offers 10 relaxation techniques you can all try. Why work harder than I have to?

Total Gym and Kymberly

Combine two destress tactics into one: Relaxing While Exercising

What’s left? Ah yes, please also read our post about how stress is a stealth saboteur of your good health.  Again, I feel pressure being lifted from my well-toned shoulders being able to refer you to work already finished. Aaaaahhh

However, I am compelled to do a little heavy lifting here. Of all the strategies I encounter, support, and even propose why not go straight to the problem? What is causing the chronic stress in the first place? Would it ultimately be easier, or at least more successful to address the source? For example, if finances are the cause of the stress, then is it time to change either income or expenses? The change might be challenging at first, but easier long term if the problem is solved.  Meantime, I plan to use the easy, free, readily available stress reducing strategy of LAUGHING and BREATHING, preferably while WORKING OUT! Hmmm, that means it’s time to call my witty, walking sister.

Reduce stress easily when you subscribe to our website and listen to our radio show. Experience some of the best leaders in the health, wellness, and fitness world every Wednesday morning at 8:00 PT/ 11:00am ET. Listen in (better yet, call in to 866-472-5792) to our new radio show Active Aging for Boom Chicka Boomers with guests who offer practical advice and cutting edge solutions to your active aging challenges. You’ll find us at voiceamerica.com on the Health and Wellness channel.



Tune In, Turn Out, Listen Up to Our New Radio Show

Alien Space Twins Spot Trends at Key Health and Wellness Events

Trying the Helix at IHRSAAre you curious what the future holds in the exercise equipment and health world? (Spoiler alert #1–more wearable technology so you can get closer to yourself than a selfie). Wonder what the fitness industry has in store to meet your needs and make you excited to work out? Ready to taste the latest in natural foods and eat more healthfully and deliciously than ever before? Then you’ll enjoy our reports from March Mad Marching through the Natural Products Expo West followed by a romp through the IHRSA fitness trade show and educational sessions Wait for it. Wait for it.

Active Aging Radio ShowSeriously, you’re going to have to wait for it as we have something MORE pressing for you to take advantage of. (Yes, you got exposed to all caps shouting).  Our upgraded, revamped, moved over radio show launches in hours on VoiceAmerica.com!

Voices in Your Head

Why listen to our new show, Active Aging for Boom Chicka Boomers? Do you want to achieve any of the following?:

  • Enhance your fitness
  • Advance your health
  • Lose weight
  • Improve your diet
  • Decrease your midlife aches and pains
  • Gain energy
  • Increase your brain power
  • Find time to exercise
  • Minimize physical effects of aging

Then do MORE than listen in. Call in your questions live at 866-472-5792. (Enter the number into your phone now and get that great feeling of a task well-accomplished). Get Insta-Attention and Immedia-Answers faster than your heart rate after an intense workout. Go to the Health and Wellness Channel at voiceamerica.com Wednesday mornings live.  Hear updated solutions to your health and fitness problems courtesy of our expert guests (and some fine Fun and Fit wit). Our show sponsors are also on our list of “things that make us happy and healthy.” Thank you to CocoaVia, our primary sponsor and Theraderm Clinical Skin Care, both of whom care about baby boomers.

Active Aging on Voice America radio

Listen Live Wednesdays at 8amPDT/ 11am EDT

How Do You Make a Hor-Mone? (if you know this joke, you are a certified midlifer).

Our first episode is entitled Midlife Weight Gain: What Can You Do About Hormones, Menopause, and Menopot? Our kick-off guest is author, biologist, blogger, and certified fitness trainer, Tamara Grand, PhD. She will knock your night sweaty socks off!

Beam Me Up Hottie

Be part of our big debut. But only if you want to be smarter, stronger, slimmer, sexier, healthier, and taller. Or if you want to show your hormones who’s boss. Click on any of the links or images to take a radio wave time travel jump to the show. Into the future – your healthy future!