Research has shown that both cardio activity and resistance training affect body composition and abdominal fat distribution, so you will want to move more than you have been due to your slowed metabolism, and do some weightlifting. Notice I did NOT say bodybuilding.
A couple of years ago I wrote an article on the link between exercise and sexual health, which included this statement: “ In Australia, researchers looked at the relationship between exercise, body mass index (BMI) and menopausal symptoms to see if the first two had an effect on the latter (Mirzaiinjmabadi, Anderson & Barnes 2006). The findings should be welcome news to women wishing to relieve symptoms of menopause…”
Before I turned 50, I took only iron for anemia. Now that I’m on THIS side of the age scale, I find myself trying other supplements too. As I’m not interested in prescription meds for a natural event (excepting the epidural I had during childbirth), I look to plant-based remedies and exercise.
Research also supports exercise as a way to relieve stress, stabilize mood swings that come with hormonal changes, and improve overall quality of life. However, no studies yet conclude that exercise can resolve sleep interruption or hot flashes. Hey, if I’m going to get hot and sweaty anyway, why not do it when a cute workout outfit, a good playlist, and calorie burning are involved?
Kymberly: My story is short and universal: I enjoyed a lifetime as an active, lean, fit person who never had weight issues. Then menopause hit and I gained 30 ell-bees in a blink, despite having better eating habits than when young, a regular exercise program, and professional knowledge about how menopause affects women.
Don’t get me wrong. I am still one of the healthiest people I know. Still active; still happy and confident; still a qualified group fitness leader. With a menopot and a closet full of blouses that gap between the buttons! Who knows what I am talking about?
I continue to recommend exercise as one of the best ways to get through menopause — well, through life in general! Specifically, get at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes minimum of high intensity aerobic activity each week. Certainly more minutes spread throughout the week is even better. But these minimum targets are doable and effective. We’re talking just 22 minutes per day. Jog in place during tv commercials if need be. I can knock out 15 minutes during the halftime of a UEFA Champions soccer game! Taking my princess privileged poochie for a daily dog walk tacks on another 45 minutes at least.
Perhaps more critical for weight loss purposes is to strength train all major muscles at least twice a week. Strength training becomes MORE, not less important we age. Added bonus: resistance training and weight bearing activities (such as jogging, treadmill walking, but NOT swimming, for example) slow bone loss after menopause, which lowers the risk of fractures and osteoporosis.Some additional good news about menopause and exercise — we also reduce our risk of breast cancer.
Hmm, I probably could increase the frequency and intensity of my strength training program as I have slacked off a bit the last few years. Just a thought. No wait – I mean just an ACTION!
For more thoughts and a story you might relate to, check out Managing Weight as You Age, by Jody Goldenfield.
Action: Subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog if you want to show menopause who’s boss. We’ll come to you twice a week with realistic tips to help you enjoy the second half of life as much as possible. Enter your email in any of the subscription boxes and grab your bonus while you’re at it.
Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
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.
Yup, 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:
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.
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).
A. 25 B. 35 C. 45
T or F?
A. calories in (food) B. calories out (exercise and movement) C. hormones
A. Inside the gym lifting weights B. Outside the gym not lifting
T or F?
How are you doing so far? Are you getting the hint of what will help you regain your younger figure?
From “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).
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.
A. 25 % B. 35% C. 50%
A. 25% B. 50% C. 75%
A. Middle aged men B. Middle aged women C. Both genders after 65 years of age
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!
Seriously, 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!
Why listen to our new show, Active Aging for Boom Chicka Boomers? Do you want to achieve any of the following?:
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.
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!
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!
Pretty depressing title, isn’t it? But that’s how I feel as 2014 settles in – overweight and over the hill. You know the very first line in Tone Loc’s “Wild Thing?” I’ll make it easy – he says, “Let’s Do It.” As 2014 settles in, I realize I need your help and encouragement to “do it” so I can reach my weight goal.
Right around Christmas, something that horrified me, and left me convinced I had some sort of abdominal tumor (face it, at 55 I do not consider pregnancy as an option; a killer tumor seems far more logical), was a weight gain of a pound a day ten days in a row. It’s true – I gained ten pounds in a ten day span (no tumor made itself known). The frustrating thing is that I was actually moving even more than usual. As a matter of fact, I got a Polar Loop and put up my December activity stats in my “Rethink Your Day” post. And this month I’ve kept a’movin.
So I don’t need to move MORE; I need to move DIFFERENTLY. This is me, the fitness expert, speaking to me, the frustrated menopausal exerciser. In case you think I’m a crazy eater, I’m not. This is a typical day’s intake (yes, I’ve started a food journal, as they DO work):
rye toast with butter
smoothie – kale, Greek yogurt, banana, almondmilk, flax, ice
½ apricot hamentaschen
yogurt with almonds
hummus with chia pita bread
white chocolate peanut butter
So I don’t need to eat DIFFERENTLY; I need to eat LESS, I guess. I am a vegetarian with no food allergies, so will not be doing any specific diets.
Those of you who follow me on Instagram know I’m quite the selfie addict. But right around the start of January one friend said my cleavage had increased, and one of my fitness students said my legs “had some meat on them.” In both cases, the comments were meant as compliments, but that is NOT how I took them. Ladies, if you like being told your legs have meat on them, please let me know in the comments, as I am not familiar with this being a desirable goal!!
So, yeah, I guess my selfies are showing those ten pounds. Can I blame aging? I’m quite a private person, but I tell ya, I need your encouragement. It’s super frustrating to know what to do, do it, then nada. zip. nichevo. niets. nichts. rien. nothing. My BMI (according to the Polar Loop) is 25, which is average for my height and weight, yet doesn’t account for my age or muscular build. My VO2 max is 31, which is above average. Gotta get the BMI down, and the VO2 max up.
My goal for the next few months is to lose a safe two pounds a week, until I shed 10-15 pounds total. My health and strength are great; I’m just vain. I don’t want to have tight clothing. I don’t want to feel unattractive. I don’t want to compare my 2014 self to my my 2013 self. I just want to manage this stinkin’ food tumor! And be hawt and sexy. You know, the basics!
Please leave me your favorite:
* high intensity, low impact cardio move
* flexibility yoga pose
* multi-joint strength move
and each day I’ll incorporate your suggestions into my regimen. Time to shake things up, and by “things” I don’t mean my abs! In that area, I want more bakin’, less shakin’.
Stupid aging. Stupid slowing metabolism.
If you’re trying to lose weight, this post about the 5 Steps to Create Permanent Change might be helpful.
You’ve just spent ten and a half months exercising and eating healthfully. Now Thanksgiving is a few days away, which signals the start of the “Eat Too Much; Move Too Little” time of year. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We all know we should stick to our healthy habits, yet it’s sooooo hard! So we’re sharing Seven Seasonal Suggestions to help you make it to January with your intentions intact.
1. Drink lots of water and green tea before the feast. You will feel full and less inclined to overeat.
2. Eat your usual breakfast and lunch. Don’t skip a meal thinking you will then be free to make up for lost calories when dinner is served. By the time that occurs, you’re likely to be so hungry that you’ll overeat or choose whatever is closest.
3. Sort foods into 3 categories:
Planning and paying attention have a definite effect on how much you pile on your plate.
4. Use a salad plate instead of dinner plate. You’ll be inclined to eat less. Most of us are visually triggered, so we stop adding food once our plate looks full, regardless of plate size.
5. Get up from the table when done. Do not sit with food in front of you once you’re done. Also, put food away right after you’ve finished dinner or you could end up eating an entire meal’s worth just from picking at the stuff that’s in front of you. If you feel you’re being impolite, just say, “I’m putting stuff in the fridge now so I don’t feel tempted to overeat. Anyone who’s still hungry is more than welcome to help themselves.” Not only are you letting people know why you’re putting food away quickly, you’re also making yourself accountable by stating your goal to not overeat.
6. Use your mind to decide what matters. When loading your plate, ask yourself this question: “Am I choosing this because I’m hungry or because it tastes good?” No right or wrong answer exists; it’s simply that the awareness of your choices will help you make a considered decision as you realize that you are in control, not the food.
7. Go for a walk. What better way to spend quality time with your family or friends than by putting on a jacket and getting outside? Need more motivation to move during the holidays? Give a listen to our radio episode, “Be Motivated to Move Through the Holidays.”
What tips would you add to this list?
Photo Credits: morgueFile
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Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Even for us, we find it a challenge to pull ourselves away from the computers blogging about living actively as boomers. Fitness irony, right? There’s always one more email to answer or that quick post to enter. Next thing you know — wham! Sitting on the Dock of the Butt for hours on literal End!
If your challenge is finding exercise time with all the sedentary work you are laboring under, ponder this: If you are not reaching your goals, it boils down to only two reasons – either not enough Motivation or Education. Motivation you have to get from yourself; Education is coming at you live in the next paragraph without further commercial interruption (unlike the sitting interruption we are aiming for. Oops that was a break right there).
Your preadipocyte cells (pre-fat cells waiting in the wings) turn into full-fledged fat cells faster and in greater number when the body is “actively inactive.” That means you are working at being sedentary for hours at a stretch. Existing fat cells reload with more fat as well. Insert loud horror movie scream here!
When muscles — such as glutes, in this case — are in a stretched position for an extended time, the cells in those muscles “leak” and “drip” lipids. Yes, that’s another word for “fat.” The weight of the body increases lipid production via a process called “mechanical stretch loading.” For those who like the science behind growing behinds, read these two articles on sitting causing fat gain. Brace yourself for the educational story about fat cells lurking and invading our muscles as we innocently plunk our hinies in one spot too long. Believe me, you will be motivated to sit less after reading the research results.
Are you standing up as you read this? We thought not. Then stop reading and get up as soon as you:
A) subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog.
C) Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
At 55 years old, I have had 7 plus years of experience with the “change.” Women can begin having hormone changes from the early 40’s into the 50’s with numerous symptoms from irritability to night sweats to hot flashes to depression to anger to hair growth – just to name a few! I KNOW – aren’t you all looking forward to this if you are not there yet?
As much as all of the above symptoms are a pain in the arse, I think the one part of changing hormones that drives women crazy the most is the dreaded weight gain! We are minding our own business and living a healthy life when all of a sudden our bodies decide to fight us!
I started perimenopause in my late 40’s. It was not too bad then. Once I hit 50, well, all hell broke loose! I could do a whole other post on symptoms beyond weight gain, which come and go and come and go and come and go for years. For this guest post, I am going to focus on weight gain and what we can do to manage and reverse it.
For me, I was already doing all of the above. I was weight training with intensity. I was doing cardio sessions with intensity. I was already eating very cleanly – lean protein, healthy fats, the carbs that the experts were saying to eat to manage the weight. It was frustrating to know I was already doing everything I was supposed to do and still gaining weight, so I had to find a way to make it work for me.
I was already a person in tune with my body. I like to say I “listen” to what my body tells me in terms of how exercise and food affect it. I make sure to notice how my body changes when I eat certain foods. Learn to get more in tune with your body rather than going through the motions.
I started to SLOWLY change some of the foods as well as the ratio of protein to carbs to fats. I reduced the calorie intake – SLOWLY – I would say every 6 months or so starting at age 50. Sometimes the changes were less than every 6 months and there were times it was more than every 6 months. This is where that “LISTEN TO YOUR BODY” comes into play – so important!
There were times when absolutely nothing I did mattered & the body just refused to change. PATIENCE is your friend! Don’t give up and work through this!
Also, pay attention to how your body looks and how your clothes fit. The scale, if you do weigh yourself, may not move but your clothes may fit tighter. The weight on your body starts to shift to different places during perimenopause to menopause so be aware of this otherwise the scale and/or your clothes are going to provide a rude awakening one day! 😉
You are going to have to decide what is most important to you in terms of how hard you are willing to work to maintain your pre-perimenopause/menopause body. From experience, I can tell you it is very very hard to keep the weight down and the same body appearance as we age. Only you can decide how hard you are willing to work to keep the weight in a range that is comfortable for you.
I know this all sounds depressing and you want to say, “screw it all”! This is life for women. Some have it worse than others but we all will go through it. All you can do is accept it for what it is and decide what you are willing to do, how hard you are willing to work and honestly, how important it is for you to stay at your pre “change of life” weight. It is hard to stay there so it is not a bad thing if you decide that 5 pounds’ extra is OK. Everything in life is relative to what works for you long term
I have found a couple wonderful sources of information I would like to share with you.
Ellen Dolgen at http://www.shmirshky.com/ is an expert in this field. Her website has resources to help you through this along with a directory of doctors specific to “the change”. She has also written books that will make you laugh out loud while still giving you the information you need to manage this time in your life.
If you are looking for sleepwear to help you through the night sweats & hot flashes, check out Dry Babe at http://www.drybabe.com/.
I am open to questions if any of you want to email directly at email@example.com. I could have written another 5 pages on “my life during perimenopause & menopause” but I am sure this has gone on way too long already!
Bio: For those who don’t know me, my name is Jody Goldenfield & I blog at Truth2BeingFit, http://www.truth2beingfit.com. I am 55 years old and have been working out for over 30 years. I love to weight train but I also do my cardio! I admit to having done many things wrong when I was younger but I learned from those mistakes. My motto is “always learning” and “always a work in progress.” I plan to continue to challenge myself each and every day no matter what age. Age is just a number!
Thank you to Kymberly & Alexandra for allowing me to guest post here today!
We hope and suggest that you check out Jody’s blog. You’ll start each week out positively with her “Gratitude Monday.” You’ll end your week pumped up by a woman whose enthusiasm for resistance training will motivate you. Hop over now!
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K: Tip number one: Do not let age catch up with you. Run faster. Oh wait, with age the knees start to go so running might not be too comfy. And F and F LOVE comfy fitness. And dark chocolate. Tip number two: Retire super early from your full time desk job and do something that requires loads of outdoor activity. We do have our fitness priorities after all! Then I woke up….
A: You may not like this, but you might have to run faster just to stay in place. TAKE YOUR FINGERS OUT OF YOUR EARS. I KNOW YOU CAN HEAR ME! At 54, the rate at which you burn calories has slowed down, especially if you sit on your Bartleby the Buttolomus (lost Latin term meaning “butt”) most of the day. So, you are not burning the kcals quite as quickly — fat goes up, muscle mass goes down — the roller coaster of your BMR and metabolism goes zooming along. Good news, you don’t have to be the high bidder for a leftover “Gone With the Wind” corset. You do have to lift those weights a bit more. If you are currently doing strength training, you need to either do it more often or with heavier weights. Increase the cardio — either go longer or harder. And eat less! Shazaam 1, 2, 3.
K: Good news: cut back on the 200 sit ups. Remember, you cannot spot reduce. All the ab crunches in the world are not going to nuke any mid-section fat. You do need to expend calories to prevent fat and weight gain, so Alexandra is right to recommend the combo of cardio and weight training. Oooh, admitting her rightliness did not hurt as much as I thought. Or as much as 200 ab crunches per day with minimal results.
The short version of our advice is boiled down to three plain potatoes: eat fewer calories, or burn more through increased activity, or do both. Full disclaimer: Fun and Fit fully believe that movement is the Fountain of Youth, yet we must acknowledge that the Fountain is fed by “spring-in-the step pure exercise well waters” that require more pumping (iron) as we age.
The super short version of our advice is to say, “the heck with it. I needed a new wardrobe anyway.” But probably better to pump the Fountain Well.
A: The final words from me: Forget about Mr. (Eating) Right. Go with Mr. (Eating) Less. But marry Mr. (Exercising) Good Enough.
Readers: Were you aware that weight training is part of a good weight-loss program? Have you ever visited the Fountain of Youth?