Getting older stinks! Do you feel like your butt is sagging around your knees and that your breasts are at your waist? Then again, what waist?
Do You feel like you just keep gaining weight, especially around your tummy and hips, and that nothing you do seems to work? When you were younger, you always had a plan that worked, but do you now feel like your health is spiralling out of control? You know what, there are a few contributing factors here. Yes, getting older is part of it, and changing hormones, a slowing metabolism and lack of activity really are conspiring against you, making it difficult to keep the weight off. The truth is women’s bodies do change as they get older and go through menopause, but weight gain is NOT an inevitable part of the ageing process; we have more control over our bodies and how they age than we think. Interesting, right?
Beginning around the mid-thirties, hormone production in the ovaries starts to slow down. It slows down even more when you hit your fourties, and you may experience hormone fluctuations until you go through menopause (which happens around 50 for the average woman). What many women don’t like about this process are the symptoms and problems that accompany these shifting hormones, such as:
- Hot flashes
- Depression, stress and anxiety
- Sleep disorders
- Cardiovascular disease
Another experience many women have is weight gain, especially around the belly and waistline.
Part of this has to do with those declining hormones, it could also be do with the fact that menopause may increase your appetite, causing your sweet tooth to rear its ugly head.
Menopause isn’t the only cause of middle-age spread; other factors include:
- Reduced activity. Women often exercise less when they enter menopause, which can lead to weight gain. Put bluntly, they get lazy. So, get moving!
- Decreased metabolism. One reason metabolism declines with age is the loss of muscle mass. Muscle burns more calories than fat, so when you lose that muscle (about 1/2-lb a year if you don’t preserve it with weight training/exercise), you don’t burn as many calories. Lift weights!
- Increase in calories. As metabolism drops, many people don’t adjust their calorie intake accordingly, which often leads to weight gain. It’s the old too many calories and not enough energy being burned situation.
- Genetics. Your genetic makeup and where you’re predisposed to gain and store fat also plays a role in weight gain, making it more difficult to maintain your figure.
Easing into Menopause
There are a number of ways to manage menopause symptoms, from alternative therapies to eating a healthy diet. However, one simple thing you can do right now is exercise. Consistent exercise can help you deal with the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause as well as some of the related health issues, such as heart disease and osteoporosis.
Other benefits of exercise include:
- Reduced stress. Menopause can often lead to depression, anxiety and stress. Exercise is a n excellent way to help reduce stress and improve your mood. Let the endorphins flow.
- Weight loss. Exercise will burn calories, which is exactly what you want when it comes to losing body fat.
- Reduction of hot flashes. Some research has found that exercise increases estrogen levels, which can decrease the severity of hot flashes.
- Increased bone mass. Strength training and impact activities (weight bearing) can help strengthen the bones and prevent osteoporosis.
- Reduced risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes.
Even if you’ve never formally exercised, it’s never too late to start, nor is it too late to reap the benefits. The key is to start slowly and do things you enjoy, for example:
- Cardio machines
- Group fitness classes
- Weight training
Don’t be afraid to work hard, your body will take the load, just be sensible.
Strength training is equally important, especially if you want to increase your metabolism and lose body fat. You don’t have to train like a bodybuilder to get the benefits, but you do need to use resistance (such as dumbbells, machines or resistance bands), and you do need to challenge your muscles and body. It is highly recommended that you work with a personal trainer at a gym, at home, or online in order to get the best results.
Things You Can Do to Avoid Weight Gain
If you’re getting really frustrated and upset with how your body seems to be changing, don’t worry, there are things you can do about it. By creating more effective workouts and looking at other areas of your life that may be contributing to the problem, you can get your weight under control.
Add Intensity to Your Cardio – How hard you work is directly related to how many calories you burn, and raising the intensity can help you burn more without having to add time or frequency to your workouts. Try some interval training or ICE (intense cardio exercise); for example, an aerobic class like Body Combat, RPM, or a run/walk on the treadmill. If this is something that you already do, go for a longer duration, and learn about learn about other burning cardio techniques.
Weight Training – DON”T BE AFRAID OF THIS. Of all the types of training you can do, strength training is the most important for maintaining your strength, balance, muscle mass and weight as you get older. Studies show that older adults can increase resting metabolic rate and energy expenditure by adding resistance training. Get the most out of strength training by doing the following:
Lift heavy – Most women don’t lift enough weight because they’re afraid they will look like Arnie if they do. Well, you won’t. You never will. We are not built to look or function like that. If you’re a beginner, work up to heavy weights over time, but if you’re experienced, go heavy.
Hire a trainer or get on a programme – Don’t stumble around aimlessly going from theory to theory, get some structure and stick to it.
Get on a proper Nutritional plan – If you think you are eating well, chances are that you are actually not! The biggest mistake you can make, as far as nutrition goes, is to not have a plan!
So, my lovelies, there is it; while hormones can definitely play havoc with our bodies, fear not, because we do have some control over how that plays out. Start your plan today!