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Exercise – Why less may be better in your 40s and beyond

Exercise – Why less may be better in your 40s and beyond

 

Exercise is a bit like Marmite – you either love it or hate it.  We all know the many benefits of exercise and how good it is for us on so many levels.  However, there is an aside which nudged me to write this Blog.Exercise

I am a woman let’s say well beyond the age of 40.  In fact, I am now 54 years young.  No shame in that either. I am not precious or self-conscious in telling people my age.  Nothing to hide, yet so much to be proud of in these wise years.  A lifetime of experiences and learning from mistakes made along the way.

Weight Issues

In my work with women in their 40s and beyond and in fact younger in some cases. Issues of weight always pop up in the sessions. Weight issues are also something I have struggled with myself, particularly in the younger years.  Interestingly the past year issues of weight popped up again and in a sense accidentally.

Obese?

Exercise

People describe me as a “curvy” woman.  I have hips, and I’m short.  A weight gain of 2kg looks like 7kg on me.  Last year at this time I was called “obese” by the GP, which was to say, the numbers on the chart were not in my favour. Of course, I already knew this as I was doing a fair amount of comfort eating after moving home from England to Scotland.  I know my own eating patterns better than anyone.  Coupled with the fact that I also work from home in Scotland and mostly online creating Journals over at www.theinsightfulway.com, and conducting Skype sessions for www.flourishbeyond40.com and www.isobelmcarthur.com. This involves a lot of sitting on my backside.

At the time I was living in a Farmhouse in rural Scotland with not another soul or houses nearby and life felt a little lonely.  So I found myself sedentary and eating too much.  Calories in and calories out were way out of balance and weight began to creep on slowly.

Another move a few months later into town and feeling much less isolated brought positive change.  I became more active and let go of a little weight, enjoyed the feeling of getting into my clothes and feeling at home in my body again.

Fast forward to joining the local gym, and getting up at 5 am and following a routine of HIIT class, lifting heavy weights in the gym, and swimming each day.  Weight literally began to fall off. I wasn’t feeling hungry and my calorie deficit went the opposite way. I felt truly fit, healthy, energized, toned but I noticed I was “losing” my face and tried to ignore this fact as I was enjoying all the exercise and associated benefits.

On one of my monthly work visits to Yorkshire, people kept asking me if I was ill, some were very honest and said I looked gaunt (another word for haggard), and generally looked unhealthy.  My husband felt the same way and said so on many occasions.

A Choice

So I took a long hard look in the mirror and yes it was true.  My body looked a lot better, but my face had suffered and had lost its fullness.  This prompted a memory of being told years ago “when a woman reaches a certain age, she has to choose between her butt or her face”.  This isn’t necessarily true for all women, but perhaps women who have a certain shaped face – like mine.

The past two months there has been a major turnaround, as the focus has now been on cutting back the daily workouts to four a week.  My food intake has increased significantly and I am eating what I should be and slowly regaining a few kilos.  My curves are coming back. Yes, I chose my face over my butt.  Lifting heavier weights and gaining some great fat burning muscle and increasing tone feels good.  Although my weight is creeping up, my body fat percentage is going down.

Exercise Factors

There are certain factors to consider when you exercise in midlife and beyond.  Firstly, recovery time in between workouts.  Young people tend to recover in around 18 hours.  A person in their 40s and beyond can take up to 36 hours.

exercise

Not giving yourself adequate recovery time can actually age you according to John Higgins, MD, associate professor of medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Centre at Houston and director of exercise physiology at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Centre.  He pointed out that if we use the same muscles too soon after a workout can trigger inflammation.

Classes such as HIIT can be incredibly fun, and people love it for the calorie burn too.  Dr. Higgins has found that these workouts have led to rhabdomyolysis – which can be very dangerous particularly if you become dehydrated.  He recommends 48 hours between classes to give adequate recovery time.

Many women fall into the cardio only trap, with no weight training.  In midlife and beyond we are losing muscle at a high rate. Muscle is a great thing to have on our body as muscle burns calories constantly, even at rest.  As a result, a body with no muscle burns fewer calories, plus there is no tone.

Building Lean Body Mass

Weight training two to three days a week will help you maintain and build lean body mass.  You are not going to look like a weightlifter, we are not made that way. Yes, you may see a little increase on the scales. This is because your body fat percentage is changing in your favour.  Why not invest in body fat monitor scales to see this for yourself.

If you are using machines, start to include weights as they help to stabilize your core.  Mixing up both adds variety and interest.

Free Radicals

Prolonged exercise causes the body to change its metabolism and as result, there are more free radicals released that damages cells and may speed up ageing. We are already overexposed to free radicals in pollution and an unhealthy lifestyle; we really don’t need any more to be flooding our system.  There are many plastic surgeons who believe that running is not good for facial tissues.  Skin flopping up and down will eventually loosen. Not a great youthful look.  As we move into midlife and beyond osteoporosis becomes a factor.  Our body needs a little impact on bone health.

The bottom line is that we cannot do the same thing we did at 20 without there being a consequence.  It is easy to fall into overtraining mode, and as a result, move towards burnout due to chronic fatigue.

exercise

Balance is key.  Yes, exercise, and eating healthily is vital, but it is necessary to take a different approach than you did in your younger years.  Your body will thank you and so will your face.

 If you enjoyed this blog, then you may enjoy our other blogs on the site too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

healthy eating

Healthy Eating Habits

Healthy Food – Let Food be your Friend

It has been interesting to observe how my body changed when I “flourished” into my 40s.  All of a sudden what I could get away with eating in my 20s and 30s no longer applied and I realised the importance of eating healthy food.

My body began to redistribute weight differently and a muffin top started to present itself over my jeans.  As I sat in the bath contemplating this new part of myself,  I knew that I needed to address and embrace new eating habits that were better suited to a midlife woman, and fluctuating hormones.  A cavalier attitude with my diet was not cutting it at all. Perimenopause had arrived and menopause was knocking at the door.

There is much evidence to support the true fact that the amount of energy that we burn while resting, drops off by the age of 30 and then a further 7% each decade after that.

Common sense points to the fact that of course if we eat exactly the same in our 40s and beyond as we did in our 20s and 30s weight would start to creep on. Not eating healthy food was no longer an option.  Have you noticed your waist bands getting tighter? your bra bulges increasing?  It doesn’t happen overnight though it may seem that way when you finally notice these things.

Bottom line – you need fewer calories than you did when you were younger

With midlife comes other concerns and issues such as risk of heart disease, diabetes, that with increased cholesterol levels, sedentary lifestyles, poor eating choices is a recipe for disaster.

cholesterol

There is no need to feel deprived when you choose to eat healthy food there are many tasty substitutes out there for you.  Don’t focus on the things you can’t eat, but on all of the things you can.

Eating healthier is easier than you think.  How about adding some spinach to to your eggs, or enjoy raw carrots, cauliflower and celery with some hummus as a snack.  Fill your plate with lots of roasted delicious veggies. Raw unsalted almonds and walnuts make a great snack too.

What is a Healthy Diet?

In the younger years you may have followed various different diets or ways of eating in a desire to “look good”, however this attitude shifts in the 40s and beyond towards a necessity to be healthy and look good.

But what is a healthy diet?  What are you supposed to eat or indeed not eat in your midlife and beyond years?  There is so much conflicting information out there now that no wonder you don’t know what to believe any longer.

One of the biggest gifts you can give yourself is to give up or at least restrict sugar in your diet. Did you know that sugar is eight times addictive as cocaine?

Giving up Sugar

When you go shopping, check the food labels and avoid any that have sugar in the first three ingredients.  Giving up sugar may be difficult at first and you may experience cravings, however these generally disappear after a few weeks have passed.  During this time please do not try to substitute your sugar intake by using artificial sweeteners, you may wish to try Xylitol or Stevia (made of plants).

Supplementation is important at this time in your life and there are many excellent supplements out there that may help you. Chat with your local health store and ask them to recommend the best supplements for you. Sugar also causes your blood glucose levels to rise sharply and then to crash which will leave you feeling drained and tired.  Sugar certainly has negative effects on your overall wellbeing and impacts your life significantly.

Moving into Menopause

You may find that as you move into the menopause that hot flushes are making themselves known, generally at the most inconvenient times and it is no fun having a hot flush mid conversation at work or otherwise.  There are certain food groups that trigger or worsen hot flushes and now is the time to remove these from your diet as they are over stimulating:

Coffee

Spicy foods

Alcohol

alcohol

Don’t forget your bones! Eating good sources of protein that contains tryptophan is important.  Include cottage cheese, turkey, legumes and oats. Tryptophan helps to make serotonin which is very helpful in controlling moods, appetite and sleep.

Healthy Food Groups

There are some food groups that are excellent for you at this time in your life, one of them being oats.  Oats is good news for cholesterol and the heart as it contains beta-glucans that helps reduce the unwanted form of cholesterol.  Having oats in the diet also protects against the build of plaque on artery walls.  Are you ready to start eating your porridge now?

EVIDENCE

It has been concluded by researchers that eating just 3g of oats every day helps to reduce cholesterol by 5 to 10% and the risk of heart disease lowers.  Great news for midlife.

OILY FISH

healthy food fish oils

Full of Omega 3 fats and great in helping to lower blood pressure, heart rate and reducing the risk of irregular heartbeats.  Choose wild salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna and herring.  Be careful in your method of cooking as omega 3 fats are sensitive to high temperatures, so steam lightly or cook on a low temperature.

We have just scratched the surface of eating healthy food in your 40s and beyond.  If you want to learn more then why not visit the Flourish Beyond 40 Guidance and Support page and shop where you are able to browse various ways of helping yourself back to health, and the options of joining the Flourish Beyond 40 Programme and Facebook community.

You may also like to read about weight and exercise in midlife and beyond and managing stress.

 

 

 

 

 

Weight and Exercise in Mid-life and Beyond

Weight management and exercise is an issue for many women, not just those going through the menopause.  The feeling of frustration when the scales tip in the wrong direction can be very disheartening, particularly if you have been “good” with your diet and exercise regimen.  Unfortunately, in the middle years and beyond, the metabolism slows down and your body burns fewer calories than it once did.

exercise

 

“Those who think they have no time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness” – Edward Stanley

For those of you in the menopausal years you may have found that you are gaining weight primarily in the tummy area, whereas pre-menopause you may have gained in the hips and thighs.  This is mainly due to oestrogen depletion, and beyond 50 there may be issues of insulin resistance which makes letting go of weight a challenge.

Many women find that by reducing the amount of carbohydrates they include into their diet helps them to stay in control of their weight.  After all, white bread, white rice, and white pasta have no real nutritional value, so why would you eat it when you can fill up on tasty natural vegetables?  This really is the time to clean up your diet.

Start by getting rid of the following:

  • Food additives
  • Processed foods
  • Boxed cereals
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Takeaways

exercise

 

Here are some tips to help you to let go of excess weight:

  • Don’t buy unhealthy food and bring it into the home; if it isn’t in the cupboard you cannot eat it
  • Eat mindfully and slowly, chew your food thoroughly and savour every bite
  • Put your knife and fork down between mouthfuls
  • Eat from a smaller plate
  • Hypnotherapy may also help you to stay on track

You are an adult. Stop being controlled by cakes, biscuits or sweets.

Do your best to eat your food in as natural state as possible.  Go organic as much as you can.  Eat little and often and keep your diet healthy, natural and clean.

The menopausal years do bring changes such as a slower metabolism, hormonal fluctuations, and disrupted sleep patterns, but the thyroid may also become more sluggish too.

Think of your body like a high performance car.  You would take care of it, put good fuel and oil into it to ensure optimum performance, and you would put it into the garage to fix it if something went wrong.  The same applies to your body.  If you do not put the correct food into your body, or take care of it, it is likely to fall into a state of disrepair as a result of neglect.

Respect your body, it has served you well to this point.  Maybe it has carried and fed your babies, and it deserves love, attention and care, through diet, exercise, and good lifestyle choices.

You already know that your body is going through changes during the midlife years.  How you deal with those is a significant factor in how your overall health and wellness will be.  Will you sit back and accept that this is happening and do nothing to help yourself?  Or are you willing to make a commitment to the management of your weight, fitness and wellness goals?

It is a true saying, “if you keep doing the same thing, you will continue to get the same results”.  Now is the time to really pay attention to your diet and what you are choosing to put into your mouth.  Now is the time to ensure you incorporate exercise into your life.  This can be as simple as a 20 minute walk every day, or attending exercise classes.

The key to staying motivated with exercise is to do something that you really enjoy and look forward to doing.  If you really dislike going to the gym and working out with other people, then why not exercise at home? Instead of sitting on the sofa watching a movie in the evening, why not buy a small trampoline and jump up and down a little while watching TV? Simple, effective, fun and easy on the joints.

There are so many exercise options available and keeping it varied will help to keep you motivated and on track:

  • Yoga
  • Zumba
  • Spinning
  • Swimming
  • Bootcamp

These are only five of the many different types of exercise that you could do.  Aim for four times per week and maybe walking each day.  Remember that exercise burns calories, speeds up the metabolism and gives you that feel-good endorphin rush.  You may wish to ask yourself why you are not exercising.

Exercise is not about making the time to exercise, it is about creating the time.  It is a tiny percentage of your day.

 

If you have enjoyed this Blog and would like to know more, why not head over to the Flourish Beyond 40 Services and Shop to see how we can help support you in your journey towards health and wellness. We even have a Weight Management & Excercise Module along with a range of other programmes.

Have a fun filled day!

 

Isobel McArthur

Founder of Flourish Beyond 40

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