As we age, our ability to burn the same amount of calories we did when we were 20 years old changes. The reason is our organs are not as efficient, our muscle mass diminishes and of course hormones play a role in body composition. All of these factors combined can result in weight gain and slowed or inability to lose body fat. Both of these are top health concerns for women according to the experts.
Here are five keys to managing weight gain:
Sleep: Get at leat 6-8 per night. When we are sleep deprived, there is no amount of " motivation" you can have to make yourself make healthy choices as your body will crave carbohydrates ( think pizza, cookies) to help you increase you keep your energy that you should get through restorative sleep. Turn of your phone an hour before you got to bed to reduce the "blue light" telling your body to wait to release melatonin naturally. Keep your room cool, start to dim the lights and hour before bed, have a routine that tells your brain that bedtime is getting closer. A nightly warm bath followed by a few slow stretches, prop your feet up your feet up on the wall and dump the thoughts of the day.
Lift heavy weights. Not enough women are lifting weights, really lifting weights. Working with an appropriate amount of weight (1-5# weights are typically not enough) is essential to build healthy muscle mass. Walking is a wonderful activity and while it does burn calories, the outcome on body composition is different than that of strength training. There is also research showing that strength training plays a role in minimizing hot flashes.
Skip packaged/processed foods. As for food, though many women diet to lose weight, the mistake they make is not paying attention to the quality of foods they consume. Firstly, focusing more on a plant based diet helps to regulate hormones and reduce symptoms of menopause. Secondly, eliminating any and all junk food that is boxed or processed is a good choice. Make your last meal of the evening your lightest meal. Many women who follow these guidelines for their nutrition notice a dramatic difference in weight and positive difference in how they feel.
Drop stress. Days are hectic, responsibilities are overwhelming and often the high stress levels are constant. Reduce stress with regular restorative exercise. Specifically check out our restore stretching class. We do long slow stretches and end class with our feet propped up on yoga blocks or the wall. You feel amazingly less stressed as you loeave. Learning the art of meditation also helps to reduce stress levels.
Gaining weight in addition to the difficulty or slowed ability to lose weight makes for a tough duo. Granted, the challenges of menopause can play havoc with your body, but doing a quality check of your lifestyle factors will jump start your body’s fat burning capacity.
To jump start weight loss, evaluate your total wellness program on a monthly (at a minimum) basis. Check All these components. Stress, Sleep, Spirit, Exercise or movement daily, community activity,meal choices and prep. We can help you with all of these.
Examine your exercise program by asking three key questions:
Question 1: Are your workouts challenging?
Question 2: Do you finish each exercise session and know that you tried hard? Too often people get comfortable with their exercise and do the same thing day in and day out rarely challenging themselves. To get the most bang for your buck, try a HITT class. 30 minutes of interval based exercises modified for those with knee and back issues. Try any of our classes which all offer a different unique way to move. www.live-well-fit.com/classes
Question 3: are you using weights that are challenging or simply going through the motions?
Next, evaluate food intake. Of course food plays a role in the weight loss equation and the most common mistake women make are eating the wrong foods and only paying attention to calories. It’s important to pay attention the types of foods you’re eating. Stay away from sugar (very common for women to over eat) and avoid any fried and processed foods. Also, just because something is healthy doesn’t mean you shouldn’t monitor portions. Portion sizes are often the number one weight loss blunder women make. Use a smaller plate, stick to one serving and always precede a meal with a tall glass of water.
Finally, remember body shape also changes as we age. The human body is made up of fat, lean tissue (muscles and organs), bones, water, and other substances. As we age, the amount of fat, lean tissue, muscle and organs get redistributed. For example, fat tissue tends to be more prevalent around the center of the body, abdominal organs and if you’re inactive, body fat may increase by as much as 30%. It’s also natural as you age to become shorter.
Change in height is often related to aging changes in the bones, muscles, and joints. People typically lose about a half-inch every 10 years beginning around 40 years old. Once you reach 70, even more height may be lost each subsequent year. Bottom line, you may lose 1 to 3 inches in height as you age which will obviously redistribute your weight. In addition to the natural changes in the body, medication can also have an effect on the body shape.
Stick to the basics of physiology and biology to better manage the weight gain and slowed ability to lose body fat that may come with age. That means stick with proper exercise and quality nutrition! Be proactive about your wellness plan by evaluating your intensity and performing a quality check of your program in general. Be consistent and you’ll find it easy to become more fit with age!