Note: The original recording for this show was damaged and I haven’t been able to retrieve it. Please enjoy the re-recording here.
The motivation to start and stick to fitness or healthy nutrition can be hard to find. Even when you think you’ve got it you can go through rough patches. If you’re struggling to find the mojo and you find constant resistance this will help.
Don’t forget to watch the Flipping 50 show available on iPad, iPhone and Apple TV by downloading the Wellness TV app in iTunes.
Your core exercises are never going to flatten your belly. If you’ve gained belly fat during peri-menopause and you’ve exhausted all the exercise options (along with exhausting yourself) with no luck, this is for you.
Your exhausted system means no amount of exercise and calorie-slashing dieting is going to reduce belly fat. It isn’t an excess of calories that put it there. It was your hormones.
I’ve watched Ironman athletes who train for hours every day for months carry excess body weight and belly fat across the finish line with them. That’s after months if not a full year of dedicated training and a hyper-conscious diet.
(click to tweet!)
Putting your body through any grueling schedule whether that’s through excessive exercise (I point a finger directly back at myself here, as I too have done Ironman distance triathlons) or by too little sleep and too many chemicals from food or too much stress, can throw your hormones into a spin.
Without a balance of rest & recovery against the daily grind or the excessive training (elite athletes nap in the afternoon, they don’t go to 9-5 or 9-9 jobs), you constantly empty your cup and then try again and again to drink from it.
If you hit midlife and what used to work suddenly does not, it may not in fact have been all that sudden. It could be a cumulative effect. Exposure to a lifetime of things that allowed your body to operate –potentially by depleting your resources and pumping out the wrong hormones for too long – can lead to a crash.
Yet some endurance athletes thrive. They seem to look younger, have fewer wrinkles, and be full of energy. What determines how you’ll react? The answer to that may never be fully understood.
It might be any or all of the above.
If you have dug yourself into a hole and you’re experiencing:
None of these will be fixed with “more exercise” that’s often recommended. People who do feel good and who get more energy from exercise often advise “energy creates energy.” If you’re already exhausted the last thing you need is more exercise. You would, essentially, be writing checks on an account that has nothing in it.
What is the answer?
No amount of abdominal exercise will correct hormones out of balance. The hormone exercise prescription honors the message your body is sending you.
I’d love to hear from you. Are you finally getting your energy and mojo back by exercising for hormone balance?
I so often share science here. Today is the exception. Bear with me, or tell me if this diversion from the norm resonates with you.
Over a four day period I spent 21 hours in the car last week. I drove across two states on Wednesday and Saturday last week. In effort not to bash any state that might be flat, boring, and full of windmills I won’t mention which.
The truth is I don’t mind it. I think, potentially, its the control freak in me. I would rather jump in my car and go (perhaps with a few more pairs of shoes) than drive to the airport, find a spot, get a shuttle, sit around and wait, pray for no delay, then pray for my luggage to arrive, get a car, and spent nearly the same amount of time in transit or thinking about transit as if I drove.
Plus, truthfully, how telling is this about our workflow these days, driving gets me away from a computer screen. I really love that. I have come up with far more ideas in the car on some of those trips and caught up on more audio programs from my associations than any “focused” day in front of a screen. I’m certain of it!
The other thing I notice is that I consciously drink so much water and eat so healthfully during a road trip that it’s like a little mini-retreat. I feel amazing at the end of a 10 hour trip. Odd as that may sound, I get busy too! I can forget, neglect, or miss my water breaks but that NEVER happens in the car. I just make it my business to drink regularly. I bring healthy snacks. When it’s all you have, it’s all you eat.
My aha moment in the car Saturday though, was this: follow your gut. We ignore it so often. We all have intuition and yet we sometimes just leave it sit there. In this day of gut health, micro biome talk, and the gut being the second brain, following your gut is not new news. I’m not talking about gas, bloating or digestive issues here. I’m really talking about the feeling or inkling something isn’t (or is) right and then downright ignoring it.
I am so guilty. I’d dropped my dog at at boarding on Tuesday. When they asked for confirmation about pick up on Sunday morning, I said, “That’s just in case: if I get back Saturday early enough I’ll stop then, what’s my window for pick up?”
Now, in my mind that clearly was a question about what time I could still pick up late on Saturday. The girl, a new face I didn’t recognize, said, “between 5 and 6pm.”
I was at the time staring at a sign that said, Reminder, we close at 5 on Saturdays, if you’re not here we’ll give you one call and charge you for an extra night if you’re late. Thank you for picking up your pet on time.
The sign was new. The girl was new. I was a little confused but let it go: I was already thinking about 4 other things I needed to do before I was packed and ready to go.
Driving back, I was ahead of schedule. I was going to be back by 3:45 and was thinking, I’m early, I’ll have to kill time so I may as well get to the grocery store and go up the mountain and partially unpack at least. Done.
Still, I kept thinking…something doesn’t seem right. Why, if they close at 5, meaning they’re open ’til 5 is pickup for boarding between 5 and 6? But I just ignored it. I’d asked, got an answer and figured I’d got it wrong.
I figured I’d got it wrong. What??
Why would I do that? I figured I was wrong instead of following my gut and calling to ask.
As it turns out, I arrived at the kennel at about 5:03. They were closed. Doors locked. In fact I heard them lock the door as I walked up. So I knocked. Then I knocked again and got out my phone to call them. Not happy.
Mostly, I was not happy with myself. I could have gotten the groceries, gotten the dog, and been home relaxing at least an hour sooner. I just mentioned I like driving. At the end of the 10 hour day I don’t love another hour or two tacked on the end.
I thought about my choice to ignore signs and symptoms that something wasn’t right. I knew there was a mismatch somewhere. The closer I got to home the more I was thinking, hmm? Is that right? Seems weird. But I didn’t follow my gut.
I think you do it too. Why aren’t you motivated? Why do you plateau?
Here’s a truth in so many of the Flipping 50 TV show casting applications I receive. You tell me you can’t get motivated. You can’t stay motivated. Your stress level may be high (7-10 out of 10) or low (below 5 out of 10). Motivation is a problem. In a few instances, you share information about what else is going on in life. (That, by the way is SO helpful and why I coach the whole person, and not exercise or nutrition alone).
Recently, a woman shared something about not doing what she loved to do. She has a life passion and she’s no longer doing it. She used to, and appearance was a big part of the package for what she loves doing. She misses it desperately.
That heart and or gut feeling telling you that you need to act is a must-listen to if you’re to be happy. Happy comes before weight. Getting back into shape in order to be worthy of pursuing the thing that makes you happy is BS. Yes, I can BS.
When you begin pursuing it, give yourself a deadline, find a way to on some small scale (and NOT the one in the bathroom) do this thing. Maybe there are jobs or offers in the career path you want right now. How can you make your life work and passion a part of your life ANYWAY?
When you have that thing that you feel called to do, in today’s world there is a way. Social media makes it possible for any of us to do anything. You may have to make up the rules as you go along.
Whether yours is a monetary goal, or simply having purpose and finding yourself by using your gifts, START.
What is your heart telling you? What is your gut telling you?
This is not a dress rehearsal. Do not wait to look better, be a certain size. The competition beating you down is internal not external.
Give yourself a little encouragement or find someone who will. When you get this thing on your path and purpose, your happiness will spill over and your other obstacles will fade.
Tell me what it is you wish you were doing more of in the comments. You will inspire someone else, I promise. She needs to hear/see it. Maybe she’s you.
Then, one question for you: will you start? One small step in that direction is all it takes. If you for instance wanted to write a book, writing a page a day would give you a 365 page book a year from now.
This week I spoke to several groups about productivity, energy, and creativity enhancement within the workplace. Doing so always sends me back to review current research. Below is a synopsis of my dig this week and in the bullets you can find the quick to-do list.
The bottom line is more clear than ever: research is growing in support of protein recommendations being too low and the right level of protein consumption – at the right time – being a major factor in staving muscles losses whether you are active or inactive.
If you exercise regularly you are likely more conscious about your need for protein. The truth is (and I mention frequently in The Protein Report) adequate protein is as necessary if not more so for those who are not exercising as much as they want or need to.
A deliberate and coordinated dietary-protein and exercise prescription may be particularly important for middle-aged and older adults experiencing catabolic stressors such as illness, inflammation, physical inactivity, or injury.
If you are unable to exercise for a period of time due to a condition, illness or your schedule, nutrition, and protein consumption in particular, represents one of the few opportunities to positively influence muscle protein anabolism and ultimately protect muscle mass and function.
Resistance exercise temporarily inhibits protein synthesis.
Prevent muscles losses from ever happening by optimizing the potential for muscle protein anabolism.
Studies show skeletal muscle mass was significantly higher in men and women consuming 25 g of protein/meal vs. those consuming less.
The key to protein intake reducing muscles losses is amino acid intake per meal. The body needs an optimal amount for absorption and processing.
At-a-glance protein and exercise timing:
Not accustomed to eating before exercise:
Flexibility to both eat protein before and after am exercise:
Lunch Time Exercise:
Later day exercise:
Shift times as needed to fit your schedule.
Do the best you can on most days to either pre-or post-exercise, or both, fuel. If exercise is light there is less need to plan the protein timing. Exercise that is moderate to vigorous exercise (defined by either duration or intensity) has a greater impact on muscle breakdown, and thus increases your need to get adequate fuel.
When Does Muscle Loss Start?
Changes that lead to sarcopenia – defined as significant loss of skeletal muscle – begin in the 30s and 40s. This happens to be about the time women are rushing from boardroom to carpool and concerned with skinny jeans or loss of baby fat. The tendency to skip or skimp on meals or opt for low calorie and low protein diets contributes to losses of muscle during these decades that lead to challenges with body composition in latter decades.
Neglecting adequate protein in the 30’s and 40’s contributes to an abundance of fat and significant loss of muscles by the 50s and 60s.
Inflammatory disease (arthritis, cancer), illness, and chronic stress coupled with malnutrition or inadequate protein can speed losses of lean mass.
Sarcopenia (losses of 3-8% muscle each decade beginning at 30) and obesity are both concerns. A loss of muscle mass increases your percent body fat. “Sarcobesity” is a dangerous and yet avoidable condition that would make falls more likely and damage from them more debilitating.
If you’re not doing interval training, you’ve heard of interval training. In terms of getting the most return in the least amount of time, interval training is a beautiful thing.
The balance to high intensity interval training, and much of the reason it works so well or leads to injury, is the rest and recovery between. By between, I mean between repeats of interval during a session as well as the amount of rest before you perform other high intensity exercise.
Too much of a good thing is cause for injury. We’re seeing hints of that as trends away from 4-6 day a week bootcamps and toward a more balance activity schedule were reported with the 2016 world fitness trends.
We tend to focus on the work intervals. That, of course, is how we burn calories, right? Though calories burned during exercise is NOT the total picture of how fitness is born or gained (just as the scale is not the total picture of how fat is gained or lost), we still can’t help ourselves. Fitness programs, gyms, and online information sources like MyFitnessPal’s subject lines play us like a piano when it comes to high calorie-burning workouts or recipes with fewer than 400 calories. (two recent subject lines in my inbox).
It’s the rest intervals that make or break your progress.
A brand new study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning found that passive recovery, that is, basically standing still, allowed study participants to work harder on subsequent work intervals (in the study they were sprints). Comparing passive recovery to active (where subjects ran or jogged between) there was much less deterioration of performance and most importantly, stress accumulation.
If you’re flipping 50, approaching 50 or you’ve already turned the corner, working hard without injury, and without additional stress are both crucial to your ability to stay active and stop exercise from creating additional cortisol. Stress is stress and even exercise is stress on the body.
If you perform some of the most popular workouts featuring 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of recovery and find you begin to lose form during the latter repeats, you’re probably not achieving your overall goal of burning more energy and at the same time you’re putting yourself at risk for injury.
Speed intervals: Find a stretch of flat area – it could be a city block long – and “sprint” then stand or walk in place to recover for at least the time it took you to sprint up to double that time.
Hill or incline intervals: Find a hill that allows you to “sprint” up (walk fast, run or bike) somewhere between 30 seconds and a minute. Then return slowly down the hill – not a jog or anything close to a fast pace. Your breathing should be completely nose-breathing before you repeat the next interval. (You can perform the same thing on a stationary bike, elliptical, or treadmill)
Swim Intervals: Sprint as quickly as possible to one end of the pool, ideally in a 25 or 50-meter pool. Rest at the wall before you go again.
If you perform 5-10 intervals with full rest between you should notice only a slight decline in your performance in latter repeats. If you’re new to intervals, perform five, if you’re experienced shoot for 8-10. These “all-out” intervals mean you should work every single one. If things get cloudy and your performance during hard and recovery during the “easy” interval begin to look too similar, you’re done. Know when to stop.
Always include a warm up and cool down before intervals. Speed always brings a greater risk than adding resistance. So choose a higher gear on your bike or find a hill as opposed to using speed all the time.
That’s across disciplines. If you do interval training on Monday and heavy weight training on Tuesday, you’re not resting between your high intensity exercise sessions. Plan an interval day, and a moderate or easy exercise day the following day.
Do one high intensity interval training day a week to begin. Add a second as long as you have several days recovery between.
Less of the right kind of exercise wins. You’ll get better results. You’ll feel better.
You’ll stay active longer with fewer injuries.
Hormone testing, gut health, and your treatment options. Understand them all with guest Boulder Longevity Institute Practitioner Tammy Cayou. You don’t feel your best and want to or you’re doing fine and want to stay on that path. Getting a look under the hood at how to manage your health to thrive instead of gambling against illness is the topic of this episode.
Reach Tammy for a phone or Skype consultation at Boulderlongevity.com
Add your comments below the show.
Imagine being in a personal training session or a Pilates class. You do the instructed roll up and rip one. Gas is embarrassing. It can keep you from doing the exercise that will help reduce it. It can be more than irritating. It might be a sign of bacteria imbalance in your gut. It might be signaling you’re not absorbing as many nutrients as you’re eating.
Stress does a number on you. Hormones do a number on you. Fast foods or even gobbling slow foods fast can do a number on you. The place all of these sabotage you most may be your gut.
Any of these can be signs your gut health needs some attention. Good gut health can make every day more comfortable and enjoyable. Some simple steps can help.
Exercise is good for gut health. It can help foods move more quickly through your system. Aerobic exercise is probably the most effective in supporting a faster transit rate. Foods will move out of the stomach more quickly so nutrients are absorbed in the large intestine where they can do most good for gut health.
There’s not conclusive evidence yet that aerobic exercise is “it.” It does offer the greatest increase in circulation. Your strength training and yoga will also contribute to improved digestion through muscle tone and movement. Certain yoga poses (twists and bends) are credited with improving digestion.
Young women need 25 grams of fiber a day. Young men need 38 grams a day. The average intake is 15 grams a day. The recommendation for fiber drops after 50 to 21 and 30, respectively. (National Institute of Health Food and Nutrition Board) Don’t be so quick to drop fiber however.
If you have 20 or more pounds to lose fiber is a key player. Constant toxic exposure to computers, cell phones, WiFi, and processed foods with over 10,000 legal chemicals in them increase your need for fiber. Toxins store in your fat and make you resistant to fat loss. Fiber helps reduce toxins and then remove them from your body quickly rather than allowing them to circulate. Fiber will also the enhance absorption of nutrients in your large intestine.
Best ways to add fiber
If you have gas, a yoga class might be terrifying. To avoid the uncomfortable feeling –or embarrassing noise- of too much fiber too soon, track your daily average for several days.
Simply read labels, ask Google, and record your daily totals if you don’t use a food tracker. Getting your fiber from food is much more ideal than adding a fiber supplement. You want nutrients from whole foods rather than a supplement.
Adding too much fiber too soon can cause gas, bloating, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Be sure you’re drinking adequate water to allow fiber to do its job. Discomfort can also be a sign of too little water. Once you know your current daily average fiber intake you can develop a plan. Gradually increase your fiber intake by 5 grams a day, continuing to drink plenty of water as you do. Keep it there for a week before you increase again. If you have considerable weight to lose, increase your fiber to between 35 and 50 grams a day. Your body will tell you its toleration level. Signs you’re fiber increase is going at the right speed will include more satiety and comfortable fullness between meals and easier elimination.
Fermented foods have live bacteria that replenish good gut bacteria. Kimchee, sauerkraut, and kefir all fall into this fermented food category. You don’t have to live on it. It just takes a few forkfuls a day of sauerkraut to do the trick.
Alternatively, take a supplement. If you’re really making an effort to improve your gut health or recover it after a bout of antibiotics (that do their job but also can damage good bacteria), a supplement may offer quicker benefit. There’s no perfect brand. In fact, Dr. Robyn Benson, suggests not getting attached to one. They each offer a slightly different strain and a variety is best.
Carrots, asparagus, kiwi, radishes and leeks contain prebiotics that support healthy bacteria that already live in your gut. Outside of these, eat a variety of foods. If you’re a creature of habit like so many of us, diversify within your habits. If you like a smoothie every morning like I do for example, vary the greens, the berries, and the fats you include. Are you a salad and soup girl at lunch? Use spinach one day, kale or romaine the next, and top with different prebiotic items each day. People with the healthiest guts tend to have the best variety in their diets.
If what you eat was injected with hormones or antibiotics, you’re eating them. Genetically modified foods can also cause problems with your gut. Know how your foods were raised to avoid pesticides and rinse skins of produce well.
If you are a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), you want to work in as many of these gut health practices as possible. Yes, HSP is really “a thing.” Do you notice you don’t feel good after being in large crowds? Feel lethargic after traveling or being at the mall? If you’ve got a chronic condition, a touchy stomach, you’re on antibiotics or prescription meds and need to be, the more of these gut-friendly habits you practice, the better.
Water retention and bloating are common complaints for women. Recently, I’ve had several members of our online community ask about water retention. There are of course the more common solutions. Yet, I’m including them here for those less familiar with water retention along with the potential causes and solutions.
There can be an underlying condition. If you’ve made the lifestyle changes included here and you can’t pinpoint a reason or contributing factors that would cause you to retain water, do check with your physician.
Let’s look first at some non-medical causes of water retention and then consider lifestyle habits you can manipulate to decrease your likelihood of retaining.
Most often you don’t need someone to tell you that you’re retaining water, you can feel it! You might however, attribute it to weight gain or fat. For busy women on the go who aren’t tuned in to their own signs and symptoms as much as they are to everyone else’s here’s a set of telltale signs of water retention:
My After 50 Fitness Formula for Women and the 28-Day Kickstart both include a-three step process for determining what could be causing bloating, digestive issues, lack of energy, weight loss resistance, as well as water retention. Your gut health is the real target of the plans but secondary to that is what happens as a result of removing foods your body isn’t processing well and increasing the ingestion of nutrient-dense foods that help you thrive. The basics of the steps are below.
For a quick DIY support for eliminating toxins that may cause retention, check out the Double Your Energy in 14 Days book.
Dr. Tara Allmen, author of Menopause Confidential: A Doctor Reveals the Secrets to Thriving Through Menopause (Harper Collins) is my guest today. She discusses her about-to-be-released book. It’s the why of menopause symptoms, the how to deal with any mid-life related issues written in a fun, easy-read from a women who “gets you.”
Leave a comment below the show notes and thanks for sharing this with a friend!
Why it Backfires: You’re breaking a fast. You’re blood sugar first thing in the morning is at it’s lowest in a 24-hour period. When you add fruit, though yes, it’s nutrient-dense, you’re taking your blood sugar up so that it can crash shortly after to an even lower blood sugar than you began with.
If you suffer from low levels of energy, chronic fatigue, and yet think you’re eating well by ingesting tons of fruit, take a good look at the timing of that fruit. Consider exchanging your higher sugar fruits (pineapple, grapes, mangos, ripe bananas) with berries and citrus fruits. Consider reducing the amount of fruit you take in so you’re eating a ratio of 1:4 fruit to non-starchy vegetables. Blood sugar spikes are much more rare from eating a diet high in vegetables.
The type of fruit and or vegetable you consume matters. Reduce your packaged foods. Dried fruits, packaged sweet potato fries or chips, are never going to outshine fresh recently alive fruit and vegetables but will add concentrated sugar (dried fruit- yes, even “super foods”) and oils or preservatives.
Start with protein. How will you get your protein into breakfast? Then add fat. Then consider fiber. How will you make this meal the most nutrient-dense you eat all day so you set yourself up for stable blood sugar (mood and energy)? Then include the fruit as a guest at the meal.
Why It Backfires: In most cases, that snack becomes a license to eat more than you would at a meal. Yet, it’s pretty void of nutrients. Even one micronutrient deficiency can result in fatigue, weight loss resistance, or worse. You justify more snacking because it’s just a little of this and you didn’t have supper (or breakfast or lunch), after all.
When you tally the score of snacks vs. meals typically nutrition density goes out the window and calories of that “little snack” are higher than the meal would have been. Snacking often comes with an open-ended start and end. You eat out of the bag, or the bowl, and you’ve not looked at your need for nutrients. You’ve looked at your cravings and often catered to your addictions.
Plan around your protein. Consider what you’ve eaten all day. Have you reached a quota of vegetables? Once you have your nutrients taken care of there’s room for recreational foods but if you’re health or your weight is a consideration focus on the quota of good first. If you get in all the good, chances are you won’t have the cravings or have the room for “snack foods.”
Why It Backfires: Your digestive system never gets a break! This is another way of saying you don’t prioritize meals or planning. If you’re not getting adequate protein (and the accompanying amino acids at each of three meals), which is not a total at the end of the day, any goals of holding lean muscle or boosting fat burn and energy will suffer.
Grazing randomly or even eating 5-6 small meals a day in a calculated way doesn’t serve most midlife women. Often hormones are not providing you with hunger and satiety signals. Putting adequate time between meals lets your hormones figure it out. It allows you to actually begin to listen to and trust your body again.
I’d love to hear from you. Are there nutrition mistakes you have been making without realizing it? If you’ve got a question about confusing nutrition information add it to the comments. I’ll be watching and respond!
Are you at your ideal weight and energy level? What shifts or habits got you there?