My Fittest Year… Really?

My fittest year declaration for 2019 became much more my fittest year under crazy circumstances. It was a year ago almost exactly, Thanksgiving week in fact, that I decided to really see what my body could do. I started testing so I could benchmark in mid December.

The wheels fell off the bus.

I fell off the wagon and got run over by it.

Borrowing words from some beloved clients, these words fit when I think about the year I had hoped (but perhaps not visioned clearly enough, as you’ll understand later in this post).

This year was to have been my “fittest year.” So I proclaimed last December when I began testing my fitness level and registered for the Ironman Cozumel November 24, 2019.

I had let focus on my personal fitness slip and “exercising” had long since failed to motivate me. I wanted an event, an experience on my calendar again. Cozumel’s swim is 80 degrees with vision up to 100ft and feels like snorkeling. I’d done it twice before and it was an easy decision.

When Someone Has Other Plans

I hadn’t planned on a septic tank back up Dec 23, the Sunday before Christmas in the mountains. I hadn’t planned on it taking nearly 3 full months to mitigate the mold in my entire lower level or the disruption to my business. The start to my businesses suffered a great deal due to water, insurance, assessors, and the work crew traffic. I hadn’t planned on 8 media appearances in two months. And I hadn’t planned on 3 illnesses in 8 weeks that pointed me to the need to test whether or not the mold was truly mitigated or not.

It in fact was not. My immune system was compromised due to a mold known as “stachy”. I began taking glutathione and binders to support detox. In addition to using my sauna and spending as much time outdoors as possible, I was in contact with the landlord. She wasn’t willing to do anything else. I suddenly was moving.

I hadn’t counted on moving, or losing 1/3 of my belongings. I certainly hadn’t counted on moving out of Colorado to Scottsdale. But a fluke suggestion, a time constraint, and an even more fluke view of the interior of a home landed me here. By half way through 2019, my fittest year was nothing but an intention.

Moving Reduced Exposure

You’d think that moving out of that environment would make a difference. You’d be right. I’ve not been sick another day. However, I’ve had lingering issues with my endurance and stamina. I don’t have any for running. I have found that even 30 minutes of running – slowly – much more slowly than a year ago, is about all I want to do. Let me share that a marathon in an Ironman triathlon is likely to take 5 ½ hours on a very good day for me. This current status is not good news.

[More on the lingering effects of mold soon in a podcast with my friend and mold expert, Dr. Ann Shippy.]

Walking a marathon I would project 7 hours. However, it’s helpful that you’ve trained for that. I’ve had other disruptions this fall too. Some recently. And they’ve severely clipped my training plans. My fittest year without training is how I’ve come to think about this now.

Just the past couple months several challenges have come up. Some so severe they’ve made me question my online business Flipping 50, in fact. As much as I believe in it there seem to have been signs, many signs, suggesting a change of direction in my life may be in order. As I thought finally some resolution was coming I got another jolt. Even in my fittest year, I had to run a business.

I Can’t Make This Sh** Up

Just when some very important documents should have been delivered, the recipient emailed to tell me he hadn’t received them.

I was caught between consultations to enroll new coaching clients with 10 minutes to check on just why the FedEx overnighted package I’d paid $44 to send hadn’t arrived. Tracking numbers shed no light. It seemed to have disappeared.

Suddenly my FedEx customer advocate (who knew I needed one of those?) notified me he had found the package. In fact, it never left the store where I’d dropped it off. What???

Time-sensitive documents, made more time sensitive because I was boarding a plane for international travel very, very early the next day, didn’t arrive because they didn’t get sent?

Uh-huh.

Moments after this news I had to get the dog to boarding. My route was detoured. That took 30 minutes more than it should. I arrived home in time to do a group coaching program.

Except, the door from the garage to house was locked. The key, you guessed it, was inside. I never lock the door. But somehow, in the rush to get Truman out, juggling his dog food and leash and my purse, slightly distracted by the earlier events of the day, and the weeks preceding it, I must have locked it.

There was a key lockbox. However, I hadn’t punched those numbers in since I first arrived at this rental home 5 months ago. The text message from my realtor was long-since deleted from my phone. My landlord was gracious and helpful but couldn’t recall the number she’s set nor find the text either.

By some miracle, I stepped away and then returned to the box and pressed the numbers in. Wa-la. I’m in. The brain is a miraculous thing.

Here’s My Reality

So here I am, as I type this to you, on a plane headed to Cozumel. That after all was to be the cumulation of my fittest year training. In 3 days I’ll start an Ironman. It was already something I was committed to, it wasn’t as if I could cancel. Sometimes though, a no-cancellation policy is best.

Though I’ve had long bike rides and swims, I’ve not done all the workouts. Certainly that’s true lately as I was interrupted by two conferences and a TEDx talk interfering with weekend training in the past 8 weeks. Nor have I done most of the runs as they were assigned.

Due to a lack of endurance, I’ve walk/run and thus, that’s my plan for race day. To start the marathon walking, running alternately for 26.2 miles.

If you’re the type of person who prays, Sunday might be a good day. (If you’re reading this after, please continue, I’ll come back and refresh this with the outcome.)

What I want you to know is what I’m employing to get me through. There is of course, what’s called muscle memory. But that alone is not what I’m relying on just in case my muscles have dementia.

I’m initiating the placebo effect.

I’m harnessing the vision ….

See It To Believe It

…of starting and swimming effortlessly and with a smile as I can see clearly and swimmers are beside me, in front of, and behind me comfortably. Seeing and swimming in pristine, warm saltwater sets us at ease. We swim with the tide and it’s less effort than in a pool. In fact, my time is better than it’s ever been and yet I feel relaxed not tired at completion of the swim.

I move out of the water, taking my time to go through transition or T1, changing into the tri kit I’ll wear the rest of the day. On my bike, my Bill bike, for the first time using it in a race, I’m calm. Take peace along for the ride. It was a message that came to me from him the morning of his funeral just days after his passing. For the first time I know this message was meant for me to relay to Bri for a reason. I just mentally named the bike, Peace.

Each of the three laps around the island gets warmer. Winds on this day are gentler though and seem to have a small tailwind effect on the far side of the island. I love the sunshine, the blue water, and the joy of motion. What’s not to love about choosing to do this? About having the body that loves it? I’m the only person who can pedal this bike but I’m not alone.

More Than Words

Dismounting the bike to through transition I’m glad to let it go to volunteers. As I begin the run, the day is warm. The tri- kit is sweaty and it’s the beginning of what for some is a single feat they would never attempt. But it’s just one foot in front of the other. It’s this where the human race really shows up. I’ve paced myself and know of course I’ve been out playing all day and I feel so very grateful to be here.

I have a flashlight tonight, something I’ve not had in the past. The third lap I know will be darker. And it will be magical because that’s where people come together as they’re falling apart. They support each other, they have endured the training and this long day and they want to finish even when their body is telling them otherwise.

I feel good, clear-headed about what I’m doing and why. I’m declaring the stress of the past year doable, not tragedies. I’m thankful for friends and family who’ve supported hard changes, who are there every day. They’ve given me the strength to make both the journey in life and the journey that began early on this day.

Through Blisters and Muscle Fatigue You Feel Love

There is nothing without love. I love this. I love my family. I love my work. The success in anything is really in starting. Finishing, yes, is the reward. And sometimes you take that prize too. But the work and the discipline to get to the start is the real gift.

I’ll start.

I’ll see that vision.

Then, I’ll pair it with emotion.

The source of some of my emotions you read. There’s more to tapping into emotions.

Tapping Into Emotion

Can you think of a time when you were filled with pride?

You did something (you, not pride for someone else) that filled you with pride and pleasure for having done it?

Can you think of a time you were filled with confidence?

You were absolutely certain you were meant to be exactly where you were doing exactly what you were doing?

And can you think of a time you experienced pure joy? It was a silly, happy, funny story that makes you smile when you tell it to this day. It makes you laugh to the point of tears when you think about it.

Tapping into emotions like these along with a vision so clear you can see it, feel it, taste it, hear it and smell it… can change you. Can change your DNA. Perhaps it can even create muscle memory that wasn’t there. Because if you can create a vison, a story, so strong that your brain will not know if it’s reality or not and it will then create the body to match it.

Make no mistake, in that last paragraph I’m not asking if it is possible you can create a vision that strong. I’m asking if you will. Like you would have to train for a marathon, you have to have a plan and rehearse it. You have to repeat the vision frequently and consistently.

What’s Coming Next in My Fittest Year Story

I’ll share more about vision in a podcast with 74-year old Dexter Yeats who is here to compete with me Sunday too. [We recorded it last night and it is just soooo good I may release it on Thanksgiving). There may be a secret to why she is competing in multiple Ironman triathlons every year since she’s retired. I call that rewired. The moral of that podcast is about seeing past the goal. Past the finish line, the retirement, the weight loss and painting that vision.

And, of course, I’ll share what happens to complete my fittest year!

Make it your fittest year! The Cafe is open for enrollment during Thanksgiving week! Starting Saturday November 23 you can join and SAVE!

This post about fitness lies about menopause in an article I found purely by accident one morning. I didn’t intend for this to be a post I was working on this month. Yet, as I publish this, and you read it, our thoughts turn to getting or staying moving optimally, during busy times or heading into a new season or year. And we are vulnerable. We want information, we want it fast, and that may mean you don’t scrutinize it the way that I do.

Lies about menopause, period (pun intended), run ramped in my opinion. You’re told to expect hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, belly fat, and cellulite. You’re told your vagina will dry up and you won’t be interested in sex.

You’ve heard that what you expect you tend to get?

So, stop it right now. (said in love and respect)

These things are common. They are not NORMAL. Could your metabolism slow down? Yes, especially if you’re doing all the wrong things, unknowingly. So let’s dispel all the lies about menopause that fitness related to start. Because trying to lose that belly fat and weight with more exercise more often will definitely kill your libido and make true those lies about menopause.

Those negative side effects of menopause? They don’t happen naturally, they happen naturally because of the habits you have. So let’s change them.

If you read anything online – even from what appears to be reputable sites – you’re vulnerable.

You are so very vulnerable to lies about menopause.

Because:

But…

True science, does not make it good advice, for YOU. Unless the subjects in the research quoted and the data collected to create the position statements about exercise recommendations have been scrubbed to be sure that it is based on YOU (a woman in perimenopause, menopause, or post-menopause), you are reading TRUE science, pertaining to someone, just not you.

True science, does not make it good advice, for YOU.

And any author, advisory board, and publication can slap a title on a blog or article that includes the words menopause or “in menopause” and suddenly, Virginia-there-is-a-Santa Claus-effect is born and you don’t even realize it.

I read an article, completely by accident this morning, searching for something else. I call that the rabbit-hole effect. I’m sure you’ve experienced it. The article had so many false statements about losing weight with exercise during menopause that I was compelled to create a response (and did directly to the site as well as creating this post).

I want to point out here the reason this is such a problem.

There’s no intentional harm here. There’s no knowledge of the fitness lies being shared. I believe the authors, the site host, the board, have not intentionally provided false information or led you astray. They have, however, not got experience enough to know whether 1) general exercise guidelines pertain to specific people within the population or 2) if the sources from 5 years ago (when published in a book means it was research at least two years older than that) is still the current thinking or we’ve had enough additional research and practice to know more.

It’s easy to ask the wrong questions.

So dive in here and read these. My hope is you’ll have more awareness about what at first pass appears to be good advice and is just, in fact, a collection of broad information not necessarily intended for any individual. Namely, you.

8 Fitness Lies About Menopause (in ONE article)

#1 How much exercise you need

The Surgeon General’s recommendations of 2 hours and 30 minutes weekly (or 30 minutes of exercise at least 5 days a week) may not be enough said the author. You may need 4 hours a week to offset the effects of menopause. The older you are the more exercise you need to lose weight was the message.

I call B.S. In fact, better exercise, not blindly more exercise, is better. We all can stand to get more movement, but more exercise is not going to solve the real problem, in fact it will cause one for women in midlife often short on time, sleep, and prone to injuries. If you’re reading this and suffering at this moment from a muscle tear, a joint issue, plantar fasciitis, or any condition, you know who you are.

Truth: It varies according to your signs and symptoms. What’s happening for you?

#2 Cardio is your first line of defense against weight

One small passage or two in this section gave me hope. There was discussion of the need for high intensity exercise to boost fat burning.

The hope was short-lived. The paragraphs that followed outlined the exact opposite of a midlife woman’s hormone reality. 

I call B.S. on this one and it makes me furious. If you still believe that cardio is the way to burn fat, you are oh, so vulnerable when you read things like this which reinforce your thinking. It couldn’t be further from the truth. Strength training contributes to a greater fat burning immediately after exercise and long term as you actually change your body composition instead of burning calories (and not enough to matter) while you increase cortisol if done too much that makes you store more fat instead of burn it.

Do you need cardio? Yes. Very little doses of higher intensity and more of very low intensity. Ditch that middle of the road, middle intensity that actually adds inches to your middle.

 Truth: Amidst all the lies about menopause this one is big. More cardio can accelerate aging and have the exact opposite intended effect. Seek enough. But not too much.

#3 Tabata training is an entry-level way to do intervals

If this hadn’t been outright sad it would be hilarious. Tabata research was done on elite male cyclists who did interval intensities of 110% of their VO2 max. That is, they wanted to lose their cookies over a wastebasket after they were done. The motivated ones, at least.

How can we possibly think that what works for young, elite male athletes will work for middle-aged women in menopause?

It is hardly a beginner’s protocol. On this particular point, I find it a little irresponsible for a 16-year fitness professional columnist to make the statement that Tabata is better for a beginner to try.

Common sense in fitness teaches progression. To start using intense intervals, responsible progression would pair the interval duration with a rest interval equal or greater than the work interval. With Tabata intervals you work 20 seconds and recover for 10.

The second point to be made here is that repeating intervals of this type for 8 cycles (4 minute total duration) means that by the latter several intervals whatever exercise you’re doing you’re potential for poor form is likely. That is certainly true if as in many exercise classes, the 4-minute duration of intervals are repeated multiple times during a workout.

The instruction is often “do as many as you can.” Good luck if the instructor or trainer also tells you to do a burpee, where at 5 different points form could suffer and put undue stress on joints. Moving in a frenzy is not a good way to either elevate heart rate or create a higher metabolism.

Moving in a frenzy is not a good way to either elevate heart rate or create a higher metabolism.

Truth: Tabata intervals were originated from research on young elite male cyclists. Does that relate to you? ‘Nuff said. Do use recent studies on post menopausal women (and a different, more common sense protocol). Safe (not stupid) moves for intervals keep the risk: reward ratio optimal.

#4 Use a heart rate monitor and calculate your target zone

A math equation to determine your target heart rate zone will fail over 50% of the people over 40. It will under (in the majority of cases) or over estimate where your heart rate should be for optimal results.

Unless, you have me or another trainer give you instructions to self-test or test you in person, you can’t accurately “calculate” heart rate zones. Your body never lies. The how-you-feel measure is often a much better determinant of whether you’re working at the level for the purpose you have. You no longer want to be in what you learned once as “target heart rate” zone. The target is higher than that if you’re doing intervals and lower than that if you’re doing recovery. Every training session should have a purpose and the purpose determines the zone (I provide 5 for private clients) you should be in.

Interested? Reach out to me about how to test. You will need a treadmill or a stationary bike at a gym. You can do the test and interpretation alone or with a follow up 90-day plan. A six-month private coaching option is available right now with $2000 of bonuses if you hurry. There are only 5 spots available. Offer ends when spots are filled or Nov 27. Click image below to find out if it’s right for you.

Truth: You can exercise effectively without a heart rate monitor. After 25 years of testing and of training with a monitor, I don’t use one. I use my own talk and breathlessness scale. It never lies, though heart rate often does. I like to say, if you feel like you’re having a heart attack you probably better listen to that. If you feel like you could work much harder, listen to that too. Lies about menopause and exercise may suggest to you you have to be in “the zone” but more importantly, you have to know what your zones are.

#5 Add another day if it’s not working

More exercise tips the cortisol hormone into higher gear. If you’re not losing weight with a moderate level of exercise during menopause more exercise can make matters worse, not better. In fact, more exercise can make a woman in fair shape gain weight.

Take me for example. Following my current triathlon training schedule I’ve gained eight pounds. Why? When hormones set up a perfect storm for you anyway, like dropping estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone, you’re more susceptible to the negative effects of cortisol. More exercise is a source of stress.

A smarter alternative is to plan the time you do exercise better. Move more in your life, but don’t add more days of exercise. Recovery is the most often overlooked feature of exercise for men and women both over 40.

Truth: If a little of something is not working more of it is not going to get better results.

#6 Add intensity.

This is sometimes true, not always. In the article there was no explanation for when it is a good idea and when it is not. If you’re already “tired all the time” or exhausted but not sleeping, two common complaints of women, adding intensity may not be the best option for you.

You’ve got to do what I call “restore before more.” It’s part, in fact the first and most important part of the After 50 Fitness Formula for Women.

Truth: Yes adding intensity – to part of existing exercise time – may be a solution. It depends on your status.

#7 Add more time if it’s not working

Making each exercise session longer is not a good recommendation. It in fact will have the opposite intended effect. Cortisol tends to creep up after about 75 minutes duration. There’s a sweet spot where enough exercise is best and more is too much.

If you combine #5, #6, and #7 as many women would do – at once – in the middle of desperation because nothing they do is working? You have a recipe for adding fat, fatigue, and making matters worse). Of all fitness lies, the combination of more time, more intensity and more duration – all at the same time should intuitively seem wrong. Yet, it’s essentially what millions do in January. Every year. Statistically this is not working out well for us.

Truth: Who has more time? and P.S. lack of time probably saves you from yourself. More exercise often means more cortisol, more exhaustion, more need for recovery time.

A Sliver of Hope 

A section of the article dedicated to strength training restored my faith in the author (a trainer).  It focuses on reaching fatigue, targeting the whole body – especially large muscles of the body, and doing compound (multi joint exercises) instead of isolating body parts with exercises. This section nearly made my heart sing compared to the other fitness lies about menopause elsewhere in the article.

But then the author went on to discuss “Met-Con” workouts and suggested mixing strength in with cardio. And…. I’m out. Read on for why.

#8 Rapid movements done in short burst are the best way to burn fat.

Including but not limited to burpees (where at least 5 things can go wrong) and squats with overhead presses (40% of my clients over 40 have or develop a shoulder issue- often due to this type of movement), push-ups and jump squats.

Even the author recognized that keeping frequency of this type of workout to a minimum is best for reducing injury. If you’re lucky enough not to get injured the first time, that at least, is good advice.

These types of exercises are fondly (insert sarcasm) referred to at Met-Con workouts. They promise (because of the sexy-mysterious name) to burn more fat better, faster, and leap over small buildings.

Truth: If feeling like you’re “exhausted” gives you the impression that you had a great workout, you’re evaluating on a broken scale.

See a better safer way to do intervals here.

What Makes More Sense in Menopause

The best use of Met-Con (short for Metabolic Conditioning) exercise is intervals that are cardiovascular in nature, not muscular strength and endurance in nature. Why? Because you want muscular FATIGUE, not overall TIRED.

You can move fast doing any movement and get tired. But if you do strength movements (as lunges, squats, push-ups) rapidly, you fail to reach fatigue and therefore fail to create lean muscle that boosts metabolism. You may succeed at getting an injury. Speed increases injury rates that surpass that of increased resistance.

Any Exercise Can Make You Tired. Some Exercise Can Make You Better.

What’s Your Role in Lies About Menopause?

There you have it. This post was pure coincidence and unintended. That’s scary. Because I spend less time searching for articles on line than you do these days. I spend my time researching journals and primary research. So in 10 minutes of searching to stumble across such mythological (not in a unicorns and rainbows way) article dedicated to exercise in menopause, is alarming.

What role do you play? Are you following, spreading, starting to uncover clues about what’s happening. I leave you with this, question everything about your exercise. Is it making you feel better or worse? Are you healthy or injured? Are you energetic or tired? Do you have more stable moods or are you up and down? Are you sleeping better or worse? And don’t buy into those lies about menopause suggesting that it’s just part of it and you have to deal with it. You don’t!

A note about resources and references: It is not necessarily best practice to quote one’s own work. I acknowledge that here. In these works combined I cite over 200 research articles that pertain to women in perimenopause, menopause, and post menopause that are directly related. I hope you too will see the justification of listing these books.

Resources: 

Hot, Not Bothered: 99 Daily Flips to Slimmer, Fitter, Stronger, Faster So You Can Master Metabolism Before, During, and After Menopause. 

You Still Got It, Girl! The After 50 Fitness Formula for Women

I get asked quite a bit, sometimes on podcasts, what my day is like and what workouts after 50 work for me. So here it is. One woman’s response, was “this is for someone who lives a life of leisure.” As I wrote in You Still Got It, Girl!, If you’re crazy-making I’m not going to get in there with you.

I did this (maybe altered) even in my 40s while a single parent, shuffling to early morning basketball practices, day-long golf tournaments, while juggling two jobs, and writing a book.

Don’t play the victim card with me. If it’s working for you and you want to stay there, that’s your call. I’ll be here when you’re ready.

I say that with no judgment, you may truly be doing all you feel you can handle right now. I just want to let you know, I believe there’s something positive you can do now. The hardest thing is to ask for help. I get that. But I’m here if you need it.

Workouts After 50 – What I’m Doing Now (and when)

4:00/5:00am awake /water/2 mugs matcha latte while working (I consume 12 ounces of H20 first thing and 8 oz between matchas)

7:30am High intensity intervals 20-30 mins (treadmill, elliptical, boxing or bike)

or High Intensity weight circuit with 3-5 minutes of Core or Pilates at the end of any session

8-12 ounces of H2O

9:00am High Protein Smoothie with all the things

(vanilla Plant Power, greens, maca, turmeric, Fiber Boost, protein, minimum fruit, avocado, chia)

8 oz H2O every hour

12:30pm Lunch – sometimes a second smoothie if I’m working, or a Flipping 50 soup (there’s a seafood chowder I love)

1:00pm short walk

8 oz H2O every hour

4:00pm weight training/Pilates/or yoga

8 oz H2O before dinner

5:00/6:00pm dinner (usually a one pot meal with a protein and tons of veggies)

8 ounces H2O

8:00/9:00pm ready for bed

Every day varies but this is very typical. I don’t snack in the afternoon typically but when I was in CO I would get cold (!) and have a cup of bone broth or less frequently a matcha latte or cup of a Mushroom Blend (use code Flipping50 to try it!) in the afternoon.

Here’s the basics:

Workouts After 50 you won’t see me doing:

What I always keep the same:

These are not “rules.” This is just the formula I follow. It’s life. It emerged out of tweaking based on science the last 15 years and testing not only myself but first dozens, then hundreds, and most recently thousands of clients that find this works for them too. When you’re changing, you don’t have to (or want to) change it all at once. We go for the one biggest influencer that will help the other changes fall into place so much more easily.

Yes! It Is the exercise.

For me, it’s a catalyst. Exercise set everything else in motion for me. It makes me want to fuel better for a better workout. It makes me want to fuel better after (proven that even 6 minutes of power walking within a half of hour of lunch made subjects voluntarily choose healthier for themselves at a buffet – think of that on Thanksgiving Day!)

It’s not only exercise.

There was a question asked on a weekly webinar I host for a national organization this week. Let me give you a little background.

The webinar was about obesity: cause and effect. When the (excellent) presenter was nearly through he showed a slide about the top two external solutions being 1) exercise and 2) nutrition.

An attendee asked, “Is it true that exercise doesn’t really contribute much when it comes to weight loss?”

The presenter’s answer was that though that’s true that the calories burned don’t contribute a great deal to caloric deficit, exercise is still key. (In alignment with Flipping 50’s After 50 Fitness Formula for Women course and book) It’s about the hormone balance that proper exercise does for you that ultimately influences weight.

I won’t go into a deep lesson on hormones in this post intended to share my routine. Yet, I do want to call your attention to the fact, the reason what I do works (and is Flipping 50 program-proven!) is that it supports hormone balance. That in turn ensures that I can sleep, I can burn fat optimally, I can get hungry at appropriate times, and feel full and sated without cravings. I can concentrate. I can reap rewards of lean muscle from workouts.

How I Plan For Myself and Coach Clients

I don’t exercise thinking, “how many calories does this burn.” I do think, “what type of workout do I need on this day at this specific time to optimize hormone balance?” Most of the time that thinking comes in a weekly or monthly plan. I already know what my workout plan is for 3 weeks from today. I may have to adjust it based on life that week, but I don’t guess. I do the same for clients.

This week for instance is day-by-day changes for two of my private clients based on little “niggles” occurring for them. So we’re not doing workouts we would if they were 100% but we’re still focused on hormone balancing workouts that support their muscular needs right now.

The Question I Had

Back to the webinar, my question was, “You listed these in order of 1 and 2 making exercise first, while we’re hearing more often that nutrition makes a bigger difference. Are these in fact, in order based on importance according to research?”

The presenter addressed it but not with a definitive answer. I think because there is not one. But where obesity is concerned, insulin resistance is what we call a co-morbidity. That is, a second condition or disease. Insulin resistance occurs at some point as weight creeps up. That is a pre-diabetic or diabetic threat. And often with insulin resistance weight gain will occur if it isn’t already.

Exercise plays a key role – as long as it’s the right exercise at the right time – in improving insulin sensitivity. Nutrition also plays a key factor in blood sugar and insulin.

But… again. Exercise is a catalyst. And more important, not exercising is a catalyst for poor choices. Can you relate?

The presenter’s answer was that there is no question it is both. He didn’t however put one before the other. We do eat multiple times a day and exercise less than that. So we better get food right. There is the need however to moveoften. Don’t sit or stand in place for long periods of time.

Become someone who can’t sit still.

Moving More

Exercise less, and eat more, is the subtitle of You Still Got It, Girl! for a reason. It’s the opposite of the mantra you’ve heard too often your whole life. Women exercising themselves into more stress and cortisol, then starving themselves with a lack of nutrients create a slow metabolism by confusing their bodies.

Yes, in our sedentary contemporary society you need to exercise – and adequate intensity is important with middle and older age – but moving more throughout your day every day is more important.

If your exercise leaves you on the couch for “couch compensation” your exercise has actually hurt your health and fitness. You’re seeking the muscular strength and endurance to do what you love to do with the people you love to do it, when you want to do it.

What I’m Doing for Lean Changes!

I posted something last week on Facebook about what happens to the body with less (but the correct) kind of exercise.

And still…. A woman commented that the image (with good muscle definition and a fit and lean body) was no doubt due to my triathlon training.

I fell out of my chair laughing.

Here’s the truth. Since the advent of my triathlon training this year, and perhaps not unrelated to mold exposure for 6 months the first half of the year, I’ve gained 8 lbs.

Of not-muscle.

Bad News, Right?

Yep. I tell you the good stuff, so I’ll tell you the bad stuff. I don’t feel great. I’m getting close to the event (if you’ve been here you may know it was intended to be my “fittest year” and I’m headed to an Ironman in a week. I’m now tapering (less training in preparation for race day freshness). So I’ve already begun to see a difference in my weight or feel one more often (no scale at home).

But I was and am just “exhibit A” of what MORE volume and MORE intensity do to a woman in perimenopause/menopause. They create more stress, more cortisol, more fat storage and inflammation.

But the woman’s comment is what spurs me to do what I do. Unfortunately, too many women STILL BELIEVE that it’s about harder and more exercise and that they can never look like that because they aren’t athletic. That is the #1 MYTH and your biggest obstacle.

You do have to stop… processed foods, poor carbohydrate choices, a lack of protein, and sugar (there are no healthy forms). But you, my dear, if you don’t love exercise, may have a better chance or at least it’s equal to anyone who loves exercise.

Because like me, overexercisers are more likely to weigh more due to inflammation, and cortisol increasing fat storage and halting fat burning during midlife, specifically. Look at triathletes in their 50’s 60’s and 70s and you don’t see “skinny,” you see often the same slice of weight and body shape you would anywhere. It depends on how they train and how their body handles it. Some refer to their legs as “tree trunks” or they midsections as “budha bellies”

More is Worse Not Better

I am at a WORSE shape and weight right now because of more exercise. Is this training year different? Yes. Every year of training is going to be different. You can’t expect the same results from the same training with ever changing hormones.

Now, did I go to extremes? From your vantage point, probably so! You don’t have to tip the exercise that far though. Two or three exercise classes may be too much for you. Three days of strength training may be too much for you. Just an hour of exercise instead of minutes of optimal exercise may be putting you into cortisol trouble.

I’ll indulge in myself a bit in a blog next week to share the details of this year that contribute to my “fittest year” turning into “fittest year possible” with mold, and sudden moves, large financial loss of belongings, need to detox and change plans.

Stay tuned for that. For now, look at your day. Do you have a schedule? Your body likes a routine. Do you make it so it works for you? Yes, I know work, family, pets happen but they don’t control it all. You do. If you want to change you take control.

I have two suggestions:

If you have more than 20-lbs to lose, watch this webinar, first. Fit-U is on sale but I want to know you’re right for it before you do it.

If you want to have a reason to exercise for 2 ½ months AND have 4 days of movement, motivation, and mindset shifts, come to the next retreat! Message me at debra@flippingfifty.com for the current discount code – if there’s one still available we can help you get in for less! Mention the blog

12 Signs You’re Healthier Even If You’re Not Losing Weight


It happens. The scale doesn’t change as fast as anyone wants it to. So how do you reinforce your good behavior and keep those spirits up when it seems not to be working out the way you wanted it to? Focus on what’s working. Focus on the signs you’re on your way. Focus.. on your focus. Not the outcome.

Sleeping through the night

How it helps even if you’re not losing weight:

You’ve got those hormones specifically cortisol, testosterone, and growth hormone that are either optimized or scrambled based on sleep. They each have a domino effect on other hormones and on your ability to keep and create more lean muscle and prevent and burn fat. Constant waking pulls you out of those cycles of sleep you go through at night and prevents the good stuff from happening.

Waking rested

How it helps even if you’re not losing weight: you

You’ve got evidence that you’re getting into those phases of deeper sleep where hormone production and memory enhancement happens. Imagine your brain taking files sitting on your desk and locking them into file cabinets where the information stays safe and secure. Essentially that happens at night, if you sleep. The more decisions you make during the day the more you depend on this transfer to think clearly tomorrow. That in addition to the hormones discussed previously are optimized when you wake rested not groggy or hungover.

Clothes fit better

How it helps even if you’re not losing weight:

If you aren’t seeing the scale move but you’re losing inches you’ve got one of two and maybe both things going on. First, you’re likely losing fat and increasing your percent of lean muscle. Second, you may be losing inflammation and with that goes bloating or puffiness and water retention. Keep going!

The same speed, distance, or weight feels easier

How it helps even if you’re not losing weight:

This is exactly what you want to happen. The memes that tell you, “your workout will someday be your warm up” are oh, so true. What you start out unable to do or finding “hard” one day won’t be if you are exercising correctly. Some times it’s not even that. Sometimes it is dependent on your recovering correctly. When you start resting better, eating better, and observing how you feel more you’re on your way.

Your resting heart rate is lower

How it helps even if you’re not losing weight:

First thing in the morning before you get out of bed check your heart rate. It’s at it’s all time low at that point. When you see that dropping, you’ve got a good indication that what you’re doing is working. That heart muscle is finding it’s job easier and it’s pumping more blood (and oxygen) out with each beat instead of having to beat so many times. 

Your cravings disappear

How it helps even if you’re not losing weight:

Cravings usually are an indication of micronutrient deficiency. They can also be an indication you’re ‘hungry’ for something in your life, but it’s not necessarily food. Focus on the former for this article. When you bump up your micronutrient-dense food intake and supplement where necessary, you reduce cravings. When you combine protein and fiber at meals in adequate quantities you reduce cravings. When you time the right type of exercise optimally, you reduce cravings.

Changing those will have a long term impact on your body at every level and it will show up even if in it’s own time. 

You are satisfied for hours after meals

How it helps even if you’re not losing weight:

Similar to cravings disappearing feeling like you could really eat again within an hour of a meal is very much related to blood sugar issues. Those improve with both attention to micronutrient dense foods and the right macronutrients mentioned above and to the right dose of exercise at the right time. A stable blood sugar level keeps you from needing more food all the time.

You poop regularly (potentially more than you were)

How it helps even if you’re not losing weight:

Women in midlife are often more constipated than they admit- to anyone, including themselves! So if that’s you and you feel bloated or like you’ve got belly fat but you also feel like you never go completely, then improving this is a sign you’re getting things moving. You eliminate toxins from your body with pee, poop, and sweat. You want to be doing each regularly.

If gas and bloating were an issue, they’re gone

How it helps even if you’re not losing weight:

Those bodily reactions were most likely due to foods that don’t agree with you. Your “healthy” food list changes when your stress, activity level, and hormones do. So it’s natural for you not to be able to eat what you did a decade ago and feel or respond the same. When you’re signs something is wrong disappear there’s a better chance you’re absorbing all the vitamins and minerals you need to optimize health and fitness.

Aches and pains that were usual are less frequent or gone

How it helps even if you’re not losing weight:

Inflammation in your body is an obstacle to your optimal fitness. You’ve got to feel good and movement needs to be comfortable in order to have optimal fitness. You may have arthritis. Many of us will experience osteoarthritis as we age. Yet, you can manage much of the inflammation associated with it with food, rest, and appropriate exercise. Your thoughts are also potentially your most powerful tool not against tolerating pain but in preventing pain.

Heartburn doesn’t bother you anymore

How it helps even if you’re not losing weight:

Students in my 28-Day Kickstart are usually surprised by this one. No one actually starts an exercise program, even one focused on nutrition for exercise, with a priority of ending heartburn. But when it happens, it’s such a good sign. What you’re eating, how your body responds, and what your body can do with food has changed significantly. You’re on your way to more optimal digestion. You can’t skip past that and get to fitness and health.

You recover faster (from exercise, stress, or travel)

How it helps even if you’re not losing weight:

The sooner you can do another high intensity exercise session the more fit you are becoming. That is not 100% the truth. At least it’s not the whole story. That is relative to you. We each have different recovery needs. An elite Olympic athlete may need more recovery than a teammate. That athlete at 35 may need more recovery than she did at 20. But overall resilience will improve. If you travel frequently, you may notice jet lag doesn’t get you like it once did. If you used to start your next exercises session still sore from the last (by the way- that’s a sign to delay the workout) and now you’re feeling fresh and ready, you’re increasing your fitness.

Keep going! Any of these is a sign that damn scale does not speak the whole truth. Get a body composition scale. Get on the scale no more than once a week at the same time daily/weekly. More on that on an upcoming blog post.

Need support? Fit-U is for women in perimenopause and beyond who have 20 or more pounds to lose. It’s different after hormonal changes. It’s different if you need exercise joints love and fat hates. I’ve got you. All the science-proven research into exercise videos and the coaching tips to get positive self talk going. You matter so much. Do this for you. Do this for them. Watch this first:

Want to dive right in? Click here. 

Want to make exercise habits stick?

Most of the time when you want to create a habit- an energy-flipping, health happening, metabolism-boosting, feel-good habit … you focus on starting things.

I’m hear to tell you that much of the time the reason you’re not successful is that you don’t stop doing something else.

You’ve got to make room for something new, after all.

If you want to start exercising in the morning, or like me you want to start exercising earlier in the morning, you have to stop doing whatever is there now.

Maybe for you it’s sleep. For me it’s work. I love to work first thing and I get way more done from 4-8am than I ever do 8-4pm.

But, as luck would have it, earlier in the morning is also the best hormone balancing time for intense exercise.

Then there’s the window of energy that exists for a while that isn’t quite the same when you (or at least I) leave exercise til later. I get a second wind of productivity after a workout. (It’s proven actually that your creativity and problem solving skills go up after a midday workout).

Still, pulling away from work is hard. I like to achieve things, get things done. I’m not great at leaving things undone to take a break. There I said it. But that’s life right? The “list” is never really done, you just have to get more efficient at spending x time on something for a period of time and either declaring it done or moving on to a next meeting.

I have to “stop.” Literally I need a hard stop daily. At 7am (and I just had a large gulp, because as I type it’s 11 minutes til and I don’t want to pause if I’m not done!) I need to just say, that’s it. Take an hour. Go for the run, do the interval, shower and meet me back here with a smoothie.

STOP Words

Another thing to stop doing is using words that discourage you. They’re used all the time. I’d bet you said any one of these once yesterday and maybe certain ones of them more. You may not have said them all but just read through them and pay attention to your feelings or first impression when you do.

Most of them come with baggage. There’s unspoken guilt or shame or negativity around them. Work and workout, and fat during and calorie torching all sound hard! Your brain (even if you think, I love to work hard), doesn’t like hard work. It associates anything hard with pain. Pain of doing, pain of not doing, struggle… all come with baggage. And remember you pay extra for baggage.

Shift Your Focus to Make Exercise Habits Stick

Don’t let yourself have a “perfect” goal. It’s easy to get so obsessed with doing it all, and doing it all well. It’s so unrealistic. Focus on enjoying it, completing it not perfecting it, on doing it in a way you want to repeat it.

You don’t have to get it perfect the first time.

In fact, I tell women in my programs, I don’t want you to get it all right now. I just want you to get through the first workout the first time. Then you can improve the next time when you’re more familiar with it.

Make your goal to want to do it again next time. If you make it so hard so you can get results that you’re miserable, you don’t enjoy it, it’s not immediately gratifying, you reduce the chance you’re going to adopt this as something that is an automatic thing you do. You make the odds that this will be simply something that is a part of your identify very slim. (and that’s not the part of you that you probably wanted slim)

Quick Look: Tips to Make Exercise Habits Stick

Look at your relationship with the word “Habits.”

Is that word positive or negative? If it’s not much fun, ditch it! Most of the time in your history there’s talk of habits about smoking, drinking, exercise and it’s like a test or assessment. None of us love a test. Not really. You may have been a 4.2 student but still you probably didn’t love taking tests.

So never mind habits. Let’s ditch habits.

What?

Really. Let’s make whatever you want to describe the person you are, automatic.

You automate everything in your house now right? You click a button, use an app and order groceries, or change the channel, record a show, turn off the lights, lock the doors.

In business you do the same. You pay your bills, send emails, respond to customers, and answer with a voice mail. I type in TY and automatically the text to someone goes out “Thank you! You Still Got It, Girl!

Sorry, not sorry if you’ve gotten that and thought I went to the labor-intensive trouble to type all that in. The sentiment was the same!

You do it because those things are important and you need to do them but since you do them repeatedly it’s better to automate than waste time deciding.

Decision Fatigue is Real

In fact reducing decision fatigue is a large part of why you may love a diet, or an exercise plan. And OKAY let’s agree “love a diet” is an oxymoron – you get what I mean. We’re tempted to take the just-tell-me-what-I-need-to-do-and-I’ll-do-it-route.

Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it. My students and clients love smoothies. So do I and so do our bodies. There’s no “what’s for breakfast, what do I want, what sounds good, what do I have time for?” It’s just 2 minutes to blend and clean up and enjoy.

That’s one automated habit. Know who tends to be more weight and body composition optimized? Those who do high protein shakes for their first meal.

If you’re intermittent fasting by skipping a traditional breakfast time and eating within a shorter window, a high protein smoothie is an ideal way to break the fast because it is easier to digest.

Studies show on a lower calorie, or lower “fuel” diet – fewer carbs or fewer fats – a high protein shake as a meal once and twice a day leads to greater success.

Greater success than one shake, and greater success than three shakes.

The problem with a heavily marketed “two shakes a day and a reasonable meal” packaged meal shake is the other ingredients in it that you did not want. It was also void of vegetables, fiber, and this is not what you want. You want to put as many micronutrient-rich foods in your system as you can when it is time to eat.

Protein has a satiety factor that together with fiber kills cravings and keeps you full for hours.

Protein is harder to burn for fuel than carbohydrates so your body may be more likely to burn stored fat.

Mistakes women who want to lose weight make:

What is it about dairy if you’re not lactose intolerant?

It causes inflammation. If you’re not losing weight, you’re fluffy, puffy, bloated that’s a sign of inflammation. Your body won’t optimize for energy or weight with inflammation. You don’t lose weight and get healthy. You get healthy and then lose weight (or gain lean muscle for those of you who don’t need weight loss). 

Starts and Stops Make Exercise Habits Stick

This post threw in the kitchen sink. Here’s why. YOU are integrated. If you don’t feel good, you don’t have a positive relationship with the words you use and the way you talk to yourself, it’s hard for anyone to make exercise habits stick. If you failed in the past – the problem is how you look at that, NOT that you stopped! You collected data.

Your best next step is to decide what you need most. Look at these options and then just concentrate on one for this week:

You Already Know How to Make Habits Stick

Think of all the things you have already done in your life and made stick. Did you go to college? Then you studied, went to class, stuck it out through some hard classes.

Did you have kids? Then you did all those nights of feedings, and sick kids, and teaching all the things. Do you have a job? Then you do things every day that require follow through and someone counts on you.

You stick to things in so many areas of your life. Why would exercise be any different? You’ve got this!

READY for more help right away? Click here for my 28 Day Kickstart. I do these live courses 4 times a year so while it’s open for enrollment you can jump right in and get live coaching with me. (If you’re seeing this at a time we’re not open, it’s OKAY! You can get on the list to be first notified when the doors open again!)

28 Day Kickstart

weight loss exercise log bookIs weight loss possible after 50?  Do you wonder that? If you’re just trying to lose those last few pounds that came on during stress or hormone change, what does that take? How is it different than if you have 50, 100, or even 20 pounds to lose?

[Originally published in August 2017, this popular post has been updated – just in time for a special Fit-U program launch.]

Or rather, how should it be different? “It” being the process that you go through.

An Example of Failed Weight Loss After 50

On this post I look at parts of the process that deserve attention. If you’re reading this you know very well by now what permanent weight removal is not. Take Carla*, one of my clients. When we met she was walking two to four hours a day, and eating as little as 800 calories per day. Her weight at the time was well over 200 pounds. If weight loss were a math equation, Carla, should be skinny. Here’s why.

Her estimated calculate Basal Metabolic Rate was a little more than 1700 kcals.

[By the way when I searched Google for the phrase “how many calories to lose a pound” it’s clear we still think weight loss is math and someone is still writing this B.S.: 17 million pieces of content were found. Confused? No wonder.]

Even walking slowly, at her start weight Carla would burn over 300 kcals per hour. She was burning 600-1200 daily.

Exercise calories are added to your resting (basal) metabolism for total energy daily expenditure. The total kcals to maintain her current weight were, depending on her activity that day, were 2300 – 2900.

Consuming 800 kcals per day she would easily be at a deficit. Repeating that day after day using an average exercise of 3 hours walking, she needed of 2600 to maintain her weight and taking in 800.

If this pure math solution was right, she was creating an average deficit of 1800 kcals a day. If it takes 3500 kcals to lose or gain a pound it should have been easy for her to lose a little more than 3lbs a week.

Yet, that’s not what happened. She didn’t lose. She reached a plateau pretty quickly. She got injured. She had insomnia. She gained. She got nervous when injured and unable to exercise. She feared eating more food or even the amount she was eating when she was exercising.

In spite of evidence (weight loss plateau, frequency of injury, even weight gain) suggesting that so much exercise and so few calories were actually slowing her metabolism, she held on to old emotional ties to the theory that exercising more and eating less will achieve weight loss.

After 50 Weight Loss Success

I won’t leave you hanging! Carla did eventually lose. A sluggish metabolism from years of slow down and unintentional sabotage takes time to bounce back. But she did. She’s lost close to 75 pounds at this point and she’s well past 50.

It’s hard to let go.

Some of us are emotional eaters. Some of us are emotional food avoiders. Both emotional eaters and avoiders have a dysfunctional relationship with food. Many of us have an addiction to struggle. Hard work, discipline, and control feel better than relaxation, acceptance, and trusting your body’s signals. That kind of dysfunction extends to exercise, too. It’s easy to get into a cycle of taking out big loans, payback, and withdrawal. This is more noticeable in women who seek weight loss after 50. In that bank analogy sequence two out of three actions are taking away energy and only one is paying back. That’s where we get it wrong with exercise and nutrition. We’re never filling our cup. Our tendency is to mentally believe we’re being “good,” we “have” to suffer through some form of exercise and deprivation, in other words: mindset matters.

If you think you’re being good… you probably think you get rewarded for that behavior at some point instead of believing the behavior itself IS the reward (e.g. enjoying good-for-you food because it’s delicious, and liking the way you feel when you’re doing exercise that’s right for you).

female celebrating Flipping 50 Fit-UYour Motivation for Weight Loss After 50

If doing things you love brings a second set of rewards, even better. In regards to eating good food and exercise you can expect rewards like better sleep, less fatigue, more energy, optimal weight, and body confidence. Not so different than people who are able to take a passion and make it a profession. The successful ones are not without a hard work ethic, but they love waking up every morning to work and even the tasks they don’t love they can tie to the passion for the outcome.

#joyinmotion is non-existent in the majority of diet & exercise to weight loss plans out there

(Have you noticed? Torch calories! Burn fat! Even free consults promise to tell you “how many calories you need to eat and burn to lose weight” lead you to a dead end: this is not your health GPS.) This is true whether you have 5 or 50 pounds to lose, but the longer you’ve carried additional weight and the more you’ve limited calories the more TLC your metabolism-controlling hormones need in order to reboot.

Eating, avoiding eating, and exercise are too often punishment. While it might seem compulsive eating is a reward, if you’ve been down this road before, it’s more like punishment because you know what’s coming next in the cycle. You’ll feel bad and the underlying purpose was to create those bad feelings. That’s bizarre, right? But true. It’s almost as if, the bad feelings are more comfortable. They’re at least more familiar. You can busy yourself with more exercise, fewer calories and get “back on track.” That feels like a game you can win. But then it backfires again and you’re right back where you started. Or worse. 

You’re not right back where you started from because…losing weight you lose fat AND muscle. Regaining weight is 100% fat.

Exercise as a punishment is like paying the interest on some huge loan. The cycle usually goes like this: you’ve overeaten something you wish you hadn’t, and you’re going to compensate for it with excess exercise. You might also use exercise as a coping mechanism for emotions you don’t like feeling. Frustrated, angry, sad or feeling inadequate, your exercise gives you a fix of mojo, at least temporarily. If this is you, you like exercise. Or you did, until you began abusing it.

The payback is the overcompensation that happens after being particularly “good,” which in my experience with is restricting calories or foods they love, and you got it, dieting. You’re “on something.” It may be legal but it’s not good. The off ramp on that diet highway has a lot of roadblocks on it. You end up eating because you deserve it, you can’t resist any more (there’s science behind that: your body is doing everything it can to tell you to eat more).

Then there’s the, “I exercised today so I can have this” and the opposite, “I haven’t exercised so I can’t eat.” Certain types of exercise actually make you more prone to over eating afterwards. You can sabotage yourself in fact with some of the recommended activities for weight loss. Longer extended walks are recommended. They’re lower impact, anyone can walk, and yet, if you get that information and you’re gung ho whether it’s January 2 or not, you’re likely to take that downtown with the if-a-little-is-good-more-must-be-better and you’ll over do it.

Certain types of exercise actually make you more prone to over eating afterwards.

The withdrawal is getting a great (long, or exceptionally hard, or both) workout in or dieting all week so that you can do the payback. You might have the special event and the dress to fit into. You might be planning it. You might not. You’re just trying to get ahead and “work hard” to get results until eventually the payback comes. That’s what clever programs call “cheat” days and what I call binge days. It happens if you’re starting something that you can’t possibly ever sustain. If it feels temporary, it will be, and it usually doesn’t end well.

My girlfriends and I used to joke that we each had to have (or in this case we were talking about someone’s daughter) a “bad boy” relationship. It was that one that everyone else knew wasn’t good for you, wasn’t going to last and yet you couldn’t resist. Yep. A bit like a diet or exercise plan that you start thinking that you can make it through this eight weeks and be magically transformed, skinny, and then you can do it normally. It never works that way.

Weight Loss After 50 and Exercise

Diets or crazy kamikaze bootcamps full of burpees, squats, and lunges that send you home unable to sit down and bring you back the next day more sore than you should be starting a new exercise session don’t instill #joyofmotion in most of us. Granted there are possibly the less than 1% of you reading this who are saying, yes, I truly LOVE to do punishing workouts, but the majority of us who follow human nature seek pleasure and run (or walk or bike) from pain.

The reality is that whatever you do to get to a goal – weight loss- fitness, you have to do MORE of to sustain. Why? Because a 250 lb body requires more calories to move, and sustain than does a 150 lb body.

You will slow your metabolism by becoming a smaller person. The good news: By changing the way your body burns fuel and adjusting it to becoming a higher fat burner, and increasing lean muscle tissue you can overcome and offset this seemingly BIG obstacle.

The truth about weight loss that isn’t done correctly is your metabolism will slow. If you regain weight (reminiscent of Biggest Loser participants) your metabolism could STILL BE LOW, if you’ve not released toxins that are stored in fat, or not paid attention to lean muscle creation. Those who are slaves to cardio and ignore weight training will be most likely to experience this.

Why can some people lose 50 or 100 pounds and keep it off? They’ve adapted eating and exercise habits that change the way they eat and exercise permanently. They’ve looked far beyond calories and looked at hormones and quality of food vs. quantity of food.

Hormones, not calories, control your weight.

You have an abundance of hormones. So at first glance, it’s a challenge less simple than addition and subtraction required to do calories in calories out. It’s like me and trigonometry. I had the multiplication tables down, damn it. Who moved the cheese?

But it’s also easier to balance out hormones. [The hardest part is reconciling your brain with the idea that less exercise is more, and more good food is more.]

It’s not punishing exercise. It’s exercise you like and less of it but with more purpose.

It’s not dieting or deprivation. It’s flipping foods you love that negatively impact your hormones into foods you love made with food that loves you back.

You don’t need bootcamp 6 days a week at high intensity. You don’t have to say no forever to dessert or to snacks. That would be unrealistic.

Remember this one thing about your body: It wants to be at ideal weight.

Now, your ideal weight might not look like the cover model on a magazine. (Even the model on the cover doesn’t look like the model on the cover). Your body wants the path of least resistance as much as your mind does. So if you feed it and move it optimally, it will respond by releasing fat it no longer wants to carry around.

If you have tried or are trying to burpee and starve your way to get there, or you “have to have” some crazy concoction of foods made or delivered to you to make your goal a reality, chances are this is not sustainable. If you want weight loss and yet your relationship with foods that feel comforting (momentarily) is so great you can’t or you refuse to break that cycle, now may not be the time.

What? That’s not where you thought this was going? I wish I could give you a program that works even when you aren’t ready to change. But, I simply can’t.

No one can want it worse than you.

This place you’re in could be your upper limit. You’re possibly afraid of changing so much that you won’t. Something about your struggle is working for you. You may associate yourself with the struggle. You spend time, energy, maybe money investing in new programs, or finding new experts to ask about what to do. You get a lot of answers. But you don’t DO any of them.

Then nothing I say can help.

If you are ready to make changes, to see changes, there are things to consider. If you have more than 20 pounds to lose, the changes you need to make with mindset become more important.

woman floating on inner tubeUnique Needs for Weight Loss After 50

Women over 50 have a unique set of circumstances:

You need to address the whole person you are. You’re going to be either positively or negatively influenced by each of these:

So if you’ve skipped or ignored any one of those needs during a “diet” or a “bootcamp” or delivery of food to your door, there have been potentially more obstacles than solutions. It’s not your fault.

You can’t diet the way a 20-year-old does. You can’t fast the way a 30-year-old does. You can’t exercise the way you did even at 40. Make no mistake, you can look and feel as good (and often better – we’ve been beating ourselves up for a long time) as you did at 20, 30 or 40, as long as you don’t attempt to get there the way you did at 20, 30 or 40. For two reasons:

This is an integrated relationship and successful integration determines your success. At midlife and beyond the impact of hormones is amplified. [You’re not off the hook at 60 or just because you’ve gone through the other side.] You can’t outwork hormones and you can’t out-diet them; you can outsmart them.

To learn more about how to get fit after 50 if you have 20 or more pounds to lose, click here. Fit-U is designed for you. Fit-U starts now.weight loss program Early access materials are ready now. There’s never a convenience time to do anything worthwhile. Do you want support? If you do, and you want it to be me, let’s do this.

If you want to learn more about the difference between:

  1. Fat loss and weight loss
  2. Fat loss after 50

Watch this special master class. I’ve rounded up all the research about weight loss – that is FAT loss –  after 50 (because the last thing you want to do is lose muscle. Temporarily that will make you feel a false sense of success, but when the muscle goes so too does your metabolism. That my friend, is the vicious cycle that’s caught up with you. And yet, yes you can change it. Start watching. Then jump in right now.

20 Reasons Strength Training Should Be Mandatory

Strength training is the fountain of youth. You may love your yoga, Zumba, running or _______, and that’s awesome! Stronger muscles will keep you doing it for longer. Here are just 20 (not all all-inclusive, but a good reason to re-examine how you spend your exercise time.

1) Prevent Muscle Losses

Muscle mass peaks at age 25. The loss of muscle for adults who aren’t resistance training is between 8 and 10% every decade. At that rate, living longer will result in sarcopenia (significant muscle and strength losses) in latter decades. Muscle mass can however be developed at any age even in the 9thand 10thdecade of life. Prevention of falls and illness due to frailty is available with resistance training.

2) Prevent Bone Losses

Bone mass peaks close to age 30. At that time there’s minimal opportunity to enhance bone density. Loss of bone without resistance training occur at a rate of anywhere from .5 to 3-to-5%/year depending on a woman’s phase of life.

Nearly all older women living beyond 80 will experience osteoporosis making them susceptible to fracture related to falls. Small-framed women or those with a high number of risk factors will have osteoporosis earlier in life.

Resistance training is the only exercise with results preventing natural bone losses or reversing losses even in menopausal or post menopausal women.

3) Increase Strength, Endurance, and Stamina

Your DNA influences the way you age, but not nearly as much as the lifestyle habits you have. Six months of strength training slows down or reverses aging and the expression of 179 genes associated with aging.

4) Support Natural Hormone Balance

In a recent Flipping 50 Master Class I shared the influence of exercise on optimal hormone balance. Listen to this Flipping 50 podcast to get a summary.

5) Boost Growth Hormone

Human Growth Hormone (GH) influences metabolism, body composition and aerobic exercise capacity throughout life. GH production declines naturally with age. Resistance training and intense interval training can boost GH significantly.

6) Boost Testosterone

Testosterone is supportive of libido and of self-confidence. As sex hormone levels decline for women in perimenopause testosterone levels often dip. Intense resistance and interval training are the best ways to naturally boost testosterone levels while endurance exercise reduces testosterone.

7) Increase Metabolism

Loss of muscle mass and a correlating increase in body fat reduces metabolism. Strength training correctly will result in both fat losses and metabolically active lean muscle increases that positively effect metabolism both at rest and after exercise as you age.

“You are probably too old NOT to strength train.”

8) Boost Libido

Forty to sixty percent of women in perimenopause suffer from low libido. An informal survey at flippingfifty.com reveals an even greater percent of women in perimenopause, menopause, and post menopause report low libido. Libido can wane from multiple reasons including lack of body confidence, dropping testosterone levels, and low energy. Exercise, specifically strength training counters each of those factors.

9) Improve Sleep

It takes 10 minutes of exercise to positively improve self-ratings of sleep by 33%. That’s with no imposition of intensity or measurement of parameters. And long term regular strength training brings about improvements in sleep.

10) Improve Body Composition

Resistance training positively influences body composition by both increasing lean muscle tissue and supporting fat burning. Resistance training burns fat during acute bouts of exercise but has a greater impact on the post-exercise energy and thus fat-burning than aerobic activity does.

11) Blood Sugar Stabilization Prevents or Reverses Insulin Resistance

Compared with aerobic exercise, positive influence on blood sugar and insulin resistance occur more predictably with strength training.

12) Decreased Risk of Falls

Falls are associated with loss of muscle, frailty, and weakness. Muscle strength from resistance training prevents those falls from occurring (and reduces damaging fractures if they do occur).

13) Better Reaction skills

Age-related muscle losses are fiber specific. Fast Twitch (FT) muscle fibers are lost twice as fast as you age. FT fibers are responsible for both metabolism and reaction skills. Your ability to right yourself if you trip to avoid falls, or react quickly to changing terrain or body positions is related to the amount of FT fiber you have.

14) Decrease Anxiety

The prevalence of anxiety in older adult women is growing. Resistance training is directly correlated with reducing the severity of anxiety and used in the treatment of anxiety.

15) Reduced Depression

The incidence of depression is significantly higher in older women than men. Resistance training has proven to be instrumental in improving mild to moderate depression. Studies show the positive impact of exercise is comparable or better than medications or cognitive therapies, and compared to medications exercise offers no negative side affects.

16) Improved Cognitive Function

Brain function including memory, executive function, problem solving, and brain plasticity all benefit from resistance training. Benefits are experienced after acute (after a single bout of exercise) and long term exercise.

17) Increased Energy

Energy is generated in the mitochondria, once believed to naturally decline with age and accepted as a fact of life. In the last 8-10 years research has shown that mitochondrial function can be improved and declines reversed so older adults have the same relative mitochondria function as young adults after regular strength training.

18) Enhanced Muscle Protein Synthesis

The ability to use dietary protein for the benefit of muscle tissue repair and growth declines with age. Resistance training has proven to overcome that effect of aging and following acute bouts of resistance training and long term resistance training muscle protein synthesis is improved significantly. That has a positive effect on maintaining lean (metabolically active) muscle tissue and strength.

19) Decrease Stress

The damaging effects of stress are related to over 80 diseases. By increasing resilience to stress the physiological and psychological responses to stress both are lower. Blood pressure, anxiousness, adrenal responses, and ability to focus or remember improve in fit individuals compared to sedentary.

20) Improve Posture

The effects of a life “out front” causes rounded shoulders, rounded upper back, and forward head hang, all worsened by cell phone use and “tech neck” today. Correct selection and performance of strength training exercises can help correct these postures and the ensuing depressive states that accompany them.

…and one final “bonus” based on the summation of all the above (though this is by no means an all-inclusive buffet of strength training benefits)

21) Truly LIVE longer

“Stronger longer” is a Flipping 50-ism. The goal of longevity is nothing without an increasing long healthspan.Muscular strength is the foundation for all things physical, mental, and emotional related to aging.

If you received a prescription medication from a doctor, it will inevitably have negative side effects, as every medication does.

If you however, perform strength training, whether at a gym alone, with a personal trainer, or at home alone, there are virtually no negative and dozens (partial list above) of positive benefits.

Want support? Starting, learning proper technique, and combining hormone balancing with joint care and your health history requires strength training programming fit for midlife woman. I’ve got you covered. Check out STRONGER I. 

What do you think of when I say blood flow restriction exercise?

Without checking Google, most of our Flipping 50 tribe would think this sounded like something terrible. It sounds like something that happens in a lab and not on purpose in a workout session. If you think it sounds like there’s risk involved and it might be bad for blood pressure or increase heart stress, you’re not alone.

But if you Googled (odd how that is now a verb to anyone else?) it you’d find that there’s emerging science around Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) training. And some of it has promise for older adults, and you. In fact, it’s quite exciting.

What Is It?

Originally developed in 1966 by Yoshiaki Sato in Japan where it was known as “kaatsu training,” meaning “training with added pressure.” It’s performed all over the world. So why haven’t you heard of it before? A quick look on Amazon for BFR bands shows images of (big) body builders, 98% of which are male. It doesn’t look like something you or I would naturally gravitate toward. It certainly hasn’t made it to Prevention or Reader’s Digest… yet.

But it might. Very soon.

Essentially, BFR training involves preventing blood flow to working muscles (or those at rest I’ll discuss later). That tricks the body into thinking it’s doing hard work to increase Human Growth Hormone (or GH), which burns fat and builds muscle.

If you don’t like hard work, won’t or can’t do hard work… blood flow restriction exercise may be your next best friend.

It Helps Muscle, Does It Help Bones?

Though some studies have suggested yes, for you and I, no, or very minimally. Only with instances of growth hormone deficiency in young male adults, or with unexplainable osteoporosis in male subjects was there any positive effect on bone density. There’s no evidence of bone support for women with age-related bone density declines. So, heavy weights when possible are still the answer.

Yet, there is some correlation with reduced fracture risk from increased GH. That may be due to increased muscle strength lending to better strength, reaction skills, and balance.

Are There Risk factors?

A review of literature for a position statement with older adults with frailty, Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), and prior existing Venus Thrombeoembolism, conclude there is no additional risk, “though further studies are encouraged,” Always your selection of appropriateness should be made on an individual basis together with your physician and a medical exercise specialist. Blood pressure response can be higher if cuffs are not removed during the recovery interval periods. 

Blood Flow Restriction Exercise Research

In one research study, adults in a large review of literature were between 57 and early 70s. BFR was effective in developing muscle in low load (walking) compared to walking without BFR.

Positive results are reported in both muscular strength and muscle mass from use of BFR exercise.

It’s important to note that most research confirms the BFR results are similar but still lower than that from High Load (HL) strength training. That is, if you can safely, and are motivated to lift heavy weights, it will still provide the most benefit. If however, travel, special conditions, or you’re unwilling BFR opens up alternatives. 

More Study Results

Optimal strength response was found in subjects (without physical limitations) from Heavy Load strength training combined with low load walking with (BFR) restriction.

For older athletes BFR may enhance performance by allowing combination of low load training with restriction and heavy load more typically used (requiring less of heavy load yet more overall training without damage and risk of injury).

Personally, during training for Ironman, I’m usually an advocate of heavy weight training for avoiding lean muscle losses and bone density benefits. [Yes, more exercise can be a risk just as too little exercise can.] However, as training volume increases for an endurance event balancing sport-specific activity with less strength is better for reduced overall physical stress.

So I’m wearing BFR bands walking the dog before a run and then cutting the volume of training runs significantly. I’m able to optimize hormones this way instead of impose constant fatigue so common in endurance athletes.

For older adults who are unable (or unwillingly, untrusting) to do heavy load training BFR provides a viable way to increase strength and maintain lean tissue, specifically Fast Twitch (FT) muscle fiber. Adults can lose Fast Twitch fibers twice as fast as they age. FT fibers are responsible for metabolism and reaction skills – so you can catch yourself and prevent falls.

How Often Should Blood Flow Restriction Training Be Done?

It depends. Don’t you love that? (sarcasm) Yet, truly it depends on you now and why you’re implementing it. Do you need this to allow you to do something while you’re recovering from an injury? Do you need a good substitute for your regular exercise while traveling? Are you looking for a way to supplement a very active life and fitness program to boost progress without burning out or injury? Use your answer to determine how you start:

How Tight Do Blood Flow Restriction Exercise Bands Need to Be?

You’ll see in the video I discuss the 7/10 on a “tightness” scale. You’re doing this at your perception of tightness. You may need to experiment a little. I find it easiest to go to the point I couldn’t stand it and then back off slightly to get to my “7.” If you’re in our Flipping 50 tribe you’re used to rating your effort level on a 0-10 scale for various exercise so this is familiar.

Why Does It Work for Adults Over 50?

Proper use of the bands creates greater metabolic stress that brings about greater release of growth hormone and IGF-1 – key for gains of lean muscle and prevention of muscle loss.

By inducing greater muscle fatigue with lower loads there may be more Type II fiber recruitment for the relative load. (You’ve heard me talk nation-wide about Fast Twitch Muscle loss prevention.)

Enhanced muscle protein synthesis that occurs with resistance training is another huge win. Research shows clearly that resistance training offsets reduced muscle protein synthesis (ability to use protein you consume to benefit muscle) that can otherwise occur with age.

Enhanced Human Growth Hormone (GH) is an important advantage of lifting heavy weights and intense interval training as you age. Nearly comparable results are reported with BFR bands. Heavy lifting seems to still have the positive edge. This is one of your biggest hormone benefits of resistance training. Feel like you can’t get the muscle tone you once had? Decreases in GH are a part of that.

You can overcome reduced production of GH with age by resistance training at proper intensities. If until now you haven’t chosen or haven’t been able to do resistance training, you have a lighter load option.

Each of these aforementioned benefits point to reducing the signs of aging. What has been “accepted” as normal no longer has to happen. You’re in control. You can prevent and reverse aging. 

When high intensity interval training may not be appropriate (due to fatigue or cortisol levels, current injuries, or lack of access while traveling, Restricted Blood Flow exercise (low load) may be a good option to prevent muscle and strength losses.

For an idea of activities and intensity that work with BFR exercise:

Resistance Training:

Choosing the Load

Loads for resistance training in most studies feature loads of 20-30% of 1-rep max. Now, I’d never suggest you do a 1-rep maximum test. I’ve discussed that many places in books and posts. It is however the language of intensity in resistance training. If you can lift a weight only once and reach fatigue you’ve found the ultimate of “heavy.”

To give you an idea of 20-30% you’ll need an estimated one-rep max. If you can lift something 10 times to fatigue it’s about 80% of your 1-rep max. (This by the way is the best protocol for bone density).  With a little math you can determine your 1 rep max is about 12.5 lbs. So 20-30% is 2.5-3.75 lbs. I’d suggest starting with a 3-lb dumbbell.

As you perform the exercises you can experiment with what truly causes fatigue in the muscle. The biggest take-away? You’re going to use far lighter weights (or resistance) than you would without the bands.

Aerobic Training:

These types of exercises performed are performed at about 40% VOx2 max which is about the equivalent of daily activities of living. So in theory you could wear bands while going up and down your stairs to do laundry or clean for 20 minutes. Some aerobic protocols use intermittent exercise. For example, intervals of pedaling for 3 minutes with bands used alternated with 2 minutes of removing or undoing the bands.

What Size are the Blood Flow Restriction Exercise Bands?

Larger cuff size requires less pressure but movement is restricted. Choose based on your frame and size. Typically, recommendations are 1-1 ½ inches for upper body (bicep) and 2 inches lower body.

These are the bands I am using. *

 

 

 

Aerobic Blood Flow Restriction Exercise Intro

 

The Exercise Protocol At-a-Glance

STRENGTH

AEROBIC

How Soon Can You Expect Results From Blood Flow Restriction Exercise?

For those more sedentary doing 1-2 times a day, approximately 3 weeks is suggested time to experience benefits. For those already exercising that incorporate BFR training into their program 3-6 weeks is the suggested time frame. (Think about weight loss, the more weight you have to lose the faster you’ll see progress. So it is with BFR, the more fit you are, the less impactful BFR training may be for you, though that slight increase in fitness can be significant when it happens.)

Bed Rest Implications

Studies suggest that even in instances where exercise is extremely limited or not possible, use of the BFR bands can prevent muscle and strength loss. Wearing the BFR bands intermittently 1-2 times a day even while sedentary is beneficial compared to not using BFR.

BFR show promise during times you might be recovering from surgery or plantar fasciitis. Whenever you’ve got weight bearing restrictions for a period of time and are unable to apply pressure to a limb, or you’re on crutches. For someone undergoing treatment with low energy levels deeming a regular exercise plan implausible, this opens up possibilities to prevent a downward spiral that can easily occur. The BFR bands may provide a means for sparing what can be devastating muscle losses, often the beginning of weakness if not frailty, making falls more likely.

Would You Like Support?

Interested in more information? The best next step is to get STRONGER! When I open the doors for enrollment a few times a year you’ll be the first to know. Click here.

I’m including some BFR training in this 12-week resistance training program. Whether you’re more athletic and want to keep your hormones balanced (not stressed) or you have limits about how much you can lift, or find it hard to reach intensity levels you need…. This is for you!

Resources:
https://lifeforceiq.com/kaatsu/
https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Fulltext/2013/10000/Exercise_and_Blood_Flow_Restriction.37.aspx
https://www.strengthandconditioningresearch.com/blood-flow-restriction-training-bfr/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10993598
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12414848
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29030774
https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2019.00533/full
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30306467
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6349784/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26118847
*Links to the Flipping 50 Amazon store will result in a small commission for me if you choose to purchase from that link.

Exercise in Hormone Balance: more than going for a walk

What’s the role of exercise in hormone balance, exactly? We know these facts. Exercise influences hormones. Hormones influence exercise. You, already know this. I’ve said it before here at Flipping 50. But you already know because there are days you don’t feel like exercising, or you feel like the mirror isn’t reflecting the consistent hard work you’ve done.

And it feels relative to hormone changes. Whether you knew you were in perimenopause or not– that period of time lasting up to 10 years for some women, you realize that other things were changing too.

Your skin seemed to be thinning, maybe showing more signs of wrinkles or more cellulite than you had before. You may deal with both breakouts and fine lines during this time. You notice more hair loss in the shower.

So is the answer hormone replacement? What if you are and you’re still not feeling 100%? It doesn’t do all the heavy lifting, or shouldn’t. And you’ve got a lot more control than we ever might have known. The foods you eat, or don’t, the sleep habits you have, or don’t, the way you handle stress or don’t, and exercise type and timing play a factor.

Exercise in hormone balance course: episode sponsor

This episode is sponsored by The After 50 Fitness Formula for Womencourse, it’s my signature course and companion to You Still Got It, Girl! the book. In it I teach you module by module how foods have an effect on hormones, how stress influences hormones, and sleep, and of course exercise.

One thing I know better than anything after 35 years in fitness primarily working with women over 40 from the very beginning? We want to know WHYand so we can connect the dots to why it’s important to do this in the HOWwe’re being taught so we understand the reason to commit to doing it.

What I Believe About You

There’s no lack of motivation or discipline. I just don’t buy into that. There’s usually a belief about what, how, and why something works that either propels you or stands in your way. Right now during this After 50 Fitness Formula course anniversary you get not just the 8 modules Plus a bonus module demonstrating examples of exercise, you get:

  • My Bone Health Mini course
  • Exclusive Adrenal Fatigue master class
  • And you’ve still got all the worksheets for every module to use for tracking your progress
  • Plus a private Facebook group

THEN I’ve created 5 bonusesyou get NOW… but it they go away Labor Day weekend so get in now!

  • A special “get started” recorded coaching master sessionwith me so that you can get the most value and the least overwhelm out of the course
  • A special floor-only strength trainingworkout (20 minutes) so that you can avoid up and down from the floor and make the most of your time
  • 3 strength training plans(one for different schedule needs) so that you’ve got a layout based on 7, or 9 days that includes intervals, strength and rest that is the glue to making results stick
  • A special master class on Fasting & Exercise After 50: Fit or Not Fit? So you can see if it sounds right for you and how hormone balance status plays into your decision
  • Me inside the Facebook group for a daily tip the 20th– Sept 15th!! You’re your personal coach nudging you along the way so you start strong.

These extras opened August 20th… join nowand get started to get them all…! The daily tips 20th-Sept 15th will help you get a strong start by working on your beliefs about exercise, hormones, and menopause.

***Bonuses will be available for a limited amount of time and not a part of the course long term. So you’ll have longer to watch them when you get in right away before they disappear September 15.  You can only get in if you start by LABOR DAY! 

So enough on that, let’s talk specifically about exercise and hormone balance.

So, you are more in control than you may have thought. And it’s less complicated than you think. So this episode is about really unraveling the hormones we’ve got changing most, what they do or did, and don’t without help as they decrease…and how exercise can help.

First let’s look at the role of sex hormones in the body. Then we’ll look at how exercise influences hormones.

ESTROGEN

1.Grows the lining in the uterus so that the fertilized egg can implant.

2.Increases collagen production in the entire body, most notably in the blood vessels, skin, vagina and bladder.

3.Maintains cardiovascular elasticity and blood flow.

4.Prevents the body from losing bone densityby inhibiting osteoclasts.

5.Increases vaginal lubrication and sex drive.

6.Augments sexual desire.

7.Fuels fat metabolism.

8.Facilitates mental health by increasing serotonin and dopamine in the brain.

9.Stimulates the production of progesterone, testosterone, thyroid, and more estrogen receptors.

10.Modulates adrenaline levels.

11.Is anti-inflammatory.

12.Modulates immune functions.

13.Increases melatonin levels.

PROGESTERONE

1.At its peak, stimulates apoptosis (cell death/anti-cancer).

2.Increases bone density.

3.Reduces anxiety.

4.Lowers blood pressure.

5.Reduces cramping.

6.Acts as a natural diuretic.

7.Improves insulin sensitivity.

8.Increases GABA secretion.

9.Is a precursor to cortisol, and all the steroid hormones.

10.Modulates immune functions.

TESTOSTERONE

1.Plays a role in healthy heart and blood.

2.Supports a body to makeless fat, more muscle.

3.Builds bone.

4.Improves verbal memory, spatial abilities and mathematical reasoning.

5.Improves libido& erectile function.

6.Improved mood.

With hormone decline, physical health may deteriorate, mental wellness decreases, and chronic diseases may creep in. At least this is what you’ve been taught and the correlation that has been true until now. Until this time when more of us have been exercising for decades or are starting now.

This is important: understand that the science that’s collected data up until now is looking at the past.It is notlooking at your future.

What if you chose not to believe it?

During the recession, about 14 years ago I heard a speaker get up and talk about just how much we were hearing how bad the economy was at the time. She began with, “what if we decided not to participate?”I challenge you to think the same.

What if you decided not to participate in what you were told is coming with menopause and with aging? What if you rejected it? Instead, what if you went on believing you could enjoy an even more vibrant life now because of your life experience and wisdom and personal insight into what makes you happy?

Physical changes may include:

1.Increased resting heart rate

2.Rise in blood pressure

3.Amplified immunoreactivity

4.Decrease in short term memory function

5.Changes in body fat distribution and composition

6.Thinning hair on head, arms, legs, and pubic area

7.Increased facial hair

8.Blood chemistry changes such as:

  • Raised cholesterol levels and elevated fasting insulin / glucose levels.
  • Increase in bone turnover markers
  • Positive ANA and increased inflammatory markers

How did that list make you feel?

Think about it?

If it makes you feel like you’re fighting a war, it should. It’s not much of a party, right?

I encourage you to reject the idea these things WILL happen, or that if they do they are permanent.

They are merely signs and symptoms. Signs that you indeed are having changing hormones. Changing hormonesisa part of the evolution of a woman’s life whether they occur at menopause or with surgery.

You can opt to change. Change exercise. Change nutrition. Change lifestyle habits and break old patterns that will no longer work for you (hint: they weren’t working for you… you were lucky).

What do I mean by lucky?

The science we had decades ago was the best we had. But if 39% of all sports medicine and exercise research features females right now,imagine the low percent that featured females 30 years ago.

Exercise plays a role in balancing these hormones and their reactions IF we use an exercise prescription that is HORMONE BALANCING, and not all people all the time.

Bootcamps

Mass bootcamps with all ages and levels … is very attractive to gyms and trainers. Let’s pack them in and charge a nominal rate but with dozens in a session it’s still a huge win. The energy and excitement is contagious. Unfortunately, injury rates climbed. There is no modification when it’s one or two trainers to 2, 4, or 6 dozen attendees. When others are driven you are driven and yet, that isn’t what every hormone imbalance needs.

Group Fitness

Classes are no different. Groups of 25 or 30 adults coming together to do either a workout dictated by the instructor’s mood or energy, or a pre-scripted program may not be what any individual needs at the moment. Once you know how hard you need to work and what kind of workout you need, group may work well for you. You know you and then you can choose the best options – and frequency for yourself.

Let’s talk about weight training.

Why Weight Training Exercise for Hormone Balance

Weight training is one of the absolute best things you can do for your hormone balance. Specifically targeting growth hormone, testosterone, cortisol, and insulin, with strength training you can introduce exercise without a sweat if that’s something you can do without.

Though estrogen isn’t necessarily effected by weight training, it’s effects are addressed as bone density losses are slowed by weight training (and only weight training).

There’s more. Additional hormones positively influenced by strength training are endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. Though aerobic activity has always been associated with endorphins, don’t overlook strength training because the benefits seem to be equal. These hormones also bump cognitive performance long term. After a year of strength training women improved on executive planning abilities (problem solving and memory).  There’s also a reduction in anxiety and depression.

High volume lower-to-moderate intensity sets with short breaks works.

Low-volume, high intensity sets with longer rest intervals works better.

If you’re scared, just starting, opt for the high volume. Progress as you can (and assess on a joint by joint basis) to heavier weights for optimum hormone, bone, and muscle benefit.

STRONGER I is a moderate to heavier and STRONGER III is a lighter weight higher volume program for both beginners and for developing “cut” or definition. 

HIIT or S.I.T. (sprint interval training)

Focus on an aerobic (or higher intensity which is referred to as anaerobic when you can’t sustain for periods longer than 30 seconds) with intermittent recovery periods. The total sessions should last 20-30 minutes at most. Weekly total HIIT times should be 45 minutes or less. After that time injury rates increase and benefits decrease. The body needs recovery from hard work in order to reap benefits.

Prolonged endurance activity

Disruption of the endocrine system tends to occur at varying levels for individuals. It is more common however in women who focus uniquely on endurance exercise without weight training or HIIT, and or who only add rather than removing to find a balance between activity.

Time of day to exercise

Intense early and light late is the Flipping 50 guideline. Testosterone levels are naturally higher in the morning. Strength and HIIT sessions that occur early also work with natural healthy cortisol patterns.

Late day cortisol drops but your body is warm and loose. It’s the perfect time for “light late” activity like stretching and yoga or a light walk. If you need to accommodate your schedule, later in the day is fine for weight training. Optimal effects of exercise in hormone balance may not be available if you exercise of the wrong type at the wrong time.

Keep your exercise pre-dinner. Avoid any exercise within 4 hours of bedtime.

How hard when it’s high intensity?

The key to benefits from Interval Training is high enough intensity. There’s got to be metabolic demand sufficient enough to cause change. That is why Flipping 50 recommends always reaching fatigue when you’re focused on body composition, metabolism, and positive hormone influence of exercise.

The role of exercise in hormone balance can’t take the lead if you’re not using the right exercise.

Fatigue during strength training is getting to a repetition that truly is the last one you can do. During intervals that is breathless. If you’re not doing either of those, you’re not influencing your metabolic-driven hormones and won’t experience the beneficial changes.

Whether you want to boost libido, regain lost muscle tone, decrease fat, increase muscle mass to boost metabolism, or regulate blood sugar levels, proper intensity, in other words, training with purpose, not just random exercise is your goal.

Recap of Exercise in Hormone Balance

Testosterone slowly declines in women leading to menopause and then can drastically drop off. Bye bye libido and maybe your confidence at work. Increased testosterone can be induced by resistance training. Again, provided the stimulus is intense enough.

Growth hormone and testosterone have been examined for their role in boosting strength or muscle mass. Especially among body builders. The actual role of them is backward. Resistance training improves levels of growth hormone and testosterone, not the other way around.

Increases in growth hormone benefit collagen synthesis and fat burning. Testosterone as stated above supports better libido and energy. Both GH and testosterone support more muscle and lower fat.

Resistance training supports the fountain of youth.

If you’re looking for support and understanding the science behind what’s true and what’s just always been accepted.. I’d love to see you in the course.

Exercise in Hormone Balance Resources:

Kraemer W, Ratamess N. Hormonal responses and adaptations to resistance exercise and training. Sports Med 2005;35(4):339-361.

Herbert P, Hayes L, Sculthorpe N, Grace F. HIIT produces increases in muscle power and free testosterone in male masters athletes. Endocr Connect 2017;6(7):430-436.

Hackney A, Aggon E. Chronic low testosterone levels in endurance trained men: the exercise-hypogonadal male condition. pii:103 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29882545

Copeland J, Consitt LA, Tremblay M. Hormonal responses to endurance and resistance exercise in females aged 19-69 years. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2002;57(4):B158-B165.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21058750

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20959702

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/415534

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Weight and Belly Fat Truths During Menopause and Beyond

Are stubborn weight and belly fat not responding to the rigorous exercise you’re doing? Or maybe it’s just habitual exercise? that 4 mile walk you do every day not doing it any more? Maybe even making you more tired?

“I’m tired all the time”

“I’m exercising all the time and barely eating and I still can’t lose weight”

Sound familiar?

What about…

Ring a bell?

The obvious never seems so clear when you’re living it.

When you’re tired, rest.

You’ve been led to believe that energy creates energy. That can make you feel guilty for not exercising. At the least it can make more exercise the intuitive answer.

Constant fatigue however in a world where we’re constantly “on” means you need to catch up by slowing down. Rest more during the day and sleep more temporarily so you can fill that hole you’re in. Once you support yourself back to feeling like you again there’s always time to begin exercise – that’s potentially more effective.

What does rest more during the day look like?

Instead of 8 hours of meetings, appointments, and phone calls strategically schedule 30 minutes ever 90 minutes or two hours to regroup. During that time get up, get outside or a view from a window, rehydrate, and or use the restroom. Watch a funny video or talk to a funny friend or colleague.

How do you sleep more at night?

You’re trying but it’s not going so well? Breaking some of your old patterns will help that. You may be thinking “it’s hormones” and you’re a victim. You’re not. Yes, things change. You can also change your approach and thoughts and sleep again.

I tucked all the facts and actions about improving your sleep into a little book [Sleep Yourself Skinny]and you can get it free.

What are you saying?

You’ve got to start with your mind. If you tell yourself “I have insomnia” or “I’ve never been a good sleeper,” you’ll keep the pattern you’ve got and prevent the optimal progress. If you believe all the things you’re told and read about menopause causing sleep disturbances and weight gain, it may happen to you too. If you believe it won’t happen to you? Better chance it won’t. If people with chronic illness can heal themselves with the power of thought (called placebo), you can do it with sleep too.

Get the book. Do the things that help. Stop doing the things that don’t. And believe they’ll work.

Optimal weight and belly fat have much to do with cortisol optimization. You need it for energy and but not too much as evidenced in times of high (or lasting chronic) stress.

How do you introduce more rest in your exercise routine?

Rest applies to several levels of exercise:

This is an entire module in The After 50 Fitness Formula for Women. Did you know that if you’re not resting more between your workouts than you did a decade ago you could be limiting your fitness?

Research tells us that most older adults increase their fitness with 72 hours, instead of 48 hours between workouts. (e.g. skip the Monday, Wednesday, Friday routine and opt for a Monday, Thursday schedule). You have the capacity to work just as hard (relatively) as you did 20 years ago, provided you rest more than you did then.

How do you know you need more rest?

There’s the obvious, tired all the time – that doesn’t fit the definition of a “fit person” at all really. You may be able to sleep any time during the day but not sleep at night. You’re sore when you go to exercise again. You don’t see muscle tone comparable to the exercise you’re doing. But… there’s a good chance you’re on a hamster wheel repeating the same workout routine daily or weekly. You’ve got to break that pattern and drop some exercise.

Weight lifting however should stay. It might need to change to get you better results, however.

When you lift weight and belly fat improves it’s due to changes in metabolism. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen when you just “burn calories” doing endurance exercise. You’ve got to create more lean muscle and reduce fat storage. The right dose of “sprint” or interval training can help both  – recent studies show increased muscle after “sprint intervals” in obese perimenopause women. That until now was rarely heard of, the conversation around interval training was only about fat burning.

Link to the sprint interval research I have shared previously.

More support? Anniversary Special

If you want more than the 5-minute blog, the After 50 Fitness Formula for Women course features 8 modules – one dedicated to rest & recovery. In addition you’ll understand how nutrition, exercise*, stress, sleep and your hormone status all play into your IDEAL exercise choices. *If you’re doing all the exercise – but not in the right intensity or doses – changes will turn things around.

For a limited time the Anniversary special includes not only the course AND the bone health mini course AND the Adrenal Fatigue (known as HPA axis dysfunction)… it includes 5 bonuses:

You Can Change Weight and Belly Fat

Join by Labor Day weekend to get all the goodies (in addition to the course, the Bone Health mini course, AND the Adrenal Fatigue audio master class already included!)

These extras opened August 20thjoin now and get started to get them all…! The daily tips 20th-Sept 15thwill help you get a strong start by working on your beliefs about exercise, hormones, and menopause.

***Bonuses will be available for a limited amount of timeand not a part of the course long term. So you’ll have longer to watch them when you get in right away before they disappear September 15. You can only get in if you start by LABOR DAY!

I’d love to see you inside!

Note:

The After 50 Fitness Formula course is my signature course created as a companion to You Still Got It, Girl! 

Other resources about adrenals:

Adrenal Fatigue, Exercise, and Weight Loss Success

Best and Worst Exercise for Belly Fat and Fatigue

Adrenal Fatigue to Adrenal Reset

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