Truth About Women’s Fitness in Menopause | My TEDx Talk

Women’s fitness in menopause is a hot topic. This is what I shared in a recent post when I began to spread the word about my TEDx talk:

I think I just threw up a little bit.

That’s how I titled my post. Here’s why.

My TEDx Talk Story

Let me tell you what happens when you get accepted to do a TEDx talk… and have less than 4 weeks to prepare it.

While you’re training for an Ironman happening two weeks after. And the weekend before you’re at a Thursday-Sunday conference knocking out a huge block of time you needed to prepare. 

Then you do the talk and walk off stage feeling like you just had an out-of-body experience. You have no idea if you even said all the important things that made you do this, on your own dime and time. 

Then you wait, and wait, and wait… for 7 months to it to be published (almost unheard of). And it risks getting banned because it’s controversial and in spite of a dozen+ research studies quoted and the basis of it: it flies against tradition. 

It’s released… exactly what you wanted… except then you have to watch yourself and your midget mindset says, “what will people think?” You wonder if you’ve done the women whose stories you told justice. You wonder how many fitness pros will hate it because, well, they’d rather keep doing what they’re doing than accept we might be wrong. 

(and of course, I’m human… I think while watching… I definitely look like I had gained that 10 lbs in 2019 I hinted at – ugh!) Keep reading beyond the video to learn more.

Well, hence the original subject line. I opened with. My TEDx talk is wayyyyyy harder to share than I anticipated. 

I’ve been talking about women’s fitness for 3 1/2 decades. I’ve been diving deep into the research and protocols on exclusively women’s fitness in menopause for 10-14 hours a day for eight years. And still…

The Resistance

Somehow in my head it went different, you know? It was going to be a huge celebration and something I couldn’t wait to share. 

So if I tell you when it all goes peachy and smooth, I have to tell you when it’s a sh#* storm for me. 

That’s just personal doubt coming up. And I have it too. So it is fair for me to tell you, when you think maybe something won’t work for you or you can’t do this, these feelings are going to come up. 

This resistance is harder than any weight you will ever lift. 

So, I’ve got to say to you and to I both… lift the damn thing anyway. 

We have to honor what’s happening for us at the moment we’re in no matter what that includes. 

Now, a humble ask. 

my TEDx talk

Will you watch my TEDx talk? 

It may help you know you’re not doing anything wrong. It may help you realize you’re doing more than you need to right now. Fitness in menopause is tricky.

Will you share it if it will benefit a friend or a health coach or trainer? 

We need to have some change in the way we think about women’s fitness in menopause order to change women’s fitness and health for the better. You deserve energy and vitality and you’re not going to get there by starving or exercise that causes extreme fatigue. 

You can share this blog. You can share the link on flippingfifty.com (scroll below the video and see share buttons to put it directly on your favorite social media site) or from the TED YouTube site directly.

And know, I appreciate it so much.

Here’s News I Haven’t Shared

Literally, the day after my TEDx talk went live, while I was still pulling up my big girl panties to share it and stop second-thoughts, I got my body fat tested. Here are the results.

my TEDx talk

Pretty amazing for a woman in post menopause at 56. From walking…. And 2 20-minute interval sessions (start to end) and 2 strength training sessions (about 30 minutes each) AT HOME during COVID19.

Now, if I changed that sentence:

Pretty amazing for a woman in post menopause at 56. From walking…. And 2 20-minute interval sessions (start to end) and 2 strength training sessions (about 30 minutes each) AT HOME during COVID19

Still true.

If I change it again:

Pretty amazing for a woman in post menopause at 56. From walking…. And 2 20-minute interval sessions (start to end) and 2 strength training sessions (about 30 minutes each) AT HOME during COVID19

Still true. (even at gym where you might think it’s easier)

So…You Need to Know

Listen, girlfriend. Please do not let that nasty, second-thought voice inside your head say you’re too old, you can’t get results, or it takes time and effort you don’t have or don’t want to put in.

Women’s fitness in menopause, and let’s get personal, your fitness in menopause may come from far less exercise than you’ve been led to believe. 

Had you seen the BEFORE numbers… back in December of 2018 when I tested before beginning Ironman training … I was at 127, 24% body fat. So now… the negative impact of a year full of cortisol elevating stressors – including endurance training – become much more apparent. At my highest weight just before the Ironman I saw 139 on the scale. A number I’ve only ever seen before this when I was when pregnant. On a 5’4” frame that’s not healthy, and it’s mysterious given the exercise I was doing and high quality diet I have. Or so you might think!

Endurance exercise… causes a spike in cortisol.

You add that with many more major life stressors (I clearly got in the wrong line at some point in 2019) and you will GAIN weight. Add hitting menopause mid-year and you’ve got a perfect storm.

And no, many blessings to those who said, oh it’s muscle. Honey, um no. A girl knows. Muscle is more compact, not bulky. You can see the increase in body fat percent… 27% is not bad… just not something that makes sense with my lifestyle.

You Don’t Have to Go That Far (Please Don’t!)

I did an experiment in extremes here. You don’t have to be doing Ironman triathlon training to gain weight with too much exercise.

Please check your default thought pattern that more exercise is better.

Better exercise is better. Like walking…. Walking … for a woman used to running 3 hours, biking 4 and 5 hours… swimming for 1-1.5 hours … could also make you lose weight if it is the right Exercise is Medicine dose for you right now.

There will be a time when I can do some more of the endurance I love again. We have to listen to our bodies, adjust the exercise, as you would medication if your status changed.

If you need help.. doors are open until July 1, 2020 for STRONGER. Details here. 

My TEDx talk Stronger

If you miss it and see this later, never fear, you can get notified next time. OR.. you may want to join the Flipping 50 virtual membership and get started with learning, coaching, and all of the STRONGER 1-5 programs included. Click here for details. (July 1-15)

A P.S. after publication:

Don’t walk away with the idea that research on women’s fitness in menopause means you can’t do those endurance activities you love. Just know to be prepared. Plan a reduced volume of endurance and a strategic plan. See signs of fatigue coming before they’re in full force. 

When you’re ready for the storm, it may pass. That’s always better than seeing your roof blown off.

2 thoughts on “Truth About Women’s Fitness in Menopause | My TEDx Talk”

  1. How do I find a place to get a body composition test? I live in the Boston area. Is it expensive? I have a scale that gives body fat percentage but not the detail that you have above. Thanks

    1. Debra Atkinson

      Hi Evelyn, great question. Lots of options- the easiest… buy a bathroom scale that does it.
      What you want: is Body fat %. Once you have that you can do math! Weight x body fat = fat weight, the rest suggests you lean weight (muscle + bone…but we know bone weight is not going to change dramatically).
      Every trainer, gym, parks & rec, university, where there is fitness tests body composition. What I did is called an InBody ..and you can also go to their website and find places in your area (warning- the website was not user-friendly when I last checked!) even a Google search of “Inbody near me” or “body composition testing near me”. Might be $25 to do a one time test. However… if you’re exercising and eating in a way that’s causing you to lose muscle … that’s far more expensive, right?

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