During midlife hormonal shifts you are more susceptible to negative effects of stress since you’ve got more sources… sleep disturbances, progesterone tanks, libido drops and intimacy with your best friend could be an issue, caught between anything from kindergarteners to adult children and aging parents.. you’ve got the perfect storm.
It’s definitely an obstacle to optimal energy and fitness. I’ve got expert help here today to help offer some new insights.
We’re going to dive into how and why you can prevent the fat storage that’s oh so much easier when you’re under stress, and the brain fog and aging acceleration we all want to avoid.
Registered Herbalist (AHG) and Holistic Nutritionist, Danielle Ryan Broda has found her calling as an Instructor of Mycology at Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism, and National Educator at Four Sigmatic. Danielle brings her passion and expertise in herbal medicine, clinical practice, teaching, formulation, and her deep love for fungi, to the Everyday Magic™ of Four Sigmatic.
Stress has become so common in our modern Western world and no one knows it better than a Flipping 50 listener, let’s talk about some of the natural ways we can support ourselves.
Mushroom Coffee with Lion’s Mane and Chaga
Adaptogen Coffee with Tulsi and Ashwaghanda
10 Mushroom Blend
Adaptogen Blend + Mushroom Cacao with Reishi
Try Four Sigmatic for yourself(click here)
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During mental health month I want to touch on the mental health benefits of exercise. Women experience depression – and anxiety – 50% more than men at least up until the age of 65. Hormones play a part, so it’s only fair to fight fire with fire. This post is all about the mental health benefits that occur when you use exercise to positively influence hormones.[And… if you want to jump down below after the post I share my own and Flipping 50 community members personal shares.]
What’s gets you out of bed to exercise or motivates you to finally Google up an exercise video or call a health coach is most likely to be weight, energy, arms, or a mother-of-the-bride dress.
What’s gets you hooked so that you won’t give it up is most likely to be the mental health benefits.
The mental health benefits of exercise are numerous. For women in midlife that’s good news.
When hormone levels fluctuate during peri-menopause and menopause brain fog, memory loss, lack of creativity and productivity can plague even the highest functioning woman.
Anyone in today’s fast paced connected 24/7 lifestyle can experience those symptoms. It’s not just a midlife woman thing. But you are more susceptible if you’ve got a lot of external stressors and you’ve got hormone fluctuations happening.
Most people first relate exercise with endorphins. It’s true exercise creates endorphins. But that’s the tip of the iceberg. It’s temporary. You’ll need it again. And that’s okay since you need to repeat exercise for physical results. But for long-term mental health benefits other hormones are actually more important.
Serotonin has significant effects on mood and is key in decreasing effects of depression. The anti-depressant effects of exercise are also thanks to brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). In fact “SSRIs” are the most often prescribed meds for depression. Their role is to help balance serotonin levels.
Just what mental health benefits can you expect or thank your exercise for?
Studies have proven exerciser therapy to be more favorable than medication and cognitive therapy in treatment of depression and anxiety.
Some therapists have employed walking sessions with clients for decades. Women in particular experience a bump in serotonin from exercise, sunshine, and venting with friends.
Girls let girls talk about problems. They don’t have the need to solve them. Talking, or venting, does wonders for developing what women need most, a collaborative and supportive environment.
Exercise recommendations: aerobic, strength training, yoga
In You Still Got It, Girl!(available on Amazon) I shared how walking 40 minutes a day three times a week significantly increased hippocampus size. For you and I, that’s memory central. There’s no intensity imposed, you walk your self-selected pace 40 minutes three times a week. That’s it. Not only did the hippocampus of study subjects not shrink – typical atrophy that occurs with aging – it GREW!
Interested in reversing aging? Start with regular exercise. Low to moderate intensity will do if you’re getting start.
Exercise recommendations: walking, biking
If you just read about the ability of exercise to improve memory, it’s easy to understand the effects of exercise on reduction of both dementia and Alzheimer’s.
So, while there may be genetics working against you (me too says my DNA results), armed with that knowledge, exercise becomes medicineor at best, a vitamin.
Exercise recommendations: dancing, boxing, aerobic classes with choreography
Countless studies have proven mental health benefits of increased focus and concentration in regular exercisers. Compared to sedentary individuals, active workers get more done in less time with fewer errors. Looking for the elusive 4-hour workweek? Start exercising!
Specifically, exercise during a workday results in greater problem solving skills, better relationships with co-workers, and greater job satisfaction at the end of the day.
Workouts can be “sweatless” and still provide these mental health benefits. Yoga and stretching were equally as beneficial as vigorous exercise.
Exercise recommendations: walking, running, biking, swimming
A National Foundation of Sleep survey found self-reports of sleep improved by 33% with 10 minutes of walking every day. There isn’t any intensity imposed. Just walk. In fact, you can likely insert your favorite activity for 10 minutes and reap similar sleep benefits.
Exercise recommendations: walking, biking, elliptical, aerobic classes
Most people who exercise gain confidence and enjoy a healthy sense of self-esteem compared to non-exercisers. The reason for this occurs isn’t necessarily known.
It could be due to the sense of accomplishment. The satisfaction of setting a goal and following through could contribute. It may be a greater appreciation for the physical body provides a mental boost.
It’s probably due in part to all of those.
Exercise recommendations: weight training, walking, biking, swimming
The underlying reason each of these occurs has to do with lowering your allostatic load. That is, your overall stress. Let’s face it, going for a power walk doesn’t make the project deadline go away, eliminate your need to give a speech, or magically change your financial situation.
But it does increase endorphins (short term fix) and serotonin (the real hormone good stuff) so that you offset the negative effect of cortisol.
Exercise recommendations: walking, running, swimming, aerobic fitness classes, strength training, yoga
The mental health benefits of outdoor exercise surpass that done indoors. In fact, exercise in green environments (think Central Park vs. NY city streets) was best for promoting mental health benefits. While physical benefits may happen in a wide variety of environments, “forest bathing” is best for above the shoulders.
Comments from Flipping 50 Community members:
I have never been treated with medication for depression except briefly 30 years ago and the second time in early 90s was a physician’s off-label use to try to prevent frequent migraines (didn’t work). Five years ago, in my early-50s I began exercising more regularly than ever in my life in an effort to lose weight. I also changed my nutrition. It helped my moods tremendously. I have dealt with depression and sometimes anxiety since childhood. Working out (or hiking — doing about anything outdoors) definitely helps me deal with stress, and the stress of feeling depression trying to come on. Exercising makes me feel better about myself. It is something I can control.
I started exercising to lose pounds and gain strength. I noticed right away that I felt better mentally as well as physically. Now, if I am not consistent on doing something active I can really feel it. I’ve had depression in the past and now I know that exercise is crucial for me!
I feel much better about myself when I exercise. I feel less anxious, more confident and patient. My doctor has prescribed exercise as an integral part of my treatment. Just like with my medicine, if I miss a “dose” of my exercise, I come to the edge of a slippery slope. It’s not optional if I am to maintain mental health.
I cannot stop exercise. If I do, I would be back on antidepressants. Some of us need the boost to our minds. Not optional for me.
What mental health benefits have you experienced from exercise? Comment below!
Lorna McLaren, bestselling author of Before it Hits the Fan:Quick Communication Tips to Help You Resolve Conflict and Reduce Stress shares secrets for business that can help you reduce holiday stress before it starts too.
She’s a corporate trainer and international speaker on effective communication, conflict resolution, and stress reduction. That is the perfect trilogy for emotionally charged holidays or any time of year if you’re a woman in midlife more susceptible to the negative effects of stress thanks to hormones.
It’s no secret that over 80 diseases are directly tied to stress. We’re taught to exercise, eat healthy, and yet we aren’t given extensive tools to deal with stress. Our environment may have conditioned us to respond certain ways that are dysfunctional. If it’s your norm you don’t even realize that you’re doing it. Leave this episode with a new awareness of what triggers you, how you might trigger others, and with a bag of tools to protect you and them!
How listening can help you:
Lorna shares how positive words can influence your brain and your emotions dramatically. Interestingly enough some words you might think of as positive really can give us a negative emotional reaction. Time to check in with yourself on this one! One of the examples she gives reveals just how much we devalue self-care.
Join this conversation by listening. Change years of conditioning by creating awareness of where you’re sabotaging yourself or possibly others unintentionally. Are you the victim of stress at the office or causing stress, or both? Find out!
Sample chapter titles from Lorna’s book:
Get Lorna’s Book:
In addition to your free digital copy of Before It Hits the Fan you’ll also get bonus links to reduce stress
Interested in having Lorna for a content-rich keynote or for corporate training?
You love exercise. You’ve got belly fat. Chances are you’re overdoing exercise to blast fat off. But it backfires. Sound familiar? My question today is from Maria who is doing weight training and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Both are good, as long as they’re in the right dose. Overtraining doesn’t get results and can stress your body, making it hold fat.
So how do you balance that willingness, even desire, to go hard with the hormone-balance for losing belly fat? That’s our episode in a nutshell today.
Reducing overall stress is the answer to losing belly fat by reducing the hormones causing belly fat and increasing the ones that will help get you the greater tone you’re after.
Every choice you make -from exercise to nutrition to sleep – if you’re storing fat should be about how you balance your hormones.
Remove some hardcore exercise and insert other exercise so you can still feel productive. A simple yoga practice can include just a few moves or a flowing series repeated a few times. The set I designed for Maria ends with two poses that release stress from tight hips that could be causing her low back issues. (Your not alone, 80% of us will have back pain and I’ve been there too!)
The simple core series below includes both core exercise and mobility around the upper back that can help again reduce lower back pain will help you get your exercise “fix” without over doing the hormone stress. Try this “lucky 7” set doing each as long as you can or up to 30 seconds to start and progress to a minute of each.
A high protein breakfast that follows exercise is a perfect start to your day. A high protein breakfast makes it easy to do the right thing all day. If you fall apart like Maria when the day gets busy its time to regroup and plan ahead for lunch and dinner. Make eating the right thing at the right time easy with some fast but high nutrient-density meals. Soups that either serve up a one-pot meal or that pair with an easy protein (think salmon or chicken) can be ready and waiting when you are.
Preheat oven to 400. Roast the squash and carrots: toss in the coconut oil; salt and pepper. Place in oven for 30 minutes. Stir once halfway through. Refrigerate until you’re ready to make the soup. Cool to use your Nutribullet. Add all the ingredients to a high-powered blender and follow the instructions to blend until soup is warmed throughout.
Add greens and a source of protein to complete your anti-oxidant-rich meal.
For a quick meal on-the-go make soup with a little more broth and then just before serving stir in plain or vanilla protein powder.