Why This Exercise Professional Is Telling More Midlife Clients to Exercise Less
1. Heal Your Hormones
During times of big hormone fluctuation lifestyle habits catch up with you. If you’ve been getting by on too little sleep, frozen dinners, or long hours at work you’re going to find you can’t get by any longer. Chronic fatigue, thyroid issues, and other health problems appear more often during midlife change.
Hormones, not calories, control weight gain, loss, and maintenance. For a woman with hormone imbalance the same exercise and diet approach that worked for years will be ineffective.
You can jump on the dreadmill, slash your calories, and it won’t have any effect on weight loss if you’re hormones are not in the right balance. Reduce exercise to 20 or 30 minutes a day, with an emphasis on yoga and nature walking, to let your hormones figure it out.
2. Fuel Your Fat Burning
If you’re highly stressed your body is producing too much cortisol. Cortisol is like a roadblock between you and fat burning because it does the opposite. Too much cortisol increases fat storage, creates new fat cells, and halts your fat metabolism. Whether you enjoy exercise or not, it is physical stress on your body. Usually, a little of the right stress is good but when you’re on overload, you need to push reset.
Total elimination or significant reduction of exercise temporarily can lower the stress hormone cortisol and improve your ability to burn fat. If the giving up exercise altogether sounds harsh, fill your exercise time with stress reduction techniques like meditation or progressive relaxation, or use time you’d typically exercise to reduce stress by doing other things you’ve been putting off.
3. Avoid Adrenal Fatigue
When you notice your workouts feel flat and fatigue is present before, during, and after, you need a break. If you try to push through this with discipline and willpower, it’s like digging a hole when you want to build a hill. You can’t get yourself out of a hole by continuing to dig. You have to stop and fill the hole back in order to make progress.
Reduce the length of your exercise and focus on an active lifestyle for two weeks. Instead of hitting the gym for an intense cross-training session go for a walk. Exercise by feel instead of by minutes, miles or heart rate during this time.
4. Master Mindful Meals
You know the thoughts. I worked out today; I can have this. I’ll burn this off. That’s overcompensation and it’s an easy mental trap to fall into. In addition, physiologically, too much of the wrong kind of exercise in fact can increase appetite, and it’s easy to see why exercise for weight loss can backfire. In your stiletto dash back to the office or your rush to get to an event eating-on-the-go can sabotage all the good you just did.
Start eating more mindfully. Use time you usually spend exercising to focus on what you eat and how you eat it. Plan meals and snacks. Eat with intention and without the computer, TV, or cell phone.
5. Rest and Sleep Your Way to Slim
There is limited reward for taking time to rest in this busy world. Working more hours, attempting bigger goals and, in general doing more, is rewarded. If you’re weight loss resistant look at the amount of real rest in your combined work, exercise, and family schedule. How many days off did you take last quarter? How many vacation days were left unused? How many days did you rest from exercise so that your next workout was more effective?
Sleep is the Queen of rest. Sleep has been connected to doing just about everything better in the past few years. Studies show from adolescents to athletes to the oldest adults, sleep is the switch that turns all your other health efforts on. You can diet and exercise all you want but if you don’t get adequate sleep you won’t lose weight or perform optimally.
Determine your sleep need. Take a full week and go to bed when you’re tired. Do this when you can ditch the alarm and allow yourself to wake naturally. Record your results each night. The average is your current sleep need. Compare that to your current reality. If there’s a gap, close it. If you have a set wake time, for instance, begin going to bed 30 minutes earlier every night until you’re at your ideal.
6. Work With Your Stress
Stress is one of the most overlooked obstacles to your optimal health. It’s not a verb. Yet, recommendations tell you to stress less for better health. Remember from number two above that stress causes cortisol. While a little cortisol is good too much will kill you. It’s not really the stress; it’s the way you think about the stress. If you can embrace stress as something that makes you stronger and more resilient facing the same level of stress as someone who perceives stress as negative you will enjoy better health and longevity.
During your exercise time out sit down and write your biggest sources of stress. List positive opportunities you have because of each stressor. When you resume exercise imagine your endurance and strength improving in part due to the stress you’re facing. Imagine it as another form of resistance training. As you do each repetition feel yourself gaining strength to bare the stress easily.