I’m tacking your biggest fitness questions in this post!
Fitness questions you’re asking or should ask!
Midlife fitness is like a mystery novel. You think you’ve got it figured out and then a new twist in the plot changes things. In the most recent selection process for Flipping 50 TV season III I had the challenging task of choosing which questions to use and which I had to turn down.
Instead of sending these questions to fade into the sunset until next season I couldn’t resist offering some answers here. Ultimately, I’d like to help every single one of you. I can’t possibly do that of course with a full schedule of private clients and group programs. But I did the best I could choosing from the list for this post. I’ll be popping into Facebook for some live Q and A too.
These questions were common asks from the questions submitted at flipping50tv.com so my hope is those asking are getting help, and so are you.
What is body composition?
That’s what I hear too often when I ask a woman 50 or 60 what her body composition is. Body composition tells you how much fat and how much lean muscle (and bone) you have.
If you’re 135 pounds and you have 22% body fat you can fit into jeans much smaller than if you’re 135 pounds and 35% body fat.
Now, that is not the goal or a measure of great success. But you do get the idea, right. That 135 pounds and 22% body fat gal is actively making her happy way through her day with energy and vitality. She’s enjoying meals she loves, movement with less effort, and most likely got a good shape and proportions. She’s probably lifting weights religiously twice a week.
That 135-pound woman with a 35% body fat is classified as “obese.” It starts at 29 or 30% fat depending on which guidelines you’re using. More importantly, she’s gaining weight easier because she’s got less muscle to burn energy, and over time she’ll put on a few pounds a year. She’s potentially spending time doing a lot of cardio when she starts an exercise program. She’s tired much of the time. She’s eating less and less to try to lose weight.
This question is king (queen, if you prefer) of fitness questions. If you don’t know this, nothing else matters.
Why does body composition matter?
If I ask a woman 50, 60, or older how much she weighs, and she knows.
Here’s the problem. If you are assessing your success or failures by the scale (and worse if you’re doing it by multiple scales) and have no idea what makes that number up, you could be getting fatter even while you’re losing weight.
You could be getting fatter not fitter while you’re losing weight. Lean muscle tissues is metabolically active. In other words, if you want a faster metabolism, so that you can eat good food, operate with energy, do things you love, and digest well, you want to keep lean muscle.
One of the biggest fitness questions YOU should be asking, is what is my percent body fat? [This is another way to say body composition.]
With age it CAN, it is not mandatory or a “normal” process of aging, be easier to lose muscle than keep or gain it. If you are not lifting weights – appropriately – for the sole purpose of keeping lean muscle you are very likely to have less now than you did at 25, when your lean muscle peaked.
So when you lose weight you lose a percent of muscle along with fat. You can keep that number low (and then offset it with the right kind of exercise) or you could lose as much as 50% muscle weight.
The only way you know what is happening is by getting it measured.
Where and how can you get body composition measured?
If you ever buy another bathroom scale, don’t buy one without a body fat analyzer in it! It’s that simple and really cost effective. It’s a smart (and small) investment. If you are exercising, or working with a trainer, or me even, you don’t know what you’re doing is even effective without measuring this! It’s a way to validate your time, money, and energy.
Almost any fitness center, parks & rec, personal trainer doing business can do this within minutes. There may be a nominal fee if you do it somewhere you’re not a member or with a trainer you’re not working with regularly.
Hospitals, dietitians, or your doctor may also be able to do this. If you have a dexa scan for bone density they can often tell you body composition if you ask.
The scale in your local fitness center locker room may very well have the ability to measure body composition, too.
I’d love you to add to the comments where you’re doing this regularly. And use the comments as your accountability to yourself for where you’re going to get it done if you haven’t!! Make a phone call today, or stop at your favorite “everything” store and pick up a scale.
Last, fitness questions sometimes reveal confusion. This is the case with body composition AND weight both. Don’t panic if you have two very different measures on different tools. Stop using more than one. You want to measure change and you can’t do that comparing apples to oranges.
Should I be doing more cardio?
For women, fitness questions almost always start with, should I do more? Truly 7/10 women are doing too much when they do anything. So yes you need to be more active but not necessarily with more intensity or effort.
I’m going to say probably not. Most women do plenty. If you have 1-2 times a week of interval training for 20-30 minutes, and you’re getting a lot of daily movement – not necessarily cardio – and a good long walk or outdoor activity (I’m headed out for a 1-2 hour hike in a bit- it’s finally 70 degrees!!) then you’re covered. “Burning calories” with cardio is not going to help balance your hormones. You many need FAR LESS cardio and more strength training and more REST and better food.
Here’s the line that I hear way too often:
“I’m exercising like crazy and barely eating and still not losing weight.”
These things are the problem and mistakenly too many of us are living in the 80’s with the belief you can burn more, and eat less
What do I eat before working out early morning?
I love fitness questions like this, because this matters so much!
It depends. Before high intensity interval training I eat some carbs and some protein/fat. Before long hikes, low intensity work I eat very little and what I do eat is fat. It’s all about the preference of your body and what it need for fuel in order to have the best possible workout AND outcome.
I’d rather burn fat most of the time – how about you? So these two formulas make the most sense. The higher intensity you’re able to work at during HIIT, the more fat you will burn. The more you use fat for fuel and force your body to dip into fat stores (hello toned legs, goodbye jiggle) the better your results.
A pre-HIIT snack may be sun butter on a hearty (I don’t do empty cardboard rice cakes) rice cake, or a half a banana with almond butter.
Before weight training my snack might be a simple smoothie (protein powder and almond milk), or sunflower seeds, or ¼ an avocado.
If I’m hiking… nothing unless I’m hungry and then its nuts, seeds. Longer hikes – 2-3 hours I’ll take a small packet of the same.
On a higher intensity longer bike ride I’ll bring Lara bars for snacks. Not a ton of carbs – but some – and all natural.
This is a whole new way to think about what to eat before exercise for most women. Different activities require different fuel.
What do you do when traveling without a blender for the AM smoothie?
Seriously, I am not above packing a hot water maker for coffee and a Nutribullet. Carry-on’s make it easy to be sure my ‘bullet is safe. And insulated soft coolers allow me to bring small amounts of fresh food along too.
Regulations change making this not always doable and frankly, I can’t keep up, but I do take my ride to the grocery store and then to the hotel when I arrive. What you put into your mouth is your energy or your crash. I don’t have time for the latter, do you?
Yes, takes a little effort, a little shoe space, and some getting used to but there is nothing better than leaving home AND getting back home feeling equally good. I would never think, “I’m on vacation, I’m just going to eat what I want.” I want to feel good when I’m on vacation and when I get home from vacation. And I don’t want to ever feel like I have to “get ready for vacation.”
It’s just easier to eat well, and exercise well, all the time and feel good all the time.
Now, for you! Please share your biggest fitness questions. We’ve just completed filming season III of Flipping 50 so it won’t be immediately that I film again. Meanwhile, I’d love to hear from you here right on the blog or in Facebook about what you need answers to!
P.S. The link to NutriBullet includes $20 savings, and up to $15 off your shipping depending on where you are in the world. I do receive a small commission if you use the Flipping 50 link – just want you to know!
P.P.S. I depend on you to share the Flipping 50 word! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and sharing content that you find helpful with your friends, sisters, moms, trainers, and clients. It takes a village! Thanks for being a part!