If you’re reading this, then you’ve already taken the first, and very important, step- so here’s a BIG HIGH FIVE to you!
At Ascend Fitness + Lifestyle we work with so many women in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond who struggle with low energy, low libido, weight gain around the belly, uncontrolled weight gain, sugar cravings, feeling ‘hangry’ if they don’t eat every 3 hours, decreased strength, fatigue and simply not feeling good.
And it doesn’t have to be that way.
Yes, your body is changing. Yes, your hormones are changing. Your body certainly isn’t the same as it was in your 20s and 30s…
But you CAN STILL ENJOY VIBRANT HEALTH. You can still have confidence and energy. You can still feel good in (and out of) your clothes. You can take control of your health.
I know this because I’ve worked with hundreds of women, just like you, to transform their body, their mind, and their life avoiding these 3 very common mistakes. Don’t worry, I’ll also share what to do instead.
You are worth it. Enjoy endless energy. Enjoy feeling comfortable in your body. Enjoy spending time playing with your grandkids. It’s to ENJOY! And, when done right, the entire process can be enjoyable- and the change is EVERLASTING! That’s right: no strict diets, no on-again-off again, no berating yourself because the scale doesn’t say what you want it to say, and no crazy fitness program or hours per day at the gym.
Let’s dive in!
Mistake 1: They Focus on Calories, Not Hormones
When we have a weight loss goal, we often focus on moving more and eating less. And while calories still matter, HORMONES also matter. So many women (and men) struggle with weight loss because their blood sugar, and therefore the hormone insulin, is out of balance.
What does blood sugar and insulin have to do with fat loss and energy? Well… almost everything.
When blood sugar levels drop, you get hungry (and if it drops too low, you get ‘hangry’). And food like cereal, bread, rice, pasta, and fruit send your blood sugar up… but it doesn’t stay up. It shoots up quickly and then quickly drops, thanks to the hormone insulin. That’s why you can have a banana for breakfast or a piece of toast and feel even more hungry a few hours later.
The spike in blood sugar signals the release of insulin, the hormone that allows sugar (glucose) to enter the cells for storage- either in the liver, muscle cells or to be stored as body fat. And the more frequently we eat, especially starchy or sugary carbohydrates, and more insulin is released. When insulin is high, you cannot be in fat burning mode.
In other words: you are either in fat burning mode (low insulin) or fat storing mode (high insulin). And if your goal is to lose body fat and have all day energy, you’ll want to spend most of your time in fat burning mode.
Not only does blood sugar affect weight loss, but it also affects hormone production, sleep, and stress. When blood sugar drops, the body feels like it’s under stress- and cortisol (the stress hormone) is released to raise blood sugar back up. When the body is under chronic stress, the production of sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone) and your thyroid hormones become compromised.
After all, the body does not prioritize metabolism and reproduction when a hypothetical sabretooth tiger is chasing you!
Here are some symptoms for blood sugar/ insulin dysregulation:
- Craves sugar or depends on coffee
- Irritable, shaky or lightheaded if meals are missed
- Joint pain
- Difficulty losing weight
- Poor memory
Transforming from being a sugar burner to a fat burner is an important step! It’s a big part of our nutrition and lifestyle coaching program at Ascend Fitness + Lifestyle.
Mistake 2: The Overdo Cardio Training
If you want to be fit and lean, strength training is non-negotiable. After the age of 40, your metabolism drops. A big reason for this is loss of muscle mass. You lose approximately 10% of your muscle mass each decade after the age of 40. Fortunately, you can change this with strength training!
Back in the day we naturally did a lot of muscle-building activity. Women washed clothes by hand, churned butter, and did heavy gardening. Times have changed! Nowadays, we spend a lot of time sitting, and we have great inventions like washing machines to take away any heavy lifting. If you want to maintain a healthy body and wellbeing for years to come while enjoying the added bonus of firming up your body, you need to start strength training.
For many, especially women, the word strength training can be downright scary. You may not know what to do, or perhaps are fearful of ‘bulking up’. Let me tell you- you won’t bulk up by accident. As a woman, you’ll need to try incredibly hard (likely with the help of illicit drugs) to become overly bulky. If you do legitimately want to lose weight (and have weight to lose), strength training is especially important. Without it, you run the risk of losing body fat and muscle mass (not ideal!) Building lean muscle helps you to burn more calories, increasing your metabolism, and most importantly, being strong simply feels good.
Commit to a MINIMUM of 2 x per week of strength training. You don’t need to work out for hours- our members enjoy see-in the results with just 30 minutes of resistance training per session. Pick full-body exercises, such as squats, lunges, and pull exercises. Lift weight heavier than your purse! Take out your calendar (yes, right now!) and write down when you’re going to strength train this week.
Mistake 3: They Push Too Hard
“The key to your hottest metabolism is not to push yourself, and it’s not to make yourself crazy. It’s to breathe, it’s to be aware, it’s to relax, it’s to slow down, and that’s where, paradoxically, our fullest, healthiest metabolism comes through.” –Mark David, Mind Body Nutrition
When you are under stress, the hormone ‘cortisol’ is released from the body. Following the stressful event, cortisol levels eventually return to normal. However, many people are chronically stressed- leading to chronically elevated cortisol levels.
Elevated cortisol levels stimulate your appetite and cause more fat to be stored in the belly. Not only is this annoying when you’re trying to do up your pants, but abdominal fat is strongly correlated with the development of heart disease and stroke.
We also tend to eat more when we’re stressed- and not only because we have a bigger appetite. And when we’re stressed, we don’t snack on cucumbers and kale! We tend to want sugar and processed carbohydrates, such as crackers, cookies, and chips. We have simply learned to cope with stress or tell ourselves that we don’t care about our health when we are stressed.
If you want to be fit, lean, healthy and strong into your 50s and beyond, you MUST manage your stress!
Common Sources of Stress in Women Over 50:
- Not enough sleep
- Excessive cardio exercise (moderate exercise is beneficial, excessive is not!)
- Blood sugar dysregulation (see Secret #1)
- Too much wine or other alcohol
- Negative self-talk, low self-esteem, negative body image
- Doing too much and not prioritizing self-care
- Always being ‘go-go-go’
- Perfectionist/ Type A Personality
- Inflammatory diet
Ready to take the next step to look and feel your best? Learn more about our 6 Week Fit for Life Program for Women 50+ at www.getfitchilliwack.com