Can you ‘Workout’ the Menopause?

Can you ‘Workout’ the Menopause?

 

Women really do have a lot to contend with in our quest to have a Fit and Healthy body! And just when you thought you’d got it all under control – The Menopause strikes!

Along with the hot flushes, mood swings, tiredness, depression, insomnia, irritability and general daily craziness, one of the worst symptoms is weight gain. It’s sudden, it’s stubborn and it’s often concentrated around your mid-section. No matter how active or lazy you are – it affects almost all women.

As angry as you may feel about this – it’s not your fault! Unfortunately it’s a natural process of the menopause that we go through and although that doesn’t make it any easier, if you know what to expect and you commit to doing something about it, you can make a difference and the correct exercise plan can help!

 

How much Exercise do you need to do to lose weight?

The short answer: More than you think. It’s recommended at least 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate exercise to keep fit and healthy, however, for weight-loss during menopause, you may need to do more. The older you are, the more exercise you need to prevent weight gain and/or lose weight.

 

Cardio training for Weight loss

Cardiovascular exercise helps you burn calories as well as protect you from other health issues that arise when you reach menopause, such as heart disease and osteoporosis.  If you’re new to exercise, it’s best to build it up gradually to 3-5 days of brisk walking for 20-30 minutes, or however long you can manage.  If you’re already doing cardio exercise and you’re still not losing weight – it’s frustrating!  This is when you need to make some changes to your current workout program.

Frequency – Could you add in an extra workout to your week? It doesn’t have to be an hour…just an extra 15/20 minute workout from time to time can make a difference.

Intensity – If you tend to exercise at a steady pace, try adding some shorter, high intensity sessions such as interval training into your plan to get your heart rate up a notch and burn a few more calories than your regular steady workouts.  Try using a fitness tracker to monitor your heart rate so you can see how hard you’re actually working, rather than just guessing!

Time – Could your usual workouts last a little longer? Many of us could easily add 10 minutes to one or two workouts and that’s 10 minutes you can be burning more calories.

Type – Do you stick to exactly the same workouts each week? Your body becomes more efficient when you do the same activity over and over, tending to burn fewer calories. Any time you try something new, your body has to work harder at it, which will help you burn more calories.

 

Strength Training for Weight loss

Strength training is so important for changing your body composition, burning fat, keeping your bones strong and building lean muscle tissue which in turn will increase your metabolism (your energy burning system). You should try to do strength training workouts at least twice a week for your entire body, but you can also incorporate it into your cardio workouts as well with circuit style training sessions. You don’t necessarily have to lift weights – you can use body-weight exercises too.  Make sure you’re getting the most from your strength workouts.

Lift Heavy – If you lift weights regularly, then great! But it’s important that you’re lifting the right way.  Make sure your technique is correct and work as hard as you can – this means that if you’re doing 12 repetitions of an exercise for example, by the 12th rep you should feel like you can’t do anymore!

Target your whole body – Unfortunately you can’t target the body areas you want to lose fat from. Going for the whole-body training approach will recruit more muscles and burn more calories, so make sure you’re including your Legs, chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps and abs in your strength workouts. Using compound movements (e.g. a Squat with a press) may feel more complex than doing a set of squats followed by a set of shoulder presses but they will be multi-tasking your muscles, getting 2 exercises done in 1 move and burning much more calories than doing them individually.

 

Mind / Body Workouts

Relaxation is also important during the Menopause as stress can also lead to weight gain.  Workouts that help you slow down, breath, de-stress and focus on the present moment can really help with menopause symptoms, getting your hormones under control and making you feel more able to deal with what’s happening to your body.  Try to include these workouts as often as you can!

Stretch – Make time for a relaxing stretch after every workout. Think of it as a reward for your body and mind.

Mindfulness – Try at least one mindful workout each week. Yoga, Pilates, or even going for a walk – getting outside with nature is a great form of active meditation.

Balance – We get so obsessed about losing weight, we tend to put all our focus into burning calories. However, the body needs more than just cardio and strength training. It needs flexibility, balance, stability and rest too!

 

So if what you’re currently doing doesn’t seem to be helping anymore now you’re at ‘that’ stage in life, try planning a completely new training schedule.  Including Cardio, Strength and Mind / Body workouts.  It’s definitely worth trying – Just make sure you plan it when you’re in a good mood!

Weight Loss vs Fat Loss

Weight Loss vs Fat Loss – There’s a big difference! 

If you’ve gained a few extra pounds over the last few weeks, it may be very tempting to crash diet to get the weight off fast! However, this fast WEIGHT loss may not necessarily be FAT loss.

The number on the scales can be helpful, but most people want to lose the FAT and the scales won’t always show that.  Tracking the amount of weight you lose can be a great source of motivation, but it can also be quite deceiving and even if you’re losing weight on the scales, it doesn’t necessarily mean your body shape and composition is changing.

On the flip side to this, it is possible to drop a dress size without actually seeing a change in your weight. This happens when you lose body fat while gaining muscle.  A pound of fat and a pound of muscle weight exactly the same, however a pound of muscle takes up a lot less volume than a pound of fat, so your weight may stay the same but you’ll lose inches instead and these inches come from a loss of body fat.

There are also many side effects of losing weight as opposed to losing fat!

Weight Loss

(Crash Dieting and Incorrect Training)

  • Decreased Fitness
  • Decreased Strength
  • Decreased Energy
  • Reduced Immunity
  • Saggy Skin
  • Premature Aging

Fat Loss

(Good Nutrition and Correct Training)

  • Improved Fitness
  • Increased Strength
  • More energy
  • Improved Health
  • Improved Muscle tone

Conclusion

Consuming a healthy nutritious diet, counting calories and following the correct training plan which includes strength training WILL lead to fat loss, but unfortunately sometimes at a slower rate than crash dieting and over-training, which is why many people don’t stick at it as they want the fast results NOW!

But please be patient, as all good things take time to achieve and the long-term benefits and results of fat loss are far greater than weight loss.

Maximise your Fat Burn

Maximise your Fat Burn

There are so many benefits of Exercising regularly! It’s good for your muscles and bones, it can reduce your risk of chronic disease, improve your brain, increase energy levels and is great for your Well-being as it makes you feel good!

However, the main reason many people initially start to exercise is to lose weight, as EXERCISE BURNS CALORIES!

So, if like many people, burning calories is one of your main exercise goals and you’re wanting to really blast your body fat, you need to make sure you’re doing it right with maximum effect!

 

Be intense when you exercise

Don’t be fooled by fat-burning zones. They often advise that working at a lower intensity is better for fat burning than working at a higher effort level (e.g. walking instead of running.) The harder you exercise, the more calories you will burn and that’s really what counts when it comes to losing fat.

 

Choose your exercise carefully

There is no such thing as the ‘ultimate’ calorie-burning workout. Energy expenditure is dependent not just on the activity itself, but on how much effort you put in, how good you are at it, how long you do it for, and how often. Choose an exercise that makes you work hard and that you’re going to do regularly and consistently and unless you want to be miserable and bored during your workout, do something that you actually enjoy!

 

Multi-task your muscles and work large muscle groups

Serious fat-burning exercises use the large muscle groups of the body – the thighs, bottom, chest and back. The greater the overall recruitment of muscle, the higher the calorie expenditure. For example, If you’re going for fat burn in your workouts, you’re far better off using the chest press rather than a bicep curl machine for maximum calorie burn.

 

Exercise Duration

To fire up the calorie furnace, fat-burning exercise has to be sustainable for a reasonable duration. So, while skipping is great, it’s not much use if you can only do it for three minutes. Guidelines recommend 20-60 minutes per session, three to five times per week so find something you can sustain for at least 20 minutes.

 

Interval training to maximise calorie burn

Interval training one of the best ways of maximising calorie burn, it improves aerobic fitness and is perfect if you’re short of time. To get the most from an interval session, push yourself outside of your comfort zone on the efforts and go steady during the recoveries. Try following a 2:2 rest/work ratio to start with.

 

Body weight load

Activities that are weight bearing, such as walking and running, use more calories than those in which your weight is supported (such as swimming or cycling), mainly because you have to shift your own body weight against gravity.

 

Fuel or Fasting?

The fasted workout theory that working out on an empty stomach in the morning burns more fat is somewhat true, as the body has to rely on fat stores for energy if you haven’t eaten first thing, but the lack of energy stores also means that you won’t work out for as long, or as hard as you may have if you’d have fuelled up beforehand.

 

Afterburn

One of the best things about exercise is that the fat-burning benefits continue long after you’ve ended your workout. The ‘afterburn’ (increased calorie expenditure) is far greater after intense exercise – another reason to work hard!

 

Intensity Progression

If you want to keep seeing fat-burning results you must keep increasing the intensity of your exercise, because as you get fitter, your body will be able to cope with the workload.  If you stick to the same pace or weight, the benefits will start to reduce. Keep progressing and pushing yourself so your workout feels challenging every time.

 

And Finally……

 

Daily Activity

Don’t underestimate daily activity! Keeping active during the day can really maximise your daily fat burn. That may mean keeping track of your daily step targets, getting up from your desk regularly or even just standing rather than sitting – but it all adds up towards your daily calorie expenditure, so KEEP MOVING!