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!

How to Lead a Healthy Lifestyle

HOW TO LEAD A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE

There really are no miracle foods or workouts that will permanently improve your health as much as making Healthy Lifestyle Changes (despite what the adverts tell you!).

Leading a Fit and Healthy Lifestyle really doesn’t have to be that complicated.  Yes, you do have to make some initial changes, but after a while all these changes should become second nature to you and will most definitely be worth it!

So, how do you start to lead a Healthy Lifestyle?

Drink more Water

Drinking enough water to keep your body fully hydrated is the no.1 change you can make that will improve your overall health.  A body that’s fully hydrated will function at its best.  That means you’ll have more energy,  your brain will be more alert and your body will be far more efficient at burning fat and building muscle.

Eat more Fruit and Vegetables

Increasing your intake of Fruit and Vegetables will feed your body vital vitamins and minerals it needs to be able to perform at its best.  The majority of fruit and veg is low in calories too, which means you can fill your plate with it!

Exercise

Keeping active on a daily basis is vital to improve your overall health, fitness and well-being.  Exercise is not only good for the body, it’s also great for the mind.  It can massively improve your mood as it releases Endorphins (Happy Hormones).  You don’t have to do hours at the gym day in and day out – even just a 20-minute walk will suffice, as long as you get your body moving!

Sleep Better

Getting enough sleep (although not always easy) is vital to get your body functioning at its best.  When you sleep your body recovers, repairs and re-charges.  Don’t skip this lifestyle change as something that you can’t control – if you struggle with sleep, try your best to establish a bedtime routine, address the factors that are causing any sleep problems and make it just as much a priority as your diet and exercise.

Stress Less

Again, this may be another difficult step to change as it’s not always in your control. But there are changes you can make to help you deal with this that can improve your stress levels.  Learn to relax more – deep breathing, meditation, yoga or even just thinking calming thoughts can help!

Yes, I’m afraid YOU DO have to put some initial effort in, but the longer you stay consistent with your efforts, the less of a chore it will seem.  Gradually those bad habits become good habits and you’ll finally be leading a Fit and Healthy Lifestyle that will bring you permanent results.

New Year, New You (Again)

New Year, New You (Again)

January is the month when many people are super-motivated and make their resolutions for the year ahead.

But do you set the same goals each year? And do you ever reach your goals?

If what you tried last time didn’t work, what makes you think that doing the same thing all over again is going to give you a different outcome?  Because if it didn’t work last time you tried it, you need to change your plan of action!

Losing weight and getting fit is one of the most common resolutions, especially after spending the festive season eating and drinking so much. This is the reason why the gyms are packed this month, but after a couple of months of the initial ‘I’m going to lose weight and get fit’ motivation, many give up.

But you don’t need to be one of the quitters! There are strategies for success in keeping that Health and Fitness motivation going all year.

Make it a Social thing……

Social interaction has been shown to make people more likely to Workout so join a fitness class, a local running or sports group, get yourself a gym buddy or hire a personal trainer.  Paying out in advance for things may be a financial commitment, however, combine it with a commitment to another person and you’re much more likely to stick with your program. If you can’t make it to a group, having an online social fitness community (e.g., Facebook group) can also inspire you to keep working towards your goals.

Set and Commit to a specific Goal…….

Although the long-term goal may be to lose 2 stone or run a 10k, it’s a good idea to set short term goals too. Sign up to the race and put it in your diary, but also set yourself weekly/monthly challenges that will lead you to your main goal. Make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time framed) and write them down!

Find the Best Exercise and Diet Plan for you……..

The best Exercise and Diet plan for you is the one that you enjoy doing!. You are far more likely to stay consistent if you actually enjoy what you’re doing and therefore this commitment will bring the greater long-term results.  If you find it boring, you won’t stick to it so try something else!

Keep Going……..

Those low moments when you feel like stuffing your face or cancelling your gym session are bound to happen so plan a strategy for dealing with it. If you blow it on a night out, get back on it the next day, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed – you only fail when you give up!

You don’t have to exercise or eat like an athlete, it doesn’t matter if you’re first or last and so what if you didn’t get a slimmer of the week award!. The most important thing to making your New Year’s resolutions work in 2020 is to keep at it!

Happy 2020 – Here’s to your Health, Fitness and SUCCESS!

Minimising the Christmas Diet Damage

Minimising the Christmas Diet Damage

Keeping on track with staying healthy, fit and not piling on the pounds over Christmas is a challenge in itself as there are sooo many temptations!

Whether it’s a party invite, another meal out or the extra tins of biscuits and chocolates that find their way into the office over the festive period, there seems to be food everywhere! We all want to have fun at Christmas, but no one wants to put on weight. So how do you manage to minimise the damage that the festive season can cause to your diet?

  1. Have a Healthy breakfast

Eating a good breakfast will set you up for the day and hopefully encourage you to continue to eat healthily for the rest of the day.  Go for a healthy breakfast such as porridge, wholegrain toast, eggs and avocado or Greek yoghurt with fruit.  Having a filling breakfast means you’re less likely to over indulge later on in the day.

  1. Keep moving

You don’t necessarily have to go to the gym but staying active can help combat those extra calories.  Go for a walk, get on the dance floor, do a short blast of a home workout.  Exercise will not only burn calories, but it’s a great stress buster too, plus sometimes going for a walk is a good excuse to get out of the house for a bit of peace and quiet!

  1. Think before you eat

We all love a few festive treats, but do you really need to eat all the mince pies ‘Just because it’s Christmas?’.  You don’t need to deny yourself everything, but make sure that you’re really enjoying what you’re eating and not scoffing it just because it’s there!

  1. Food Plan in advance

You don’t have to overfill your fridge with huge amounts of festive food and end up eating it all just so it doesn’t go to waste.  Plan your meals over the holidays and only buy what you’re going to eat.

  1. Sleep well

Missing out on your sleep can also lead to weight gain.  When you are tired, your body produces more of the stress hormone cortisol, which increases your appetite.  Try if at all possible, to stick to set bed and wake up times.  Sleep plays a huge role in keeping your body fit and healthy and it’s vital to get plenty if you’re trying to lose or maintain your weight.  Don’t underestimate it’s importance.

  1. Eat before you go out

Have a healthy meal before you go out to parties so you won’t arrive hungry.  If there’s a buffet table – sit as far away from it as you can!.  Let’s be honest, there’s very rarely an appetising healthy option on the buffet table and you don’t want to end up stuffing your face with sausage rolls!  Having a pre-drinks healthy meal will also mean you’ll be less likely to stop off at the take-away for a kebab on your way home.

  1. Watch your drinks

Alcoholic drinks and cocktails contain lots of hidden calories and you may be drinking more than usual this over Christmas.  Try to stick to the low-calorie mixers with your spirits and maybe drink water between each alcoholic drink – it will cut down on the hangover too!

  1. Don’t pick at food

When there’s food everywhere, it’s all too easy to have a little bit of this and a little bit of that, thinking it’s not going to make that much difference.  But it adds up over the day.  Keep mindful of those little bits and try to avoid snacking, unless its healthy food.

  1. Enjoy the Christmas feast

If you eat healthily most of the time and you’re keeping up with your usual workouts, you can let go a bit on Christmas day! One unhealthy meal won’t make you fat just as one healthy meal won’t make you slim – it’s all about BALANCE.  But if you really want to avoid too many extra calories on the day itself, fill up on the healthy options such as vegetables and lean turkey so you won’t feel the need to over-eat the more indulgent treats.

  1. Learn to say No

If you don’t really want to eat something, SAY NO!.  Never mind if Auntie Brenda’s spent hours making the cake, or if your sister-in-law keeps topping up your glass of wine.  You really don’t have to eat anything you don’t want to.  Once you get used to saying no, it’s easier than you think.

  1. Know when it’s over

The festive season ends on 1st January.  Draw a line under whatever happened to the diet over Christmas (if it all went pear shaped) and get back to those healthy habits.  The longer you leave it, the harder it will be!

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!