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!
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!
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!
Un-processing your Diet
Recent studies have found that people who eat more processed food, consume about 500 more calories per day than those that eat wholefoods. Why? Because processed foods provide limited nutrients and are not as filling, so you tend to eat more to feel full and an extra 500 calories per day, can lead to quite a significant weight gain!
It’s quite a big challenge to switch to an entirely whole-foods diet overnight. But you can start to make healthier choices most of the time by making some small, sustainable changes to “unprocess” your diet.
What are Processed foods?
Most packaged foods such as crisps, sweets, chocolate bars and biscuits are considered ultra-processed along with fast food, most take-out food and packaged bakery items, refined grains such as white rice, sugary cereals and white bread also are processed. However, foods such as canned or frozen vegetables, whole-grain bread and rice, are considered less processed because they are closer to their original forms (and have more nutritional value).
Here are six practical tips to help you make nutritional improvements that will improve your energy, health and fitness, by switching from a processed to wholefood diet, increasing your fibre and protein intake and making you feel fuller without going over your calorie requirements.
1. Eat more fruits and vegetables.
When it comes to foods high in nutrients, fruits and vegetables can’t be beat. They contain fibre (which will make you feel full) and they also aid digestion.
- Batch chop and prep salad and veg so it’s ready to go.
- Add a side salad to your meal.
- Snack on raw vegetables.
2. Avoid sugary drinks.
Fizzy drinks, alcohol, smoothies and canned coffee drinks often contain a surprising amount of sugar and calories. For example, a Costa caramel latte contains a whopping 34g sugar and 331 calories!
- opt for tea or black coffee in coffee shops.
- Choose spirits rather than beer or wine.
- Read labels on smoothies/canned drinks.
3. Read labels.
In most cases food packaging does not give an accurate representation of a food’s nutritional value no matter what the claim on the front of the pack says! so it’s best to look at the nutritional label on the back of the item and check:
- Serving size.
- Amount of added sugar.
- Ingredient list (keeping in mind that ingredients are listed by quantity, with highest listed first).
4. Skip convenience foods when possible.
There are a lot of foods that although marketed as healthy (such as bars or snacks) are often full of sugar and lack fibre and protein. Carry your own snacks to avoid temptation!
- Nuts or seeds (portioned) and an apple.
- Chopped veg with hummus.
- Greek yogurt with fruit.
5. Eat mindfully at restaurants.
Eating out can feel like an occasion to indulge, but if you’re eating out regularly, learning to make healthy choices is essential.
- If eating out is an infrequent occurrence, order what you love, but stop eating when your full.
- You don’t have to go for all 3 courses!
- If eating out is a common occurrence choose a protein and vegetable meal with whole grains as often as possible. Such as:
- Sandwich on whole-grain bread with salad.
- Fish, Chicken or Steak served with veg.
- Salad (dressing on the side).
Small and sustainable changes are much easier and more beneficial in the long run when it comes to improving nutrition, rather than trying to make too many big changes all at once but to see a change you’ve got to make a change!
Are you a Slave to the Scales?
Getting weighed on a regular basis can be a great indicator to your weight loss progress and help to keep you on track, however, if you’ve had a really good week of healthy eating and exercise and it doesn’t immediately show on the scales, don’t be disheartened that you’re not seeing results overnight. Unless you overate by 3500 calories, the change in your weight on the scales is water, not fat.
Our bodies are 70% water, so usually the daily fluctuations are water.
Many people don’t automatically see a weight-loss when they start to exercise either, in fact sometimes the number on the scales goes up – but it’s not a reason to stop exercising!
A few reasons you see fluctuations on the scale may be:
Recent increase in cardio activity
Cardio increases blood volume, so if you’ve recently taken up more exercise than usual, its common to see an increase in weight until it stabilises
Recent increase of weight training
Sore muscles retain water and eventually this leads to muscle gain.
Illness, Soreness, injury or bruising
This causes inflammation which leads to local water retention.
Change of meal timings
Although your calorie intake maybe exactly the same, eating meals later on an evening can affect the weight on the scales the next morning.
Single unusually large meal
Large meals take days to digest, along with the equivalent mass of water will remain in your gut.
Increasing your carbs
If you’ve had a low carb phase in your diet, a sudden increase will cause your liver and muscles to increase glycogen stores which will again increase your water weight.
Again, this will affect your bodies blood volume which will show up on the scales.
Change in fibre
This will affect your poo weight!
In short – trust your calorie intake! If you’re tracking your food accurately and are eating at a calorie deficit, you WILL be losing fat. The fat loss is just hidden on the scales by many causes of fluctuation in water and digestive waste.
The answer isn’t to eat less but to trust in your body and give it time to make any adjustments. Just don’t give up because of a number!