Staring in the mirror I looked at my stomach and wondered, where the hell did that come from?
Welcome to Middle Age. That time of life that seemed so far off into the future you couldn’t even see a glimpse of it, and yet, it was right in front of me staring me in the face.
So many things happen to us during the middle age years.
Peri-menopause and Menopause bring on many physical and emotional changes that can be super hard to deal with on a good day.
Mother Nature takes us through hell -it can be a real battle .
Here’s the short list of what is happening to us:
1. Our estrogen levels go down.⬇️ Lower estrogen levels affects us in so many ways, but three of the biggest are:
- weight gain
- bone loss
- a decrease in muscle mass.
2. Our metabolism (metabolic rate) slows down ⬇️- Put simply:
Metabolic rate is the rate in which our bodies burn calories. When that goes down, we are generally burning calories at a slower rate then we used to which can result in weight gain.
3. Our muscle mass goes down ⬇️
Most adults will lose between five and seven pounds of muscle every decade (Westcott and Baechle 1998 ) As we age, our muscle mass is reduced, and what do we see more of as a result?
Since muscle burns more calories than fat, less muscle can result in potential weight gain.
4. Hot Flashes/Night Sweats – One of the more common symptoms, hot flashes can disrupt our day to day living. They seem to come out of nowhere, and there doesn’t seem to be a lot you can do when you feel them coming on.
Night sweats can completely disrupt your sleep patterns with being so warm you can’t sleep, or sweating so much you need to get up and change.
Other changes that happen:
- Sleep patterns change – difficulties falling asleep, difficulties staying asleep
- Increased risk of heart disease
- Increased belly fat
- Mood swings
Sounds like fun, ,huh?
Seems like it is an uphill battle. I used to think it was not a winnable battle, that I would just have to accept what was happening, but I was wrong… REALLY wrong. The good news is:
Mother Nature has a weakness – its called :
So, how does strength training help us Middle Aged Women?
1. Gain Muscle Mass : As we get older we lose muscle mass and strength – it has a name, It is called sarcopenia.
Some studies indicate that 40% of women ages 55-64 years old (MY age bracket!!) could not lift 10 pounds. That percentage goes up as the age goes up!!
Strength training will not only help you maintain muscle mass, it will help you gain muscle mass to keep ahead of the game. The more muscle you have, the more fat you will burn.
2. Increases Metabolic Rate ⬆️
When the metabolic rate slows down it means when you eat the same number of calories that you are used to eating, you still may gain weight because the rate at which your body is burning those calories goes down. Sometimes way down..
Strength training will increase your metabolic rate by increasing muscle mass and more muscle mass revs up the metabolism so you will burn more calories.
3. Fights Osteoporosis
By using more load than just bodyweight, bones get stronger and increase in density. Not to mention that stronger bones means less chance of fractures too!
4. Positive Mood Benefits
Strength Training increases the body’s level of serotonin – the “feel good” chemical which can decrease anxiety levels
Other benefits to Strength Training
✅ Decreases in Arthritis Pain
✅ Lowered Blood pressure
✅ Improved sleep
✅ More confidence in EVERYTHING
Something else to consider along with Strength Training:
➡️Your Nutrition ⬅️
Weight gain is a typical symptom of middle age. It seems like it happens over night. That dreaded stubborn belly fat is common. Strength training will certainly help with all of this, but nutrition plays a huge role as well.
Take a hard look at your Nutrition
If you have never tracked your calories before, now might be a good time to start. By tracking everything you eat and drink, you will get valuable information
Why is calorie tracking so valuable?
➡️Calorie tracking can provide great feedback on how many calories you are truly consuming.– You may be surprised at how much you are actually eating.
➡️Most people grossly under estimate the number of calories they are consuming. Sometimes to the tune of 500-1000 calories A DAY. If you can’t seem to lose the fat you want to lose, this could be part of the problem.
➡️ Start with tracking calories for a week and see where you are
The Good News?
Tracking is not as hard as you might think and there are many different ways you can track your calories.
- Use an APP – the most popular app right now is called My Fitness Pal. (MFP) You can check it out HERE
MFP has a Huge food database – type in the name of a food and chances are it’s in there with the different serving sizes/calorie counts
You can add foods you eat frequently with pre-determined amounts and calorie counts so you can pull them up easily
You can share your info with friends if you want. Additional accountability from friends and family can make a big difference
It does the math for you!
2. If you don’t want to use an app, you can always create a simple spreadsheet with columns for food name, serving size and calorie count. The spreadsheet can do the math for you at the end of the day as well
3. Good old fashioned method of paper and pencil. Write down what you eat, serving size and calorie count. You will have to do the math on this one, but if paper and pencil work for you, then do it
*** If you want to lose fat, creating a calorie deficit (eating less than your body needs) is the way to get the scale to move and lose fat.***
Don’t know how many calories would put you in a calorie deficit?
Learn about that HERE
Don’t know where to get calorie information on foods?
✅ First, get a food scale. It is THE best way to accurately know your portion size. You won’t have to measure forever. Like anything else, you just need practice at learning what 4 oz of chicken looks like compared to 7 oz., etc.
✅My Fitness Pal or other apps can help with calorie counts
✅ You can also just type the name of the food /portion size into Google.
What is your Protein intake?
This is huge. Most women come up way short on protein. Not only will protein curb your hunger, keeping you fuller longer, it helps to build muscle mass as well. And since we are losing muscle mass as we age, this is a must. Definitely a win-win! (You can read more about the benefits of Protein HERE)
Aim for .7-1.0 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day.
Aim for .7-1.0 grams of protein per pound of Goal Weight per day
But losing weight can not only mean losing fat, (good!) but also losing muscle (bad). That is where strength training and protein work together.
Strength Training + Adequate Protein = saving/building your muscle mass
Strength Training and Nutrition are the one-two punch that will get you looking better and most importantly FEELING better. Just because you may be middle aged or somewhere close does not mean that it is too late for you to be:
✅ The strongest you’ve ever been
✅ The healthiest you’ve ever been
✅ The fittest you’ve ever been
✅ The most confident you’ve ever been
It is NEVER too late.
This is me.
BOTH the picture on the left and on the right I am in my fifties.
The difference is that the picture on the right is as a result of working hard at strength training and getting a hold of my nutrition.
I am living proof that it is never too late to change.
“But Susan,” you say, “I am not middle age yet” .
My response to that is:
Regardless of your age, get started NOW. It’s never too early, and it’s never too late.
Get ahead of the game. Strength train, look at your nutrition, and enjoy your life even more!
Beating Mother Nature at her own game IS doable. It’s going to take work – hard work, but the results will be worth it – I promise you!
YOU are no match for Mother Nature.
Want to get start getting stronger? Hit reply or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s to your strength!