Should we change our eating and exercise, in the Menopausal years for better results?
I have been giving hormones a lot of thought lately, as more and more women have asked me about what to eat, and our frustrated with some stubborn weight gain now that they have hit menopause.
All the women that I have talked to and some friends, want to know what they should do about their diet, and their exercise. I hear the frustration all the time in there voices.
I can’t say that I blame them either as I have had many of the same questions over the years, and I can totally relate to the frustrations, and the fears of not knowing what to do.
I know I said this before, but I at one time about 9 years ago, wanted to drop 5-10 pounds, and It would not come off, no matter how much I ran, or how strict my diet was.
I do know why now, I was totally stressing my body out and there was no way it was giving up any of my energy stores (fat), it was holding on for dear life, to help me survive.
My body thought I was running for my life, or from a wild animal, and that their must be a food shortage. It took me a few more years to figure that out.
Honestly, no coach can really tell you exactly what will work for you, and I know that is hard to hear because we so desperately want a solution, I wanted a solution myself.
I asked these same questions for years that my friends and some other women have been asking me. I still do sometimes as I feel each decade or even every year my body keeps changing. Just this past weekend I talked to my husband about how tired I was from the workout I did on Friday morning.
I know he was puzzled as he said, that is the kind of workout you always do, or are used to doing. I said well I’m not a spring chicken, and their has been a lot of things on my to do list that have been on my mind.
I did have a blast doing the workout though, and will do it again I’m sure. I did ask myself these questions.
- Have you been eating enough?
- Did your post workout meal have enough starch and protein to help with recovery?
- Have you been sleeping enough?
- Maybe I need to have extra recovery days now?
- Have you been balancing the hard stuff with enough stress relieving activities?
So my own experiences with diet, exercise, and recovery in the past and now have given me some things to think about.
I have found consistently that I need to continually, listen to my body and adjust what I eat and do for exercise and relaxation and recovery.
I think it becomes more important as we age to pay really good attention to all those things.
As my hormones declined in my 40’s I did ok with longer exercise and more often. In my 50’s I was still killing it, but I was not then really paying close attention to the signals my body was giving me.
Why? Well, I was having a blast and making up for lost time, as I was very heavy until I was 40.
I then lost the weight and wanted to kick butt, I still want to kick butt, but I have learned the hard way to listen to my body.
What I have found, is when we listen to our bodies and change and adopt with it, we will have better results.
I believe we do need to change our diets and exercise, as we age and our hormones decline.
We can still kick butt, but we need to eat and exercise smarter.
We need to be our own detectives, and adjust as needed with our food and exercise.
If I tried to eat the way I used to with pasta at my evening meals a few days a week, and do really long chronic cardio, plus strength training, walking and work.
That would set me up to gain weight not lose weight, I too sometimes think I can out smart my body, and do more and just eat the same. I’m one of those people that like to keep a schedule, love to eat the same all the time, and do more.
I thought about all those questions I asked myself above, I believe I was fueling correctly, sleeping, taking time for my walks to relax and de stress. I do think I should have eaten little bit more, I did take two days off, instead of working out on Saturday, which saved me.
I also ate more on the weekend so I was really doing Eating More and Exercising Less as Jade Teta, of Metabolic Effect talks about. I woke up leaner for it on Monday, as I had been resting for 2 days, with just walking and relaxing.
If I had pushed my body by being to strict with my eating as I did in the past, and did my normal exercise, I would have started gaining weight by bearing down harder my body.
But each year our bodies change more, when I was 60 and did that same workout, which was 8×16 second sprints, with right into squat jumps 16 of those, and then walk back to start and repeat. I think without the squat jumps I would have been fine with the sprints. Plus walking lunges as a warmup 🙂
Plus it was very hot and humid, which probably took more out of me than normal. I remember training for marathons in the summer heat, it was brutal on my body, training long and hard in the heat.
Strategies for Diet, and Lifestyle that can help
- Sleep is a huge priority, to help lower your stress which will help with your weight, and waistline. Everyone totally underestimates the magic of sleep, I did for a long time.
- Change up your diet as you age, diet is 80-90% of the equation
- Walk daily as much as you can, it does amazing things for your mind and body.
- Stress, try to do what you can to lower it, I love deep breathing, walking, gardening, dancing.
- Keeping, a journal to write down, how you feel from your exercise and what you eat is very helpful, I have kept one for years. I told a client, to write it all down, as it gives insights why you may be tired, not sleeping well, have low energy, not losing weight, craving junk foods, etc…plus I find writing things down in my journal every night, gets it off my mind any to do lists for the next day so I sleep better.
- We need to listen to your bodies signals, not only listen but then take action on what it is telling us.
- Exercise listen to your body, and whatever you are doing if it is not working for you try something else, if doing a lot try doing less. If doing nothing try starting out going for a walk.
- Strength training 2-3 times a week is fabulous for our bodies as we age, especially because we lose muscle as we age. The more muscle you have, it helps raise your metabolism, and we can eat more too.
- Diet I think as I stated above, is super important we can’t out train a bad diet, I tried that.
Most women I find can start out with a template, eating enough quality protein, and fibrous veggies at each meal, and adjust up or down, according to how you feel.
Lean Protein: about the size of your palm
- You may find you need more or less but it is a good starting place and adjust up or down according to your results and how you feel.
- Lean beef, chicken, fish, turkey, eggs, etc… I love salmon 🙂
Vegetables: about 2 fists
- For Fibrous veggies I find about 1-2 fists, 2 fists is about a half plate size
- Broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, collards, cabbage, squash, are some examples
- leafy greens, you can start with 2-3 cups
Fruits: 1/2-2/3 cup or 1 fist
- All berries work great, apples, small banana, cherries, etc post workout
Starches: 1 small, or closed fist size
- Sweet potatoes, potatoes, rice, oats, etc, for rice I would see how you feel, maybe need a bit less or more.
- As a menopausal women I would try to stay away from processed food, boxed cereals, breads and pasta, or limit them see how you feel, and if you get results.
- But in my experience protein and fibrous veggies will do more for your weight loss goals if you have any. We are all different and different genetics, cultures etc… you may have grown up on eating rice, and do awesome on it. So fine tune for your body.
Treats: small servings as tolerated.
- I love treats, but I treat them as treats and have a few bites on occasion, and of course on my birthday.
- Wine is a treat, acts like a starch, watch the amount you have for the week. If drinking a lot every night just cut back, if you are not getting results. I love my wine but I don’t do well having it every night, it disrupts my sleep, and then I crave starch the next day.
For more strategies and tips I created my Free Belly Blasting Guide for women at mid-life and beyond, that a are having trouble losing stubborn weight and that shift to the middle that can sometimes happen as our hormones drop. The Menopausal Metabolism is different, I know I have been through it and it can be tough. So I wanted a resource guide, with simple strategies, and tools that can really help, in one handy guide.