What’s with the mysterious weight gain of middle age? I wonder if there’s really a magic shrinking spell that lurks in my clothes closet. Is it possible that I’m not growing, but that my clothes are simply shrinking? Couldn’t I just pretend that’s the case...?
Diet and exercise simply do not shift the weight as easily as they used to. Irritatingly enough. Perhaps that’s a time-honoured badge now: I’m a middle-aged woman struggling through the Menopause who regularly must combat “the spread”.
Almost all of us now battle with weight. We all know this is another wonderful aspect of the menopause. A few of us are lucky enough to have both the inclination and resources to win the battle and have slim, fit figures. However, most of us don’t.
Some of us may also suffer additional pressures of weight gain due to meds. I’m on high steroids and have the moon-face (and body) to prove it. I sometimes ponder wearing a T-shirt which says “I’m fat due to steroids”. But I won’t. Maybe because that’s a partial lie... I’m heavy due to my love of food AND the steroids. In that order. I also won’t wear this emblazoned shirt as I’m aware that any signage on my front will be hard to read due to the three protuberances combatting the lettering: two little mounds with mammary glands and a corpulent tummy.
What’s the trade-off we have? A face with fewer wrinkles but a larger bum. Well, my view is that I can’t see what’s behind me!
Should we care?
Whilst the adage is true “a minute on the lips and an eternity on the hips”, I ask should we really care? The answer is yes, we should. We should care about our size not for what the outside world sees, but for our own health.
We need to shift our focus. Let’s stop worrying about fitting into the small sized and never really again attainable clothes that mock us from our closets. Yes, these pieces from our past may come back into fashion, but when they are pulled out again and dusted off, we all know that dress is only fitting around one leg.
So, what do we do about it?
Let’s shift the focus from castigation to acceptance. Let’s applaud our efforts to hurdle this seemingly unsurmountable obstacle. Let’s accept our less-than-ideal physiques, whilst we strive to stay fit for our future health and mobility. It is proven the more active we stay, the longer we can be active. Fatter but Fit, Larger but Limber. Hefty but Healthy. That’s what I want emblazoned on my T-shirt!
Here are seven helpful tips on how to be healthier in middle age:
Commitment. While maintaining a healthy physique is an on-going personal quest, its a journey that may be made easier with a friend and/or trainer. However we decide to commit to achieving the healthiest us, remember no one else can do this but ourselves. You each owe it to ourself to commit.
Get a sweat on. Every day. That’s the key answer. Without personal dedication and lots of hard-earned sweat, any expenditures on training are only guaranteed to result in lightening our wallets. We have to sweat. Investing in personal trainers, gym kit, gym memberships and/or expensive machines does not automatically give the result we want. The joke on us is that we must actually train too. Get a sweat on!
Let’s stretch! May I underscore the benefits of warm up and cool down EVERY time we exercise. This makes a vital difference in how our bodies accept the exertion and directly result in the ability to keep on exercising.
Be kind to your joints. Find a way to raise your heart rate and produce a good sweat, but remember our knees and joints are not as elastic and cushioned as they used to be. Pick an exercise that is kind to our joints. Be careful. I have found great success in walking. Find a friend with equal strides and pace or put in a podcast and get walking! Every day!
Add some weights. We have all heard of the benefits as we get older of exercising with weights to protect our bone strength and to prevent muscle deterioration. Let's fnd some appropriate light weighted hand weights to add to our routine. Perhaps walk holding bottles of water or find some appropriately weighted rocks to hold whilst doing curls. I have often used recycled, emptied large bottles of water. Note: Remember to close them well. I have had personal experience of a surprise soaking from open capped water bottles being lifted over my head!
Food. Let’s remember the annoying but true saying “we can’t out train the kitchen”. Fasting doesn’t work like it used to as our metabolisms seem to be on holiday. Eat what you want but keep portion size controlled. Many 50+ find calorie counting is helpful. And yes, we must count all snack bites we have throughout the day – even what we grab whilst walking around or in the car. And sadly, the broken cookie does still have calories!
Acceptance. Remember this- we are amazing! Have strength and courage in that. Let's give ourselves permission to be who you are now. The outside package may not be our ideal or what it used to be…but let's think about our experiences and accomplishments! We owe it to ourselves to remember we are each fabulous and to focus on being healthy for The Next Half.
It’s time to dust off the pedometer and go for a power walk.