Skinny Daily Post

Invincible.

A woman who posted a comment recently sent out an SOS for help in figuring out how to tame the post-menopause 20. It’s something many of us face (not Juju yet, however. She’s still in her prime!)

I thought I might have an answer, but wanted it confirmed. The Mayo Clinic was kind enough to have posted just the kind of information we need.

It comes down to this: we have to change what we’re doing. Because metabolism naturally slows down as we age, they suggest that we eat 200-400 calories less. Drat. But there is a ray of hope.

Weight training. It builds muscle. And, as we’ve all heard, each pound of muscle burns 50 calories a day, and each pound of fat burns 0. Powerful motivation to do some resistance exercise. There’s no risk of becoming musclebound. Women lack the hormones for that.

Resistance exercise also helps prevent osteoporosis.

So what would a day look like? I’m thinking at least 30 minutes of aerobics and about 45 minutes of resistance training three days a week. On the other days, probably up to an hour of aerobic activity.

For those of us who aren’t as young as we used to be, the good news is that we can start up at anytime, as long as the doc says we can.

For those us who are still young, remember that this struggle we’re in will go on until we’re buried. Unlike a paying job, which we get to retire from, or parenthood, where the major responsibilities end at some point, we’ll all have to figure out how to keep moving, and how to stay strong, no matter what.

I for one am not planning to go backwards. What are you planning?

15 thoughts on “For those of us over 50

  1. Connie says:

    Dear Jane,
    You are so right, but it’s so depressing. Looking 20 years ahead to a healthy body and clear mind is great, but looking ahead at 20 years of hours per week of exercising and never eating like I’m 20 any more is hard to accept.
    I know, I know, the health thing is worth it. I’m trying to keep myself motivated but I have to look at today and tomorrow as opportunities to keep improving and then looking ahead to how good it could be.
    Because of family history, sometimes it feels like an uphill battle, so why bother.
    No I’m not quitting, you just struck a chord in me. I’m a one day at a time person and if I look at the long term, I’d rather quit than think I have to work that hard to get there. I’m already in better shape than my mother was at this age, but there’s still lots of room for improvement. I guess that’s where it all lies, improving each thing, little by little, until one day, we are just THERE and it’s all in place.
    Connie

  2. stretchy says:

    Jane,
    …meditation…tai chi… Qigong…

    My advice is for women to stop overthinking and overdoing.
    We are rarely “in the moment” and kill ourselves over time by doing ten things at once. Just sit and BE once in a while. Why are we so proud to be “superwomen” ??? Who are we fooling?

    Never underestimate the incredible combo of exercise and nutrition. Tasty foods like berries, melon, almonds, dark chocolate are powerful, and you only need a little bit at a time, which makes them excellent snacks.

    As I aged, I realized I could snack on apple slices, a few spoonfuls of vanilla yogurt and 2 walnuts AND be happy. Sometimes less is more. Baby steps. It takes time to cut back and restructure.

    I do spend more time on pilates and resistance training than ever before, and I walk farther than I used to. I am going through menopause, and see it as a positive journey. Hot flashes and other very very annoying symptoms are way easier for me to handle when I eat well and exercise. I see a huge difference.

    One of my Friends going through the menopause is loading up on junk food, suffering, angry, and spending much more time at home in front of the TV, half asleep, on the sofa. This disrupts her sleep cycle, wrecks her metabolism, and sets the tone for how she will live AFTER menopause. She has also earned the “shrew” nickname that all menopausal women want to avoid.

    I have to see menopause as an opportunity to take some time to fully embrace optimal nutrition and try out a wide variety of exercise and meditation. Be my own manager, my own advocate.

    If you don’t manage yourself well, you know what will happen.

  3. mary jean says:

    This is a very appropriate post to where I am these days. Getting through menopause is about balance for me: enough rest, enough exercise and enough good food. Not over or under doing is a challenge. I have no desire to weigh what I did when I was 20, but I have to say that I am probably in better shape physically, emotionally and spiritually now at age 50 than I was then. So… I take time daily for meditation and prayer, exercise (walking and/or weight training) and do my best to eat in a moderate and healthy way. I also find that my portions of food are getting smaller as I learn to REALLY listen to what I want and need, food wise.

    Getting good quality sleep with the night sweats and getting up to pee is more of a challenge!

    Here’s to a vital and healthy new stage of life!!

  4. jonquil says:

    I’m about to turn 50, and it’s the best time of my life. I’ve got PCOS, which is partly about high androgen levels– a nasty business. But the menopause has helped drop all the hormonal levels, and so the PCOS symptoms have abated. For the first time in my life, I feel almost like a normal woman. I should be able to do heavier weights now, without fear that it’s going to send the testosterone levels up, as it has in the past. At last, I can work hard and keep the hair on my head, too.

  5. Rebecca M says:

    Weight training. Controlled eating. Cardio. An incredible combination, like Stretchy says. And the recipe for a healthy life, right? Problem is that someone’s going to point a finger at you and call you unbalanced and obsessed. Sigh.

  6. Cyndy says:

    Don’t look at it as depressing. Regular exercise has made me feel better than ANY OTHER THING I do for myself. Some days I have to just bear down on myself and force myself to do it, but I ALWAYS feel wonderful after. If you start slowly, you don’t get sore. But don’t forget to up the ante (until you’re doing all you can).

    The payoff is not just in how you look, but in all you can do. Your stamina increases. You can amaze others with your feats of strength. 🙂 And I haven’t gotten all bulked up, either.

  7. Deirdre says:

    I joined Curves just over a year ago. Thirty minutes three times a week of combined strength training and aerobics in additon to walking three or four days, and eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains has taken thirty pounds off this perimenopausal body.

  8. Jude says:

    There is a senior’s exercise class at my gym three mornings a week. Those ladies are my heroes. They are what I aspire to be after retirement. Fit, healthy and active. I often wonder if I could even keep up with that class even now. They are awesome!

  9. Debbie says:

    Muscle is the way to go. I am 53, post-meno, and can eat like a much younger woman. Note that I do NOT exercise anywhere close to 20 hours a week. 😉

    If you do weight training, make sure it’s effective. Wimpy weights give wimpy results. You have to lift, in proper form, heavy enough weights to matter . . . and in a form/pattern that will stress your muscles and allow them to grow. You actually don’t have to do THAT much, either . . . abut 45 minutes, 3x a week. Train upper body twice and lower body once, the first week, switch that out the second week. Repeat ad infinitum.

    It works. Hey, I even got my old figure back! Who knew???

  10. Jeanne says:

    Rebecca,

    People are going to point a finger at you and call you something unpleasant if you do ANYTHING that keeps you from being as miserable as they are. Is that a good enough reason not to watch what you eat, get enough sleep, and lift weights? Not to me!

  11. stretchy says:

    Debbie,

    I am using 5 lb weights and resistance bands. Should I be using 7 lbs? 10 lbs? I have muscles — guys notice my arms are strong. I kind of like to take it easy so my arms don’t ache the next day too much. A little ache is Ok tho. What should I be lifting?

  12. sandy says:

    I have some recurring back issues (lumbar and cervical spine, stenosis and herniation of disks) but the best thing I ever did ffor my lower back was consult a personal trainer (one session). I have been weight training my upper body for over a year and a half, following her guidelines, and my lower back and sciatic pain have pretty much abated, although I no longer can run as fast or as long as I used to 😦

    I am now on some pretty strong painkillers for my neck, but I am going to do the same for my cervical spine that I did for my lower back – a facet joint block (thanks again to the neurosurgeeon) to relieve the acute pain, and physical therapy and weight training for the long haul. I still have to do cardio (usually 45 minutes on the elliptical), but at 45 I am in the shape of my life (no “wave goodbye arms” for me!).

    I have been lifting weights on and off for nearly 25 years, and at each stage of my life I reap the benefits.

    Strong women rock!

    S.

  13. kirsty says:

    To try to answer the what weights should you be using question…

    Keep trying to increase them, that’s all I can say. Obviously this doesn’t go on forever, but you will never know what you can do til you try.

    See http://www.stumptuous.com/cms/index.php for all sorts of good advice/mythbusting.

    If you want some actual numbers…

    In a normal week I bench 83lbs, squat 143 (and have done much more) overhead press 70lbs and do a few sets of 6 pull-ups along with some dumbell rows, weighted crunches etc.

    I spend about 2 X 30 mins a week on weights and I cycle 6 miles most days and walk for about 30-90 minutes.

    I am not big (5′ 6.5″, 128 lbs) and I don’t look like a ‘muscle woman’ at all. Just athletic and fit. You have to take LOTS of drugs to look like the she-Hulk! 99% of normal women just don’t get like that.

    I view my training and nutrition as a sound investment in my future. I am 35, but I have been prepping for later life my whole life really, and seriously now I am in my 30s…

    Strong women do indeed ROCK!!!

  14. jonquil says:

    Ouch. I’m very much afraid that any woman who does indeed find it pretty easy to put on muscle, is going to get labeled as “the she-hulk” like she’s some kind of freak, abnormal, or taking drugs. Is the prejudice against women with muscle so strong that “easy gainers” have to be utterly denied, or marginalized into an “outsider” subculture?

    Are young women going to read this and drop out of a wrestling team, or a power-lifting course, because they don’t want to be in the 1% of “abnormal” women?

    Personally, I think there are women out there who really should be big, because that’s the way nature made them, but if they internalize this “only freaks get big” sub-text, they could end up hiding their light under a bushel, and we will all end up the poorer for it. I can easily imagine a muscular teenage girl ending up with an eating disorder, in order to fit in and be “normal.”

    If we say women can’t get big, and anyone who does is a freak, we end up with generations of women who don’t have the size and strength to compete with men on their own terms, as firefighters, soldiers, foresters, carpenters, athletes. In other words, the status quo.

    And ultimately, that’s what this is all about, IMO. Staying physically smaller than men, at all costs, so we don’t threaten the power structure. The revolution will happen when some big teenage girl says “wow, look at my huge biceps” instead of “I want thin thighs like Lindsey Lohan.”

  15. mary jean says:

    This subject and the post inspired me to get to the gym today. This time of year my weight training tends to slack off because I’d much rather be hiking in the mountains than be inside at the gym.

    It made my day when a little 20-something slip of a girl asked me to show her a balance and weight move with the bosu ball she saw me doing. After she tried it out she exclaimed, “Wow! You are really strong!” Who knew? I was just plugging away, making small baby steps in my routine.

    Later while on the elliptical machine I saw an article in a magazine entitled, “How to Have Your Dream Butt.” I just had to laugh. I’d rather get a compliment on my strength than have the “dream butt” of that super skinny model!! I will never be 20 years old, very tall, with a skinny butt. However I can be a strong and healthy 50 year old with a “glorious ass” (according to the DH!)

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