This broadcast is coming to you from Six Flags Over Menopause Amusement Park. (We had a little Skype difficulty so we apologize in advance that our sound wasn’t completely perfect)
The Broads welcome their guest Debra Atkinson of Flipping 50. She is an expert in fitness for boomers. (women over 50)
Sharone mentioned that she feels like her satiety center is broken. She’ll eat and then soon become hungry for no reason. She wanted to know if that’s part of the hormonal deal. Debra says “Yes,“You can blame that one on leptin.”
Why Debra specializes in fitness for Baby Boomer women
“As Baby Boomers, we are changing consumerism and so people are paying attention to us and to our needs.” Debra says she is “selfishly” serving her own market. She lives in the Midwest where there are many older people. Her goal is to help women over 50, who may have been fairly fit all their lives, are doing the right things, but don’t understand why they aren’t getting results. Even though there are great doctors and fitness facilities, it’s sometimes hard to pull it all together.
Debra’s not a doctor and can’t give you the hormonal “deep doo doo,” but she can tell you the questions to ask if you have certain symptoms.
With all the information and marketing out there to Baby Boomers, it’s easy to become confused. Everything you read contradicts the last thing you read.
Why are we getting fat? Should we blame it all on hormones?
Debra says estrogen gets our attention but it’s actually cortisol that’s causing all the problems and it’s caused by stress. We never received stress tools to use when we were younger.
“If we have low sleep we have high cortisol and that’s where the leptin goes haywire. It’s a domino effect. If cortisol teams up with insulin and we give in to our cravings, and we have sugar going on, we have more appetite and more cravings.” Cortisol relocates fat, among other things, to our belly.
Women over 50 have many reasons to be stressed out, one of which is taking care of aging parents.
[bctt tweet=”“If we have low sleep we have high cortisol and that’s where the leptin goes haywire.”]
On doing all the right things with no results
“If you have the stomach flu you may not be inclined to eat spinach. If your hormones are sick you have to change what you would otherwise do with nutrition and exercise until they’re well.” Listen to your body and don’t try to push through exercise. Sometimes doing those wonderful high intensity exercises push you into higher cortisol.
You know cortisol is high when . . .
- Sleep is low
- You have cravings between about 2 and 5 pm
- You may start to get a little hangry.
- If you get late afternoon cravings a way to head it off at the pass is to snack before that point. Have some almonds at 1 or 1:30 pm so you have more control over that edginess.
Debra coaches the Broads
Some people do well eating several small meals a day and others do well eating 3 square meals a day. Try to find out what your optimal is. However, if it isn’t working, you may want to change it.
If you like to eat grapes as a snack, combine them with a few almonds because it pads the glycemic load you take in by eating the grapes alone. (grapes and other fruits create insulin – sugar) Eating almonds with grapes makes it harder for the insulin in the grapes to spike.
Rebecca mentions that both Sharone and she are cheese heads and wonders if that’s bad. Debra thinks cheese is great. So many people are afraid of eating dairy but a little bit of fat and protein keeps you satisfied longer. It can help minimize cravings.
Boomer women and weight loss
Most women over 50 stick to their old habits of diet and over exercise. When they’re still going through a transition with hormones, and they try to diet or go gung-ho on exercise, it can throw things off in a bad way. It may make you more tired. Try a nice gentle walk or yoga instead to get back in tune.
Try shortening your exercise time a little bit if you like high intensity. 15 or 20 minutes of quality exercise can be more beneficial to decrease cortisol and increase growth hormone. Do a short work section and a long recovery section. You won’t see that happening if you do a boot camp. Sharone, as a chiropractor, chimes in that she isn’t a fan of boot camps.
The best exercise for women over 50
According to Debra, weight training is your best friend. Lift different amounts of weights from light to heavy. Heavy strength training helps with weight loss and bone density. Moderate weights also help bone density and weight. Light weight helps with gait, balance and functional movement. It’s good to do all of them. Lift a weight without fatigue 10 times to gauge the amount of weight for heavier lifting This is the best formula for bone density.
Don’t start with heavy weight. Ease in by doing lighter weights first. Do this for at least 8 weeks or longer before increasing the weight and decreasing repetitions.
Debra proposes that more weight rooms be built for women. Most are built for men. She suggests gyms add colors, windows and natural light. The room may have the same weights as a man’s gym and maybe mirrors, although many women don’t want to see themselves if they are overweight. Some of the walls could have mirrors but not all of them.
Both free weights and machines have advantages. Free weights are more functional, but when working with heavier weight, you’re safer with machines. It’s good if you try a combination. Do free weights for a portion of time, machines for a portion and free form with body weight or cables with rotation for the rest of the time. Don’t let it hold you back if you don’t want to go to a gym or one isn’t accessible. Work with what you have.
For a beginner starting exercise, 1,2, or 3 times a week were compared and there wasn’t a great deal of difference between them. You could do 1 day a week for the first 8 weeks and still see a difference. Focus on form. You need to get your connective tissue used to the idea of lifting weights. 2 times a week puts it on your schedule so it’s probably the best starting point. You get 75 – 85% of your results from exercising twice a week. It’s also more doable. Try 10 – 30 minutes.
Ask yourself how much time you’re willing to give to exercise. If you have 10 minutes, use them. If you have 30 minutes, use them. You can also do 10 minutes at one time of the day, 10 minutes at another and 10 minutes at another to boost metabolism. Factor in repair.
Choose what fits your schedule better and what you’ll most likely stick with.
Find Debra Atkinson on social media @voiceforfitness and on her website Flipping 50
Her upcoming book is The After 50 Fitness Formula for Women – Eat more, exercise less, heal hormones and boost energy for “whole you wellness.”It will be full of resources from other experts as well.
What’s your favorite way to exercise? Please leave a comment below and share.