Strong is the New Skinny!

By on March 7, 2013

I confess. I not only feel bad about my neck (you’re right Nora Ephron), what’s more, I’m just dying for that skinny jean look of yesteryear. 

It sure IS a lot easier to “look thin” than actually be lean and strong and that’s why we all love the new skinny jeans for us midlife women. I am definitely lucky because my thin and tall frame is deceiving and optics are in my favor. However, I was given a healthy dose of reality last Fall when my physician indicated that based on my body mass index I’m just almost “overweight”. One more pound and I’ve crossed the chasm from “healthy weight” to “overweight”. Of course, I noticed this last year when my jeans starting sliding down below my stomach to find my “new waist”. Hellooo droopy drawers!

Reality Check: Is the Blame All on Menopause?

Contrary to what you and I might think, menopause and hormonal changes can’t be the main culprit in mid-life weight gain Instead, the drop in estrogen redirects the process of fat storage in women from the hips to the abdomen, according to a review from the International Menopause Society published in the October 2012 issue of the journal Climateric. This change in the location of accumulating fat isn’t just cosmetic, or even an optical illusion. It also increases women’s risk of diabetes and heart disease. The reviewers further noted that, at midlife, women tend to gain an average of a pound a year, which they attributed to advancing age and environmental factors. Over time, these gains can add up to overweight and obesity, both of which are associated with health problems including depression, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Increase Your Metabolism – Strong is the New Thin!

This picture is a couple of years old but I just adore my friends at the Maritime Rowing Club for supporting each other in becoming strong, as we age together into our 50, 60s and 70s. The fact is, as we get older, we need fewer calories with a slow down in metabolism. So, you have to cut back your food intake by about 200 calories per day; this applies to men as well as women. So the other thing is that we need to increase our metabolism  – by building muscle!

Why?

You need to have muscle to get rid of fat. Fat only leaves the body if it is metabolized or burned. The prime motor for this process is our muscle system. If your muscle mass is low, then you burn less fat. If you want to lose weight for either health or aesthetic reasons, you cannot do this by isolated measures such as crash diets. If you lose weight just by dieting, your body will obtain its energy from the muscle in protein and you will lose muscle. Without the support of a strong muscular system, you’re putting yourself at risk for poor bone health, including osteoporosis. Many women don’t know that bone is crucial, not only for movement and stability, but for maintaining a balance of blood nutrients required for overall health as we age.

How to get strong and prevent osteoporosis. Poor bone health that leads to osteoporosis is preventable and, to some degree, reversible. Try incorporating strength training into your daily activities. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, diet and exercise both play a role. Here’s a few muscle-strengthening exercises include activities where you move your body, a weight or some other resistance against gravity. They are also known as resistance exercises and include:

  • Lifting weights
  • Using elastic exercise bands
  • Using weight machines
  • Lifting your own body weight
  • Functional movements, such as standing and rising up on your toes

Yoga and Pilates can also improve strength, balance and flexibility but make sure you’re not at risk for fracture as the postures can be challenging.

 

Originally posted on Design the Second Half of Your Life.

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Strong is the New Skinny!