Metabolism, Menopause & Muffin Tops
Funny how your never forget some things. I'll never forget one comment in particular spoken by a co-worker when I was in my teens. I was eating cake for lunch (don't judge me) without a care in the world when she looked over and said, “oh you just wait, it WILL catch up with you.” I remember smirking to myself thinking she had no idea what she was talking about. I was blessed with a fast metabolism and it would never catch up with me, and what did she know! Or so I thought.
Fast forward to 50… actually, I hate to admit it but it all began in my 40's. I have finally come to accept I can no longer eat cake for lunch, or for that matter really ever. Hate to be dramatic, but I can’t even look at cake without putting on a pound. Does this sound familiar to anyone?? Welcome M # 1 – Metabolism. Mine got tired along the way and decided it deserved a break (more like an extremely long vacation).
Did I mention that as I approached 50 so did the 2nd M – Menopause - to add icing to my proverbial cake (there is the cake thing again). Weight gain, hot flashes and mood swings… seriously?? Thankfully, my travels through this M have been fairly mild and at times nonexistent. That’s the good news, but the bad news is that all those internal shifts going on have stacked the deck against me when it comes to losing weight.
I have read numerous articles about how the weight crept in over the years and looking back, that is exactly what happened. Creeping is a great description. It’s a subtle attack… clothes not fitting the same, jeans a little tighter – and as a result the worst enemy of all - enter #3 – the Muffin Top. Enough said, I know!
As my daughter would say – “my struggle is real.” Are you with me so far? Here are a few things I've learned along this journey...
I can no longer eat cake for lunch – sad, but true
Just not eating is not the answer – exercise must accompany a diet makeover
Working out by itself is not the answer – I took bootcamp for a year and still struggled with losing weight because I wasn’t reconstructing my diet enough
Sugar is my enemy – it is hidden in everything!
Stress has a profound effect on my weight
I love food! I love cooking it and eating it so therefore I do not like to limit what I enjoy
I love a great cocktail and my wine
Complaining about my weight doesn’t actually help me lose it
There is no quick fix – it is a process and journey
Bonus: I have a husband who will eat anything I cook, so I am primed to change our eating habits at home with no complaints on the horizon.
That's great, but now what?
Well perusing Pinterest for inspiration and reading books is great way to pass the time. And dabbling in fitness and eating healthy gives me a false sense of commitment but can we be real? It’s not getting the job done. I have realized I need to take serious action and form some legit habits - all which will take a commitment. Here are some of those:
Walking: As mentioned within my website – walking is a huge part of my life but like everything else, consistency is key. I am back to walking 3 days a week minimum. These are not strolls. I walk at a decent clip so having friends that can keep pace is awesome. We walk at least 2-3 miles one way for all our destinations but of course you have to start somewhere, so walking any distance is good. I try to get in 1-2 afternoon/evenings during the week and a weekend morning. The cooling weather and time change are no excuse for staying inside as there are plenty of places to walk that are lit up and once you get going your body temp warms up quickly. The track also provides an alternative where I can walk safely alone as my husband runs but can still see me. Been dipping a toe in the running pool, but more on that later.
Cardio: I’ve come to realize this is critical, so every day I try to incorporate some cardio. I love finding new challenges on Pinterest, like the 28 day challenge. Not belonging to a gym is also not an excuse as there are a million things you can do within the comfort of your own home or yard which is what I prefer. I purchased a jump rope, bought a weight bench on Amazon that can be moved easily, some new dumb bells, bands and a kettle ball. I have purchased these things over time and with minimal expense as you can now buy workout accessories at TJ Maxx or Marshalls for cheap and Amazon has a million options. I want to mention I also do not have a home gym so I purchase items that can be stored easily and do not take up space. That being said, you can also google a million ideas for great workouts at home that require no equipment. Everyone is motivated differently and for me it was making a small investment. These items provide a ton of options for a good workout and let's not forget a floor for push-ups, planks or mountain climbers (my least favorite). I even use my kitchen counter for elevated push-ups and a kitchen chair also works for tricep dips. Look around your home and be creative.
Diet: This has been the trickiest subject for me. Have I mentioned I love to eat and cook?? That includes going out as well where calories are less likely to divulge themselves. I have become more aware of what I’m putting into my body but won’t lie, I have a long way to go. I’ve read some interesting things about cravings, causes and how to curb. I am always reading articles and books on diet, eating healthy, etc. One book I particularly like is SHRED – I’m not a fitness or nutrition expert, but I do like the concept of eating throughout the day and his breakdown of options, calorie guidelines and cardio incorporation. I have not completed the entire system, but have made it through a few phases and did lose a few pounds while doing so. I have been able to incorporate some of the principles in my day to day life which helped me form some better habits.
I have friends who have special diets, such as gluten free, lactose intolerant, vegetarian to name a few. So over the years I had to challenge myself to cook meals that meet these requirements. It’s a challenge I always loved, so I now challenge myself to find new, interesting recipes (or spins on my own classics) that are healthier alternatives to the way we eat now. Less sugar and processed foods while increasing whole foods that do not require a PhD to decipher ingredients. I am the primary grocery shopper so if I don't buy it, it isn't in the house. As mentioned earlier, my husband will eat anything I make so my kitchen is a blank canvas waiting for me to explore healthier eating options. I actually like seeing all those healthier alternatives in my fridge. I happily accept this challenge! I've added a recipe page to my site so I can share my healthier recipes with you. I will be trying some new things as well as putting healthy spins on family favorites and my go to classics.
Accountability: It’s all about me! I am acutely aware of the impact not eating well at this point in my life has on me. And, while my “struggle is real," I have to admit I’m tired of the struggle and my waist line pity party. I know there are a million tools out there – weight loss programs and fitness sites, Fitbits and other technology – but none of it matters if I don't make the commitment and get serious about my cause. One of the many tools I've looked at and one of my faves is http://www.myfitnessplan.com. It works for me as I can put in my weight goals, what I ate, how much water I drank, cardio and it calculates everything for you. The hardest part is being honest and taking the time to put in the data. I actually look forward to it.
From the outside looking in some may think or say I am in no position to complain about my weight. However, everyone knows their body and how comfortable they are in their own skin. As well as, everyone carries weight gain in different places and has their own perceived “trouble” zones. I know women that look fantastic but still struggle with their body image, weight and areas of personal concern. It doesn’t matter how much you weigh, your shape or size… it’s your temple – and you know it like a book. So, we should not be judging each other.
Whatever your excuse – eliminate it. Being fit and healthy has actually never been more convenient. If you doubt that, just check out Pinterest. A million experts and doers bringing fitness into your life for free :o). Find something or someone who inspires you and as Nike would say “just do it.” There is no value in waiting!
Please share some of your tips and experiences through your journey!