January usually marks the beginning of "getting back in shape"... cutting out all the horrifying (deliciously dangerous) things we've put in our bodies over the holidays, and making pacts with ourselves that we're really going to be disciplined and get fit this year. This is all good and well, but unless we already have our fitness and health as a priority in our lives before the holiday season, sticking with the promises we make to ourselves can be tough to keep. Life gets in the way, old habits creep back, pizza sounds like a good idea.... you know what I mean? For me, finding balance is my goal, but as I age it isn't all that easy.
Growing older isn't for the faint or weak at heart.. I'll be honest with you, as much as I am embracing my 40's, I find myself fighting the aging as much as I can through exercise, skin care, diet (and wine.) For me, this can be challenging at times.. It's like one day I woke up and my butt had slid down my legs by two or three inches and the back of my arms started to flab. Don't get me started about arm-pit fat and back fat. It's real, girls... and after we turn 40, we have to work to find balance and a fitness plan that works for our ever-changing bodies.
When I turned 45, five pounds extra pounds decided to take residency in my body and for the last two years I've been trying to navigate between diet, exercise, balance and hormone change. I've always been a runner, and that pretty much has been my go to exercise plan - run. It not only has helped me keep my mind balanced, it really did keep me in shape for the last 30 or so odd years that I've been running. Somehow that's not enough now and here's why:
We need to add muscle mass.
As we age, our muscle mass shrinks and that's not a good thing. Muscle mass is directly related to our metabolism and our metabolism is directly related to our body's ability to burn fat. Decreased muscle can equal increase in fat and/or weight gain. There are studies that show we can actually burn more calories doing a high intensity weight training workout than a long run. (Check out 10 Exercises that Burn More Calories than Running ) "In general, you burn more calories by doing high-intensity weight training than you do running," says Harold Gibbons, a trainer at Mark Fisher Fitness in New York City, and the New York state director of the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Food for thought... and who doesn't want to feel strong anyway? So what's the best way to achieve this? Here are three programs that I really love:
Try the Kettlebell Craze
I believe Kettlebell training for women over 40 is one of the best ways to get the quickest results. Firstly it combines cardio and strength training in one exercise. With the intensity of the exercises, the workouts can be short but still very effective. When you train with Kettlebells, you develop your dense muscle mass, which in turn burns calories from fat stores.. and God knows this is what I'm after. I love Kettlebell training for a whole host of other benefits - Kettlebell training focuses on (a) movements, not muscles, (b) whole-body, functional training, (c) strength as a function of mobility, and (d) cardio and strength combined. I also like Kettlebell training because swinging those metal "bells" up and down make me feel like a bad ass! But for us... aging girls... strength as a function of mobility is also a big deal! In a way Kettlebell training is like keeping the gears greased! I live in a town where we are lucky enough to have an incredible Kettlebell gym run by a spectacularly qualified Owner/Trainer. If you're ever in Gig Harbor,WA, you need to check out Be Better Gym.. Susan Moore can and will whip you into shape! Oh, ya, and she's a bad ass too!
Add Hot Yoga to your Life
If you're in your 40's and you haven't added Hot Yoga to your workout routine, then I beg you to get into a class and try... or any yoga class if you can for that matter. The benefits you'll receive will be a gift to your body and your soul. Often, women over 40 are managing careers, families and many other stressors. They may have little time to take care of their own personal health and may experience difficulty with a number of stress-related health issues, including fatigue, weakness, difficulty sleeping, weight management and their sense of well-being. Yoga centers you, challenges your mind over your body, and can bring your focus back to your core, your soul, your power. Yoga is also a wonderful balance for those of us who love to run, or weight lift, or swing the kettle ball. The benefits of stretching and lengthening our muscles are in the thousands, particularly as we age. I think of it as getting a massage on the inside of my body after I've finished a yoga class. If you're in Gig Harbor and you are looking for a Yoga Class to suit your needs, I highly recommend Santosha Yoga PNW. Now get stretching and focus on you!
What the hell is PiYo? While visiting London this summer I was lunching with an dear friend of mine who is a health and fitness guru in her own right. She was talking to me about her recent endeavor of opening up a new exercise studio to teach the PiYo technique and asked if I'd ever heard of it... the answer was no, but this woman is one of the most fit humans I've ever met, so I was all ears. PiYo is a total-body fitness system designed to whip you into shape from head to toe. It combines the practices of Pilates and yoga to help you build strength, lose weight, increase flexibility and have a great time doing it. PiYo was created by Chalene Johnson, the founder of the Turbo Kick system. It's been picked up by the people at Beach Body and is now a part of their video series. This workout is amazing, and for women who are juggling life of motherhood, wifey-hood, jobs, and house keeping, this is the answer to staying in shape and having the flexibilty of doing it anytime at home. It's also less intense than the other beach body series like Insanity or the P90X.
I know that there are hundreds of programs geared to help girls my age stay fit and strong, above are just the programs that work for me. I have friends who love their spin classes, girlfriends who are avid kick boxers, Crossfit stars, TRX, Pilates, and Barre trainees and trainers. All are wonderful programs, and all can be life and body changing exercise plans, the key is to find a few different types of exercise programs and plans, and stick with them. Another fun ideas is working toward a goal with a friend or fitness partner. One of my best friends and I both suffer from the "flat ass syndrome" and we've challenged each other to a month long "Booty Breakthrough Challenge" created by the amazing trainer Kayla Michelle. If you don't know who Kayla Michelle is... you need to make her your friend... I'm pretty sure if we follow her plan we'll both have a new booty this year! So "Cheers" to that!
The bottom line, girls, is that we are all aging and if we want to maintain the ability to play sports with our kids, enjoy an active life with our significant others, feel strong and empowered and centered , we need to stay active and take care of ourselves. Getting older can be challenging. If you're like me there are times when you feel like your 25. My knees and my lower back remind me that it's an illusion, but still... we need to keep on moving, shaking, stretching and being the bad asses that we are! So here's to 2018 and sticking with it!