V. 18


**Starting July 24, 2020 Fridays at 4pm 45-minute Athletics Class FridayFit45***.

When I ask clients about their health and fitness goals a general response is a desire to feel good in their skin and many want to keep belly fat at bay, a harder challenge as we age. This post looks at the impact of mid-life changes on a women’s midsection and ways to handle it.

Dear Diary:

6am: Today is the day!  Change is afoot, I swear.  Have grown thick around the middle.  My abs have run off. To locate, I vow not to eat chocolate, bread or other junk.  I will engage in regular vigorous, consistent exercise, drink tons of water and meditate.   I will stock the fridge with greens and protein and go to bed by 10pm without fail! 8 hours of sleep here I come.

Dear Diary:

9pm:  Great start to the day.  Hit 6am class at CrossFit Empower and gobbled up a solid breakfast of eggs, greens, avocado, sweet potatoes.   Had hope but then derailment.  Worked late and couldn’t get to grocery store before picking up kids.  Dad needed medications picked up and delivered.  Car battery died. There was this and that.  Got too hungry and ate a bag of chocolate almonds for quick energy and apparent stress management.  Ordered take-out and got trapped on couch missing nightly walk. Am a grouch with a pouch.

Reality bites:  Diary entries are a snapshot of the stretched life of many women in the city. Throw the hormonal changes of perimenopause and menopause into the mix and maintaining a physique you feel good about is hard.  Knowledge is power.  At age 50, I’ve realized I’m entering a new ball game with a learning curve.  What worked for me at 40 is not happening at 50.  Here is a sketch of what I have garnered so far.

Fact: I’ve battled the bulge since childhood becoming a qualified expert on the topic. My first recollection of wanting to lose belly fat was at age 8 when I looked at a picture taken of me and a friend. My friend was slim in her shorts and I was busting out of mine.  Looking back, it pains me that it mattered so much that it is burned in my memory but that’s how it was. Even when I later dropped to 110lbs I still had a stomach.  I thought that was just how it was meant to be, stretched skin from being overweight. But I was wrong.  After I started working out at CrossFit Empower and learned to do pull-ups and thrusters, embraced the burpee and went low sugar and grain and my belly fat disappeared. Shock! This development had nothing to do with being an overweight child or having had two kids. It had everything to do with how I worked out and what I ate. For a period, I had rock solid abs. Truth, it took 42 years to achieve this goal and better late than never holds true!  But, now enter a midlife challenge! Over the last two years I’ve been noticing some bodily changes and am feeling thicker around the middle again.  Cutting back sugar and carbs has not yielded the usual results. Consistent workouts help but not enough.  What is happening?  Hormonal shifts and a changed metabolism brought on by perimenopause is a large part of it. During this stage most women will battle weight gain around the middle, if ways not adjusted. We cannot eat and exercise the way we did at 40 and expect the same results at 50.  A different approach is needed. The good news is, it need not be a done deal and can be tackled and won! So, what to do?

First, let’s dispel the myth that abs are made in the kitchen.  That’s partly true but not the whole story.  Personal experience is abs are made in the mind. Your thoughts guide your actions. You can get stronger and more fit as you age.  Believe it.  Thoughts such as “Well, I’m 50 what can I expect?” are self-defeating.  Catch and replace with self-affirming talk such as “I can do hard things!” and “Nothing is set-in stone!”

Want flat abs over forty? Pay attention to these 4 factors and you will be on your way.

Mindset.   First and foremost, be kind to yourself in your self-talk.  We want to avoid a cortisol gut and cutting ourselves down mentally does not help.  We cannot do it all and a prioritized life is a good life.   Managing stress productively will keep belly fat at bay.  Organize yourself to avoid running from pillar to post.  Learn to say NO.  Place a high value on self-care.  It is not selfish, but essential.  Check “should” thinking. Set your mind on what you wish for yourself and go after it by developing a routine that supports the person you want to be.  Define your goal and set small, manageable steps towards it.  Seek help from a Coach for tips and strategies if feeling stuck.   It will be hard and uncomfortable at times and your mind will try to talk you out of your new ways and back to your old comfortable self.  Don’t let it! Be prepared to quash self doubt with fight back statements such as  “Mind, I will not listen to this nonsense. Leave me be!”  Check excuses and know: If I want it to be.  It is up to me.

Incorporate mindfulness practice into your daily life. Learn to Stop. Drop. And Breathe. A quick re-set to keep you on track if getting pulled astray is to breathe.   Close your eyes and mouth. Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth.  Take a big breath in through your nose filling your belly and exhale out through your nose.  Repeat for a minute.  Do it standing or lying down.

Quality Sleep.   Crucial.   An unrested body craves junk in the form of quick sugars, which in a weakened state takes extra effort to fight off.  Everything is harder at half mast and creates more stress on the body. The body reacts by holding onto fat.  Prioritize your rest as a non-negotiable, not to be skimped on goal. We grow stronger in the night through rest and recovery.

Exercise Dose. High intensity bursts of explosive cardio will help you blast fat as will lifting heavy (for you) weights plus consistent core exercises.   Take time to work in breathing re-sets to achieve a calm state after a hard workout. Add a daily walk for recovery purposes.  Exercise creates stress on the body and too much without enough recovery can sabotage your goals.  The key is to find the right balance for you.  Not sure what is best? Talk to a coach about your goals and we’ll help you develop a plan.

Nutrition:  Individualization required. I am adding more leafy greens, lean proteins and healthy fats and lemon water.  Less red meat.  Changing standard breakfast of eggs to salmon and greens. The CrossFit dietary prescription holds true. Figure out the right portions for you, hang in consistently and an expanding midline will not become your friend.  Adhere to HALT. Don’t let yourself get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired as these states are recipes for dietary disaster.

These are the areas I’m honing in on to stop thickness in its tracks.  It will take trial and error, but I’ll share what I’m learning over the coming months.  Have a tip? Love to hear it and share with others. Drop me a line:   [email protected]

Athletics Class Update

Athletics FridayFit 45

Testing a 45 min Athletics Class Fridays at 4pm July 24 to August 28.  Cardio, strength and core blast.  Come try it out!

Athletics also runs Tues and Thursday at 6:15pm and Sundays at 11:15am. Sign-up! 

Athletics August Ab Attack

Going heavy on midline work with ab finishers and breathing resets in our August classes.

A mid-line workout I’ve been loving lately is below.  Easy to set up plus target grip and lats while dead bugs work coordination and are a good change of pace for lower abs and back friendly.

Bug Off

5 rounds for quality not time.

200-meter Farmer’s Carry

20 dead bugs

Find a heavy Farmer’s Carry weight that allows the 200 meters to be completed unbroken with your chest up, shoulders back, ideally dumbbells gripped in center.  No hunching.  If no space for a carry replace with a 90 second bear hug hold  of a heavy dumbbell, loaded sack, or alternative.  Maintain erect posture.

Thank you all for rolling with the Athletics changing class times this month and coming out and busting through the workouts.  You are amazing and it is great to have you in the gym!

Keep your squats low and your standards high!