It’s been a long while since I’ve done a fitness post and I must admit it’s because I’ve been wrestling with what fitness should look like as I approach my mid-fifties. I hope to encourage a few of you who are walking this familiar road as you try to figure out your own midlife fitness routine. Even better, I’d love to hear what some of you are doing to stay fit in midlife.
I’ve exercised regularly since I hit 30. That was the year my youngest turned one and I decided it was time to get some of my junk pulled together after a few childbirths. And, for the most part, my chosen routine of primarily high-impact cardio worked like a dream for the next two-plus decades. My body responded well as long as I logged a good four hour-long sessions each week.
However, something started changing a year ago when I turned 53…I hit a wall with my cardio exercise. I’d heard rumors of it, but I guess with anything, experience is usually our best teacher.
I was going to the same classes and doing the same things, but the energy just wasn’t there. Not only that, but I would return home only to find myself sapped for the rest of the day. I mean…DRAGGING.
I wish I could say that I was so in tune with my body that I determined to change things up then and there…but no. I kept powering through like I had conditioned myself to do over the last 20 years. My body finally got my attention one morning in the middle of a Zumba class when I just couldn’t summon up the energy to go on.
I picked my stuff up and headed out the door in the middle of the class.
I went home and started combing the internet for answers. Frankly, it’s not all packaged neatly and tied up with a bow, but here’s what I’ve been able tie down in my search. We midlife women are a churning mix of rising and falling hormones that are all conspiring to rob us of our energy and deposit fat around our midsections.
Haha…that doesn’t sound very encouraging does it? I think the real truth of the matter is this…the whole midlife transition thing is real and hormonal changes do affect our bodies and performance.
More importantly, ignoring the problem does little to help a woman emotionally, mentally or physically.
I try to plan for 7 to 8 hours each night. Initially, I was experiencing a lot of waking and night sweats, so I went to a physician who prescribed an estradiol patch. The patch lessens my night sweats and I find myself sleeping a lot better. I eventually cut my dosage down to a half a patch.
Now, I know there are a lot of opinions on hormone replacement therapy, so I will leave it to you to work these out. But, I do recommend a doctor’s visit to get things checked out regardless of which path you choose.
No wonder we feel stressed out with the hormonal changes, sleepless nights and weight gain on top of all the other circumstances in our lives. Like me, many of you are also juggling the empty nest and aging parents, not to mention the toll of living through a worldwide pandemic. It’s A LOT for anybody.
Stress hormones can wreak even greater havoc on our already taxed systems. So, when you feel anxious or overwhelmed…sit down and consciously breathe.
I actually installed an app on my phone called Abide. The Abide app leads you through a brief meditation series with scripture and prayer. It also has a great bedtime story function that helps you to relax and focus on God.
Sometimes, we just need to be still. Most of us are familiar with this popular verse:
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
But, do you realize that this verse is proceeded by another group of verses:
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
It’s in the conscious act of stilling ourselves that we allow God to claim our attention, if only for a moment. We get so distracted and upset by the constant turmoil in our lives and the world around us that we find ourselves literally holding our breath.
We forget that God promises to be our refuge and strength. He says he’ll be right there when we’re in trouble.
God calls us to breathe him in and exhale our worries and fears.
I have never really been good at the whole vitamin routine, but I now realize that strategic supplements really do give me the energy I need to get through the day. It helps me to portion out my week’s supply in a little M-F holder, then I take half at breakfast and the other half at lunch.
I will not take the time to dissect my whole supplement routine here, but I will mention one supplement that has given me a huge bump in energy. I’m notoriously bad at getting all the vegetables and fruit my body needs, so the Alive Once Daily Women’s Multivitamins help fill in the gaps that my eating doesn’t cover.
Working out at home was not an easy transition for me. While I like the social interaction of working out at the gym, I felt a pressure to keep up when my body just didn’t want to. I’m not saying I will say goodbye to the gym forever, but I do think the home workout is working for this season for several reasons. At-home workouts:
Having said this, I don’t recommend just laying on the floor to do a few leg lifts now and then. We all need to push past what we think we’re capable of, which means we still need a virtual instructor to push us.
The FitOn app is the perfect app for the at-home workout. You can narrow down your routine to your own goals, time frame and activity level. If I get too tired, I press the pause button and walk around until I’m ready to press “play” again.
Our metabolism takes a huge hit in transition. While our bodies must deal with ever-changing hormone fluctuations, our metabolism is also greatly affected by loss of muscle tissue. The less muscle you have, the less calories your body burns at rest and the less food you can eat.
So, if you want to rev up your metabolism then you’ve got to start beefing up those muscles. Strong muscles also help support your bones, which protects you from usage aches and injuries.
I have added a lot more strength training into my routine; making special effort to concentrate on leg and rear exercises because those are the biggest muscle groups. Bigger muscle groups burn more calories…it’s a simple way to get more results from your efforts.
Here’s a link to an informative article that gives a lot more information about some of the changes I’ve made – What Type Of Exercise Is Best During Menopause?
Well, there you have it! This is what I’m doing to shake up my midlife fitness routine. I’d love to hear what you’re doing, so drop a comment below.