Hey there. It’s me, badass midlife woman lifter. But I’m not pretending to have the perfect body. Midlife weight gain is stalking me like an ambush predator.
It’s been like a surprise attack to see my waistline suddenly (it seems) increase by an inch, then again by a half inch. I might add that I remain active and haven’t changed how I eat.
Fortunately, I still feel like I “look good.” But I want to wear what I used to wear. And it feels like my creeping waistline could get out of control if I don’t take more action.
A Cougar, And Not The Fun Kind
Fat gain is stealthy, and not just for sedentary women. Camouflaged by an active lifestyle and conscientious eating, fat can inch closer and closer without much awareness. Then, out of the blue – BAM! There’s an extra inch or three on your waistline and you didn’t even see it coming.
Welcome to the jungle
Watch it bring you to your sha na na na na knees knees
Down in the jungle welcome to the jungle
Watch it bring you to you
It’s gonna bring you down, ha!!
Guns N’ Roses nailed it. Excuse me, I have some (slightly larger) clothes to buy.
If you can’t relate with this, well, that was me most of my life. I was born with skinny genes to the point of feeling fragile much of my youth. Now I realize that no one is immune to gaining fat in midlife, including me.
I’m no victim, though. I want to become the cougar in this battle. Are you with me?
Wait – Why Is This Happening to Me?!
Midlife weight gain isn’t just about hormonal changes. We’re losing muscle mass at a faster rate as we age, which slows down the ole metabolism.
We simply cannot continue eating the way we used to without gaining fat.
Did you hear me? Trust me on this. Even as a fit woman who lifts heavy-azz weights four times a week, I have to eat less than I used to.
Another factor is genetics. You might be more prone to gaining weight after 50 if your close familia carry fat around their abdomen and hips.
But you can’t just blame midlife weight gain on genetics and metabolism. It’s about lifestyle, baby.
- Lack of sleep leads to levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which could increase hunger.
- Our activity decreases when our commitments increase.
- Eating junk or eating too much will catch up to you at this age.
Be A Badass: Plan A Counterattack
If you’re a fit woman who has suddenly noticed a wider waistline, it’s time to take action. If you don’t, this fight could escalate. Get ugly. Become unwinnable.
I’ve already started attacking my own creeping waistline by adding a bit of cardio each week. But it’s clearly not enough.
So here’s my personal plan of attack, which, if I’m honest, I may need to keep up indefinitely. Want to join me?
- Increase cardio. Look, let’s just be honest here. Saying you’re going to do four days of cardio when you’ve been doing zero is a farce. Let’s set ourselves up for success and start with 1-2 days, then gradually increase it.
How much cardio should you do? It depends on your current exercise routine, schedule, and fitness level.
I lift weights four times a week and that uses up most of my energy bank. I already started two days of stationary cycling in my basement. In order to do more cardio, I’m going to have to decrease the intensity/duration of my weights sessions. Once I do that, I can add high-intensity interval training (HIIT) twice a week for four cardio sessions total.
- Decrease calories. It’s smart to decrease your calories very slowly to avoid muscle loss. I’ll aim for 50 fewer calories per week until I get to 200 fewer calories total. If you want to lose more fat, you’ll need to eventually decrease your calories by maybe 500 calories/day.
- Keep protein and fiber intake high. Protein helps combat muscle loss and fiber fights water retention and quells hunger, among many other benefits.
- Move more. Walking and NEAT are vastly underrated ways to burn calories and keep your metabolism healthy. Low-intensity activity adds up over time! I love the metaphor of your metabolism as a bathtub drain. A properly maintained bathtub drain functions well (burns fat). A clogged drain can’t function properly (stores fat).
Pay attention to how your new actions impact your body. Set a date (like in four weeks) to review whether it’s working. If it’s not, increase your activity or decrease your calories a little more. Keep watching and keep tweaking until you see some movement in the right direction.
Don’t let your calories get too low, however; that won’t benefit your metabolism and muscle mass at all. And don’t overdo the cardio either, if you’re serious about keeping your muscle. You want only the minimum dose of cardio and calorie reduction to avoid any negative consequences.
We can stay fit, lean, and hot into our 50’s – we can! It’s time to get to work.
This article originally appeared on www.workoutnirvana.com.