Are you losing the battle of the bulge now that you are either in the middle of or past menopause? You are not alone. I interviewed Fitness Coach Alicia Jones, who gave me incredible insights on how older women can lose weight and feel better as they age.
Alicia lives in Canada and is energetic and thoroughly knowledgeable when it comes to getting results for women in menopause. She has a B.A. in Kinesiology and is transforming the health and lives of women over 50.
I recommend that you watch my video interview with her below to get the details of what we talked about. It’s not only fun but very informative. You may learn things you never knew, as I did.
Below are highlights from our interview.
Our topic was Blame Your Hormones: How Menopause is Packing on the Pounds, and What to do to Win the Battle of YOUR Bulge.
Her journey to be a fitness and weight loss coach started when she was a teenager.
In one year, she went from an average weight for her height and then gained over 50 lbs. This was partly due to hormones, not eating well, and not knowing much about nutrition. She would try a different, felt horrible, could not sustain it, and then gave it up entirely.
She finally found coaches that gave her results and then fell in love with the idea of being a trainer and teacher. They taught her that losing weight didn’t have to be punishing or restrictive. Instead, it was life-changing. She believes that whatever you decide to do to get fit must fit your lifestyle to make it work.
Why focus on fitness and weight loss for women over 50?
Alicia’s mother was getting older, and she remembered how her grandmother’s health started to decline around the same age. Her grandmother was her main caregiver while her single mother worked and she grew up in an age when smoking was normal. Sadly, she developed emphysema and had a number of other health problems.
Her mother was the opposite. She never smoked, drank, and did fitness classes regularly. She could climb up steep steps while on vacation in Italy. Alicia could see that when older women took care of themselves it kept them young and vibrant. Her mother inspired her to teach women over 50 who have not yet found a fitness plan that works for them.
How is fitness for women over 50 different than it is for younger women?
Alicia doesn’t believe there is an age restriction on what women can do for fitness, but they are dealing with a different formula specifically because hormones are shifting. For example, if you are doing the same fitness and weight loss plan you did in your 20s and it is no longer working, it’s probably because hormones are not allowing it to happen.
The most important thing you can do is work with the body you have at this moment.
If you are dealing with high cortisol or stress levels, which causes hormonal imbalances, it can be a challenge. When your estrogen levels are low, which happens to women in menopause, your adrenals try to help make estrogen, but in doing that, it taxes your body.
You may also be dealing with increased stress as you age which increases your cortisol levels. If your cortisol levels are off already and you are doing high stress, long, and intense workouts, you will increase or deregulate your cortisol levels even more.
The result is, that you will hold more fat, especially around your waist. You will also be more prone to insulin resistance which puts your levels out of whack and you may have more hormonal fluctuations that cause other problems.
You want to make sure to do a workout that balances your hormones where they are right now.
In post-menopause, you have low estrogen levels. That shifts your weight from your hips to your stomach. It also affects your bone density. It’s important to keep your bone density level where it is so you don’t have more bone loss. Although it’s difficult to increase your bone density levels when you are older, studies have shown that weight-bearing exercises will show improvement in tiny amounts.
What exercises are recommended to improve bone density?
Compound weight-bearing exercises are the best for increasing or maintaining bone density. That’s when you move multiple joints at the same time. For example, do a squat and then raise your arms holding weights, then go back into a squat and repeat. When you do this, imagine you are about to sit on a chair. (Alicia Jones demonstrates this exercise in the video.)
Exercises like that will work your whole body at once. When your muscles gently pull on your bones, it will help you maintain your bone density.
What is the best type of nutrition for women middle-aged and beyond?
Everybody is different. If what you are eating is working for you and has your doctor’s approval, go for it. However, cutting out food groups can wreak havoc on your hormones. For example, you need a certain amount of complex carbohydrates to balance out your thyroid.
Increasing your protein levels is important. It should be higher than it was when you were younger because as you age you lose lean muscle. When you increase your lean muscle mass by eating more protein it will help you burn fat faster. Your quality of life will also improve, and you will have more strength.
Fish is high in protein levels. Beans and legumes have protein as well as fiber which is also essential as you age.
Make sure to consume 25-30 grams of fiber every day. However, don’t try to reach this level overnight or you will find you will have to make more trips to the bathroom. It may also make you feel bloated, so increase your fiber levels gradually.
Greek yogurt and especially Icelandic yogurt are high in protein. Icelandic yogurt has 20 grams of protein in one serving.
Protein is also filling so it keeps you from eating too much.
Raw vegetables like salad can cause flatulence which is because of micro-bio shifts that take place in your gut as you age. Older people may become more sensitive to carbs and other foods. (We both agree that minestrone soup, is a perfect recipe for both fiber and protein)
How much time should women over 50 spend working out to see results?
It should always be about quality over quantity. Sometimes if you do too much exercise, you may tax your cortisol levels as well as certain hormones. Alicia recommends 45 minutes or less of quality exercise. However, that doesn’t include a gentle stroll. It’s more about exercise that increases your heart rate. When your workout becomes no longer enjoyable you will know you are working too hard.
When too much cortisol is excreted it breaks down lean muscle mass.
High-intensity interval workouts (HIIT) are completely different. An example would be when you take a gentle stroll and then have a burst of energy such as when you walk up a steep hill. Your heart rate will go up for a short time but then you bring it back down again when you walk on level ground. HIIT is incredible training for your heart and will burn fat fast. It is effective because it will not overtax your system.
What other types of cardio are recommended?
Weight training is key. It is best to incorporate a high-intensity interval with weight training. Again, the squat and lift exercise is excellent. Do that for 30 seconds to a minute. Rest and then repeat. That will put you in the HIIT zone and the resistance will strengthen your bones.
What exercises should women over 50 avoid?
That is dependent on you and what is going on with your body. For instance, if you have some form of arthritis, or you have knee or back pain, you should avoid jumping. If you have prolapse issues, usually caused by hormones, jumping or pounding will make it worse.
The key is to know what is going on with you health-wise. Always speak to your doctor about your individual situation AND listen to what your body is telling you. Alicia has 70-year-old clients who can jump, lift heavy weights and do pullups. Others, even in their late 40s, have knees that are shot or other health issues and cannot jump or do certain exercises.
What are 3 ways older women can speed up weight loss?
Remember that more exercise will not necessarily speed things up. However, if you make the following changes, it will make your weight loss efforts much easier.
- Add strength training to your routine. As you enhance your lean muscle, you will also be dropping fat. The scale may not show the shift so don’t be discouraged. There is no need to check your weight every day. However, you may see the difference quicker in inches. When you are doing something like bicep curls and feel like you can’t do another one, you will know it’s time to stop. Just FYI, taking weights along with you on a walk, will not make much of a difference. It is better to focus on weight and resistance training separately.
- Drop your sodium levels. Many women become sodium-sensitive with age. You can retain up to about 4 lbs. of water if your sodium levels are high. It will also make you feel bloated.
- Increase your protein levels and DO NOT cut out carbs – Both are essential for losing and maintaining your weight.
Contact Alicia Jones
Find out more about Alicia Jones and the programs she offers by visiting her website here.