I’m turning the big 4-0 in a couple of months and I am still trying to come to grips with it. Like, what the fk happened to my 30’s? Where did a whole decade go?
One minute I’m celebrating my 30’s rocking a teeny tiny tight little skirt and flawless skin, next minute I’m offically a ‘mature aged’ woman who is having electrolysis on the chin to remove the dark hairs that have sprung up overnight (seriously – why so many hairs in such a short period of time?!?!).
I’m not afraid of aging, I accept it and to be honest I love how my mindset and confidence has evolved as I have aged. I am also looking forward to seeing who I become in the future.
I have no desire to be 20 years old again, but I would be lying if I said that the aging process hasn’t affected the way my body looks or feels.
In the past 2 or 3 years I have seen an increase in the number of wrinkles on my face, my skin is no longer as plump or juicy and my body shape is changing. I remember being told that if you want to know what your future-self will look like, take a look at your mother.
My Mum and Aunty are looking more more like my Nana everyday and I can see myself starting to morph in the same direction. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s just a thing.
Even though I wholeheartedly accept aging I am making sure to take extra care of myself in order to put the brakes on. In fact there are some simple lifestyle modifications that any woman can include that WILL slow down the aging process and improve her quality of life.
As someone ages certain things happen; metabolism slows down, connective tissues break down, hormones change and muscle loss occurs. It is estimated that women will lose about 5-8% of their muscle mass each decade after the age of 40. That doesn’t seem like a lot but in the big scheme of things this has HUGE implications.
Implications that go beyond what the body looks like. A woman’s posture, strength, confidence, ability to perform daily activities, cardiovascular health and metabolic health are ALL impacted by how much muscle she has on her frame.
To take it a step further, the quality of life that a woman has at 60, 70 or 80 years of age and beyond is directly effected by what happens in her younger years.
Therefore THE most important thing a woman can do to take care of her current and future health is to do preserve lean muscle tissue – in English – the key is to create and keep as much muscle on your body as possible.
Creating and keeping lean muscle needs to be a primary focus for all women over 40
Here’s why muscle is so important:
Here are 5 quick to tips for ALL women over the age of 40:
You MUST include at least 2 or 3 resistance training sessions into your weekly schedule. This could be body weight exercises such as Body Weight Squats, Push Ups and Step Ups or loaded exercises (for example a Pump class, or any tool that is weighted such as a Dumbbell or Barbell). You must work until you experience muscle fatigue. If you do not experience a moment of muscle fatigue at the end of each set then you are not challenging yourself enough.
In order to experience the full benefits that come from resistance training you MUST challenge your musculo-skeletal system.
Stress plays a huge role in the overall health and well being of a woman. In these modern times there is a constant demand for our attention, focus and energy. It is very easy to get caught up giving this away to other people. One of the most common complaints I hear from my older clients is that they ‘never seem to have enough time for themselves to relax’.
Women in general are bought up to believe that they must take care of everyone else’s needs before their own. Thank fully this is starting to change and both sexes are realising the negative consequences that come from this old school belief. It is extremely difficult for anyone to be able to take care of other people if there is nothing in the energy bank account.
Not only is it difficult to operate at a high level, constant stress and overwhelm has very real physical affects. Digestion issues, skin issues, headaches, aches, pains, illnesses, fatigue, weight gain and the inability to think can all be attributed to stress. In order to optimise your health, wellbeing and body shape include daily periods of stillness or meditation, get at least 8 hours of sleep per night, and include periods of play, fun and relaxation.
Whilst I normally avoid giving specific nutritional advice I feel as if this point is extremely important. Add more protein into your days – I personally add protein to every meal. It is widely advised that women eat about 1.2 to 1.5 gm of protein per kilo per day, more if you are doing resistance training. Once again I personally eat well above that as protein serves my body type well and I function well off it.
When people think ‘protein’ they automatically think meat, and proclaim that they ‘couldn’t eat that much meat’, but there are many plant-based protein options.
Protein not only helps you feel full for longer it is also satiable meaning that you are more likely to feel satisfied after eating it (and this helps with appetite and hunger control).
Obviously portion control is an important factor too. Eating too much (regardless of whether it is healthy or not), above and beyond your requirement will result in a change of body composition. So make sure you keep your portion sizes in check (if you aren’t sure what to look for check out Precision Nutrition Portion Control Guide)
While this ties into point #2 taking long walks are useful in their own right. Cardiovascular health becomes even more important as we age, and more so as a woman moves through Menopause. The hormone Estrogen is heart protective and when this hormone is no longer produced women are at a higher risk of experiencing heart attacks. By remaining cardiovascularly fit the risk can be mitigated.
Walking is totally underrated and while everyone is on the HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) bandwagon there are MANY benefits that come from walking. HIIT isn’t always suitable for everyone, and those at high risk of injury for example those who have been sedentary, have pelvic floor issues and don’t have good overall stregnth and co-ordination, need an alternative.
This is where leisure walking comes in; it is easy to perform, is low risk and keeps your body shape and weight in check. If you prefer to walk indoors on a treadmill then do so, but remember this is NOT to replace Resistance training! Strength training is your first priority and the daily walking compliments this.
Ok, so this isn’t training specific but it is just as important! Every woman of every age and shape deserves to feel sexy. Of course ‘sexy’ means different things to different women but when you feel good on the inside you are more likely to choose to do good things for your body. One of my clients sent me this message yesterday (we have been specifically working on cultivating different ways to feel good):
“So today is the first day in like 10 years that I’m wearing matching underwear and I swear to god it’s THE best feeling ever. No one knows (except you now!) that I’m carrying around this hidden amazingness. I have more matching undies arriving this week and I swear to god this is so next level. It’s more empowering than affirmations or taking a pamper day or even losing a crapload of weight.” Anon.
Feeling ‘sexy’ could mean wearing matching underwear like my client above. It could mean wearing an awesome shade of lipstick or it could be as simple as blowdrying your hair. Whatever it is for you choose to do it daily.
This is not a comprehensive list of things to be doing however it does serve as a great starting point. I would consider each of these points the ‘non-negotiables’; the activities or behaviours that need to be done on a daily basis in order to help you optimise your health and wellness.
Remember long term change is built upon small things done daily. Be consistent with the above recommendations over a long period of time and you WILL reap the rewards.
PS Remember if you want a little motivational kickstart to your training then download my TOP 5 TIME SAVING EXERCISES CHEAT SHEET below
Nardia is an Australian Institute of Fitness ‘Legend’, Fitness Network Personal Trainer of the year 2014, course creator, international presenter and part time comedian and magician (in her lounge room).
She loves helping women in fitness create stronger businesses so they can focus on doing what they love.
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