The health and fitness industry is broken. There I said it.
Because, in general, it’s not doing its job of helping a Woman get healthier and fitter. In fact, in many cases, it’s doing the opposite, that is, causing more stress, injury, and harm than good.
Here’s the thing, for over 30 years, the fitness industry has preyed on women’s insecurities. Gyms, classes, and training have been the place to go: lose weight, trim down, tone up, and drop a dress size”. It’s been a space where women have been encouraged to shrink (literally), reinforcing an extremely misguided belief that a woman’s worth is tied directly to how she looks.
The beauty space does the same thing, creating millions of products to ‘fix’ something like ‘wrinkles, cellulite, fine lines, spots, and so on. Suggesting that any of these very everyday human things mean a person is flawed.
The number one message that most Women hear throughout their lifetime is that to be lean or to look a certain way, they must either diet and cut calories or exercise more. Many choose to do both simultaneously.
And while the evidence does support an element of that, the reality is that women who take this advice as gospel and rely on it to try and whip their bodies into shape end up further away from their goals.
The truth is this – more is not better. More classes, HIIT, dieting, and cardio do not mean better or faster results.
Buying into this mindset is the thing that holds women back from the results they want to see – particularly for those who are perimenopausal or menopausal.
When a Woman turns forty, genuine and impactful changes start occurring in her hormonal system. It starts when the body begins to slowly wind down its reproductive function. Changes in the production of, and sensitivity to, the female sex hormones Estrogen and Progesterone lead to many shifts in most body cells.
At first, these changes may be subtle, such as softer skin or an increase in acne, and over time the signs and symptoms can become more apparent and aggressive.
It is not uncommon for women to say, “the things that used to work for me (in the gym) don’t work anymore .”Maybe you’ve said this to yourself.
And that’s true because unless you are accommodating for these changes in hormones, the things that used to work in your 20s and 30s won’t be as effective.
This is why changing your approach to your health and fitness in midlife is the way to deal with these changes and optimise your health. Not dieting harder or doing more cardio.
Does this mean that the diet isn’t necessary or that HIIT is banned forever?
It just means that Women over 40 need to get smarter with their exercise and lifestyle habits and adjust to support the body through the transitional years rather than hindering it.
Fortunately, there are some easy, everyday habits that women can focus on that will make a profound impact on their bodies.
The midlife recipe for great health and results:
- Strength train at least two to three times per week – such as Pilates and specifically the reformer Strength format at Pilates & Co. this needs to be a non-negotiable.
- Daily leisure walks, aiming for 8,000 to 12,000 steps/day
- Increase protein in the diet (1.2 to 1.6 gm/kg per day)
- Increase fiber (at least 25 gms/day)
- Daily stress management techniques such as breathwork, stretching, journaling
- Sleep eight hours per night or, if this is unachievable, try NSDR (non sleep deep rest) protocols throughout the day
- Nourishing food and eating enough to support exercise
- Drink a tonne of water
- Small amounts of HIIT or High intensity exercise eg, once a week
Blog by award-winning speaker and educator Nardia Norman.