Create an Exercise Plan that’s Right for You

In my last post I talked about the benefits of exercise for women, particularly after menopause. What next? You know you should exercise, but just how do you begin?

Healthylifestyle2imagesThe key is to create a personalized exercise program that you can adapt to your lifestyle. This is one of the things Focus Health        Coach can help you with. I’ll help you put together an exercise regimen you can stick with and enjoy, even if you’ve never exercised in your life.

It is possible to enjoy, even love to exercise! You just have to discover what you like to do, and create a plan that keeps it fun and fresh. Not every woman is going to enjoy the same exercise, and I never recommend the same plan for everyone. After all, one woman may enjoy dancing to Zumba; another may like to hit the pavement for a jog.  A third discovers she enjoys weight training, and a fourth realizes a renewed passion for the tennis she played in college.

When you start an exercise routine, it’s very important that you chart your activity and your progress. Focus Health Coach has a variety of wonderful, easy to use online tools to help you track your progress.

For example, you’ll want to track the days on which you exercise, the activity, and how long you exercise for each time. If you know you are responsible for writing all this down, you’re more likely to stick with your activity commitments. You’ll soon discover what a great feeling it is to complete your day’s exercise and post it on your exercise tracker as proof of your commitment to good health.

Tracking your exercise becomes even more powerful in conjunction with our other online tools: the nutrition and mood trackers. By tracking not only when and how much you exercise, but your food intake and your moods during the same time period, you can learn how each one influences the others, and the affect that exercise, nutrition and mood have on your overall health.

For example, you may learn that your mood significantly improves on the day after you hit the gym, or that you’re more likely to overeat at night on the days when you don’t work out. All this valuable information helps us to fine tune your overall health program to prevent backslides. Unless we’re charting all your activities, it may be difficult to see what’s really going on with you.

Remember, regardless of what exercise routine you choose, the important thing is, as Nike says, to Just Do It! Not sure what exercise makes sense for you? Let’s find out together!

. Why Women Should Exercise after Menopause

In my last post , I talked about the reasons why women gain weight during and after menopause. Although it may be more challenging to control our weight during this time, it is not impossible, so I don’t want you to give up! There are steps you can follow to ensure that you’ve got the best shot at not only losing weight safely, but keeping it off. And yes, this includes an exercise plan.

Even if you have never exercised a day in your life, it’s not too late to add a sensible, fun exercise plan to your normal routine. Here are some steps to follow.

First, see your doctor for a checkup; it’s a good idea to do this before you begin just to make sure you know what’s going on with your body in general. Every woman should have a yearly physical exam, and beginning an exercise plan is a great reason to schedule yours now.

Need another reason to exercise? How about this: exercise has many benefits after menopause, apart from weight loss and fitness. For example:

  • Lowers risk of developing osteoporosis
  • Reduces risk of metabolic syndrome, heart attack, and other cardiovascular diseases
  • Improves insulin resistance
  • Keep joints and muscles strong
  • Maintains good bowel function
  • Relieves depression and anxiety
  • Improves overall health

Next, you’ll need to decide what type of exercise makes sense for you. There’s no sense in trying to stick to an exercise program that you don’t enjoy, but I do recommend that before you rule out any particular regimen that you give it a try.  There are some exercises that are particularly beneficial to women after menopause for losing weight and keeping it off:

  • Strength training helps build muscle mass and improve metabolism, and helps maintain bone mass as well. We lose muscle mass as we age, and it’s important that we keep this in check. Examples of strength training include weight machines, dumbbells, kettle bells, exercise bands, yoga, and gardening.
  • Low-impact aerobics increases heart and respiratory rates. Other examples of aerobic exercises include swimming, cycling, tennis, and dance.
  • Walking is one of the best choices because you can do it anywhere, anytime. Grab a friend or grab your tunes and get outside!
  • Whenever you can, add activity to your day. Park in the back of the parking lot, not in front. Instead of sending that email, get up from your desk and walk to your coworker’s office. Keep moving!

Once you decide what exercise(s) you want to do, buy a good pair of shoes for that activity. Your feet and your back will thank you.

Ready to create your exercise plan? Great! I can help you do that. Contact me [info@focushealth.com] and we can begin to together.


 

Why We Gain Weight During and After Menopause

Were you one of those girls growing up who could eat anything and not gain weight? I was.  Desserts, sugary drinks, and Sunday pancakes− I could eat it all. Not anymore!

It’s a fact that as we get older, our metabolism slows down. One of the foremost symptoms of menopause is weight gain; as well as a change in the overall shape of your body. It may not be good news to you, but weight gain is normal− about 90% of menopausal women gain some weight between the ages of 35 and 55. In fact, women gain on average between 10 and 15 lbs during perimenopause (the period right before menopause) and menopause itself.

Obviously, just because the majority of women tend to gain weight at this time in their lives doesn’t mean it’s a good thing. Many of the risks of weight gain in women are well known: high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes, to name a few. Carrying extra fat at your waistline increases these risks still more. Unfortunately, a bigger waistline is more likely after menopause.

If you’ve noticed that you’re gaining weight, even if you haven’t changed your diet or exercise routine, you’re probably frustrated. What the heck is it about menopause that makes it so challenging to keep off the weight? It’s a combination of factors related to menopause and aging.

During this time in our lives, our bodies begin to produce less estrogen.  In studies, estrogen appears to help regulate body weight. With lower estrogen levels, we tend to eat more and be less physically active. Reduced estrogen may also lower our metabolic rate, which is the rate at which the body converts stored energy into working energy. There is some evidence suggests that estrogen hormone therapy increases a woman’s resting metabolic rate, and this might help slow weight gain. Lack of estrogen may also cause the body to utilize starches and glucose less effectively, increasing fat storage and making it more difficult to lose weight.

Here are some other reasons we gain weight during the menopause years:

We’re less likely to exercise. 60% of adults are not active enough and this increases with age

  • We lose muscle mass, which decreases our resting metabolism, making it easier to gain weight
  • Our aerobic capacity declines. This is the rate at which we can use up energy during exercise. To use the same energy as in the past and achieve weight loss, we may need to increase the amount of time and intensity we’re exercising

In my next post, I will talk about how you can safely add an effective exercise plan to your life that will combat the effects of menopausal weight gain, and how Focus Health Coach can help you do it.

 

 

7 Ways Women Can Prevent Osteoarthritis

We began talking last month about 7 health concerns that women must know about as they reach middle age.

I’m sure you’ve read that women tend to outlive men. Sure we’re living longer, but that doesn’t mean we’re guaranteed our good health; unless we take care of our bodies and our mental well-being, as we reach our latter years we could be on the decline. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

Take arthritis, for example:

Arthritis occurs in the body when the cartilage — the rubbery cushion in the joints that absorbs shock for the bones and allows them to glide smoothly when we move — wears away. When there isn’t enough cartilage left in the joint to protect the bones from damaging each other, it causes pain. And over 46 million Americans living with arthritis, about 61 percent of them, are women.

There are risk factors that could lead to arthritis in women. The good news is that there are risk factors that women can target for to prevent arthritis.

  1. Maintain a good body weight. Excess body weight is one of the most important risk factors for arthritis. The more pressure you put on your joints, the faster they wear out. Losing weight is one thing women can do that really makes a difference in the severity of arthritis pain. As the pounds drop, you reduce stress on your joints by lowering their workload.
  2. Give up the high heels.  Our feet were not meant to walk in high heels. In some women, frequent wearing of high heels spells trouble. Switch your heels for flats often to reduce your chances of developing arthritis and other health problems.
  3. Opt for low-impact exercise. High-impact exercise like long-distance running and soccer put a lot of stress on the joints and can wear down the cartilage faster— in essence, worsening your arthritis. Switch to swimming or biking to give your body a rest.
  4. Use better body mechanics. “Bend from the knees!” my mother would tell me.  She was right. Lifting with your knees instead of your back will reduce your chance of injury and saves cartilage.  So does carrying your purse on your forearm rather than gripping the straps with your hands.
  5. Avoid injuries. Sure, this sounds like a no-brainer, but football players aren’t the only sports enthusiasts who risk developing arthritis. If you’re doing an exercise that causes you pain the next day, you may be asking for problems.  Start any exercise program gradually, and don’t work out so hard that you’re in pain the next morning.
  6. Take Vitamin D. A full sixty percent of women are deficient in vitamin D, especially African-American women and women of menopausal age. Women who have adequate levels of vitamin D have less progression of arthritis. Talk to your doctor first; f you’re over 50 you should have your blood levels monitored because too much vitamin D can be dangerous.
  7. Drink Water. The cartilage in our joints is made up mostly of water, which is what makes it such a great cushion for the joints. When we’re dehydrated, water gets sucked out of the cartilage and it’s more easily damaged when we exercise. Keep your cartilage healthy by drinking water throughout the day.

Arthritis is all too common in women, but you can take steps now to prevent arthritis later or slow its progression.


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The 7 Most Common Health Concerns for Women over 50

If you are a woman who is nearing the age of 50 or who has recently passed this important milestone, you are entering one of the most exciting phases of life. For many women at this age, the years spent building a career are now finally paying off with greater success, more respect in their fields, and hopefully more time to enjoy the finer things. For others, time spent raising a family may now be transitioning into an empty nest situation, with all the possibilities that brings.

There are also some changes that happen around age 50 with regard to health. This is a time to turn your focus inward and finally pay attention to your own health, which can feel a little strange if your primary focus has always been your children or your spouse. There may even be feelings of guilt as you need to look after yourself more and concentrate on the health issues that may pop up over time. However, you need to take good care of yourself first before you can take care of others, and these are seven of the most common health concerns voiced by women around age 50.

1. Menopause, and dealing with the changes brought on by The Change;
2. Heart health, keeping conditions like heart disease at bay;
3. Osteoporosis, maintaining good bone density to avoid problems down the road;
4. Arthritis, keeping the joints strong, agile, and pain-free;
5. Weight gain, which can often coincide with the onset of menopause;
6. Depression, which may be brought on by a number of factors;
7. The aging process itself, and how to stay vibrant and healthy for many years to come.

Over the coming weeks we will talk about all these concerns, and although each of them is valid and important, there’s a reason that menopause is at the top of the list. As you approach 50, menopause is something you can no longer put off thinking about, and the time has come to learn not only how to cope with the changes, but to thrive at this transitional time of life. The good news is, there are plenty of ways you can be proactive in your approach, from researching the best supplements for alleviating unwanted symptoms, to incorporating lifestyle changes that will help you adjust and make the most of the new you.

Next week, we’ll talk in more depth about menopause, including details of the actual changes that occur, and the reasons why women list it as a top concern.

Super Foods

The perks of snacking on super foods are plenty, but the one major thing many women want is to look and feel young. We have just the foods for you to give you perfect skin you’ve always wanted. Almonds pack skin-plumping fats and vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that helps offset UV damage. Dark chocolate with a cacao content of 72 percent or higher is rich in damage-fighting antioxidants as well. Blueberries give you a magic combo of antioxidants and collagen-protecting vitamin C. Along with these couple of options you can also use vitamins to keep your skin glowing and healthy even after severe UV damages. Avoid processed foods also, the more natural the better. Super foods are not a myth- any diet would be incomplete without them. Juicing is also a great option- no matter if you are feeling old, sick, or without energy, there is a combo of fruits and vitamins that can help! Choosing the right foods for your body is a huge ongoing process and should be discussed with an expert. Just visit our site to explore supplements or any other health needs!

Back to the Basics- 5 Ways to Keep Your Body in Ship Shape

There are thousands of methods, tips, and tricks to get your healthy shape back, but are we forgetting the basics? This top 5 list will point out the obvious practices that you may be missing in your hectic schedule.
1.       Meditate and relax as much as possible, stress can cause heart attacks, aging, and frayed relationships. Keeping your mental health at a top priority could save your life, and just make you an all around happier person. There are many techniques of meditation: yoga, Zen therapy, or transcendental meditation- each has pros and cons.
2.       Keep an updated food journal to lost weight; forget spending extra money on a point system. Using a notebook and pen can keep your weight under control and make you realize how you may want to change your diet.
3.       Take your vitamins. Natural supplements can keep you young and make you feel great. You must understand that there are correct regimes that you should take and are not always just making up for deficiencies.
4.       Find an effective diet to meet your lifestyle. So many people will cycle diets throughout the year because they all of a sudden “stop working”, which can be very true. Sometimes the body adapts to the normality of a diet- so keeping an idea of which diets work for you and your schedule could be a great resource to use.
5.       Reward yourself! After a long week of dieting or working out, reward yourself with something that you love. This is the best way to stay happy with any changes in your lifestyle!
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