You know what they say…you can never be “too skinny or two rich”. Oh, to be a women’s health advocate…myths around women’s health are so numerous I would be rich if I were paid $1 for each one I discover!
“Skinny” is one of the newest food marketing trends around. And, as a result, it’s – without a doubt – the 21st century’s achilles heel of women’s health. As a health advocate I know that “skinny” is not a great health or wellness goal. Sure, obesity is now declared a disease but the psychological stronghold that “skinny”has on American women has resulted in eating disorders, depression, anxiety and more. But, here’s the real problem…if you’re in midlife, you could look great in a little black dress but have a body mass index that’s completely unhealthy – putting you at risk for heart disease right now.
The bottom line is this, as you go through peri-menopause and menopause, chances are you will weigh more and you’ll notice it right away in the waist line. It’s the redistribution of fat that happens with the ups and downs of hormone levels and then, eventually, the reduction of estrogen, or as the North American Menopause Society calls it – “estrogen-deficiency”. This is what makes us midlife women at risk for heart disease…and, overall, a reduction in body muscle mass . It would be easy for us women if the answer were “take a pill” but we already went down that pathway and in 2001 the Women’s Health Initiative study put the lid on estrogen, noting that the risks were not worth the benefits especially for women in post-menopause.
Nuances of the now infamous WHI study aside, here are ways to make sure Strong is the New Skinny:
1. Make bone health a priority. Your bones are more than a framework. Bone cells house important nutrients that keep your overall health in check. Reduce your risk of “thinning bones” by adding resistance training and weight training to your daily routine. This will reduce the risk of fracture for women who don’t already have a fracture. Resistance training includes certain yoga poses (the plank!) and pilates as well as props that help you lift your body weight. The National Osteoporosis Foundation has excellent information on this topic. Take control and change your diet and lifestyle to reduce your risk in concert with your physician.
2. It’s never too late to build muscle mass! Increase muscle mass by MOVING. If you don’t use your muscles, you’ll definitely lose them since the muscle turns to fat and you won’t have the energy to live your life with the activities that bring you joy…like hiking, walking, lifting our grandbaby, raising a window by yourself. You absolutely must find an activity that you really enjoy and do it everyday for at least 20-30 minutes. What’s your activity? Walking at lunch? Hiking in the early morning? Yoga’s sun salutations that lift you up physically and emotionally? Can you join a neighborhood walking group?
3. Avoid processed foods and replace with whole food! Yes, put them in the old red dumpster:)) Processed foods either have too much salt or too much sugar, are loaded with transfats (even if they say they are “skinny food”) and are, as Dr. Pamela Peeke noted last week on our show , are “hyper-palatable”. This means we love them! We are addicted to them! And, we pay too much for them! They wreak havoc on our energy levels, our cholesterol levels, our blood pressure, our weight, and don’t add up to “fuel”. We need fuel to be active in a way that builds muscle and revs up our metabolism. Alternatives abound, like quinoa, kale, bell peppers, spinach and more.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT HOW EVENTS LIKE IRON GIRL CAN HELP YOU GET STRONG JOIN OUR ON-LINE RADIO SHOW TOMORROW, JUNE 26TH, at 12:30 pm EST with Kelley Connors, MPH and Marni Sumbal, Iron Girl Participant and Owner, Trimarni Coaching
Marni is a registered Iron Girl participant and as a fitness coach is going to share with us her keys to success with fitness training
how you too (yes, YOU!) can get involved in your first Iron Girl
Just dial 1-646-929-2625 at 12:30 pm EST or download later!