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So many women in midlife struggle with sticking to habit changes that will improve their health and give them the best possible chance at losing their midlife belly fat that commonly collects around their middle.
It’s a shitty time constantly trying to keep up with all of the changes going on in our bodies during midlife. Absolutely none of the changes we experience summon up that feeling of “Gee, I’m so glad I made it here so I could get to enjoy this wonderful symptom” response. Except perhaps the cessation of our period.
It’s often a “blinkin heck what next” as you put down the phone from making yet another appointment with your doctor to discuss the latest failing in your body.
So how can we make this easy?
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So easy that you’ll frankly wonder if you’re achieving anything until you realise you surprisingly got the name of your kids right this morning. You also managed to get through the whole day without taking a midday nap that would enable you to get through the next 10 hours before the bliss of bed where you get to play at sleeping until tommorow.
Small changes that create new habits
The answer is small changes. Little mini changes that you hardly notice. You make one change and then when you’re ready you make another and they’re so small you’re not even conscious that you’re making them.
These changes will, at first, seem like they’re not having any impact. And then one day you’ll notice you don’t make that moaning sound when you get out of bed and your not sure when it stopped. You can go to the supermarket for milk and come back with milk. Not frozen pizza, a loaf of bread, some lettuce and no milk. Your stomach feels so much less bloated and you haven’t yelled at the kids for at least an hour.
So make the small changes and enjoy the boost in brain power and body movement.
It has been said that healthy habits can increase you life-span by as much as 10 years and that’s 10 disease-free years. Imagine what you can do with those years. Travel, hike, laugh, love, whatever you are physically able to accomplish. There is a lot you can pack into 10 years.
The small changes I have listed here have all been chosen with because they will contribute to your physical health, mental health and overall health.
10 Small Changes
1. Drink more water
For our bodies to operate well, we need water and plenty of it. For us to experience benefits beyond just functioning day-to-day we need to be drinking more than 2 litres of water.
Benefits you’ll see if you can have more than 2 litres are: better digestion, lovely plumped up skin, better energy levels and brain function as well as easier weight loss. All you have to do is add one or 2 more glasses to your 2 litres per day and you’ve ticked off a mini habit.
Read this for more info on hydration: Are You Getting Enough Water? The Effects Of Dehydration On Your Health
2. Hold a plank for 10 seconds
As you move into midlife, thanks to decreasing estrogen levels you lose vital muscle mass and bone density. You can help counteract that loss by doing a plank.
Planks strengthen your core, from your pelvis to your shoulders as well as your neck and legs.
The body uses its core muscles to help maintain balance which can be a problem when we are older.
10 seconds is quick and should be easy. If it’s too easy keep going until you are unable to and each day add on another second or two until your holding for 1 or 2 minutes each day.
3. Increase your physical activity
Often while I’m waiting for the jug to boil you’ll find me running on the spot to get my steps up or doing pushups against the bench. If you do enough of these “mini movement breaks” you’ll start to burn calories. So next time you find your self standing in one spot just move.
Regular exercise is one of the best ways to decrease stress, improve self esteem and maintain a healthy weight. Fit some movement in everywhere you can during your day.
4. Take small steps towards a healthy diet
The best way to do this is, and pardon the pun, is one bite at a time. Make one healthy food swap today. Then when it has become a new habit, add another but only when you’re ready. If you take on too much at one time that’s when you can falter. Here are a few suggestions:
- Instead of rice pulse some cauliflower in a food processor for a few seconds and either steam or microwave until tender (not mushy). Add a good sludge of olive oil and salt a pepper. Your stomach will thank you for it. Seriously you feel so much lighter not having all that starchy rice.
- Swap pasta for zucchini noodles made with a vegetable sprialliser or if you can’t be bothered with that and let’s face it “fast and easy” is the catch cry of many a home cook who’s just over it, break off small florets of cauliflower, steam or microwave, add olive oil and salt and pepper and put your sauce over the top. This is easier than cooking pasta and so much healthier.
- Consider making smoothies that contain vegetables and healthy fats to include more nutrients into your day.
Not all swaps need to be food related:
- Swap your slower walk for a brisk walk and include an uphill section. Go on push yourself until your puffing a little.
- Swap your deodorant for one that is aluminium free or even better completely natural. NO PONG is a completely natural deodorant and unlike others, I’ve tried, works very well.
- Swap your body and facial moisturiser for a completely natural brand. There is now a fantastic selection and many of them won’t break the bank. I’ve been using Moo Goo on my body and I love it, it’s so much better than anything else I’ve tried. Some of the artificial ingredients in your everyday moisturiser can be extremely harmful to your health, including but not limited to disrupting your hormones which is something we need about as much as a dose of the salts so next time you’re at the pharmacy take a look at what they have.
Other swaps you could consider are:
- Soft drinks for water.
- Butter for olive oil.
- Sugar for stevia or xylitol.
Move more towards a diet with plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and vegetable protein as well as healthy fats.
5. Do 5 minutes meditation today
Next week do 6 until your up to 10 then maybe 15 and optimally 20 minutes per day.
5 minutes out of your day to sit and just be zen while you focus on breathing and nothing much else is not a chore. Do it at both ends of the day and you’ll have done 10. Nothing wrong with my maths. That’ll be the micro changes I’ve been making.
After 6 weeks you’ll notice that little annoying things don’t bother you as much, that you’re better able to cope with stressful situations and you feel a better sense of wellbeing.
6. Add some healthy fats into your day
Healthy fats keep everything running smoothly in your body and will help when you in the littlest room of the house if you know what I’m talking about. They will also keep you feeling fuller for longer so you won’t be tempted to snack between meals.
More healthy fats can lower your bad LDL Cholesterol while increasing your good HDL Cholesterol.
God fats include:
- Extra virgin Olive oil
7. Journal for a few minutes each day
If you need help you can find all sorts of journal prompts on Google but one that will give you the warm and fuzzies when done regularly is
“What am I grateful for today?”
Or if your over warm and fuzzy and want to step into the dark side for a bit try this one.
“How am I feeling today?”
Journaling is a great way to get stuff out of your head onto the page where you might be able to make sense of it or at the very least feel better for relieving your mind of the burden of stroppy thoughts.
More on Journaling: What A Self-Care Journal Can Do For Your Health
8. Add some ground flaxseed to your morning smoothie or muesli
Flaxseeds have been around for centuries and may help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and stroke. This is quite the powerful plant food.
Flaxseeds have many health benefits which include being high in fibre Omega 3 fatty acids and protein. It is a superfood ingredient that will help you to feel fuller for longer and absolutely improve the health of your gut. Plus if your having trouble in your back end this is your panacea.
9. Do some deep breathing
Stopping regularly to do some deep breathing will decrease stress, the of health and weight loss. It will increase the feeling of calm and wellbeing and if you do it when you get into bed it will help you get to sleep.
Make sure to breath into your belly. As you breath in expand you belly and hold you chest and shoulders still. When you take a big breath and your shoulders rise your not expanding your lungs fully and so aren’t taking in as much oxygen as you can. So hold a hand on the top of your chest and one on you belly. When you breathe in you belly should expand and you chest and shoulders should remain still and when you breath out your belly should deflate and you chest and shoulders will again remain still.
Try this 4-7-8 method, I use this all the time especially when I’m finding something particularly tough to get through.
10. Go to bed 30 minutes earlier
This one’s big. For good health and easy weight loss, you need less stress. For less stress, you need a good am ount of quality sleep. For a good amount of sleep, you need to be in bed for a decent length of time. The quality is for another day and you might like to read this post to help with that:
Moderate Alcohol Consumption
As always when considering lifestyle changes for better healthy alcohol should be avoided or enjoyed in moderation.
Bad Habits Menopausal Women Should Avoid
Overlooking Heart Health
Believe it or not heart disease is the number one cause for death among women and as you age that risk goes up. And because it’s mainly due to bad or unhealthy habits it’s the one of the most preventable diseases.
With most women will worry about the risk of breast cancer but heart health is way down on the list of things to think about. And this is totally understandable given thatmost of us know someone who has had breast cancer and cancer usually shows up at a much earliear age.
Heart attack though… they tend to occur much later in life so the fact that unhealthy habits you have when your in your 30’s and 40’s are moving you towards a greater risk of heart attack is not bought to your attention.
A good tip is to get to know your numbers. What is a high cholesterol and whats considered good. What would be considered a good blood pressure reading for your age? And what is a good or bad body mass index and blood sugar level for midlife women?
It is unfortunate too that the symptoms of a pending heart attack in women are so simialar to other things we may experience in midlife and post menopause; fatigue, indigestion, anxiety, sleep disturbance could all be signs of a pending heart attack.
You just “tough it out” through menopause
You don’t have to deal with the hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain and other symptoms alone.
There is a wealth of information for women going throught menopause and many support groups both online and off. This website would be a good place to start. A Facebook group such as “Menopause Chicks” has some good information and there is always another women going through exactly the same thing that you are.
Your doctor is also worth a visit and should have a balanced view on hormone replacement therapy and be able to advise you on possible gntherapies or natural therapies that will help.
Resigning yourself to weight gain
Although weight loss is more difficult once you hit 50 it’s not impossible. With declining estrogen levels causing the loss of muscle mass there is a need to aproach weight loss in a different way. Be smart about your exercise choices and make sure your doing some form of execise most days of the week.
Focus on more vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats in your diet while limiting added sugar and grains.
Ignoring higher health risk factors for chronic diseases
Once you hit 50 there are many more areas of your health which need attention or the attention of a professional.
You are probably by now having regular breast screening, cholesterol checks, blood tests and getting your blood pressure taken.
You can add to that a bone density scan, colonocopy and anything else you may have entered into the high risk area on.
Assuming you’re getting all the nutrition you need in your diet
Consult a professional to have a full blood work done and consider taking supplements if you are deficient an any area.
Older adults are often found to have a vitamin B12 deficiency because as we age our ability to absorb B12 from our diet decreases.
Vitamin D is also considered important in the health of menopausal women. Vitamin D is an all rounder that can act as a preventive for many diseases. it is essential for good health and wellness and can work wonders on leveling out the mood swings that can come in perimenopause and menopause.
At the end of the day get your at least 7 hours of sleep…
so switch off the tele, dim the lights and put the dog out to pee. Then sit in your favourite spot, that’s not your bed and meditate, journal, read, do some relaxing yoga. Or as I do, just sit on the balcony enjoying the stars and occassional bat flying by. Within 10 minutes my body is telling me it’s time to sleep and off I go to bed. It’s one of my favourite parts of the day.
So that’s my pick of 10 mini habit changes you can start making today that will have a tiny impact on your time and thinking but a huge positive impact on your health and ability to lose weight in midlife.