We are living in a funny world.
Keeping with the theme on which this column space was founded: I am constantly reading, watching and altering my fitness journey. Yet as a woman in her middle stage of life, I am “beyond,” with a topic which is just not talked about enough.
Personally speaking, the past few years have been rough, from a physical standpoint. A body altered by a cancer diagnosis and eight surgeries (including a double mastectomy), throw in countless treatments and medications which I’m pretty sure has my body saying ... what the heck.
Yet here we are and despite all of this, which some might throw their arms up and say, ‘Hey, I’m still here, who cares!’ I can honestly say, I do.
Over 12 years ago I lost close to 100 pounds not because it was trendy, but because I was unhappy being physically heavy. It sucked. Big bellies are uncomfortable, as is chafing and being short of breath when climbing stairs.
The weight stayed off because I love being active, I’m not a huge foodie, so a modest diet was easy and I like cute clothes, so that served as constant motivation.
However, as I’ve battled cancer, with each year the number on the scale has climbed. It’s frustrating on a level which is honestly at times more painful than cancer.
Why? One might say. How vain is she? Another might ponder. Aren’t you happy to still be here?
The answer to all of this is simple. It’s hard work to get healthy and maintain it. To have it stripped from you as you’re trying to stay above ground can simply feel defeating at times. But wait, this is about more than cancer, it’s about stage of life. A topic which I swear if was covered half as much as the “health coach entrepreneurs” on social media we would all be doing so much better.
Recently as I scrolled and scrolled my trusty Google Doctor (yes I know critics, this girl is desperate), I stumbled upon a paragraph which shifted this journey and frustration onto a whole new axis.
Quite simply put, the paragraph shared that as we age, our metabolism slows requiring less calorie intake for optimal health.
Now don’t misunderstand, I’m well aware that post menopause (which also happened during cancer) my metabolism slowed down. However, this girl has been walking miles at a time and spinning hours at a time to try and speed it up. So while my food has not changed drastically, the reality is, it needs to.
A visit with my OB earlier this summer found me in tears as we recapped the past three years of my life and “how I’m doing.” Frustrated and defeated by the new 40 pounds I lug around, I broke into tears. My doctor shook her head, handed me a tissue and uttered words I needed to hear.
She shared she had recently turned 50. She had packed on 15 pounds literally with no changes to her daily routine. Her solution, her servings got smaller.
“The amount of food on my plate is so little it’s almost silly,” she said. “But you know what? It worked and I’m healthy again.”
“Thank you!” I exclaimed as she shared this, noting I had read this, yet no one talks about this simple thing which makes so much sense.
“If you ate now like you did when you were 30 you would definitely gain weight, regardless of exercise,” she said.
I went on to share how after I stumbled upon this info, I thought back to my grandmother and my great aunt and how little they seemed to always eat on a daily basis. My doctor nodded, acknowledging the body requires less, however nutrient dense becomes more important for our brain and our bones.
So back to Google I went because I just knew I had to share this in this column space for the ladies like me. In my findings I discovered MyPlatePlan, a site which can help one figure out what their calorie intake should be based on their age, gender, height, weight and activity level.
In the search it was also noted on multiple sites, including the Mayo Clinic, that 150 minutes of brisk walking per week coupled with two to three days of strength training are best to help maintain weight, as well as shed some extra pounds.
Forget the fads and stop beating yourself up (as I did), most especially those of us who now know the word FUPA (Fatty Upper Pubic Area) and are thoroughly confused as to where this came from. Look around; we’re not alone and as odd as it is, it’s truly not uncommon in us midlife ladies.
This is where the strength training and nutrient rich diet comes in. We’ve just gotta work, errrr, re-work those muscles that we aren’t using as much any longer.
Mostly and mainly, hey I get it, us ladies have traveled some miles. Our bodies have served us and possibly some children well. But this midlife chapter, is our chapter. This is our time to go live our best life and a whole next level and wouldn’t it be great to do that in a body which served you versus sapped you of all energy and motivation.
So, here’s to gaining some knowledge; understanding that our portions must shrink not to be skinny but to be well and mostly for caring for the one thing we need to keep going — our health.