Spoiler Alert Spoiler alert ! … The scale is not the best barometer of health and fitness. In this episode, we get straight to the importance of two well-known pieces of advice that are largely done wrong and for the wrong reasons. Making a shift to practice these effectively will be a game-changer for your health and greatly improve your daily life as well as decrease your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
[00:00] Intro: Hey. Welcome to episode 34 on The Air Hug Community.
[00:20] Judy: Hey, Welcome to The Air Hug Community. I am Judy Arazoza, your host. And I created The Air Hug Community to bring you stories from guests and myself that ultimately help improve the lives of others and boomerang back to improve your life.
So we cover all sorts of topics like relationships and personal development, how you see the world and just behaviors that actually affect yourself and others. So strap in, sit down, welcome and thank you so much for joining in.
Hello, everybody. Are you ready? I am. I just clapped my hands. I guess you probably heard that. I am super excited about today’s topic, it’s just me, we don’t have a guest today, but this is something that is so near and dear to me. It’s what I live and breathe and actually it’s my reason for actually having a business in the first place. So part of my core value of improving the lives of others, in fact, a major part of it is helping women over 40 improve their fitness and improve how they feel about themselves. And of course, health is a big part of that. In fact, it’s the whole story, because without health we have nothing, right?
And so today, this is going to be a two-part podcast, today we’re going to cover part one, but we’re talking about the best fitness tips for women over 40. So some of this may apply to men, but by and large, I always let you know this [02:00] in the outset that my experience and what I study and the research I read is mostly regarding women, but some of the studies that I’ve looked at that we’re going to talk about relative to today actually were done on men and women. But anyways, I digress.
The big thing is it’s no secret that staying fit over the age of 40 presents different challenges than it did when we were in our early adult years. And so the big thing that I think everyone who’s over 40 is frustrated with and is experienced is that old ways don’t work, and that’s because we don’t have the same body that we had when we were in our 20s and 30s. So the one thing I want to point out is that you can expect to gain a few pounds once you hit peri-menopause, menopause and post-menopause. But here’s the good news – it’s okay, it’s not going to hurt you if and only if one thing. And so I love the IFF, that’s my abbreviation for if and only if, and I use it a lot in coaching with my women because there are some non-negotiable rules, a few of them, we try not to have too many rules, but there are some non-negotiable rules.
And I use the phrase ‘If and only If’. That goes way back to my high school geometry class where we were learning the rules of geometry, there were certain rules that would be in place if and only if other rules were in place.
So the rule about not worrying about gaining a few pounds is valid if and only if you are fit. So here’s the thing – you can be fit and have a few extra pounds. In fact, it’s fine. So research has now shown that and that research was done on both men and women, I just want to put that out there, [04:00] but I think it’s high time that we understand our best interest going forward is not how close we can get to some little number on the scale, our best interest is more how can we be as fit as possible. That’s what’s going to help us have a lower risk for all of the serious diseases that can help us meet our demise. We want to minimize that.
So I have some tips, and today we’re going to talk about two of them, all right? Specifically, there are two tips that are the best tips for achieving and maintaining fitness over 40. So the first one I like to call sweat equity. So we have to do our due diligence for exercise, right? And so I’ll get to the second one later, but today, right now, we’re going to focus on sweat equity. The best news, like I said, remember, is that we can have a few extra pounds and be fit, and a lot has to do with how we train in the gym. In fact, I just want to point out that sedentary thin people, you’re going to see me repeat this over and over again because I want to drive home the point that fit is more important than thin. So sedentary thin people actually have more risk for disease than fit people with a few extra pounds. So just keep that in mind and stop beating yourself up over gaining a few pounds. I know I’ve stopped beating myself up, but it has taken a lot of work to get there and we’ll get to that in our next episode.
But here’s the thing – it’s common knowledge and if it isn’t I’m going to say it right now because I don’t want to assume anything, a body over 40 is slowing down. It’s breaking down. Unfortunately, our body is breaking down. And that begins to happen somewhere [06:00] around age 30. We begin to lose muscle and we are even losing bone mass, but it’s so little it’s minuscule. This is called sarcopenia. And it is a little bit, a little bit, a little bit, you may not notice it but the end of one decade and at the end of two decades there will be a difference. So if we allow it to progress we’re going to end up with less energy, more weakness, and the unfortunate thing is that we will need to eat less to maintain that body that’s starting to waste away a little bit. And I know it’s you don’t think of it as wasting it away because maybe it’s only 1%, but it’s beginning a cycle of deterioration, all right? And if we are just going on diets to lose weight by the scale alone, we’re contributing to the problem.
So here’s the thing – sweat equity, a.k.a. exercise over 40 cannot be random. It must meet certain criteria for us to be fit. It means to maintain and grow muscle especially because our body is losing muscle. It needs to maintain and improve mobility, it needs to maintain and improve balance, and it needs to maintain and improve cardiovascular fitness. Now I group mobility and flexibility kind of in the same little category but there’s a little bit of a difference, but for today’s purposes we’re just going to put them together.
So we need to use our gym time wisely. We cannot leave it to chance. So you just can’t walk into a gym, maybe you’ll do this on vacation, but you don’t just walk into a gym, pick up a dumbbell, do a couple of bicep curls, do maybe a few push-ups, do this, decide you’re done and go home. [08:00] That’s not going to cut it if you’re over 40, all right? Again, those things probably worked when we were younger, but now we need to have a program that actually works for our body. And if you’re interested in that, I’m going to put some information in the show notes because that is specifically what The Air Hug training membership, online training membership is all about.
So here’s the thing – there are pillars of a program for over 40 people that are very important, and the first one is the program needs to meet the person where they are. So whether they’re an advanced exerciser or a beginning exerciser, whatever their fitness level is, it needs to meet the person where they are and take them from there. So the worst thing is to get into a program and feel like you’re in over your head, so we try very hard … well, I don’t try very hard, I do talk to the person, there’s a lot of dialogue that goes in and really assessment to find out where you are in your fitness level and that’s where we start.
It needs to be very safe as far as modifications and progressions. We need to make sure that we cover cardiovascular fitness and optimal metabolism-boosting muscle type exercises. So exercises that don’t waste away at your muscle. And of course, we also have to have a hefty dose of mobility and balance in there which we do, in fact, we love to work on mobility and balance in our warm-up, and then we love to work on our cardiovascular and muscle sparing, almost muscle growing, exercises throughout our different workouts.
The other thing is it can’t be overly stressful. And so one of the things that we try to do is keep, we do is, [10:00] we keep the timeline reasonable. So there will never belong workouts. In fact, we’re even gearing ourselves to going even shorter than what we have been in recent years because research has shown that actually, we need a little bit more time to have off time. And so if we’re dreading a workout and getting worked up over it because it’s going to be over an hour, that can actually backfire on us.
So those are the pillars. And it’s really important to make sure that you find someone, some program, and it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t have to be mine, I don’t care. Find a program that matches up with you. And of course, you need to have a coach that matches up with you, and so definitely do your due diligence, interview people, find out what you’re matched up with, but it should satisfy optimal metabolism maintenance, cardiovascular fitness, mobility, and balance and it can’t be too long.
The second factor, the second tip here is that instead of going on a diet we need to learn how to eat sustainably. So we do sustainable nutrition. Let’s talk about quick diets for a minute. Quick-fix diets or detoxes or any kind of fast fix is of course it’s very sexy, it’s appealing, it sells, people love to put up before and after pictures, but here’s the problem – they’re missing one thing, and the thing they’re missing is sustainability, okay? So sustainability is important because while you’re great if you let’s say you have a goal to lose X pounds by Y date or whatever, great, you get there, but usually, the methods used to get there are not sustainable. And not only that, they can actually damage your metabolism.
So sustainable nutrition, [12:00] I’m going to be very honest here right on the output – we all would love to have six-pack abs, but sustainable nutrition will not promise six-pack abs, it will not promise a low number on the scale, okay? But it also will not promise rebound weight gain. So we’re talking about getting on a nutrition program or a plan for yourself, I even hate the word program, practicing nutrition that will actually help you to practice your sweat equity in a way that works for your age and also help you up-level your fitness.
So now, even though it’s not a weight loss program very often people find that they do lose fat. So the problem with those quick things, I want to talk about this one more time, we said they’re not sustainable, but I also mentioned, I don’t know if you heard me say, that they’re detrimental. And the reason is that quick fat loss also or quick weight loss is actually a loss of fat and muscle, and the more we lose muscle the less calories it takes to maintain our body which means that we don’t get to eat as much. And if you like to eat that’s bad news. But, there’s even more trouble, because what happens is the rebound weight gain that happens which happens quickly after these programs are … they become unsustainable, the quick weight gain is usually fat, so now you’ve lost fat and muscle and you gained fat but you still have less muscle. So now you’re going to be flabbier, you’re burning less calories at rest and your fitness level is going to suffer.
So here’s the thing – muscle is your friend, muscle is metabolically active. And some of the measures of fitness that we use are [14:00] how well your muscles perform for you, so how long can you do something, so endurance. How strong are you? How much can you lift? And we’re not asking you to be like bodybuilders, but you should be able to lift a fair amount in with good body mechanics so you’re not doing things like hurting a back or a shoulder or a hip or a knee. And I lost my train of thought. Oh, muscle is metabolically active. Fat, however, is not. Fat is a very minuscule amount of metabolically active, but muscle is your friend. So if you like to eat you want to have muscle on your frame so that you can eat realistically.
Also remember, those quick diets do quick damage to the metabolism. So this is how people get into those yo-yo situations, they lose fast, they gain fast, but then they gain more, then they lost that muscle and it gets into a downward spiral. So it’s just not a good treatment for your body. You’re actually harming your body in the long run. But a sustainable nutrition program or practice, I really like the word practice, will actually help you eat well for your body.
So let’s see, I want to bring up two points here – number one, a body cannot lose fat without losing some muscle. So if you’re getting to a point where you do want to lean out a little bit, it’s nice to have a little bit more muscle on board because some is going to get lost. And a female body, girls, listen up, can not get bulky especially after the age of 40 without taking in hefty calories and doing some seriously strenuous lifting on most days of the week. So most of us are not going to do that, all right?
So here’s another fact, which I love this one – having a moderate mass and a [16:00] moderate amount of fat lowers your risk for heart events. So this was a study that was done and I’m going to link you back to a blog post that I wrote, I’ll put it in the show notes so you can just read about it there, you can see who did the study. So the other thing they found out that was having a high amount of muscle mass and very low body fat was also a higher risk for heart disease. And of course, everyone who’s sedentary is at a higher risk for heart disease. So those who are not thin, people who are deconditioned and sedentary have a risk for heart disease and many other diseases, serious diseases, even if they’re thin.
So gone are the days when I’m going to go back to that thought of like the 70s when everybody’s mother lived on cigarettes and coffee, that is just a set up for failure. I don’t know why I always think of that, it makes me laugh. But I just think of those moms. My mom never smoked. But I had some friends’ moms who definitely talked about that they lived on cigarettes and coffee. And those were the frail women. Yeah, maybe they achieved the number they wanted on the scale, but they were also the ones who were breaking bones and suffering from these diseases earlier than the other fit people.
Okay, so remember, you can be thin on the outside but be fat on the inside. It’s a thing, really. And it’s kind of scary. So looks are … things are not always as they look. So the best goal to have is to be fit and not skinny, especially as skinny as defined by the weight loss industry. So I’m so thankful that we can stop obsessing about our cellulite now because people are like they want to be skinny enough not to have any cellulite. Well, you know what? [18:00] It’s pretty hard for most women. I don’t know about guys. But for most women, the amount of cellulite we have and the way it forms is somewhat genetic. Yes, it goes down with lower-body fat. But at a risk of being skinny and not fit, is it worth it? No.
So I feel like this is your permission to stop obsessing about cellulite. In fact, celebrate it. If you are super fit and you have cellulite, so what? If someone’s looking at your cellulite, and I doubt that they are by the way, but if they’re judging you based on your cellulite, do you really care what they think? Let’s go back and remember this – others, people’s opinions about us are none of our business, okay? Please rewind this and listen again if you have to, seriously.
All right, so what are the pillars of a sustainable nutrition program? I’ll give them to you in a nutshell, because it’s no secret, all right? We have to prioritize adequate vegetables. And I used to say 50 vegetables on your plate at least two of your meals in a day. But first of all, I don’t know how many meals you eat in a day. And so what I’m going to say is that 75, and I’m not the only one who says this, you can refer to Dr. Mark Hyman for this one, but 75% of our diet needs to be vegetables. Whoa, that sounds like a lot. But really it isn’t. And so number one – adequate vegetables, a.k.a. 75% of our diet.
Number two – adequate protein. We don’t need to be high protein or low protein, but we do need just enough protein, and that is something we talk about quite a bit in our mission sustainable nutrition coaching program. Again, that’ll be in the show notes.
And then the other thing I want to talk about, and I’m going to do a future [20:00] episode on this, not the next one after this but it’ll be coming up, is carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are such a sensitive subject. So the thing is post-menopausal women are definitely more sensitive to carbohydrates because we deal with insulin differently than the rest of our species, pre-menopausal women and men and kids. So we do have to be careful with carbohydrates, but let me just say this – carbohydrates are not the demon here, but processed carbohydrates might be. So let that sink in, right?
If you’re getting good quality carbohydrates, and by the way, we need carbohydrates to fuel our workouts, we need carbohydrates to make glucose so our brain can function normally and not put us in a brain fog. If you’ve ever seen people on very low carbohydrate diets and also on very low-calorie diets, you may notice that they get hangry, that hungry-angry feeling, and they even get brain fog. So that’s what I’m talking about. So we need to be very careful.
What we need is the right amount of carbohydrates for our body, and it will take a fair amount of tweaking and some trial and error. And that’s okay. But we just can’t categorically say that carbohydrates are bad. It’s back like in the 80s and the 90s when we said fat was bad, well, we learned that that wasn’t the case. In fact, we actually need fat for a number of reasons, for body functions. We even need cholesterol in our bodies. So not all fat is bad, not all carbohydrates are bad, right? A high protein diet, super high protein, it’s all relative here, is also not what we’re talking about. What we’re talking about is adequate protein.
So these are the [22:00] first two tips for best fitness practices for women over 40. We need to practice sweat equity in a way that’s appropriate for our age and fitness level, and we need to practice sustainable nutrition in a way that’s best for our age and fitness level.
And then we also have one more tip, which we’re going to talk about in our next episode because that tip is so important that I want to give it its own episode and we’re just going to leave it at that, but I want to thank you for listening. As I said, this is so exciting. And I don’t want to give you like shoulds and should-nots and this and that, and even things like never miss a Monday. That’s just a little motivation hack, right? If you can practice consistently a sweat equity program where you look forward to doing it, yes, we’re not going to look forward to it 100% of the time, but if you’re in a community where you know that people have your back, we support you, you support others, you give and you give back and you get even more than you expect, that’s the kind of program that’s going to most likely help you be consistent.
And the same thing goes for your sustainable nutrition. Maybe you start out needing a little bit of help in getting some tweaks and learning to be sustainable. And by the way, learning to be sustainable is not going to take three or six weeks. It’s definitely … it’s a road to be on and it may take a little … a lot of work actually. And again, the third tip will play into that.
But I would love to hear your feedback on this. I want to thank you for listening. And go out there and have a little confidence in yourself. Enjoy your workout, enjoy what you eat, and don’t fret about your cellulite, okay? We’re going to have some.
All right, [24:00] so thank you very much. Please do me a favor, and you know I’m going to ask you this because this is so important to get our podcast out there in the hands and ears of people who actually can benefit from it the most, please leave a five-star rating if you’re listening on Apple. And please write a review. The more reviews that Apple sees, the more they will push this podcast out and make it findable. And it is my goal to get as many people, to get ears on this as possible so that they can actually live better.
So we’re here to give air hugs, we’re here to support one another, we’re a community that really loves to uplift others, but we need to be able to have others to hear us. So all right, thanks. Hang in there. And remember, new episodes come out every single Tuesday.
I just want to remind you that next week we will have part two of this episode on tips for fitness over 40.
Spoiler alert… the scale is not the best barometer of health and fitness. In this episode, we get straight to the importance of two well-known pieces of advice that are largely done wrong and for the wrong reasons. Making a shift to practice these effectively will be a game-changer for your health and greatly improve your daily life as well as decrease your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Related Post: The 3 Best Fitness Tips if you are Over 40.
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