That is a frequently asked question and as a woman’s body ages, our midsection changes. Hormones are a leading cause of this change in our body and as we age, our metabolism slows down.
Several hormones can affect midsection weight gain, primarily: 1.) Cortisol “the stress hormone”, which is released when we go into survival mode and can trigger an increase in appetite; and 2.) Estrogen, the “female hormone”, decreases as women enter menopause and can lower their metabolic rate. Simply stated, metabolic rate is the rate of energy expenditure when the body is at rest.
So what can you do?
1. Reduce the release of cortisol.
√ Breathe deeply. This can help release toxins and tension, bring clarity, and relieve pain and emotional problems while delivering more oxygen to your muscles and organs.
√ Sing out loud. Endorphins and oxytocin are released when you sing out loud. These hormones give you feelings of pleasure and can alleviate anxiety and stress.
√ Eat well. Choose nutritionally balanced foods. Your plate should have lean protein, fruits and vegetables and a minimal amount of fats. Try and avoid processed foods.
√ Sleep more. Make an effort to get to bed earlier and manage your time better. Seven to eight hours of sleep is still the recommendation of doctors.
2. Boost your metabolism with these exercises. You can’t control your age, genetics or gender, but here are things you can control:
√ Perform muscle defining exercises. High reps and low weights are not going to give you a sculpted physique, nor will they build muscle that will burn fat. Proper form during each rep will allow the muscle to contract long enough (3-4 seconds) to achieve the best results possible.
√ Perform weight-bearing exercises to help preserve bone health and bone density, build lean muscle and burn fat even when you are sleeping.
√ Perform compound exercises to build muscle strength, burn fat and improve endurance. Multiple muscle groups and multiple joints work simultaneously to help build lean muscle and improve your body image.
√ Get moving as often as you can. Park a little further from the store, take the steps instead of the elevator, and play outside with your kids. Enough little changes can add up, particularly if you have added lean muscle and are therefore burning more calories no matter what you are doing.
Remember, muscles require more energy and burn more calories. The more lean muscle you have, the more calories you burn, even at rest. And the more calories you burn, the less muffin top you will see in the mirror.
Niccole Maurici, University Park mom of four and former certified personal trainer, is the co-founder and creator of the StrongestMom.com 30-minute workouts designed for moms at any age and stage of life, which incorporate muscle defining, weight bearing and compound exercises to achieve the best results possible. To learn more visit www.strongestmom.com.