Top 10 Tips to Burn Menopausal Belly Fat

Top 10 Tips to Burn Menopausal Belly Fat

Top 10 Tips to Burn Menopausal Belly Fat

Weight gain as we hit menopause seems to be an inevitable part of life. This is due to a number of reasons:

  • Hormones. It’s our bodies way of adapting to our new hormone changes.
  • As we age we become more insulin resistant due to poor food choices through the years. Insulin controls our blood sugar levels and is driven by the foods that we eat. A diet high in breads, pastas, high-sugar coffee drinks, packaged foods and sugar exposes us to higher blood glucose levels, thereby creating an insulin sensitivity and resistance that will cause our bodies to convert the majority of the calories that we eat as fat.
  • We start lose lean muscle tissue, which in turn slows down our metabolism. This lose starts in our early 30’s and starts to pick up steam in our late 40’s, early 50’s. Instead of using more calories to keep our lean muscle tissue warm, our bodies use less because it takes less energy to keep fat warm.
  • Lack of sleep. When we don’t get a good night’s rest our two hormones leptin and gherlin become out-of-balance. Leptin, the hormone involved in regulating our appetite and telling our brain when we are full, becomes elevated with lack of sleep and gherlin, the hormone responsible for telling our brain when to eat, becomes elevated. When we don’t get enough sleep, we end up with too little leptin in our body, which makes our brain think that we don’t have enough energy for our needs. So our brain tells us that we’re hungry, even though we don’t actually need food at that time. It also takes steps to store the calories we eat as fat, so we’ll have enough energy the next time we need it.
  • Stress. With the increased demands in our lives, accompanied by years of yo-yo dieting, binge eating and even undiagnosed food sensitivities, our bodies are under constant stress. If we allow our stress to manifest on a daily basis, over time our adrenal glands (located on the top of each kidney and responsible for releasing a variety of hormones) will reach fatigue and our once efficient adrenals (helping us to us deal with positively to stress responses) will become out-of-balance and will begin storing calories, instead of burning them.

How does stress pack the pounds around the waistline

If your adrenal’s are out-of-balance a common symptom is extra fat around the waistline.

You see, in normal circumstances when we are under stress the brain will signal to the adrenal glands to produce and release cortisol.

It is cortisol’s job to mobilize our glucose, amino acids and fat to prevent our blood sugar levels from going too low. It is making sure that the control centre, our brain, will always have energy/food to keep it going.

After years (or sometimes only months for some women) of long term stress, the cortisol and insulin levels will remain high in the blood and the extra glucose gets stored as fat – and mostly in the abdomen and thighs.

In addition, the fat being stored in the abdomen is the body’s way of protecting the internal organs. Since the body is under constant stress it will work to protect the internal organs, as well as the brain.

How to lose the menopause belly fat

1/ Control your stress.

  • Try meditation, yoga or any mindfulness based activity. Be present and in the moment.
  • Try my favourite meditation app, Headspace
  • Deep belly breathing. Deep breathing can stimulate the vagus nerve, which can calm an overactive central nervous system.

Lie on your back with a book resting on your belly. Inhale deeply and feel the book rise under your belly. Exhale fully and feel the book lower toward the spine.

Repeat for 5-10 minutes daily to improve your vagus nerve function.

2/ Strength train.

  • Build your lean muscle mass with a properly designed strength training workout.
  • Aim for 3 times a week workouts, total body workouts.

3/ Eat regular meals and snacks everyday.

  • No more starving yourself, or yo-yo dieting. These will only damage your metabolism further.
  • You need to keep your blood sugar levels stable to prevent the cortisol from being released.
  • Eat foods lower in the glycemic index. All foods are listed, or indexed, according to their effect on your blood sugars.
    • Unlimited foods at a 55 or less rating (most veggies)
    • Limited foods at 56-69 rating (beets, yams, most fruits)
    • Eliminate foods indexed 70 or higher (donuts, energy bars, bread, potatoes)

4/ Eat more protein.

  • A higher protein diet (meats, beans, legumes) will help support your lean muscle tissue.
  • Protein also helps us feel fuller, quicker and for longer
  • Aim for a 20-30 grams of protein with each meal and 10-15 for your snacks

5/ Move more throughout the day.

  • Make a point of moving as much as you. This has a huge effect on your metabolism. Walk, do exercises while watching TV, be active as often as you can.
  • All this extra movement through the day is called NEAT, non-exercise activity theremogenesis. It is the energy the body uses that is not planned exercise, sleeping or eating. In active people it can account for as much as 50% of your daily calorie burn.

6/ Avoid sugar.

  • Nothing has a greater impact on your insulin levels than sugar.
  • Be wary of artificial sweeteners too. These have been shown to increase our tolerance for the taste of sweet. Meaning in the future it will take a higher dose to satisfy our sweet tooth.

7/ Avoid low calorie, low fat foods.

  • Quite often the food labels are manipulated in a such a way that it makes the food look like it’s low calorie. Read the serving sizes carefully.
  • Studies have also shown that we tend to eat 50-100% more of a food product when labelled low calorie
  • Low fat foods can have a detrimental affect on our brain. The brain is mainly made of fat and cholesterol, and a diet that skimps on healthy saturated fats robs the brain of the raw materials it needs to function optimally. Eat foods such as grass-fed beef, organic dairy products (butter, cream, milk), and coconut oil.

8/ Eat at the right time of day.

  • Cortisol has a natural rhythm, which is highest in the morning, and decreases gradually as the day progresses, and is lowest at night so restful sleep can occur.
  • Eating tends to increase cortisol, so eating the largest meal earlier in the day is the best option for weight loss and maintenance.
  • In addition, our body’s ability to process carbohydrates decreases as the day goes on. We metabolize carbohydrates in the morning better and more efficiently compared to later at night in bed and the more efficiently our body can use the food we eat, the easier it is to lose weight.

9/ Get in 300 minutes.

Aim for 300 minutes of exercise, strength and cardio, a week.

10/ Drink water.

  • The body has no idea whether it is hungry, or thirsty. However, it only has one signal, and that’s the hunger signal. We could actually be dehydrated and masking itself as hunger. Aim for your half your body weight in fluid ounces in water or herbal tea everyday.
  • Keep a 1L re-fillable bottle by you at all times.
  • Start your day with a big glass of water.
  • Increased water is also important if you are increasing your protein for the first time. The water will help flush the kidneys.
  • Water also increases your energy and decreases fatigue.

 

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Are You Going Into Early Menopause?

Are You Going Into Early Menopause?

Are You Going Into Early Menopause?

We all know menopause is going to hit us.

But, when exactly will it hit us?

To fully understand when menopause may hit us we first need to understand the three stages of menopause.

The Three Stages of Menopause

Perimenopause or “menopause transition.” Perimenopause can begin 8 to 10 years before menopause, when the ovaries gradually produce less estrogen. It usually starts in a woman’s 40s, but can start in the 30s as well. Perimenopause lasts up until menopause, the point when the ovaries stop releasing eggs. In the last 1-2 years of perimenopause, the drop in estrogen accelerates. At this stage, many women can experience menopause symptoms. Women are still having menstrual cycles during this time, and can still get pregnant.

Menopause. Menopause is the point when a woman no longer has menstrual periods. At this stage, the ovaries have stopped releasing eggs and producing most of their estrogen. Menopause is diagnosed when a woman has gone without a period for 12 consecutive months.

Postmenopause. These are the years after menopause. During this stage, menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, can ease for most women. But, as a result of a lower level of estrogen, postmenopausal women are at increased risk for a number of health conditions, such as osteoporosis and heart disease.

Are You Going Into Early Menopause

Early menopause can be triggered by a number of factors:

  • Poor nutrition
  • Poverty (experts hypothesize that women in poverty have poorer eating habits)
  • Smoking (this can increase your risk of early menopause by 30%!)
  • Alcohol, although it is noted that yes alcohol may contribute to entering the phases of menopause at an earlier age, it is not necessarily deemed as “early menopause” – not sure what the difference is myself.
  • Medical treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation
  • Chromosomal abnormalities
  • Women who have had their ovaries surgically removed
  • Premature ovarian failure (POF)
  • An overload of heavy metals like lead, mercury and cadmium can also be a cause

When premature menopause is suspected, you can ask your doctor to order blood tests that look at the levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estradiol.  This work-up should also include the thyroid and the adrenal glands because they can be affected too.

Relief for the Symptoms of Early Menopause

According to WomentoWomen.com:

“Our estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels are constantly shifting throughout our life, and that’s normal. But as we age, the fluctuations and ratios between these hormones can become more extreme. When the body cannot regulate these shifts in hormone levels, women can experience common symptoms of menopause, including night sweats, hot flashes, food cravings, and fatigue.”

We can balance these symptoms naturally with:

  • A healthy, whole food diet
  • Herbal remedies such as black cohosh, passionflower, chasteberry, wild yam and ashwagandha have been shown to help support our hormone production
  • Lifestyle changes such as removing environmental toxins, getting enough sleep
  • Reducing chronic stress
  • Getting more exercise

Health Concerns for Early Menopause

Our hormones (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone), are needed for the years leading up to menopause.

They offer protection against cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.

If you have been found to be in early menopause chat with your doctor, or a naturopath who specializes in women’s health and get yourself on a health plan to protect your heart and your bone health.

Some things to look at are:

  • Vitamin D, to support your bones
  • Strength training, to help build new bone and strengthen the heart
  • Maintaining a healthy weight. Studies have shown that women who go through menopause before the age of 46 are twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease or have a stroke
  • Don’t smoke – or quit
  • Take a high-quality omega 3, daily
  • HRT (hormone replacement therapy)

Local Naturopaths Who Specialize in Women’s Health

Dr. Karen McGee

Dr. Heli McPhie

Dr. Nishi Dhawan

 

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Menopause & Sleep

Menopause & Sleep

Menopause and Sleep

Why can’t we sleep? Why is it in our 40’s, 50’s and beyond, we all of sudden revert back to our newborn selves?

Where we are up every 2-3 hours, crying, whining, fists in a ball ready to hit someone (and that someone is usually our significant other who is sleeping just fine right beside us).

Or, perhaps you are one of the chosen that can’t seem to fall asleep. You lie there getting more and more frustrated while your brain is doing a continuous play-by-play of the last 24 hours, and then 48 hours and then the last ten years.

Menopause & Sleep

Sleep disturbances (aka: insomnia) is common around the time of menopause, and while most women attribute their lack of shut eye to menopause symptoms there are many other reasons for sleep disturbances that healthcare professionals want us to look at.

Some factors to consider that may be distributing your sleep:

  • Night sweats (which are simply hot flashes at night)
  • Sleep-disordered breathing (known as sleep apnea)
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Stress, anxiety and depression
  • Painful chronic illnesses
  • And even some medications can get in the way of sleeping

How to Sleep Better When In Menopause

The first order of treatment is to improve your sleep routine and sleep hygiene.

  • Maintain regular hours of going to sleep each night and getting up each morning. Keep your sleep cycle the same, seven days a week.
  • Get outside, and in some sunshine as soon as you can first thing in the morning (if the weather permits it), as well as in the afternoon. This will help set you body’s sleep cycle clock and aid in nixing any napping that could happen in the afternoon.
  • Exercise on a regular basis, but avoid exercising too late in the evening – as it increases your alertness.
  • Avoiding getting too warm while sleeping if you are prone to night sweats
    • Sleep with a window open, or a fan on you
    • Sleep in dri-fit clothes (to wick away the sweat)
    • Buy moisture-wicking bed sheets (here’s a brand that got some great reviews)
  • Don’t have any stimulants, such as caffeine and dark chocolate, 6-hours before bed.
  • Have a light dinner and avoid alcohol. One drink is fine, but more drinks will only increase the chances of you waking up throughout the night.
  • Shut down all your gadgets at least two hours before bedtime. The blue light in computers, tablets and phones is can block the production of your natural sleep hormone, melatonin. If you do have to be on your computer you can try blue light blockers. There are screen covers, as well as glasses that block the blue light out. For the glasses, this brand was the only one that passed the test by Consumer Reports.
  • Give yourself at least an hour before bed to unwind and power down. Dim the lights and read a book, meditate, do some slow-flow yoga or yin yoga, or give my stretch workouts a try.
  • When lifestyle changes fail to alleviate sleep disturbances, ask your doctor to refer you to a sleep centre to rule out sleep-related disorders before initiating prescription treatment.
  • And, if your sleep disturbance is related solely to hot flashes, hormone therapy is likely to help.

 

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Upper Body & Abs Workout for Women (Part 2)

Upper Body & Abs Workout for Women (Part 2)

Upper Body and Abs Workout for Women (Part 2)

When I set out to film workout videos I look at three things: has anyone requested certain workouts, what workouts are lacking on the channel and what are my most popular and viewed workouts.

Hence today’s workout Upper Body and Abs Workout for Women – Part 2 (but, really guys can do this too).

If you have done Part 1 Upper Body and Abs Workout for Women  I thought you might would enjoy another workout to add to their upper body training repertoire.

And if you haven’t done Part 1 – there is no need to do any of these two in order (part one first and then part two). Just choose at least one upper body workout a week and do it please. That’s all I ask.

upper-body-ab-workout-for-women-photos-fitness-with-pj

Upper Body & Abs Workout for Women – Part 2

 

Upper-Body-Ab-Workout-For-Women-Full-Workout-Fitness-with-PJ

 

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10 Truths You Wish You Knew When You Were Younger

10 Truths You Wish You Knew When You Were Younger

10 Truths You Wish You Knew When You Were Younger

 

What if you could write a letter to your younger self?

 

What would you say? What life lessons would you share?

 

Would your letter go a little like the letter I would write to my 24-year old self?

 

Dear 24-year old PJ,

 

Hey PJ! So, we just celebrated our 46th birthday a few days ago (spoiler alert: we were in Mexico), and it got me thinking about some life lessons I wished we learned earlier.

 

But, before we get into that, how are you?

 

I know! That was a ridiculous question to ask. Since you are me and I know I was doing pretty good 22 years ago, even if I didn’t think I was at the time.

 

But, 22 years ago is when we married loving husband and launched our personal training business.

 

It was a big year girlfriend.

 

In fact, our 20’s were pretty good. But, unfortunately we were pretty busy being 20-something, and taking everything for granted like 20-somethings do, that we didn’t really appreciate what the hell we had.

 

Hence this letter.

 

10 Truths I Wish I Knew When I Was Younger

 

First, learn to forgive the a**holes in life.

 

It’s not easy, but you need to learn this important step.

 

You see, even if they were a jerk to you it doesn’t mean that it’s all about you. Yes, thinking that they are being an a-hole to just you means you believe life revolves only around you.

 

Huge life lesson here, it does not.

 

This a-hole could just be having a bad day. Or, someone may have been an a-hole to them earlier (which then put them in a bad mood). You just don’t know their story.

 

So please, forgive, turn the other cheek, smile and be nice (Yes, you may curse at them inside your head. We aren’t saints for crying out loud.).

 

Second, learn to love the journey as much as the destination.

 

We are very good at making goals. We have laser-like focus and will quite often narrow our vision to the finish line only.

 

What you need to start doing is paying attention to the journey as well.

 

This is where you will meet some pretty cool people (if you pay attention), as well as learn about yourself and create all the awesome memories that we can reflect on as we get older.

 

The destination is really secondary to the journey.

 

Third, learn to breathe for crying out loud.

 

Everyday take a few moments to just sit still and breathe.

 

These few moments I am asking you to take are what you are going to term “slow and useless”. They really aren’t and are quite the opposite.

 

The stillness will make us happier, rev us up and help get those creative juices running.

 

Trust me on this one*.

 

* Well, you kinda have to since I am you, and not trusting me would actually be not trusting yourself.

 

Fourth, flat abs and an inner thigh gap is not better health.

 

We were pretty overweight as kids, so I get why you are so concerned about your body image.

 

Flash forward 22 years later though, and with the loss of friends and loved ones from diseases, you will recognize that good health is actually vitality and vigour for life.

 

It is an inner glow and energy that one exudes when you are enjoying good food, a good life and doing those squats you love so much.

 

Fifth, appreciate loving husband (and those around you) more.

 

It is friends and family that will help you through some tough times ahead. You will need their support and their love, so give lots to them right now.

 

Yes, loving husband will still be eating junk food and hiding the wrappers in the garbage can when we are middle-aged. However, he puts up with a lot from us so you will learn to ignore these culinary indiscretions of his.

 

Sixth, use sunscreen.

 

This will save us both a lot of money in the future in laser treatments, exfoliates, anti-aging moisturizers and high-def make-up.

 

Seventh, quit buying the latest and greatest.

 

It is, in the end, just crap. You can live without that sweater and I promise you that owning matching dinnerware, cutlery and placements will not bring you inner peace.

 

Save our money and use it for trips and experiences. That’s the sort of thing that we will be remembering, and yearning for more of, in our middle years.

 

Eighth, be kind to yourself.

 

Love yourself and the skin that you are in. You are perfectly imperfect and embrace that.

 

Ninth, be kind to others.

 

The world runs at a really fast-pace nowadays. So fast that we can lose a bit of our humanity just because we are too damn busy to care.

 

Don’t let that happen. Don’t be an a**hole (refer back to tip #1). Care for others and be kind – however, don’t lose your attitude. That’s what makes us all unique.

 

And tenth, rely on your instincts.

 

Instincts can serve a girl well so start paying attention to yours.

 

When making the tough decisions that we have to make in life have a clear-head and trust your gut.

 

Your intuition, and that gut instinct you feel, will provide you with a very useful first step in any decision-making process.

 

However, there is one occasion that I strongly urge you NOT to trust your gut.

 

When we turn 40 we will think it’s a great idea to die our hair platinum blonde. It is not a great idea. In fact, it is an epically bad one. Blonde is not the way to go for us.

 

Trust me. We will regret that one.

PJ-blonde 

Love Me

 ps – being middle-aged is actually pretty cool.

 pps – you know how you are always cold? I got two words for you Hot. Flashes

 

 

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