Women: How to make your 40s and 50s fabulous

From Fran’s column, Holistic Outlook, in The Times Herald Record.

Is it true that, for women, aging means gaining weight, lost libido, thinning hair and increasing aches, pains and physical woes? Absolutely not! This can be a wonderful time of life, if women learn to take care of themselves as well as they’ve taken care of everyone else in the decades before.

These are the years when lifestyle choices really pay off — the great ones and the not-so-good ones. It’s time to make the changes that determine the quality of your life for the decades ahead. Don’t accept conventional wisdom about what can and can’t heal. Much more is possible than you think.
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“I can’t lose weight!”
Women at this age often complain that they don’t eat much but gain weight anyhow, and losing weight seems impossible. If that’s your experience, you probably have a damaged metabolism. One key is identifying hidden food sensitivities. You can become a more efficient fat-burner if you remember that we don’t get healthy by losing weight — we lose weight by getting healthy.

“My hormones are out of whack!”
Somewhere in their 40s or 50s, women experience hormonal changes signaling the end of the reproductive years. These are responsible for many symptoms we associate with aging, including dryness, loss of flexibility, aching joints, thinning hair and plummeting libido.

Instead of trying to replace estrogen directly, it’s better to lower cortisol, which is always in inverse relationship to estrogen. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. Since stress hormones take precedence over other hormones, calming and reproductive hormones drop. Lowering cortisol helps bring your hormones back into alignment. You can do that by: getting more sleep, reducing caffeine, practicing stress management and taking targeted supplements.

Sleep it off
Want to look and feel younger, lose weight, have more energy, improve both your immune system and your heart health? Get eight hours of sleep a night! It’s myth that you need less sleep as you age. Sleep is when our body does repair and rebuilding. It’s also the time we stop producing cortisol, so sleep contributes to hormonal balance as well.

Turn yourself upside down
Hot flashes? Night sweats? Do inversions. There are many reasons to do yoga during these years, but headstands and shoulder stands are truly stellar. If you’ve never done inversions, work first with a qualified yoga instructor.

On your own, you can simply lie on the floor with your legs vertical, against a wall, and a small pillow under your lower back. Slowly work up to holding the pose for 100 breaths.

Always seek the advice of a qualified health-care professional before undertaking any physical, dietary or lifestyle changes.

Find your still point
Visualization and meditation help us find the calm in the center of the storm. Meditation doesn’t have to mean sitting unmoving in full lotus for an hour, nor does it mean not having thoughts. There are many different forms. You can take a minivacation any time by simply taking a few deep breaths while thinking of something pleasurable, somewhere beautiful or someone you love.

Exercise smarter, not harder
As we age, extended cardio is less effective for losing weight or maintaining health. Do “bursts” to lose fat, support hormonal balance and increase energy. Go all-out for one minute and then let your heart rate return to normal. Repeat four to six times a day, three times a week, to increase human growth hormone and testosterone — keys to lean muscle and helpful for improved energy and libido.

Make a commitment to yourself

Your 40s, 50s and beyond can be a time of vibrant physical health, healthy sexuality and sensuality, and pleasure and delight in a full and active life. It all begins with making decisions that support you in thriving in your own wonderful life, and following through with them day by day.

2 thoughts on “Women: How to make your 40s and 50s fabulous

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