Recently, I was diagnosed with an injury that has benched me from my regular exercise. Couple this with the impending onslaught of eggs, bunnies, and other chocolate wonders that appear this time of year and not surprisingly, my attention has turned to the possibility of weight gain.
Weight gain in peri and post menopausal women is a significant health issue. We know that women in late middle age have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) that rivals men, and that carrying too much excess fat is a significant contributor to CVD. In our age group, carrying too much weight can also increase the risk of things like problems with metabolism, cognitive decline, arthritis, urinary incontinence, cataracts, and cancer. Good times.
Many women have been conditioned since an early age to weigh themselves regularly, but using weight as a measurement becomes more problematic over 50. Most importantly, the number on a scale doesn’t reflect the loss of what we...
I hate to be an alarmist, but low-quality diets continue to contribute to a huge number of deaths. In 2017, poor diet killed 11 million people worldwide. Even though since 1990 that number has come down significantly, improvements in diet could still potentially prevent one in five deaths globally.
The typical North American focus on healthy diet is all about removing unhealthy food; we tell people to eat “less of” various foods in most dietary recommendations.
What if we have gotten this approach all wrong? A new study recently published in The Lancet suggests that instead, we should focus much more on making sure that we are adding in certain foods.
The analysis published in early April was a large review of studies of human nutrition done in 195 countries around the world. Although the review has some important messages, as with any individual study of human health, we always need to be aware of limits in the study design. One important issue to consider...
As we get older the range of motion around our joints, along with our muscle flexibility gradually declines. Loss of flexibility can eventually lead to issues with balance, increased progression of some disabilities, greater risk of falls, and a reduced ability to complete certain tasks.
Like sarcopenia (the gradual loss of muscle mass over time), loss of flexibility is a usual part of aging. Although flexibility is joint-specific, meaning that each joint has its own range of motion based on the type of joint and many other factors, aging typically leads to increased stiffness in all of our joints. When our joints become stiffer, we lose the ability to move them through a full range of motion.
Where is this the biggest problem in women over 50? Believe it or not, one of the most significant areas of range of motion loss is in the ankle. Women between 50-85 years old can lose as much as 50 percent of their ankle range of motion. Although this may not seem like a big deal,...
“This magnificent refuge is inside you.
Enter. Shatter the darkness that shrouds the doorway.
Be bold. Be humble.
Put away the incense and forget
the incantations they taught you.
Ask no permission from the authorities.
Close your eyes and follow your breath
to the still place that leads to the
invisible path that leads you home.”
St. Theresa of Avila
You may have noticed that I’m writing this blog post one day later than I normally would. Yesterday, with coffee in hand and feeling slightly smug that I had managed to carve out an entire day to write, my website went down.
Fast forward several hours after lot of panicked phone calls and hand- wringing, I stopped and took a breath. There was nothing I could do for at least a few hours. It was a beautiful spring day outside and I had two choices: I could let an annoying chain of events ruin my day, or I could put on my runners and go for a walk.
I decided that a good goal for the rest of the afternoon was to...
Here it is sisters — the truth. If you are struggling with your weight, feeling a loss of strength, or you are having problems with balance, there is a good explanation. After menopause, many of us have a decline in bone mineral density, muscle mass, and the health of our joints. All of this might not be very noticeable at first, but over time has a significant impact on all sorts of health issues.
For example, when muscle mass decreases, we don’t burn fat as effectively. The loss of muscle mass means weight loss and even weight maintenance is much harder. For women in peri or post-menopause, focusing on maintaining muscle mass is vital to both health and weight management.
A typical (but mostly avoidable) part of aging is a condition called sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is the process of our muscles becoming smaller over time. If you know any sedentary women over 80, have a look at their legs. The longer you live, the smaller the circumference of your...
For years we have been telling the public to get “moderate to vigorous” exercise for about 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week. In Canada we changed these recommendations a few years ago to 150 minutes of exercise per week, in 10-minute bouts or more. I have a confession to make: even at these seemingly low levels of activity, we have failed miserably at getting people moving.
What we have also discovered in the past decade or so, is that what we are doing in the other 23 and hours of our day might be just as important as the 30 minutes of exercise. To be clear, regular structured exercise is important, but small bouts of activity throughout your day are also vital.
Most people report that they don’t get enough physical activity because they don’t have enough time in their day. I get it. Time seems to be the most precious thing that we own and yet most of us feel like we are living with time scarcity.
If you are meeting physical activity...
“We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
If you’ve watched the Netflix show “Tidying up with Marie Kondo”, then like me, you’re equally mesmerized by the diminutive Japanese woman who helps people get their homes (and lives) in order. One of the most appealing things about her approach is her use of the Kon Mari method to simplify spaces. This is done not by simply reducing clutter, but rather by asking her clients to keep things only if they spark joy.
Given that home organization is not a new concept, why is Marie Kondo so incredibly popular? My theory is that her gentle nudges toward respect and acknowledgment of inanimate objects seems like a way to teach her audience to live a more mindful life; if you must stop and think about the meaning of every item in your home, eventually you will make more measured decisions...
“Life is a balance between holding on and letting go”
As I gingerly picked my way through the snow and ice this morning, I was reminded about how women of my age start to have insidious changes in their balance system (this is the nerdy stuff I think about on my commute to work). I took a bad fall on black ice a few years ago and am definitely more careful about how I get around in winter weather.
What about you? Have you ever felt that funny feeling of suddenly slowing down descending a flight of steps, or of being less confident on an uneven surface? These are the small changes that creep into our balance as we age.
The balance system is a complex (and amazing, really) part of our body that many of us largely ignore until it becomes problematic. Most people become much more aware of their balance after having a fall or having a change in their mobility. Falls and mobility changes may seem like something reserved for much older people but subtle changes...
“Everyone has a story that will break your heart. And, if you’re really paying attention, most people have a story that will bring you to your knees”
My mother stayed in bed almost every single morning, while we all got ready for school. Before he left for his own busy day of work, my father made our lunches and made sure we got off to the schoolbus. We knew at some point later in the morning, my Mum would have a slow moving readjustment to the world and would eventually emerge from the bedroom. Her day was usually one that was filled with cigarettes, books, and solitude.
My mother’s mood seemed to always colored by her past. Her early life was filled with the trauma of being shipped off to boarding school as a toddler, only to see her mother for a brief period each summer. She often recounted the pain of having no physical contact or emotional support...
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