Lately, I have been trying to ‘fight the fluff’. If you’re a midlife woman, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about! The ‘fluff’, as I call it, is that extra padding, softness, lack of muscle tone, etc. around my midsection mainly. I call it ‘fluff’ so I can stay light-hearted about it! That’s truly the reason. 😊 This is new for me, as I have previously been able to maintain a healthy weight for most of my life by staying active and watching what I eat. Not anymore! It’s not that easy! It’s getting hard!
I have been guilty of saying ‘but I’m doing all the things I used to do-why am I gaining weight?’ After researching and reading up on this, I now know that you really can’t just do the same things you did when you were younger in midlife and expect to get the same results! It’s unfortunate, but it’s true. You have to adapt and overcome!
I’m not loving the extra padding, and things fitting a little tighter, even though my weight is almost the same. My shape is changing, and that’s hard to accept sometimes. I have always had a ‘pear’ shape, meaning if I were to gain weight, it would primarily be in my hips, thighs and booty. Now, I have this whole midsection issue going on, too!
I know self-acceptance is super-important. My worth is not defined by my appearance. It’s about what’s inside. I get that. But, health is important, too! So, there are two sides of the coin. I am not defined by my body fat or the fluff! Soft is still beautiful! But, at the same time, I don’t intend to just give up when there are some things within my control that I can do. Plus, everything I’m going to do is good for my overall health, anyway!
The fluff is not my imagination! As we age, women’s bodies go through a lot of changes. One of the most significant changes is the decrease in estrogen levels and hormones during menopause, which can possibly lead to weight gain, increased fat storage, especially in the midsection, and a loss of muscle mass. (If you're experiencing any changes in your body due to declining estrogen levels, be sure to talk to your doctor. They can help you to determine the best course of action for you.)
The loss of muscle tone that occurs during menopause can also make it difficult to keep the weight off. Why? Well, did you know that muscle burns more than fat, even at rest? That’s why one of the best ways to influence your weight is resistance training of some kind and maintaining some good muscle. Not the bulky kind! Just the strong kind. 😊 We all need muscle!
Other than hormones, what else might have changed that could contribute to the ‘fluff’, or extra padding? Activity levels: Maybe you are just less active than you used to be. Be honest with yourself on that. For me, I know I am not as active as I used to be, and my workouts aren’t as frequent or long as they used to be. That’s because my lifestyle and priorities are way different than they were decades ago. It’s just life. But, there are ways to keep activity levels up. You just have to get creative with it, and hopefully have a little fun, too!
How about your body functioning differently at midlife, compared to when you were much younger? Joints might hurt a bit more, things might not move the way they used to, flexibility is decreased, you might get sore quicker and take longer to recover. That can be discouraging, as no one wants to do more of something that makes them uncomfortable!
So, what to do? Find some activities and exercises that don’t aggravate whatever your particular pain point is. Try some new things! Get outside and walk. Play with the grandkids! Do some exercise videos. Add some yoga or some fun dance! Get creative! You can also break your activity level into bite-sized pieces. Try 10-15 minutes in the morning, another 10-15 minutes on your lunch break, and maybe 20-30 minutes after work. These are just a few ideas. Just keep moving and make exercise a priority!
Let’s not forget the importance of eating a healthy diet and paying attention to your overall health and well-being. Be sure to get enough sleep and manage stress levels. More on those topics later!
So, while I understand my body is changing, I can still choose to be as active and healthy as I can, and ‘fight the fluff,’ You can, too!