aging · weight loss

Monday morning, perimenopause, and metabolism

So finally the kids are all teenagers (or beyond) and my career is established. It’s time to put some effort into getting fitter and staying fit through mid-life and beyond.

Fine. Sounds good.

Except that what’s changed is my metabolism. Gone are the days of easy diets and quick weight loss, speedy change in body composition. Now I work very hard–good nutrition, lots of exercise–to pretty much stay the same!

And mostly I don’t care about weight. I care about fitness. And it looks like that’s an excellent attitude to have because with age the rules of the game have changed.

There’s lots of research in the area of midlife health and fitness–baby boomers demanded it–and none of it is good news if what you care about is weight and body fat.

For runners, you need to run further and faster each year to burn the same number of calories. Getting fitter just means it takes less effort, hence fewer calories, to do the same thing. That’s just what fitness is. Ignore the calorie counters on exercise equipment at the gym.

And no matter what else you do, you’re aging and your metabolism is slowing down. And truth be told, few people run more or run harder as they age. Why that’s so was the subject of an earlier blog post, Is Aging a Lifestyle Choice?

There’s a sad funny story in Timothy Coalfield’s new book The Cure for Everything: Untangling the Twisted Messages about Health, Fitness and Happiness about a colleague who ran 18 marathons, one a year, and gained one pound per marathon.

Krista Scott Dixon also thinks the burden is especially heavy for those of us who want to stay fit as we age.

Aging has a sense of humour. And it’s like that practical joker roommate who thinks it’s hi-larious to prop a bucket of water above a half-open door. Hee hee hee! I made your knees fall apart! Enjoy the hemorrhoids! And now you pee when you run! Hee! Whether male or female, when you’re young you sorta fail to appreciate this laff riot. (Don’t worry. It’s coming to visit you too.)”

So what’s my attitude in the face of this kind of news?

I’m going to work hard to do what I can do and not care so much about what I can’t.

I’m healthy, happy, fit, getting stronger, and moving faster.

And that’s what counts.

4 thoughts on “Monday morning, perimenopause, and metabolism

  1. I agree completely. We have to know our limitations and we have to set goals which are realistic. I will never have the strength, stamina and flexibility of my 20 year old nephew. I never had it when I was 20! But isn’t metabolism something we can at least do something about? I know my own metabolism is much higher now than before I started exercising very seriously about a year and a half ago. It’s very weird, but one of the things that makes me think my metabolism has increased, is that my fingernails grow so quickly now, perhaps 3 times as fast, compared to the way it was before.

  2. Yes, we can have an affect on our metabolism but nowhere near as much as we think. And there are special challenges for women in midlife. Patience is key!

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