I am about to go on holiday! At last, it has felt like a long wait this year, we decided to take a later holiday due to my daughter job hunting and some other commitments. It has certainly been a busy few months and I feel ready for the break. But before I went I really wanted to get back to a healthy weight, improved overall health and regular exercise - weight management during menopause is a challenge isn't it!? I just wanted to feel better, having had a stressful few months with hormonal changes, HRT issues and a return of my menopause symptoms. I talked about midlife body confidence on my blog recently, but I am still a work in progress! Weight loss is not my main goal but improving my eating habits and having a better exercise routine as well as embracing a healthy lifestyle is!
I knew I'd allowed my routines to slip. I knew I was drinking a bit too much wine (lockdown I blame you), I knew my meal planning and healthy eating had gone a bit awry! I knew I'd got lazy about meal prep and that skipping lunch had become a bit too common, then making do with unhealthy snacks later in the day. And I'd also not found an exercise routine I was able to stick to. - I love the massive benefits of strength training but I don't want to do an hour in the gym and I never seemed to find the right YouTube videos to give me consistency. I wanted to make simple adjustments but I needed some help!
This is a gifted blog post.
Menopause weight gain
Then Katie Walton got in touch. Katie is 50 years old and an experienced Personal Trainer based in Kent. When Katie was in her 40's she started to notice changes in her body composition, the bingo wings, the back fat and a muffin top! She thought doing more exercise would sort it out, but that didn't' work and she found herself gaining fat, feeling sluggish, bloated and quite depressed. She chatted to friends who all reported the same concerns - middle age weight gain and nothing working to fix it - so Katie did some research and realised it was time to 'embrace' a different approach to their nutrition and fitness. And it worked! Katie is now keen to share her 'Embrace Over 40' programme to help others understand that a new approach is needed in midlife.
Katie also had a serious health scare ... at age 49 she was diagnosed with cervical cancer and had to undergo a radical hysterectomy which meant immediate surgical menopause. She has had to work hard to rebuild her health and fitness. You can read Katie's story in her own words on her blog - Cervical Cancer - My Personal Story.
The Embrace 30 Day Programme is for any woman over 40 whose current exercise and nutrition regime doesn't seem to be working. If your weight is creeping up, if you have menopause symptoms due to low oestrogen, and if you are feeling overwhelmed, nothing is working and your mojo is missing then Embrace Over 40 could be for you.
There are lots of health conditions and concerns that we can tackle by addressing our sedentary lifestyle, and the good news is that it is possible to reduce our risk of disease, reduce the risk of heart disease and slow down the ageing process. Yes menopause can mean a slower metabolism and loss of muscle mass, but we don't need to accept it, numerous studies show we can improve our health!
I tried the Embrace 30 Day Programme out and here is how I got on ...
Don't make weight loss your goal
I have stopped worrying about the number on the scales or the label in my clothes. I don't weigh myself (unless a health check demands it). I go by how I feel and what I think when I look in the mirror. I knew I needed to start by improving my nutrition. And I know when I need to change up my exercise routine, I lose the definition on my arms and legs. My tummy looks bloated and I hate the extra roll or muffin top - I am good at disguising this!
Going back 5 years or so I lost about a stone in weight and got a lot fitter (when i did The Body Coach plan) and with sensible lifestyle adjustments I have mostly maintained this loss, I find my body is happy around my current weight but will tell me when it is a good idea to focus again - the bloat and discomfort returns (probably too much junk food)!
So my goal, what I wanted to achieve after 30 days of working with Katie was simple, I wanted to feel less bloated and increase my physical activity, I wanted to go back to regular resistance training, improve my muscle strength and learn more about the right nutrient-dense foods to incorporate into my diet.
If we eat well, if we focus on the right types of food and improving our strength, if we get enough sleep and cut stress out, then we feel better and fat loss becomes a by product of that.
The Embrace 30 Day Programme from Embrace Over 40
This is not specifically a weight loss diet, it is a healthy reset, a way to rethink your health goals. As Katie discovered through her own experience, when we are in perimenopause or post menopause, we can no longer just rely on lowering our calorie intake, the eat less/move more approach. Fact - loss of oestrogen during menopause does make weight loss more difficult and especially adds to the struggle to lose fat around the middle. It is possible to lose it but a new approach is needed.
The Embrace 30 Day Programme is designed to tackle these specific issues ... and it is very simple to follow with lots of support and encouragement from Katie along the way.
Firstly Katie posted the programme to me (so no printing needed at home), it arrived promptly in a lovely box, ready for me to use, I popped it into a folder and added dividers. it is split into the following sections:
Embrace - a fitness and wellness programme, embrace a different approach!
Katie sends a welcome email, with a simple overview of the concept behind the food choices:
To balance blood sugar levels to help with insulin resistance
To reduce inflammation in the body.
To rev up metabolism.
To balance hormones.
To improve gut microbiome.
To improve energy levels throughout the day.
To detoxify your liver.
To flood your body with antioxidants, phytonutrients, and phytoestrogens.
To curb cravings, particularly for sweet or salty things.
To increase nutrient-dense foods, and more plant based foods.
To support the ageing process and live longer!
And less bloating!
Reviewing this list now I am writing my blog post at the end of the 30 days and I can really see that I have felt so many of these benefits.
I have no bloating, I have had less cravings, I've got more energy, eaten much more nutrient-dense foods, whole foods with all the added benefits, I haven't felt the need to snack (I've not been tempted by fast food) and I feel that my body is trimmer with less inflammation. I feel like I am on my way to a better balance and improved health and fitness. I feel good!
Nutrition on the Embrace 30 Day Programme
There are a few main concepts to the 30 day programme ...
Intermittent fasting - I tried (most days) to finish eating by 7 pm and not eat breakfast until after 9 am so a 14 hour fast. I fully expected to be hungry when I woke up but I wasn't at all, and I didn't miss my morning cup of tea! I'd then start my day with initially a green smoothie and later on with other breakfast options like overnight oats, or the vitality smoothie.
Studies show that intermittent fasting can be a very effective weight loss tool, especially in midlife and menopausal women. You eat fewer meals so there is a natural reduction in calorie intake. Fasting changes hormone levels, for example it lowers insulin and increases the release of the fat burning hormone, it can also increase your metabolic rate by up to 14%.
Cutting out sugar - I did find this easier than I expected mainly because I just didn't have the cravings to eat sugar. I am not big on sweet treats anyway, although occasional lapses included some dark chocolate or a glass of white wine (Katie explained that red wine is preferable if you can't abstain completely)!
Prebiotics and probiotics - to support a healthy gut - so. important when we reach our 40s and 50s - so foods like sauerkraut and supplement suggestions such as inulin are included. Apple Cider Vinegar with the Mother is also a very powerful probiotic.
Eating nutrient-dense food - I was a bit worried about managing the meals alongside family life, but my daughter leans towards vegetarian food anyway, my son doesn't live at home and when he realised what I was cooking, he kept out the way and my husband was happy to be flexible. To be honest, I think both my daughter and husband agreed they were feeling the benefits too - my daughter said to me last week 'I've noticed I am not hungry in the evenings, I am not needing a snack after dinner'. And that is the benefit of eating a diet that is more nutrient-dense, it fills you up for longer!
Drink more water - always a challenge for me! I know I don't drink enough water, but I tend to monitor urine colour rather than stress too much about quantity. I also found the warm glass of water with lemon and ACV a challenge in the mornings! But I did feel so much better for having a glass of water on waking rather than a cup of tea.
Short, strength based daily workouts and walks for midlife fitness
Katie sends an email every evening with the next days workout, you follow a link to a professional and clear YouTube video where Katie explains each workout. None were longer than 10-15 minutes and equipment is kept to a minimum. I used my 3 kg, 4 kg and my 6 kg and 7.5 kg dumbbells, but a set of 2 kg or 3 kg would be sufficient to start with. You will also need a chair or table handy and a workout mat. There are some workouts that use a stability ball but I don't have one so I just improvised or did a different exercise. I did wear workout gear for the workouts but they are simple enough that it isn't entirely necessary. The daily exercise varies, there are some simple weight training workouts, some barre pilates and body weight routines.
I will be honest here that I did not manage to do every workout, every day. And starting in a heatwave wasn't ideal! Some days life just took over. But I did commit to doing something every day. Katie encourages you to do the short workout AND try to do 10k steps daily too. I had to be realistic and life has been very busy for me this summer meaning a lot of overwhelm and brain fog! I decided early on to do either brisk walking or a workout, and when possible to do both. But I figured that having been way too sendantry for way too long that this was progress! I have really enjoyed my walks too, even ten minutes is good for clearing the head.
But I now have 30 workouts that I can access at anytime. I have copied each link onto a notes page in my phone with a short description of what each workout is and I can mix and match them and use them to keep my fitness focus going.
Of course the best results come from doing something you are happy to commit to on a regular basis, don't over complicate your workouts. Getting outside and increasing activity levels is good for our mental health, bone density and cardiovascular health. Try to make exercise a regular part of your day. I loved the exercise plan on the Embrace 30 Day Programme because it was so simple and quick.
Once you have purchased the programme - recipes and workouts, it is yours forever!
1:1 support from Personal Trainer Katie
Throughout the 30 days Katie is on hand to support you, answer any questions, offer some accountability and cheer you on. We had three zoom calls, one at the beginning, one after week 1 and then a final call at the end. But I knew Katie was there if I wanted more. Her daily emails often offered words of encouragement and she texted to check in on me too.
Results from the Embrace 30 Day Programme
I didn't weigh or measure or take start photos. I chose not to, been there, done that and don't like it! And Katie doesn't suggest it. The focus on this programme is a health reset, it is about creating a new lifestyle, about feeling better, less bloated and including regular exercise into your day. You naturally consume fewer calories as you are eating so much more protein, nutritious vegetables and no sugar!
I had quite a few social occasions during the 30 days, including a weekend in Kent with my daughter and a few days in Bath moving out of her student house. But I managed them reasonably well with a balanced approach and good choices, whilst still moving more by getting out for walks.
And I absolutely achieved my goal.
I moved every day, I started some simple strength training again and/or I walked!
I ate so much better, I loved the meals, I enjoyed the recipes, all were simple and quick to prepare.
I got back into the habit of eating lunch.
I didn't give up alcohol but I did cut down and I swapped to red wine.
I continued to socialise, it has been a busy month but I made sensible choices, Katie's advice is 'add more greens' and that stood me in good stead!
I lost the bloat, my clothes feel better on.
I can see that my arms are beginning to look a little more defined again.
I am less tired and I feel more positive with myself.
I did not keep to the programme 100% ... but I did manage a pretty good balance of 80% on it! My biggest challenge was fitting into busy family life and socialising.
What next ... well I plan to keep going with the programme concept, using the recipes and workouts until I go to Turkey. Then when I come back, I am hoping on the long term life will calm down a bit (my daughter is moving to London to work) and I should have more time for myself which I hope will give me more time for my workout goals.
Strength training in midlife
Strength training is so important in midlife, an article in The Telegraph explains ...
The benefits of weight training have been well documented. Decades of research have shown strength training can reduce your body fat, improve your posture, protect your bones and heart, make you happier, and even help you to live longer.
I've never liked any sort of aerobic exercise, in fact I hate it! I am quite happy not to be doing high-intensity interval training as well. I'd rather lift weights and go for a brisk walk to get my heart rate up thank you. So my plan is to really get back to my strength training and I have an exciting blog collaboration coming up too - Floor to Core - more on that soon!
But for now, I am delighted to have worked with Katie, and achieved so much in 30 days, and I hope I will continue to feel the benefits ... and I can't wait to get my bikini on and relax on my sunlounger in Turkey.
A flatter tummy, less bloat, no cravings and more energy!
If you are looking for a menopause health reset, if you want to start a new fitness and wellness focus in September, then why not do the Embrace 30 Day Programme? I think September is a fabulous month for new starts and improved focus.
Katie is offering readers of Fifty & Fab a very generous 30% off the Embrace 30 Day Programme - so that's a saving of £148 - you can buy the programme for £346.50 if you email Katie and mention my blog! Remember this is an investment in your menopause wellbeing and you have access to the programme for life, 30 days of meal suggestions, recipes and workout videos tailored specifically for women in midlife.
Katie has recently appeared in the September 2022 issue of Health & Wellbeing magazine if you happen to see a copy!
Other blog posts not to miss:
The benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar with the Mother and my review of Willy's ACV - includes a discount code to get 10% off your order.
The benefits of taking a Magnesium supplement - and get 15% off at FutureYou Cambridge
Menopause and alcohol tolerance
Disclaimer: Katie gifted me the Embrace 30 Day Programme in exchange for an honest review on my blog, all words and opinions are my own.
Welcome to Fifty & Fab, a lifestyle blog to inspire you. I am a blogger with a passion for writing about health, menopause, fitness, beauty and style with a focus on the over 50's.
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Hi, I’m Michelle and my blog Fifty & Fab is all about my journey into and through my 50s. I started this blog in 2016 with the purpose of helping other women at this stage of life. I’m delighted that my blog has grown to over 13k visitors per month. Visit my Work with Me page and request my Media Kit for details of product reviews, blogging services and social media content creation.
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