Ever feel like you are battling time? Maybe you feel like you just can’t keep up or maybe you have goals you keep putting off for when “you have more time”. My friend, if you’re like me in the latter part, you’re not alone. As a mother to 8 children (2 in heaven), I know what it feels like to be in search of a pause button so I can take a breath or savor the moments before they’re gone. It’s time for my Fit Over 40 makeover because this mama isn’t wasting any more time. Take a look at me 4 months ago…my starting point.
I’m here today to share my journey to inspire you at whatever age you are. My changing point is at age 44. This person above is not the Larissa I know. Let’s start with the backstory.
First, I will try to keep this brief and to the point. However, there are so many facets to my story. Obviously, my age is a factor and that hormones are always present no matter what age you are. I’ve always been an active soul, like no grass grows under my feet whatsoever. Also, I’ve always been skinny (mind you I’m 5’10”) and have always had to eat throughout the day. I know, some may eye-roll, but I believe I am learning so much about my youth and adult journey that my gut was severely damaged with leaky gut. I was eating, but I wasn’t being nourished.
Also, during my pregnancies, I used to get so miffed because I would tell people I was 6, 7, or 8 months pregnant and they would go on and on at how I didn’t look pregnant. That’s what a long torso affords you though you still feel every bit pregnant as anyone else. Oh, and BTW, if you scroll up, that’s what I looked like at 7-8 months pregnant. Not cool because I’m not pregnant. ugh.
I’ve even written about my baby stories and our family journey of health in this past post. I’ve studied for many years how your gut is your second brain and is key to optimal health. Our kitchen consists of unprocessed foods primarily and focuses on whole eating, nourishing foods, and alternatives to grains since modern day grains are not as they used to be.
So, you may be wondering what got me to my skinny-fat stage and my Fit Over 40 goal? Yes, you can be skinny and obese at the same time. It’s all about what your body consists of. I knew that and saw the change happen in me after my last child was born. You see, she came 6 weeks early which led to a 3 week-long stay where I didn’t leave that hospital for a minute. (READ MORE HERE).
After all of my previous pregnancies with home births, I could zip right back into former-sized self and made sure to eat right and exercise. This time around, I couldn’t breastfeed like I had previously done for my older children. To make it worse, I was alone for 3 weeks and eating in the hospital cafeteria. Stress was abundant, my hormones were all over the place, and I caved into eating more sweets than I usually do.
However, after I got home, I went back to my regular diet, picked up a strong breastfeeding relationship (which benefits hormones and weight loss), but my body was responding like it always did for the most part. Toss in that I’m a homeschooling mama to 5 other children, a sole proprietor of my business and blog, and have a preemie to take care of. In addition, my marriage has been suffering for several years as well. I’m sure it’s not news to you that stress, lack of sleep, and lack of overall rest can add up to a party packing mama of the fat kind.
Next, that brings us to present day and my Fit Over 40 self challenge. My littlest isn’t so little any longer, we’ve nearly completed the entire remodel of our home, and my health scare of possible strokes. If you’d like the full update on that, view my video below.
Thankfully, some major changes have happened thanks to God seeing fit to lift my load for my Fit Over 40 process. Over these last few years I’ve been pushing to finish our home even on our debt-free budget so we can move. More on that HERE. I’ve known I should be working more on me and letting go of stress, but time kept ticking by. Finally, I set a goal for myself that by the time I turned 45, I want to be back to ME. No more stress eating, focusing on getting fit, and letting go. I began my journey giving myself 4 months to reach my goal. *NOTE: I am not a dietician, a nutritionist, or a health coach by trade, so my story is just that…my story.
GET IT, GIRL
Let the games begin! Okay, so I am aware that I am not a young whippersnapper anymore. To start, I began by just being smart about food choices. When I say I was stress eating, that meant maybe eating more fruit, more nuts, and occasionally a handful of chips, both potato and dark chocolate kind. As I mention before, my marriage is one of the hardest trials that relates to all my stresses. Now I am focusing on me and my health. At the beginning of this year, I was waiting to get news on some fronts that would determine my coming year as far as my business goes.
Many of you know that a year ago I lost ALL of my 100K followers on my social media because I was allowed to be hacked. Talk about a sucker punch to the gut. After many months, attorneys, and trials, I have to start over. That’s fine with me because I asked God to take away my burdens and that is definitely one of them. He knew I was struggling with walking away from it all because of income. I truly can’t stand SM (though I love chats with you guys!) and am working at being free. That’s the beginning of my journey.
Now for the fitness part of begin Fit Over 40… If you scroll up and look at my belly, you can see it is held in my workout pants. I literally looked like I was 7 months pregnant to me. I couldn’t see my feet when I look down and I was embarrassed. Many didn’t know of my issues because being tall makes it spread out. Notice I’m not saying weight. That’s because muscle weighs more than fat, and I aim to gain muscle so I’m looking at inches rather than pounds. However, I did want to get to my goal weight which includes muscle.
Since my 44 year-old self was out of shape, I take it slow. First, I want to run again, but my body isn’t ready. I begin by walking fast so that my heart rate is up and I pay attention to my pace. I don’t want to send myself to the ER, but just get my heart stronger. For the first few weeks I had to pause at times to catch my breath. Thankfully, I live in an area full of small hills that make it challenging and I can push myself as I feel ready.
Once I feel like I can handle the fast walk, I begin jogging in intervals. This allows my body to catch up safely, but still working towards the goal. I found that my legs would be literally dragging because of my poor circulation. Sooooo not good. I have varicose veins and need this exercise to help. Eventually, I now run 2-3 miles at a time up and down hills. yay!
Also, during this time I begin doing exercises using my body weight. Some of the exercises are wall-sits (to prepare my knees), leg lifts, and a few arm workouts using planks and the like. I have shoulder injury and want to prevent issues there as well. An added bonus is friends of mine knew my bike was giving me fits, so they gifted this cute pink lady on my birthday!
Likewise, my diet is still keeping with whole foods, pure meats, but little to no sugar (our family doesn’t use white sugar, but cane sugar in bits, but primarily using honey and syrup). I even watch my fructose intake to keep it below 20 g. Fructose is hard on the liver.
At this point, I take two months to build progress and read and read and read. I learn that in my picture above you have the subcutaneous fat on the top, followed by stomach muscle, and then under that, visceral fat (otherwise known as the devil). This visceral fat is the dangerous fat. It packs in around your organs and can even make them not function properly. For instance, it can impede gall bladder function causing you to lose use of it altogether. Meanwhile, it also affects liver and kidneys.
Also, I believe I am dealing with fatty liver issues and hormones as mentioned previously. Regularly, I take apple cider vinegar with a mother culture to ward off sicknesses, but this time around I’m consuming it daily when I first wake in the morning. This allows my liver to be relieved and prepare me for the blood sugars before I eat my meal. Additionally, I take probiotics and eat fermented foods for naturally gut-boosting health. See my recipes HERE.
Not only the cider vinegar, but also lemon or lime water with meals. On alternating days, I also take a tablespoon of coconut oil before I drink or eat in the morning. This helps to clean your liver. Initially, you’ll feel nauseous when your liver is detoxing, but eventually the reaction will be less and less. Just know your liver is key to optimal health as it’s your filter…for cancer, for toxins.
Also, after studying about using weight lifting to build muscle which also burns fat faster, I learn that I need more protein. While our family eats more protein than most, I do the math and I need more. When building muscle to be Fit Over 40 you need to pretty much match your intake in grams to your ideal body weight. That means before and after workouts I eat plenty of healthy protein, including clean meats grown from our local farmer with out hormones, antibiotics, etc. Skip the protein shakes, bars, and all the other JUNK out there. They are not REAL FOOD.
Plus, as an aging woman, osteoporosis is a real deal. In my homeschooling with the kids we’ve learned that when you put good strain on your bones, your body knows to build them up in that area. Weight lifting is a great way to build bone density to avoid common aging issues. Not only that, but it feels so good!
A couple of years ago I purchase a set of neoprene dumbbells so I could workout with my kids. However, I was nervous to injure my shoulder worse and so I began to see a chiropractor. That’s when my “stroke” issues began so I put it off. I wholeheartedly believe my eye issues were from my whole body being out of line and also being deficient in certain vitamins.
If you know me, I’m all about DIY, so I grabbed an 80’s waterbed frame from the curb and built myself a weight rack. No more of my our universal plates causing me to trip or hurt my toes! If you want to build one too, the free plans are HERE.
Already, I need bigger weights, but they can be so expensive, so I’m adding as I go. The rest of my family use the ones we have as well.
Furthermore, back to the good ol’ hormones in our Fit Over 40 quest. If you think you may have issues, be sure to get a saliva test and send to a reputable lab for analysis. And, don’t jump on the bandwagon with hormone replacement or other medications. There are ways to naturally deal with hormones with diet, exercise, and herbs, etc. As blessed as women are with different set of requirements of their bodies as men, we get the benefit of having our excess estrogen stored in our liver which heightens when we reach perimenopause stage. Ugh.
While I try to eat foods that helps keep hormones in balance, I found a supplement, however, that has helped me in my process of estrogen dominance. In the first few months of my efforts I dropped two inches around my hips (my primary measurement for my goal). For some reason, however, I wasn’t getting past that point. I began to take EstroBalance by Nature’s Way which is basically like consuming two pounds of broccoli. It helps your liver release the burden of extra estrogen – it is not a hormone supplement. I lost another inch within a week, found my skin clearing, and other benefits related to a woman’s cycle.
While I don’t suggest what I do suits everyone, I do suggest to take a good honest look at your hormones, your diet, your exercise regimen and go from there. Also, speak to a health professional with a whole foods/natural stance on possibilities.
PROOF IS IN THE PUDDIN’
I’m happy to say that after my efforts over the last 4 months, I’m feeling so much better and can see benefits all over my body. I won’t say I’ve reached my goal by my 45th birthday (last photo), but I am so stinkin’ close!
You can see the transition in the first photo of my arm fat traded for muscle, the shrinking love handles, and belly. Unseen is my thighs and leg toning. In this next picture, not only is my obvious belly reducing, but also my back fat and bum lifting, and even arm toning. I’ve lost 15 lbs, which isn’t as important to me as the loss of over 4″ on my hips.
Funny thing is, I used to tell how pregnant I was by whether or not I could see my feet. It’s great to see I’m shrinking where I should be!
I have muscle tone, not just skinny, and I’m feeling better in my shoulder, neck, back, and even my hip. It’s all paying off in more ways than one.
In case you’re curious, my weekly schedule is lifting weights for an hour 3 times a week, running 2-3 miles 2 times a week, and biking once or twice. I’ve found that when I go to bed at 9pm, I sleep the night through and wake up so refreshed. Mind you, I wake up early, but I do know every hour of sleep you get before midnight is much more beneficial. Also, my panties are baggy, my legs and arms no longer flap in the wind when running, and my overall mental health is thriving. wahoo!
Are you ready for your own Fit Over 40 experience? Maybe you’ve not even hit the big 4-0, but need to start focusing on you. DON’T WAIT. We are never promised another day and who wouldn’t love to age gracefully? I’ve added a list of references to a list below. There are oodles of bloggers just like me that offer free workout plans for any stage.
I’d love to hear your own stories of working on your own self. Here are a few great reads Fit Over 40 from women at a similar stage of life:
In the meantime, I’m continuing on my journey and will update you as I go along. Being Fit Over 4o or at any age is possible, and it doesn’t mean long hours at the gym. Commit to YOU. After leaving some comment love, pin and share to inspire others to wellness too.
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Reference guide for Fit Over 40:
- 5 Ways Coconut Oil Promotes Liver Health
- Hormonal Weight Gain: How to Lose Fat from Your Belly & Around Your Body
- Liver Detoxification: Starve or Nourish?
- Natural Support for Hormone Balancing
- Nourishing Traditions
- GAPS Diet – Gut and Psychology Syndrome
- Weston A Price Foundation
- Trainer Josh