If you are approaching the BIG 40 or are well the other side of it you will most likely know of the frustration of having too much fat around your mid-section. It’s not called middle age spread for nothing. How frustrating is it to be working your ass off with exercise 3,4 maybe even more times a week and you can’t see even one jot of difference to your abs or waist line. What the hell is going on? This is SO NOT FAIR!!! I can’t tell you the number of people I get emails from on a regular basis with this exact complaint, especially Women.
In today’s blog I am going to look at the reasons why people tend to accumulate fat around their mid-section as they advance in years and what you can do about it to reverse the tide.
If anybody ever tells you that you are accumulating fat around the middle with the aging process because your metabolism is slowing down then they should get an analogous award to the Nobel Prize for being a master of the plain and bloody obvious. It’s like saying you’re getting fat because you are storing fat at a faster rate than you are burning it. You don’t say Einstein??!!
What is metabolism? In a nut shell it’s the sum total of all of the biological processes of the body, chemical reactions, physical reactions, neurological etc. that allow life to be sustained. I would argue that it extends beyond biochemistry to include all of the factors that influence biochemistry such as mental and emotional considerations. So saying you have a slowing metabolism is just way to vague.
This is another chestnut that’s often thrown out to explain fat accumulation around the middle. The theory is that stress generates the production of stress hormones (cortisol being one of the most well-known) which produced often enough will generate a body that is predisposed to storing fat around the belly button. Just like our old friend “The slowing metabolism” telling a person they have fat around the belly button because they are stressed is so useless as to constitute vague commentary. The reason being that there are practically innumerable causes of stress (I have dealt with some of these here )
WHERE DO I START?
If a slowing metabolism and too many stress hormones are quite simply not going to cut it here are some things to consider.
Get your metabolic type assessed. This will gear you towards eating in a way that creates a marriage between your genetic heritage and what you require right now based on your current challenges, your lifestyle and what type of training you may or may not be doing. Be warned, metabolic typing is a process. The body is a system of dynamic equilibrium; it’s always moving, never fixed and can and does change from day to day from hour to hour.
Without a healthy digestive system nothing else in the body works. I have pretty much NEVER tested a client with a healthy digestive system. A good starting point for this is finding out accurately your food sensitivities, this is different from food allergies or food intolerances and can make massive inroads to reducing inflammation.
The state of your sex hormones Estrogen, Testosterone, DHEA and Progesterone tends to be in an abysmal condition once you hit middle age. For many the decline starts even before this. As far as Mother Nature is concerned reproduction is a luxury and one that’s best left to younger folk. Your body has the same priority as Mother Nature and that is survival. So if any of the survival needs are not met reproduction becomes a challenge.
So what is the solution to declining sex hormones? Do you just go and get some Hormone Replacement Therapy or Testosterone shots? For some individuals this may work, for others not so much. Have you ever seen or heard of a guy “taking steroids” to get big and jacked? He takes the steroids and low and behold he does not remotely look like a pro body builder and he only gained like 5 lbs!
Or have you ever heard of someone, usually a woman taking thyroid medication and she never ended up losing any weight even though thyroid medication is meant to rev up your metabolism? The last two phenomenon I described are happening to millions the world over.
As functional medical expert Doctor Susan Mac would say:
“A hormone is only as good as the metabolic environment it is placed into”
I learned this at a seminar where Dr Mac was presenting several years ago and it continues to be a gem of information today. You cannot bypass the basics. If your metabolism has been trashed with years of overwork, years of an imbalanced lifestyle and years of body neglect then don’t expect the magic bullet of HRT to actually work. It could help if you are doing all of the other basics correctly.
Bioaccumulation of toxins is simply the build-up of toxins. As you age you tend to accumulate more and more especially if you don’t have some sort of structure in place to support your body’s efforts to get rid of them. All of those individuals who say you don’t need to support detox because the body does it naturally usually have never looked at a blood test or toxicology report. This planet has never been more toxic and the demands on the body to get rid of these toxins have never been greater.
Detoxification is a very complex topic that needs to be approached seasonally, organ by organ, individual to individual. I for example have wrestled for many years with heavy metal toxicity and it has taken me a long time to learn what works and what does not FOR ME! Just telling me to take a squeeze of lemon in hot water every morning is laughable!
You need to know what toxins are present, what will chelate those toxins, what supportive therapies will assist your particular issue and any contraindications to the removal of the toxins in question. This requires testing and guidance at a high level. Getting rid of toxins can be physically VERY taxing and an Emotional Nightmare on Elm Street. Go down that rabbit hole on your own at your own peril.
Just like the working parts of a car can go into decline so too can the workings of our internal organs. One of my clients who is a Surgeon has commented on the truth of this and how organs even begin to stick together. Every organ in the body will have requirements for optimal function. One organ out of balance will predispose another to fall into disrepair. For example if your colon is not working correctly you can reabsorb toxins which then put extra stress of the liver etc. etc. Finding out which is your roadblock organ can be a big help in unravelling your own unique fat loss map. Through a series of investigations I find out which major organ is creating the biggest block in terms of health and fat loss for my clients. The hierarchy of repair and support of these organs must be respected if the best results are to be achieved. Some individuals who have been stressed on multiple levels have multiple organ systems that are overburdened. Exercising harder and pushing yourself more is not necessarily your wisest choice here.
As you can see middle age spread is a complex phenomenon that needs a multi-pronged approach to correct. I have found that a holistic system of exercise, eating for the individuals metabolic type, organ support, stress reduction, detoxification and attention to emotional wellness offers the best results in the long term. There is no quick fix for a problem that has been evolving for 40 years (or more!). Be patient and don’t be afraid to get yourself the support you require to bring your body back to balance. The middle years are a call to achieve this balance mentally, physically emotionally and spiritually. It’s the areas that you have given the least attention to in your formative years that require the most attention to achieve the inner harmony that can manifest as the lean and toned body you desire.