By Elisa Cottarelli | Team MM
Weight gain is one of the most frustrating symptoms of the menopause.
But there are some things you can do to tackle it. Weight loss, especially belly fat weight loss, is achieved best through a balanced and thorough exercise routine. That means getting a good mix between cardio and full-body strength training! That said, there are a few important things to remember about exercising for weight loss.
Firstly, your body needs variety. Think about this metaphor: when you start a new job or task, it usually takes your mind more energy and effort to figure everything out, but once you’ve been at it for a while, it becomes second-nature and you can comfortably put yourself on auto-pilot. The same thing happens with your muscles! When you first start a new exercise, your muscles are moving in new ways and learning how to adjust, meaning you’re using more energy and burning more calories. But, once your muscles have figured it out, you’ll end up burning less calories than you started off burning. Don’t necessarily trust the calorie-burn count of your exercise machines! They might say you’re burning a consistent number of calories, but if you’ve been using the same elliptical machine every other day for two months, then you’re going to be burning less than it says you are. A safe way to make sure your muscles don’t go into auto-pilot is by changing your workout in one of four ways: frequency, intensity, time, and type. If you’re changing one or two of these variables every month, you’re more likely to keep your muscles engaged and burning up.
Secondly, nutrition and hydration are equally (if not more) important for weight loss. Exercise itself isn’t enough! If you’re regularly exercising and not seeing any results, consider what you’re eating and how much water you’re drinking! Following up your daily workout with a fish and chips will probably get you back to square one. A healthy diet can keep your metabolism active, which will help you burn calories in the long run! Drinking plenty of water is important as the more water you drink the better your metabolism will be at burning fat.
Finally, how much should you work out? Experts suggest about 150-200 minutes per week (about 20-30 minutes per day, or an hour every other day), depending on your diet and exercise intensity. Alternatively, they say that you need to burn 3,500 calories to lose about half a kilo (so if you burn 300 calories in one workout, you’ll lose half a kilo in 12 workouts). But don’t overstress about the numbers. If calorie counting and burning becomes an obsession, you’re only adding extra stress to your life, which will worsen the rest of your symptoms and can even make losing weight more difficult. Just focus on regular and moderate exercise that is varied, balanced, and works for you!
Below is an example workout that incorporates both cardio, and full body strength training! Remember: you need to change your routine up to see the best results. Use this as a starter and as inspiration, then go and find variation! We’ve also included a handy print out guide that you can use.Equipment: just a yoga mat for comfort!
How to: Go through each circuit once then repeat from the top (meaning you’ll do each circuit TWICE). Cool down with stretching for 5 minutes
Total exercise time: 30 minutes (not including resting time) – if each circuit is done twice!
Top tip: go slowly when strength training. If you do these exercises too quickly, your movements will be driven by swinging momentum rather than your muscles.
Warm up: before starting to exercise, warm up. Start with simply body movements, like rolling your wrists and ankles, and moving your arms and legs in a circular motion. Then, get your heart pumping a little bit more by slowly jogging in place!
CIRCUIT 1: Cardio Exercise 1 – Star Jumps
Repeatedly jump widening your feet and reaching your arms overhead, then back again. Continuously do star jumps for 30-60 seconds, pause, then add a bit of variation (for example, stepping feet out on a step, rather than jumping normally).
Do a total of 3 minutes of star jumps (not including resting time).
CIRCUIT 2: Cardio Exercise 2 – Bear Crawls
Squat to the floor, walk your hands out to a press up then walk your hands back and stand up…like a bear. Since the focus here is on cardio (not strength) this movement should be done at a fast pace! If you can’t do a normal press-up (no judgement), you can keep your knees on the ground or remove the press up altogether. Repeat movement for 30-60 seconds, rest (briefly) then repeat.
Do a total of 2 minutes of bear crawls (not including resting time).
CIRCUIT 3: Lower Body Exercise 1 – Glute Bridges
Lie flat on your back then bring your calves close to your thighs (so your knees are up) and place your hands on the floor. Lift your hips off the floor as high as you can. Squeeze your butt muscles at the top for 2 seconds then slowly lower your butt to the floor. Do 20 reps then rest.
Repeat (slowly) for 2 minutes (not including resting time).
CIRCUIT 4: Lower Body Exercise 2 – Sumo Squats
Stand with feet a bit wider than your hips, feet turned out slightly. Place arms in a prayer position. Flex your knees and hips while sitting back with your hips as if you were going to sit in a chair. Keep your chest and shoulders upright and back straight. Go as far down as your flexibility allows. Reverse the motion, driving your weight through your heels until you return to the starting position. Do 15 reps then rest.
Repeat (slowly) for 2 minutes (not including resting time)
CIRCUIT 5: Lower Body Exercise 3 – Calf Raises
With the toes pointing either straight (to hit all parts equally), inwards (for emphasis on the outer head of your calves) or outwards (for emphasis on the inner head of your calves), raise the heels of your feet off the floor as you exhale by contracting the calves. Hold the top contraction for a second. As you inhale, go back to the starting position by slowly lowering the heels. Continue this motion (slowly) for 30 seconds.
Rest, then repeat another 30 seconds.
CIRCUIT 6: Upper Body and Core Exercise 1 – Plank Taps
Start in high plank with your feet hip-distance apart. Tap your left hand to your right shoulder while engaging (squeezing) your core and glutes to keep your hips as still as possible. Continue, alternating sides, for 30-60 seconds, then rest.
Do a total minute of plank taps, making sure your hips aren’t swaying and stay aligned!
CIRCUIT 7: Upper and Core Exercise 2 – Arm Circles
While standing straight with your feet flat on the ground and arms extended out to the side at a 90-degree angle to your body, start moving your arms in small, fast circles forward. Start with small circles, then slowly start moving your arms in larger, and larger, circles. Do as many rotations as you can and then reverse the motion, doing as many circles as you can in the reverse direction. If you begin cramping up, rest. If you need to sit, make sure your feet are flat on the ground and your back is straight.
Repeat motion, alternating direction, for 2 minutes (not including resting time)
CIRCUIT 8: Upper and Core Exercise 2 – Scissors
Raise both legs toward the ceiling. Keeping them straight, lower your left leg until it’s about six inches off the floor. Lift your head and shoulders off the floor and grasp the back of your right leg (around your thigh), gently pulling it toward you. Switch legs and repeat on other side. Don’t go too slowly, this should be a continuous movement! Rest if needed.
Repeat motion, switching legs, for 2 minutes (not including resting time)