15 Oct Debra Atkinson’s 4 Get-Healthy Strategies for Women 50+
Debra Atkinson is a nationally syndicated speaker, lifestyle coach, fitness guru, and owner of Flipping Fifty—a comprehensive program to help women get healthy in their 50s and beyond. A champion for women’s issues, Atkinson knows firsthand the health challenges associated with the menopausal transition. Asked about her top health recommendations, she provided four specific guidelines for women to experience dramatic results. And the first one starts with sleep, so I think you’ll like this list.
Sleep is the foundation of healthy living. Many women will focus all of their effort on nutrition and exercise but will find they can’t get in shape because they aren’t getting restful, consistent sleep. Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep every night, but many don’t get nearly this amount. According to Atkinson, “Sleep is the thing that is either helping or sabotaging” a woman’s health goals.
And the proof is in the numbers. Adults who don’t get adequate sleep are 55% more likely to suffer from obesity. This is probably because inadequate sleep negatively affects hormones. The two hunger hormones, ghrelin which increases hunger and leptin which triggers feelings of fullness, switch up when a person does not get enough sleep. Ghrelin hormones increase, and leptin hormones decrease. Even more concerning, some studies show that inadequate sleep naturally lowers the metabolism and increases muscle loss. Muscle burns more calories than fat, so muscle loss decreases a person’s resting metabolic rates resulting in a double whammy to the metabolism.
Stress can harm one’s health because it draws on a woman’s reserves when toxins are at an all-time high. In fact, “stress is a factor in five out of the six leading causes of death — heart disease, cancer, stroke, lower respiratory disease, and accidents. What’s more, an estimated 75% to 90% of all doctor visits are for stress-related issues” (Robinson 2013).
Yet, what is stress? Atkinson says, “Previously, stress has been talked about as emotional, but now it’s also about exposure to toxins. Women have to be vigilant about lowering stress on their bodies by not only caring for their mental health, but also lowering their bodies’ toxic load.”
- Women should carefully review ingredients in skincare products.
- They need to monitor their food choices by cutting back or even eliminating inflammatory foods like dairy, gluten, wheat, and sugar.
- And before it gets to a point of disease or serious weight challenges, women should look for clues of bodily stress as it will show in skin changes, weight gain, emotional imbalance, and difficulty toning.
Atkinson says, “Nothing helps bone density and muscle preservation like strength training.” Adding muscle resistance is necessary as women lose estrogen through menopause. Interestingly, strength training supports women in several ways:
- increases mobility
- exposes weak points
- increases confidence
- combats a slowing metabolism
- supports bone health
- builds muscle mass
- prevents falls
- boosts brain power
A recent study published in the American Journal of Medicine found that “the higher one’s muscle mass index, the more likely that person will live longer! The findings suggest that muscle mass relative to one’s height is an independent prognostic marker for survival in older adults” (Srikanthan and Karlamangla 2014).
With age, inflammation can become problematic. So Atkinson says “Older adults need to find their sweet spot to healthy eating.” They should add in green leafy vegetables, fermented foods, bone broths, healthy fats, antioxidants and anti-inflammatories like cinnamon and turmeric. Yet, Atkinson warns that nutrition is not a one-size-fits-all. “Women should find their own nutrition blueprint because what is ideal food for one person may be poison for another.”
Do you want support to start your healthful living journey? Learn more from Debra Atkinson at flippingfifty.com.
Robinson, Joe. (2013) “Three-Quarters of Your Doctor Bills Are Because of This.” Huffpost. Retrieved from: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/joe-robinson/stress-and-health_b_3313606.html.
Srikanthan, Preethi and Karlamangla, Arun. (2014) “Muscle Mass Index as a Predictor of Longevity in Older Adults.” The American Journal of Medicine. Retrieved from: https://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343%2814%2900138-7/fulltext.