What the heck happened? That’s the horrified question on the lips of every thirty something who glances in the mirror one day to find a flabby looking stranger staring back.
Who is that chubby middle-aged guy or girl? How did they get there?
It’s truly shocking to realise that the horrified creature you behold in the mirror is in fact – you. But before you run wailing to the fridge to grab yourself some comfort food – stop. We’re here to help. First off, you need to understand what went wrong, then you need to do something about it. Here’s how to fight the 30s fat attack.
What went wrong?
New research shows that a quarter of gym goers in the 20 – 29 and 40 – 49 year old age groups exercise everyday, for people in their thirties, that figure drops to just 16%.
Remember how fit you were in your twenties? How you trained at the gym each day? You looked good, and you felt it too. Fast forward to today – can you really say you train at the same level? Really?
If you answer ‘yes’, we can only say well done – it must be wonderful to feel so saintly. For the rest of us, busy careers, young kids, a big mortgage – commitments – all impact on the time we have available for keeping in shape. And when ‘me time’ comes at a premium, chances are, we’re either looking for chocolate based instant gratification, or we’re too exhausted to contemplate much beyond collapsing on the sofa. If that’s you, you’re in good company.
You’re used to your body being able to absorb punishment and rebound refreshed and renewed after little more than a good night’s sleep. But you’re not twenty anymore. When you hit your thirties, your metabolism begins to slow. This is at least partly linked to a parallel loss of muscle mass – the old adage, if you don’t use it you lose it is actually only half true. If you stop working out, not only will you lose muscle mass, you’ll also gain the kind of bulk you don’t want – fat.
But there’s another reason people put on a spare tyre in their middle years: stress. You’re busy at work, busy at home, you have money worries, the dog needs to go to the vet, the kids are acting up – your body reacts by pumping out more of the stress hormone, cortisol.
Cortisol mobilises fat and proteins so they’re available to fuel fight or flight, but it also stimulates your appetite for sweet or fatty foods to replace what it anticipates you might use fighting that hungry bear. If you don’t use the fuel the cortisol releases into your bloodstream, it’s laid down, not as subcutaneous fat, but as fat deposits deep in your abdomen. That’s very bad for your long term health because fat build up around your organs is linked to a greater incidence of high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke.
So what can you do if you’re time poor, stressed out and financially stretched? The answer – get smart, get fit with our five point flab busting plan.
1. Fill your fridge and cupboards with healthy snacks so that when the urge to binge strikes, you won’t have access to the bad stuff.
2. Replace feel good foods with feel good exercise. Stressed? Hit the gym. No gym membership? Take a look at body weight exercises or ‘prison workout’ regimes.
3. Incorporate basic fitness work into family life. Fit a kid’s seat to your bike, go for walks in the woods rather than burgers at the drive through.
4. Time poor? Try HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training. Intense workouts keep you in shape for the minimum time outlay.
5. Goal setting. Don’t let it slide – know where you want to go and put in the training to get there. Sign up for a fun run, a tri, a bodybuilding competition – then tell everyone you know. There’s nothing that fights flab like potential embarrassment!