I hear you, women in your 50's! I talk to you often, you who are frustrated with the results of your hard work, you who tell me, “I eat healthy, I never skip my workouts, but my body has hit a plateau, and it is not changing anymore.” How is it that, when we start something new (like a job, an art project, or shaping our bodies), in the beginning we are rocking it — but as time goes by, it seems like we run out of creativity, ideas, and most of all, the effectiveness of our workouts? When we finally get our eating and exercise habits onto the right path, our bodies immediately respond to the changes and hard work. The excitement is the “magic energy” that our bodies use to tone our muscles and burn extra calories.
That “magic energy” is the same energy that a songwriter uses to create a hit song. It is the same energy that athletes use when they reach personal or world records, and it is the same energy you use when you enjoy challenging but fun activities so much that you don’t even realize two hours have passed because it feels like only 20 minutes.
And this magic energy is what I want to talk about in this article. But let me share a personal story before making my point. I, just like millions of other women, have reached the “super-annoying-sooooo-unfair-menopausal-stage.” Although nothing has seriously affected me or completely ruined my days, the one thing I noticed (and was a little freaked out about, at first) is that, although I haven’t changed my eating habits (I am still eating a healthy and clean diet, as I have for the past 15–20 years) and I haven’t slacked on my workouts, my body has changed a little bit. I am sure I have gained weight. Although no one else has likely noticed it, I was initially concerned from a health standpoint. Why was I gaining weight if I was still eating so well, and how much longer (and how much more) would I continue gaining weight? I didn’t like the feeling of not being in charge of my own body, since I consider myself CEO of my body. Now, I finally understand (and believe!) all those 50+-year-old women when they say they eat healthy and exercise but can’t lose weight.
I had to do some digging and searching for the cause of those menopausal body changes. Basically, all the blame for the weight gain comes from those “SBs” hormones. As I was searching, I came across an interesting article about a special food diet that helps women to lose those stubborn menopausal pounds: Galveston Diet: MD’s Own Cure for Menopause Weight Gain Is Helping Women Over 50 Lose Stubborn Fat. Although the article sounded very promising and exciting, I freaked out even more after reading it. After all, I have been eating and following the Galveston diet for the past 20 years without even knowing it; where was my room for improvement? If I couldn’t further adjust my diet and exercise to lose weight, then what could I possibly do?
I thought perhaps I needed to bring the intensity of my exercise to the next level. Although my exercises are already pretty hard, I signed up for Orange Theory classes, which are known for their sweaty, intense workouts. I admit I really liked it, but my body didn’t. Although I felt great and empowered during workouts, the next day, my body felt beat up. After one month of this intense workout regimen without seeing any changes to my body, I realized I needed to listen to my body because my joints, knees, and back were crying. So, I went back to my previous workout routines. However, I felt something new. I was once again excited about my original workouts. There were sparks, and there was that magic energy.
So, here is the recipe for how to bring the intensity of your workouts to the next level without breaking your back or your knees. It is a recipe for making your workouts more effective so you can burn more calories without adding any extra reps, weight, or hours of exercising. I call it plugging in. And this is how you do it. While you are warming up (notice the efficiency of warming up versus just sitting and doing nothing) for your workout in the gym or outside, start with a few deep breaths. With every inhale, bring the new, clean “goodness” in, and with each exhale, let go of the things that don’t serve you. There is a vital force in every breath you take that cleans and purifies your body. Next, think about one thing that truly makes you happy: something that is real. Faking won’t do, because magic energy does not exist in a fake world. Whatever it is, small or big, turn that event or thing into a feeling of joy, excitement, or love, and hold onto it during your entire workout.
To better understand it, picture a hybrid vacuum cleaner you can use either with or without electricity. During a blackout, the mechanical function of the vacuum is great, because you can still clean your house — even without electricity. Although your biceps and delts get a great workout, the floor is not as clean as it is when you plug in the vacuum cleaner and run it using electricity. The same is true of our bodies. When we exercise using only our willpower, the body is not as efficient as it is when we use the magic power.
Every art that becomes a masterpiece is the MASTERpiece because of that special magic MASTER energy which is breathed into the piece. When we create something beautiful, there is no effort, and there is no need to tap into discipline and willpower. So, that’s how I started things shifting in my body. Whatever it was, either extra water retention or weight gain, after “plugging in,” it is now gone!
I really don’t want to sound like Pollyanna, because I am a very practical and busy person, and I never waste my time doing something that doesn’t work — not even if some famous TikTok influencer claims its effectiveness. However, as much as it sounds cliche or naive, I challenge you to test it for just two weeks and see its effectiveness for yourself. I promise you will see things in your body start to shift. There is a huge difference between a “plugged in” workout and a workout through which you drag your feet and ponder life issues, sweating only because you have strong willpower and discipline — but your workout is just like the unplugged vacuum cleaner. Imagine thinking about one thing you are excited about. For example, maybe your child left you a cute note on the kitchen table before school (my son did: he wrote, “I love you,” and teens don’t do these things often, so I used it as my magic power for that day’s workout). I was on fire, not just during my workout, but throughout the entire day. You see, this is the secret. When you work out using this energy, the effect of the workout lasts many hours after the workout — not just during the workout.
“Again, what is this magic energy you are talking about? How do I get it?” you might ask now. It is joy, happiness, love…and if you keep going, eventually you will realize…it is God!
Don’t force it. Transform it with love.
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
PS. I was just thinking. Isn’t it interesting that, in every phase of our aging, there is some lesson that we learn? For example, in our 30s, we all come back to our parents after fighting for our independence in our wild 20s and admitting that we love them and can’t be without them. In our 40s, we realize that time spent for ourselves is precious and valuable, and that work is not everything. I believe that the 50s is the time to come HOME, and the lesson is to find our true selves, who we are, who made us, and who breathes life into us when we are asleep or not paying attention. And God allows us to come to this realization through…menopause