• Types of belly fat in midlife

    Belly fat reaches a new high during midlife, it even gets its own name, midlife spread. For most women in midlife one of the most traumatic changes is the change in body shape. The tummy starts growing out of the blue and the waist line becomes a distant memory. Pear and upper triangles body types become apples. There are different types of belly fat. If you are asking why does this happens and what can one do about it, keep reading.

    How to stop belly fat accumulation in midlife

    We can blame it all on hormones and certainly they play a role, but there can be many other causes or contributing factors. Although most abdominal fat requires the same advice to eliminate it: healthier eating, more movement and less stress, there are some differences between the different types of belly fat or abdominal fat require more than the conventional advice, specially during perimenopause and menopause.

    Let’s take a look at the different types of belly fat and potential solutions for each type. Let’s keep in mind that excess fat always requires eating a healthier diet.

    Lower body fat

    This type of fat can be hormone-related or inactivity related. Even very skinny people can have it. Usually this type of body fat is more common before perimenopause and menopause.

    Excess estrogen can play a role in this type of belly fat, but inactivity, too much sitting, and poor posture are more common as well as a combination of these factors.

    What can you do about it?

    • Eat a healthier diet and drink plenty of liquids.
    • Try not to sit down for long periods of time
    • Workout and try to add more activity to your life. Try exercises to strengthen your core.
    • Cut down on sugar and dairy
    • Watch your posture during the day. Try to sit correctly and stand up straight, lightly contracting your tummy
    • Try to move during the day

    Belly fat that looks like pregnancy

    This fat can be common during midlife. It tends to be firm and it can have many causes. This can be hormonal body fat, and is not directly linked to estrogens but to cortisol and/or insulin. It is very common in people with insulin resistance.

    This type of tummy fat is directly related to high stress levels (physical and emotional) and high sugar and/or alcohol consumption. This type of belly can also indicate liver problems such as fatty liver; this is the reason it is associated with alcohol consumption. Read about thyroid and weight gain

    What to do to lower this type of belly fat?

    This type of fat is the most damaging type because it is directly affecting the vital organs and it’s the result of a combination of unhealthy habits. To lower this type of belly fat, the keys are stress management and toxin elimination. You can accomplish it with these recommendations:

    • Lower stress levels
    • Sleep at least 7 hours a night
    • Lower alcohol and carbohydrate consumption
    • Make sure you are eating only healthy fats
    • Try to eat only healthy animal products
    • Avoid regular dairy
    • Avoid commercial baked goods
    • Eat enough omega 3
    • Lower or eliminate caffeine intake
    • Try to eat healthy most of the time. Be careful following any diets that will contribute to more stress in your life. The best way to eat is to follow anti-inflammatory guidelines
    • Try to include activities to relax, such as participating in sports, yoga, dancing, arts, walks in nature, etc.
    • Be kind to yourself
    • Workout, but avoid workout stress such as running too much, boot camps, CrossFit, competitive apps, etc.
    • If you have a religion, pray, ask for help and leave it to God; if not you can practice meditation. The bottom line is to relinquish control, worry and other emotions that generate stress, anger and sadness.
    • Observe yourself to identify allergies such as those from foods, molds, pollen and others. These are physical body stressors that can cause thyroid problems.
    • Remove or lower toxins from your life such as regular cleaning products, cooking at high temperatures with Teflon, etc.
    • For some people, a paleo or keto lifestyle for a short period of time can be very beneficial. For me the answer was intermittent fasting and you can follow this way of eating for long time.

    Upper tummy fat (AKA love handles)

    This is pure fat and an active lifestyle and healthy food in the right amounts can correct it.

    Hormonal belly fat

    During menopause and perimenopause, we are very likely to accumulate belly fat. This is the result of lower estrogens and higher cortisol. It can be solid fat as in the previous case or loose fat all over the tummy area.

    To eliminate this type of belly fat there is no one size fits all cause, because there are many causes. Usually it comes with other body changes such as bigger or smaller breasts, bigger back and in some cases, smaller butt.
    In general, to improve this situation we need to bring more balance to our hormones, lowering stress and making sure our thyroid is doing its job. To accomplish this we need to strengthen the liver, adrenals and thyroids. You can read this article where I have more detailed information on menopausal belly fat.

    You can read more on why we gain weight during perimenopause and menopause

    Fluctuating belly

    This is fake belly fat. You get up in the morning with a flat tummy and this keeps growing as the day progresses. This is caused by gases and/or liquid retention and not by fat accumulation.

    The next question is why does it happen? There are many reasons, though, the most common one is food intolerances. There also can be digestion issues caused by stress, illness or allergies.

    What to do?

    • Do an elimination diet to identify if you have allergies
    • Eat slower, chew your food very well; this improves your digestion
    • Avoid drinking large amounts of liquids during meals. Warm or lukewarm liquids are better than cold liquids.
    • Lower stress
    • Ayurveda can be very effective to treat and correct these digestive issues

    Sudden tummy

    This is the tummy that comes out of nowhere and it is loose. If you are gaining weight and it is mostly going to the tummy, but you feel that you are eating the same and having the same level of physical activity and you are in midlife, this is probably hormonal weight. Read why this happens

    However if the fat is solid, and hard in very few cases, it can be related to conditions that need medical attention so you should see your doctor.

    What not to do when you are experiencing hormonal belly fat

    • Don’t worry, there is a lot you can do to reduce your tummy. Think of a growing tummy as a messenger, telling you to watch out because something may need more balance in your body.
    • Avoid extreme diets. If you have a lot of weight to lose or if you suspect that you may be insulin resistant then a Paleo or Keto diet can be appropriate for some time. But if you are experiencing many other menopausal or perimenopause symptoms, for most people it is better to start eating healthier and do some light intermittent fasting. There has to be a balance between weight loss and stress reduction.
    • Remember joy. Joy is very important in our lives, joy makes our body healthier and contributes to hormonal balance. Look for joyful activities outside food. Make your food delicious.
    • The main thing you can do for your health is to cook at home from scratch. If you use some organic ingredients even better, but just eating home cooked meals will make a difference in your health.

    What about liposuction

    It certainly works, but it is a surgery and you have to consider it carefully. However, if the weight comes back (the person gains the weight back) some of the fat will go directly on top of vital organs. Most people who have liposuction end up gaining back the weight, because they haven’t learned a healthier, happier lifestyle.

    During perimenopause and menopause it is important to pay attention to the hormones and try to balance them because if not, they will also cause other issues, the tummy is only one of them. Perimenopause and menopause are a good time to recalibrate our bodies to have a healthy second half of our lives.

    What about hormonal replacement therapy (HRT)

    HRT and BHRT will help control tummy or abdominal fat while taking the hormones. You can read this article about HRT and BHRT. I personally will still recommend lifestyle changes to avoid other problems and to develop a tummy as soon as the hormones are stopped. Read more about HRT and BHRT

    Learn more about how to be healthy during menopause and avoid symptoms: BLISS in Menopause

  • Botox or not? My Botox experience and some tips


    Goodbye 11s, bye crow’s feet, and all other wrinkles, I am not going to miss you. Is it worth getting Botox? Especially considering price, risks and … oh well .. aging with grace. I had those doubts and many others, but I kissed Botox and I liked it. I know this is a divisive topic, especially among people who do not need it yet.

    I will share my experience, some tips, and I have some general info that you probably know (but in case someone does not).

    What is Botox?

    As you know Botox® is a drug with many uses, including temporary smoothing of facial wrinkles and improving appearance (such as a temporary eye lift).

    Botox® is the name of a drug, a brand. But we use the name Botox to refer to all drugs used with similar purposes.

    About 6 years ago I decided to try it. I did not have deep wrinkles, but I had very well marked 11s and some craw’s feet when I smiled. The 11’s or glabella were my main concern, because I look tired or angry.

    Botox and I

    Let me start by saying that I am not a frequent Botox user, in part because I have not needed it as much yet, that of course is changing. I had wanted to try it, so when I saw a Groupon a few years back, I bought it. Since then I have had Botox 4 times (2 Botox, 2 Xeomin), and I liked the results.

    A Botox virgin: First time Botox

    It was a Groupon, but it was done by a gynecologist in a posh spa. I bought 20 units to use in my glabella, AKA my 11s. The results lasted for almost 9 months, it was the longest lasting Botox for me. As you know, the effects of Botox usually last from 3 to 6 months. The pain level was minimal, the doctor was lovely and the whole experience was nice. But I still had doubts if I will do it again.

    Experienced user: emergency doctor

    About a year after my first experience I decided to have Botox again. This time I did it with an emergency doctor who was making extra money in his free time. The results were very good, but they only lasted about 4 months. Again 20 units in my glabella. While the doctor was putting the injections he explained to me the points that he needed to inject and showed me a picture. This was also a good experience.

    Third time, good Botox wrong place

    By now I am an “expert” Botox user. Almost a year after the last treatment I got another Groupon. This time I got a special with a nurse practitioner in a dermatologist’s office. It was not Botox, but Xeomin, a similar substance from a different maker. I noticed that this nurse was not putting the injections in the same place as the previous doctor, as a matter of fact they were totally off the glabella.

    I waited for a week and my forehead was immobilized, but not the glabella. I did not have wrinkles on the forehead, so it was useless. I called the place and I went back to have more injections at no extra charge. This time she used Botox instead of Xeomin. I told her that she was using different points than my previous doctors, she explained a lot of things to me that sounded like nonsense. Nothing happened again, I think she put the injections in the wrong place. Needless to say a disappointed experience and a waste of $200.

    Botox lower face

    Fourth time: low price and a small laughing problem

    Medical spa in a foreign country. The owner and her son (a nurse and a doctor respectively) run the place. They did not use Botox, but a similar substance. I was nervous, very nervous, but the place was highly recommended by a local friend who gets her “Botox” there. The young doctor applied the Botox. I needed to buy the whole bottle for $300, so I got “Botox” everywhere. The upper face looked good, the corners of my lips which are a little droopy turned up almost immediately after the injections. I love having less lines around my eyes, no 11s, smooth forehead etc. My husband told me I looked ten years younger.

    But as the substance did its job, it usually takes 3 to 5 days to really settle in, I had a bad result. I could not laugh the same way as before, it was a bit funny, nothing terrible, but not desirable.

    This result lasted only three months. I am grateful that the problem was small, however I can only imagine how I will feel with a droopy eye or something similar. This experience thought me that the lower face is very complicated and if I wanted to have Botox done there I needed to go to a highly trained local professional.

    Facing the risks

    Botox and similar products do not have a lot of risks. To get the substance in the wrong places is one of them. Droopy eye (because the substance moved from forehead, 11s or around the eyes) and infections are another risk, but most practitioners will make sure to use sterile instruments. Most of the risks can be avoided by going to a trained professional with a good reputation.

    Too little, watch for this

    As a patient I also want to make sure that the practitioner does not dilute the substance more than recommended. Botox comes in glass and it needs to be diluted. The patient pays by the unit so the more it is diluted the cheaper the cost for the doctor. The more it is diluted the shorter the results will last. Some doctors will mix the Botox in front of the patient, but others will have it ready. This is tricky.

    More Botox for me? Yes please

    I may try Botox again, but this time I will do only my 11s and maybe crow’s feet. I want to do it to prevent wrinkles more than to cancel my current expression lines. I will go to a good place, but I probably will not go to a doctor, the price difference where I lived is too large (2X). A nurse can do a good job. I have friends who go to nurses and get good results.

    Should you have Botox?

    Frankly other than the price, I think it is a great treatment. However the long term effects are not known yet.

    Tips if you decide to have Botox

    1. Too many celebs have used too much Botox and it does not look good. Less is better than more.
    2. Experience is important. Try to go to a place with good reputation. Botox requires someone who knows how to apply it to create the best effect. For example the Botox in the glabella (11s) can give a light eye lift, which looks nice. Also experience will spare mistakes like my crooked smile or worse.
    3. Groupon. There are many places giving discounts and I have used them, but it can be risky. My third time proves that.
    4. Botox is cheaper in competitive areas such as New York City.
    5. Xeomin and Dysport are other well-known brands approved in the USA; in Canada and other countries there are more brands. These brands tend to be cheaper than Botox and the results tend to be similar and they last almost the same time.
    6. Some expert think that the use of these substances can prevent more wrinkles in the areas treated, because they are not moving.
    7. A few people who use the product too often may develop resistance and they will require larger amounts.
    8. Some people think that they can prevent wrinkles by using Botox and they start to use it in their 20s or 30s. There is no evidence yet, but I think it could be true.

    Are you looking to try Botox or do you have an experience to share, let me know in the comments below.

    Photos: Woman photo created by Nensuria

  • Bone broth after 50 to look younger

    Bone broth is having is a kale moment. It is in fashion, just like acai berry, pomegranate, cauliflower and so many other super foods were. Among the claims: healthier bones, teeth and nails. At 50 years of age, that sounds really good. We all need help with our bones, skin, hair, etc.

    Are the bone broth claims real?

    Is bone broth full of absorbable or bio-available calcium? Absorbable or bio-available being the key attributes here. Calcium, as you know, is a very important mineral, and although we take supplements, it is a difficult mineral to get, to get it in the right places and to avoid it in the wrong places. There are many reasons for this:

    There are many types of calcium and if we take the wrong type it can go to the wrong places and instead of helping us, it can cause problems.

    In addition, calcium is not easy to absorb, and other nutrients can take it out of the body. The calcium from bone broth is supposed to be easy to absorb. The claim is that bone broth is not the only good source of calcium, but it is a very good one. Everything sounds good but … one recent study says that bone broth does not have much calcium, but wait, there is another reason it can make you younger.

    Why does bone broth make you look younger?

    One word: collagen. Bone broth may lack in calcium, but it has great collagen. Although there is controversy about the role of ingested collagen, many people (including myself) think it has helped us and there is some promising science behind the claims, but not everyone believes this. In my case I feel it has helped me to eliminate a funny pain I was having in my lower back. Many people in the natural medicine community think that collagen is good for bone, skin, hair, nails, teeth, and cartilage health.

    We have been putting collagen on our skin and hair for years. However, it is believed that it does not help to use collagen externally, the molecules do not penetrate the skin. Most doctors think that eating collagen is also not effective, but there are not many studies to prove if collagen can help or not.

    Should you take collagen or have bone broth?

    Collagen is a connective tissue, abundant in our bodies. Dermatologist Joshua Zeichner told Self magazine that, “Collagen is the main structural protein in the skin, giving it strength and shape….

    Collagen is like the frame of your mattress, while elastin is the springs and hyaluronic acid is the padding.

    Like most things in the skin, collagen diminishes as we age, which is why skin can start to sag. Around 30, natural collagen production starts to slow down. Many people take collagen supplements to help the skin and hair. But we have to remember that in most cases beauty supplements do not live up to the hype.

    Our face and body get smaller as we age. This is one of the reasons for wrinkles and flaccidity, we lose volume in muscle mass as well as in bone mass. If we keep the right level of calcium, our teeth and face bones will retain their original shape and size for longer time. This is very important, and it is something that no surgery or cosmetic product can give you, it has to come from your food and supplements.

    However, our bodies do not absorb collagen as collagen, either from bone broth or in any another form. Collagen is broken down in the stomach and the body absorbs the components, in this case amino acids.

    Those amino acids can come from a great variety of food not necessarily from collagen or bone broth. If you eat a diet rich in nutrients you will get the necessary amino acids and you do not need to eat collagen. Some people say that bone broth provides amino acids that meat does not, and due to this it helps to balance our intake of amino acids, the medical community mostly disagree with this claim.

    Bone broth supporters say that it has many other minerals. The studies have found that it is not the case. The minerals in bone broth come mostly from the vegetables added to it.

    My own experience with collagen and bone broth

    I take collagen, and sometimes I drink bone broth. I love broths, but somehow I do not like bone broth. However, I have concluded that if I am going to have bone broth I have to make it myself. Commercials broths do not specify the collagen contents and it is easy to add more water and dilute the nutrients. If you want to buy already made bone broth you need to buy a respected brand.

    To make bone broth at home is not difficult. But the whole house will smell of the broth, because you need to cook it for several hours especially if you make it from large bones. If you do not have a problem with this, I think it is a good idea to make it yourself. Natural gelatin is another good source of collagen and you can buy it online.

    Bone broth is a good thing, but I prefer the powdered collagen, because it is easier to use. I put it in pancakes and other recipes. I take it only once or twice a week.

    With or without bone broth?

    There are no guidelines on how much bone broth you may need. Bone broth sadly does not live up to the hype. The calcium content is not there, but the collagen components are good for you. But remember that you can get the same nutrients from your regular meals. However collagen is good, and after 50 it is something worth trying. You can pick if you want collagen from bone broth or from another source. I am not sure if bone broth is worth the effort, it is not bad for you if it made from the bones of healthy animals, it may have nutrients, but it is not a wonder food.

    Do you take collagen supplements or bone broth? Do you think it is helping you?

    Photo by Laura Olsen on Unsplash