Debra Atkinson is a Functional Health Coach and Hormone Balancing Fitness Expert. She joins me today to discuss the importance of individualizing your exercise program. We dive into the best hormone balancing exercise program, fitness in menopause, and ways to improve bone and muscle health for strength and aging.
Listen to the Episode
Debra’s formula for the types of exercise perimenopausal women should engage in:
- Two full-body strength-training to total muscle fatigue sessions per week
- Two high-intensity interval training sessions per week
About Debra Atkinson
Debra Atkinson is a Functional Health Coach, Hormone Balancing Fitness Expert, and Flipping 50 founder. Debra Atkinson has helped over 250,000 women “flip” their second half with the vitality and energy they want.
She’s the bestselling author of You Still Got It, Girl: The After 50 Fitness Formula for Women; Navigating Fitness After 50: Your GPS For Choosing Programs and Professionals You Can Trust; and Hot, Not Bothered.
Debra hosts Flipping 50 TV and the Flipping 50 podcast, an AARP top podcast for 50+.
She is a frequent speaker, and TEDx presenter of Everything Women in Menopause Learned About Exercise May Be a Lie.
She has 38 years of full-time fitness experience and is an International fitness presenter for associations including International Council on Active Aging, IDEA, NSCA, Athletic Business, and CanFitPro.
She’s an American Council on Exercise Subject Matter Expert, and prior Senior Lecturer in Kinesiology at Iowa State University. Debra is also the founder of Flippingfifty.com and creator of the Flipping 50 Fitness Specialist program for fitness professionals. She’s a frequent contributor at HuffPost, ShareCare, and other featured outlets and on the Education Advisory Board for Medfit.org.
The Metabolic Benefits of Full Body Workouts
Much of modern day training focuses on specific workouts targeting specific muscle groups on a rotational basis. However, research has shown that you get 8x the metabolic boost from doing exercises that work the bull body, rather than just specific body parts. Some examples of these exercises would be yoga, pilates, etc.
Recovery is Important as We Age
As we age, it’s very natural that our recovery time from exertion also increases. It’s important to honor the recovery period that our bodies need by scheduling recovery just as we would our workouts. Even doing strength exercises on different days than you would high intensity interval training is another way to give you the maximum metabolic boost, while also allowing your body to recover.
“Most of the research is on young athletic males who are in the prime of their peak of muscle mass. So they are really in fat-burning. And women in mid-life are much more easily storing fat.” [02:54]
“We get eight times the metabolism boost from doing a total body workout as we do if we say I’m only going to work my chest and my arms today.” [11:25]
“The point of exercise is to get better at life. We’re supposed to feel good having done it. We’re supposed to have more energy having done it. We’re not supposed to be exhausted and sore and tired.” [12:40]
“We need to increase our lean muscle tissue by reaching muscular fatigue, and we need to get breathless.” [15:04]
“We need pulling exercises much more than we need pushing.” [19:10]
“Often, women are hearing “go walk, you need weight-bearing exercise”. But actually, you need weight-resistance exercise.” [32:16]
“We need to be putting the breaks on the losses and/or trying to rebuild bone density.”[34:08]
In This Episode
- How the physical results Debra experienced after a year of doing fewer and shorter workouts flew in the face of all she had ever learned in kinesiology. [4:13]
- Why you need to ask if your exercise program was built on research on women like you. [4:50]
- How hormone balance fitness differs from conventional training. [7:37]
- A blueprint for the type of exercises perimenopausal women should participate in. [9:22]
- What you will gain from doing a total-body workout twice a week. [10:17]
- Why exercising different parts of the body every day does not add up to the same as a total-body workout twice a week. [11:01]
- Why you should only do two total-body strength training sessions per week. [11:56]
- How to get started with high-intensity interval training sessions. [13:02]
- Why it’s better to do strength and high-intensity training on alternate days. [14:00]
- Debra defines strength training and emphasizes its importance. [18:43]
- What is muscular fatigue, and why is it important? [21:28]
- Some important things for women to consider when starting an exercise program. [24:10]
- Some common exercise mistakes women tend to make. [25:07]
- Tips for building bone and muscle. [29:52]
- Some exercise advice for busy women. [36:58]
Links & Resources
You can also read the blog post about Mitochondrial Complex here.here.
Debra’s Stronger Course Is Now Open, Enroll Here
Debra Atkinson 0:05
The point of exercise is to get better at life. We're supposed to feel good. Having done it, we're supposed to have more energy. Having done it. We're not supposed to be exhausted and sore and tired and say, Well, I can't do that. I don't want to do that I work down today.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 0:22
Welcome to the your longevity blueprint podcast. I'm your host, Dr. Stephanie gray. My number one goal with the show is to help you discover your personalized plan to build your dream health and live a longer, happier, truly healthier life. You're about to hear from Deborah Atkinson. Today we're focusing on the best hormone balancing exercise programming plus diving into fitness in menopause and how to improve bone and muscle health for strengthen aging. Let's get started
Welcome to another episode of The your longevity blueprint podcast today my guest is Deborah Atkinson. She's a functional health coach hormone balancing fitness expert and flipping 50 founder she's helped over 250,000 Women flip their second half with the vitality and energy they want is a best selling author of you still got a girl that after 50 Fitness formula for women navigating fitness after 50 Your GPS for choosing programs and professionals you can trust and hot not bother Deborah hosts the flipping. But I'm gonna leave it in because it's funny. Okay, never hosted flipping 50 TV and flipping 50 podcast and a RP cop podcast for those 50 and up she's a frequent speaker and TEDx presenter of everything women in menopause learn about exercise may be alive. We're going to talk about that today. She has 38 years full time fitness experience as an international fitness presenter for associations including the International Council on active aging ID EA N S. C A and athletic business and canfitpro. She's an American Council on Exercise subject matter expert and prior Senior Lecturer in Kinesiology at the Iowa State University. Deborah is also founder of flipping fifty.com and creator of the flipping 50 fitness specialist program for fitness professionals. I think I've said fitness like 30 times. She's a frequent contributor at HuffPost Sharecare, another featured outlets and on the Education Advisory Board for medfit.org. Welcome to the show, Deborah,
Debra Atkinson 2:22
thank you and I'm so sorry about that alphabet soup.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 2:26
Should have prepped better, but it is what it is nuts. All right. Well, let's get to the good stuff. Your TED talks, everything women in menopause learned about exercise may be a lie. It's very popular. So explain what you meant by that title. And we'll get to it.
Debra Atkinson 2:39
Well, the whole truth is that when we look at all the research combined exercise science or medical exercise, what we know is 39% of all that is featuring females now in different industries 40, 60 odd may not be that bad. We may say okay, there's it's worse in certain places. But when you factor in and of course, I'm preaching to the choir and saying this, but you look at the phases, the hormonal phases that a woman goes through in her life, or could if she choose to or is blessed to and some of them repeatedly over and over. Every one of them demands a unique exercise prescription. You shouldn't do in post menopause, what you did as an adolescent, you shouldn't you know, when you're going through fertility, and that's not even counted in that seven, do what you would do if you were in perimenopause, it's all very different and a woman doesn't get factored in that way. Most of the research is on young athletic males who are in the prime of their peak of muscle mass. They're really in fat burning, and women in midlife, are really much more easily storing fat. So how is exercise that that works for him going to work for her. And we began to I stumbled across this totally accidentally, I quit my job, I was going to develop an online business using programs that that we've had a lot of success for, to share with other trainers and health coaches. And then I suddenly realized behind this desk that I was going to start paying college tuition in eight months. And I was like, What in the world did I just do? I said goodbye to a paycheck to TI w a crap and all of the good perks with a regular paycheck. And so this had to work and I kind of chained myself to my computer, and I look up 12 months later, having gone from someone who exercised hours a day for decades, truly, because that's what trainers do. Right? We We not only do the exercise for the classes we teach, but we think we need more. And we do that too. And that was totally me. I love endurance exercise. So I am a reformer you know a recovering addict right here, but I was better I looked better, I was slimmer, I was leaner. And I was stronger after a year of very short workouts and fewer of them. And I said, this flies in the face of all the facts that I have learned all that I've taught for 15 years in Kinesiology. And I was like, So is this just me? Or is there more to it? And that's how I began to realize, you know, this skewed research, and the amount that in any one of those hormonal phases, you know, we're probably looking at less than 10% of all research features, women. So if we didn't know to ask, is that program that I'm doing? The the program, maybe your trainers giving you, or videos that you purchased? Is that built based on research on women just like me, we've all been gambling?
Dr. Stephanie Gray 5:54
I highly doubt it. Yeah, I, for my listeners, who I highly doubt, I love that many of them may be working out with a trainer, but I highly doubt any of their workouts are tailored to exactly what you're saying. So I have to ask him, maybe I should have asked you if I was allowed to ask your age on this podcast before. But how old? were you when you kind of have this epiphany and figured this out? Were you having challenges? I mean, yourself, obviously, you're better after this information. But how old were you when this happened?
Debra Atkinson 6:19
So, I was 49 when I quit. So I mean, you know, I know. I'm in perimenopause, whether or not you know, and I was having mild hot flashes. So I was fortunate I wasn't, wasn't really seeing a lot of it. But the compilation of all of the stress that I had in that year, you know, in addition from from leaving my job voluntarily, I had about seven other major life changes happen in about 14 months that I didn't know I was in line for and God anyway. So to feel all of that stress, and then be going through it and still be fitter leaner, stronger, at the end of it that actually didn't fit, you know, I was thinking, what should have actually happened, you know, is that I should have gained weight, I should have, you know, experience much more fat, all of the typical things, and I wasn't. And so the acknowledgement that, you know, it's potentially something that's very different than what we've taught based on position statements and guidelines for everyone with a quota of exercise, regardless of how you feel. But that's what we've done for decades in the fitness industry.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 7:35
Yep. And you're flipping that to bring the flipping back and flipping that on its head. So the listeners want to know, so how does we'll call it hormone balance fitness, right. So for those women who are going through perimenopause, how does that sort of fitness differ from conventional training? So you've mentioned a few things you said rather than workout two hours a day, right? You were saying something about shorter workouts, which sounds appealing? That's time consuming?
Debra Atkinson 7:58
Yeah, you bet. And so short is better. Yep. And the realization that we need more recovery, and that's not necessarily news, it's true of men and women, but after some sometime around 40, and it may happen for, you know, we see a dramatic need for increase at 50. Maybe it does happen for us in our 40s that men and women both, if we just look at you compared to you 10 or 20 years ago, you need more recovery time than you did in order to bounce back. And and that's not by the way, I want to make sure that, that for listeners, we're not saying you have to settle, or you can't be as fit. Because there's nothing wrong with you you're not broken, by the way, it's just for you to still be at your optimal fitness is going to take more recovery between the exercise that you do. And the irony here is that we have to unlearn a little bit of this thinking we've got to exercise more, because that will get me faster, it will actually probably drive you into the ground faster than we can manage. And then there'll be lining up at your door. Dr. Stephanie, right?
Dr. Stephanie Gray 9:09
So I hear you on the we need more recovery. I can like yes already tell that at my age, I need more recovery time than I did before, which is why I tell patients don't go exercise like six, seven days a week like hardcore I feel like that's just not allowing them and I'm not a fitness expert, but that's just when I'm telling my patients and their cortisol is just jacked up too high at all costs that never has time to kind of calm down. So what types of exercises should women parent we'll just leave this within the pyramid apostle demographic should they be participating in?
Unknown Speaker 9:39
So, let me give you a blueprint and then realize for for ideally, all of our listeners that somewhere on this blueprint, you need to think of yourself like you're a teenager filling out a quiz in one of those magazines and it is if you answer yes, then go this way. If you answered no then go this way. You're not exactly like anybody else? So the blueprint, if you feel good, your energy is good. You're sleeping well, and you've got all the signs and symptoms the day, I feel pretty good. How do I want to optimize my fitness? my exercise routine, the formula is really two strength training sessions doing total body. So often I hear women saying, Well, what about doing three or four times a week and doing legs one day, upper body another day? I would say no, no and no. So let's just make it clear. And here's why. We get eight times the metabolism boost from doing a total body workout, as we do if we say I'm only going to work my chest and my arms today.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 10:44
Can you say that again? So you said we eight times is that right? So we can just say...
Debra Atkinson 10:48
8 times the metabolism boost if we do total body workout, compared to just doing a body part worth mentioning it? Okay. And so even if we look at well, the end of the week, doesn't that little bit here a little bit there a little bit here a little bit there? Doesn't that add up to be the same? No, it doesn't. And the what's the probably number one problem many of your people get when they're coming midlife, they're exhausted already. So if you have to exercise hard every day, even if it's a different muscle group, you're still going hard. There isn't that recovery time again, we just alluded to that is so very important. So twice, which means you're doing probably less than you did when you were younger, we always follow the weather the gym, tell us Monday, Wednesday, Friday, that's when the classes are Tuesday, Wednesday or Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, that's when the other classes are. And we've been fitting into what's very convenient for trainers and, and gyms, not necessarily doing what is best for us. So twice a week, twice a week strength training to total muscle fatigue, and somebody's going to say well isn't three times a week better. And again, no, you're defaulting to the more is better. But I will say this, there's not a difference between two or three times in terms of outcome and result. And so the reason I choose to is so we can allow that recovery, and we don't risk the adrenal fatigue, because that's the problem I get to women want to rush ahead and try to lose the weight and deal with fatigue later. And drive themselves though further into feeling terrible, and we're never going to get fit. If we have that, you know, weak chain, so just twice, then we're not at risk for adrenal fatigue and suffering from those issues. And we get plenty of recovery. I think we've forgotten, the point of exercise is to get better at life, we're supposed to feel good. Having done it, we're supposed to have more energy. Having done it, we're not supposed to be exhausted and sore and tired and say, Oh, I can't do that I don't want to do that I worked out today. I mean, we're missing the boat, right when we're in that instance. So twice, weekly strength training. And then we look at high intensity interval training. And again, that's if you're ready for it. Ideally, the number, the sweet spot for that is also to you could do one, when you're just getting started, we all need to progress, right? So start with one don't start with to see how you feel doing 10 minutes of it. And then you can gradually expand or add that second day. But three times is also an option. But they're going to be very short if you're doing that. So again, I love to it's just easier. And it becomes easy to remember, too. And two simple, right?
Dr. Stephanie Gray 13:38
I want to make sure I'm following. So are these on opposite days?
Debra Atkinson 13:41
That's a great question. So my preference, if I can say to somebody, here's what I'd rather see you do. But if that doesn't work, let's go by what is your schedule dictate? Some people have that moment where I've got more time on these days, but I don't have time every day. Okay, then let's schedule for you and your real life. But if we can, I'd rather see somebody do strength on say Monday and Thursday and do high intensity intervals on Tuesday and Friday. And the reason is, you're now fresh, right? So we're not putting them back to back. And the one thing we want to remember is, the more endurance activity we do, the more we're causing damage and oxidative damage. And we're, we're turning in an aerobic exercise, which is strength training and high intensity interval training. By putting them together, we can easily turn that into endurance exercise, just because it's now a longer workout. So just do it when you're fresh, you're going to actually get better results from each of them. Here's the other question. While we're on that topic, Stephanie is a lot of people will say well, can I mix it up? Can I do my ladder drills and then do a strength training exercise or two and then come back and I'll run the trend. Nail Can I bounce back and forth. And here's what I say to women who are in midlife and who really want metabolism boosting, no, don't mix it up, because then we're just clouding it. So we need truly to increase our lean muscle tissue by reaching muscular fatigue. And we need to get breathless. And we're going to do both of those more optimally, we're going to work harder or go faster, doing high intensity interval training when we're fresh. And we're going to also go to muscle fatigue, probably lifting a heavier weight or doing more repetitions when we're fresh and focused on control. What you see often in here in the middle with these bootcamp classes, and that kind of, you know, I'm going to combine it is we see people moving in a frenzy, probably burning a lot of calories in the moment, but not changing body composition. Long term.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 16:00
I wanted to ask what you think about in here, we were just talking before we started recording, and that were in Hiawatha, Iowa and recently a bar studio opened and I was happy we finally had fire and I enjoyed those classes and a Pilates studio, you know, open. So what are your thoughts? Should we go there on those classes? Or is that you kind of already answered that question.
Debra Atkinson 16:17
Bar and pilates and even yoga kind of fit into this unique place. And I would say probably Pilates and yoga are closer together. And they are, you know, a little bit more mind body a little bit more stretching, mobility work, although there's a degree of strength in both. But I think those are great for recovery days, you know, you can do yoga, at the end of the day, you've already done strength training, if you want to write, that's great. But for those of you who think yoga is resistance training, it's not enough. So yes...
Dr. Stephanie Gray 16:52
If weight loss is your goal...
Debra Atkinson 16:55
Yeah, or living a long, healthy, strong life. Right. So remember, when you're 95, carrying your own tray in the cafeteria will be sexy. And so you want to be able to get there doing that. So you need strength training to do that, you're going to be very mobile, you'll be very flexible. And you'll gain those benefits with yoga with bloodies. Here's a bar exercise. So I think if you have the time, and you have the energy, it's a great bonus. But if we look at here's the target, you know, strength training for major muscle groups is in there. And as we expand it, there's a place for a bar, but you want to make sure it's not interfering with your recovery. So maybe you strength train Monday, Friday, and Wednesday, you go to bar because you love it. And you're probably also working on little what we call global stabilizers, little muscles that otherwise you're not maybe targeting with major muscle groups. Yeah, so it's a great compliment. But again, if we had to say what's the most important, if you're already an adrenal fatigue, don't pile on more, kind of do the most important and then expand from that.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 18:06
I like that you value that and are emphasizing that I think I probably should back up a minute here for listeners who maybe aren't exercising and again, want to lose weight to define what strength training is to some it's obvious, but can you can we break that down?
Debra Atkinson 18:19
Yeah, absolutely. In the terms that are synonymous with this our resistance training, or weight training and strength training. And so a lot of things can fall under that big umbrella of resistance training. And people will ask what about body weight? And yes, that's a form of it. We get limited with bodyweight unless you can do pull ups, right, because with bodyweight exercises, you can do squats and lunges and like it or not thinking you can or you can't, if you go to the bathroom, you squat every day. So we have that, but we need pulling exercises much more than we need pushing. Because if we think about even just while you're sitting here, if you watching Draw your shoulder blades back and down away from your ears, and it just feels better. Like you're open now across your chest. You're relaxed here, but we are rounded forward and then often you're doing push ups here. We're tightening these muscles further as we strengthen them and strength doesn't have to mean tight but often we overemphasize you know in the boys, we used to call these the mirror muscles Friday night, they'd all be doing curls for the girls and you know, the chest and the biceps come out, and we just want to emphasize pullings so we need pulling exercises. If we're going to ever do a push up, we're going to make sure you're you're doing a pull up somewhere in your house, okay, and that's a little harder to do so important that you look at reaching muscular fatigue. My preference is dumbbells, simply because we live things all day every day. You lift the dishes to the shelf up here, you pick up your carry on luggage, we're going to be doing now a little bit more here, you know, coming months and you're lifting the dog food, you're lifting the dog, you're lifting babies, you're lifting them out of awkward places. And we need to mimic that kind of activity for safety. Those of you who are at a gym, using machine weights can be a little bit more safe. Because you're you're usually supported in other areas of your body, there's only one way to go, it's hard to do it wrong. But again, tell that to somebody who's got it, get the dog food out of the trunk and into the house. There's no safety and security there are so learning how to train in ways that allow you to do that really important.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 20:41
So when you say muscle fatigue, I also define that we're doing enough repetitions that we almost cannot do one more, is that what you're saying? That's exactly
Debra Atkinson 20:49
Right, you're at that point where, you know, I don't know, if I'm going to be able to do that many more, maybe your goal is doing 15. And by 1314, or 15, you should be wondering, I don't think I'm going to make it fitness or exercise is one of the only places in the world with failure is actually going to get you in a right. So that's the goal. Very different, though, we should clarify that muscular fatigue, at the end of every set of exercises you're doing is very different than walking out of a workout just fatigued. You can reach muscular fatigue at the end of every set and still walk out feeling good from the exercise.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 21:30
And if you're physically exhausted, like back to recovery, right for three days after that workout, then that was too much in my opinion. I'm not again, I'm not the fitness expert, but that tells me that was too much. I mean, there are things nutritionally we can do to help with recovery, whatnot. But yeah, it shouldn't take days and days if you're still just physically exhausted from that workout.
Debra Atkinson 21:50
Yeah, that's exactly right. Even if, you know, I think one of the best ways for me to hint at I would guess that you're close to adrenal fatigue is if you finish a workout and you want to or could take a nap, it's too much you should be invigorated. And within two hours, you should be bounced back feeling like I am so glad I did that I have more energy today because I did it than if I hadn't. And that's when you know, I'm in my sweet spot.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 22:20
I love that. So I was next going to ask what some what are some of the crucial mistakes women make with their exercise, but I and I think we're already you know, answering some of those as the discussion continues. But is that one of the mistakes that women over exercise that they just push themselves, meaning they don't allow for that recovery? And they think I gotta go back tomorrow.
Debra Atkinson 22:38
Yeah, and I want to apologize to everybody. Because I think we in the fitness industry have made it hard right to not feel you have to keep up and you should be able to exercise at the same schedule as someone else. Even among a Olympic athletes, recovery time is very unique. So there may be five gymnasts on the Olympic team, they each can't do the same workout on Monday and be all equally ready on Wednesday or Thursday to do it again. Some of them may need till Saturday to do it again and still score a 10 mile. They're still as fit, but they need that rest to get there. So it's important to remember that and I think it's also really important that we say it's about feeling like what are my goals? First is increasing my energy level. How am I and I love this scale of like zero to four, you know, and having somebody keep a journal, like on the average, what would you say, right now is your energy level? Are you at a four I'm not 100% I love it. I feel good every day all day, maybe only at a three and I have these periods of time where I wane or when all no zero is but I think if you start an exercise program, you also want to do that every day and and look at what effect does the exercise having on me? Is it positive? Is it negative? Or is it neutral?
Dr. Stephanie Gray 24:00
What are some other mistakes that women make?
Debra Atkinson 24:03
Yeah, well in starting starting fatigued already thinking Energy provides energy and I can't tell you how many times I heard that as a student myself but also said it and it's dangerous, right because we keep hearing these memes that again, the pressure is you should be doing this if you want more energy, stop complaining, start exercising you know if you're already tired, that's a big one. Let's not over exercise. Let's figure out the root cause of that. Is it sleep not prioritization sleep, we're what it is you need nutritionally first, but the biggest mistake is probably not strength training. We still think Well, I don't want to bulk up. You know, so I just want tone. So the the science on that is the tone comes from having muscle. The muscle comes from strength training, so you really do want to, especially now after 40 Definitely after 50 You weren't going to have a harder time getting meaning that lean muscle mass, not an easier time. So you definitely want to be strength training a higher proportion of your exercise time than ever before. So the amount of time we strength train goes up. And the amount of time we do cardio quote, unquote, goes down, that would be ideal. We're not quite doing that yet.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 25:21
I'm a cardio junkie, I have to admit it, there's something about going on a run and I just, especially when the you know, the weather turns is like spring, for instance, and it's nice outside, I want to take my dog and, and I think if that's something that I really do, enjoy, that's okay. You're just saying don't overtrain right, and I have to evaluate what my goals are. My goal is to go have fun and go on a jog with my dog and you know, breathe in spring air, right? Is that my goal? Or if the goal is weight loss, which is part of the topic of this presentation, right weight loss for menopausal perimenopausal women then that cardio may not be the way to go. It may be that the strength training, like you're saying, and a weightlifting is way more important, right?
Debra Atkinson 25:58
It will. And I think it's like talking to your kids. Like, I think you've got toddlers, right or a toddler. So you talk to your kids and you have certain things you want them to eat, but they want dessert, right? So you can pick your battles in this like, Okay, let's get this you can have that run, but maybe you know, and maybe you can have it all, if you want the run and you want weight loss, this is like your ice thing, right. So make sure you're doing the strength training that you need. And this run, do it to the extent that you can. So the place we see cortisol continue to go up and not on down after exercise, even that you love is right at about 60 minutes, if you're approaching 60 minutes in length, so where we start to see cortisol goes up stays up. So it's not really your friend, and just keep it a little shorter, you know, it should be better.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 26:53
I'm now thinking I won't name any brands, but I'm just thinking, so one of our staff members had a baby and you know, wants to lose weight. And so she joined one of those kickboxing clubs. And I'm immediately thinking they want everybody together, regardless of age and sex, right? Everybody's supposed to go six out of seven days a week, or you're not committed and you're losing points. And I'm just thinking, I see how some people need motivation, like they really need to be pushed, when you have never exercises that you thought a long time or before. I can see the value and community and those sorts of, you know, groups, everybody going together. But I can see how that's absolutely not individualized to that person. And I think that would be kind of fall under another mistake is the way that women are exercising is not, it's not individualized, they're just doing what, you know, whatever, the 60 year old man and the 40 year old woman or her doing all in the same class. So this is very interesting. Can we talk a little bit about just tips for women regarding exercise nutrition for building bone and muscle. So obviously, women want to keep their strength, a lot of women come and see me with osteoporosis, whatnot. And we love optimizing hormones. We offer natural hormone replacement therapy here, which is very significant. And we optimize nutrition as well. But I want to know what your tips are specifically for you mentioned, obviously, the weightlifting for adding muscle. But what about bone as well? Do you want to add anything there? Because I think that's an important question, too.
Debra Atkinson 28:14
Yeah, and there's a great distinction that we need to make. And that is that the way you lift weights, almost anything can help with muscle, but it takes something very specific to actually help optimally with bone. So what I mean by that is you can lift a lighter weight, more times to fatigue, and still the goal is fatigue. And that will still help your muscle and your your muscle endurance probably a little bit more than muscle strength purely but you'll be able to gain lean muscle if you do that. And if you lift heavier and do fewer repetitions or anything in between, what we know proven to help bone density most optimally is actually more maximal loads 10 repetitions or less is actually shown. So that means that doesn't mean pick up a weight and put it down at 10 It means that you're fatigued, you can't lift any more than 10 because it's that heavy relative to you. And yet there's a continuum. So let me point this out. You know, if you come off the couch, and you're doing yoga, there is some bone density benefit to that. And if you come off the couch, you do yoga, and then you start walking, you're getting heel strike, you're getting weight bearing exercise, there's some bone density benefit from that. But if you really want to go all the way down to the other end of the continuum, for what's the best and the fastest, it's 10 or fewer reps, but we all progress, right? So you've got to start slower. We start with lighter weight, more reps, all of us and then to gradually reduce so definitely true. That's true. During training far out beats outweighs anything that is weight bearing. So I know often women are hearing go walk, you need weight bearing exercise, but actually you need weight resistance exercise, many women are finding later in life and, and maybe your listeners and maybe your listeners mothers that you know they can't walk as much because of their knees or their ankles or their hips. So when when you're forced to do unweighted work on a bicycle or an elliptical where there's no impact, or you're in a pool, we definitely needs strength training, because we're not getting that resistance. Otherwise, that's key. And the other piece is protein. Yeah, and for the longest time, we thought, I taught this for probably 15 years, because it was what we knew, we thought that high protein diets actually leached protein out of the bone, we no longer know that we know absolutely, that your bone needs protein as much as your muscle does. We have to do a little unlearning, depending on how old you are, you may have that association, that protein at too high level is actually going to be negatively associated with your bone health, but not true. We need it for muscle and for bone.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 31:23
So I was always tough to explore that you will reach peak bone and bone density mass and your 20s or something like that, you know, and it's all downhill. So if you didn't 30 Okay, stop somewhere. So, if you didn't exercise back, then you're kind of screwed. I was in a way taught that. Is that true? Or can you do mystify them? Or?
Debra Atkinson 31:43
Well, here's what we have to say, No, you're not screwed? Yes, you would have had more money in the bank. It's like putting money away for retirement at 30. We're gonna start drawing from that bank. And so at that peak of muscle mass peaks at 25, bone density mass peaks at about 30. And nobody's looking in, right. So we don't know exactly where that happens. But at some point, shortly after that, we begin losing anywhere from one to 3% of that bone density every year. Anybody doing the math out there who wants to live to triple digits, we're in trouble. Are we not? I mean, that's, that's a lot of bone density. So we need to be putting the brakes on the losses and or trying to rebuild. And I will tell you, it's been exciting, because we thought there is no building after that window closes. And certainly if you're in menopause, you're not going to build. It's possible. So I'm seeing it. I've seen it in a couple of our community members who even working out at home, not at the gym on machines, where it would have been safer to lift heavier, but who increase their bone density during the pandemic? And so it has to do with what you're taking. And I don't know if you want to go there. Stephanie, are you want to talk about it?
Dr. Stephanie Gray 33:03
Sure. I'm so I would have a couple and echo what you're saying was I have seen tremendous bone building still happening in even postmenopausal women when they're combining the exercise that you're talking about with optimal hormone replacement therapy. So I'm a big fan of it, I think it can be done very safely. I think testosterone is actually the biggest bone builder, especially in women and I have several other episodes where we talk about the benefits of all hormones, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone for bone building. So I think the sweet spot is really the combination, right? We don't want patients to just think I can take my hormones and never have to exercise or exercise. I don't need my hormones, at least my opinion is the combination would provide the best approach for bone building. Totally
Debra Atkinson 33:43
Agree, I totally agree. And for all of my audience members who are likely watching this, too, I think there is still some reluctance to say that hormone replacement is actually something good and not as something that they shouldn't do. Or maybe that's not safe anymore. But I think my personal opinion and yours you can give as, as a physician as well, as a woman, I think both are equally important is that I don't think I'm ever, ever going off.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 34:12
That's what most of my patients say I have a nine year olds who are still taking their hormones and they have their faculties, their memory, their bone density, they've reduced their cardiovascular risk, they have great mood, and they're never stopping them because they're absolutely believing that those hormones have helped to get them that far. I agree. Totally there. Let's talk about the time crunch, maybe obstacle with women and maybe that's just an excuse, because I feel like everybody can make time for what's important for women who do feel like they just they don't have the time maybe they have a long commute to work or whatnot. Right? Or they travel a lot whatnot. What do you recommend for exercise on the go and for those who are stuck in a time crunch?
Debra Atkinson 34:52
Yeah, well, first of all, I'm potentially going to reroute you here and I would say that many of those women the question I need to ask is How long do you think it takes? Because often being busy saves us from ourselves. So that desire to do an hour, or it's not worth it and go for the hour run or do that hour video or the our strength training class, it doesn't take that in. It's not really about time, it is about quality. So are you getting breathless? Are you reaching muscular fatigue. And, you know, when I was that 4950 year old, panicked, right, like working and chained to my computer, by my own admission, I did it to myself, I often had to do the consistent workout, not the workout that was ideal, not my ideal A, but my see if all else fails, here's what I'm doing. And that was often 10 minutes of three exercises, done in a circuit three different times, but major muscle group types of exercises. So I was stimulating my metabolism and not burning myself out because I was already highly stressed. So it was actually short, yes, but short is what I needed. And it's not what I would have chosen.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 36:17
It was what you discovered. Tell us about your business. So do you work with clients one on one or in group settings to kind of help them personalize what their fitness like routine should be?
Debra Atkinson 36:26
A little of both. So I don't do as much one on one anymore. So what I do is virtually and I've coached women all over the world. So didn't start out intending to be this way. But you know, I was working with a general in Okinawa, and a woman in Italy and a woman in Trinidad and at one time all together. And so I do one on one coaching. But the majority of what I'm doing now are online programs, we've got an online fitness membership, it's the only one with made for menopause exclusively exercise it's not we've taken programs and labeled them made for menopause, we've actually done the research on menopause. So the programs are all there. And what I find is something you went to a little bit ago, community is so important, right. And we saw that, of course, you know, the last two, two and a half years, how important it was. But it's also I think important and was before will be after people in our immediate environments aren't always on the bandwagon. There's our own resistance to change, even if we're choosing it. And then if we have that external resistance of maybe your spouse or your partner, your kids are not wanting to eat the same way you are or dedicate the time to have dinner half an hour later. So we can get the walk or the workout in having a community of people who at least, is experiencing the same thing. And we can problem solve together, I find that the value of our group program is you've got a community not just a people, but of women just like you
Dr. Stephanie Gray 38:04
Love it, love it, love it. Well tell our listeners what your website is. And then also, I know you have a special gift for our listeners.
Debra Atkinson 38:10
Absolutely. So flipping 50. And that's all word spelled out no spaces. And the free gift is what I call the five day flip everything in our world, this flips over here. So the five day flip is for you really, if you need a start, you need a restart, because you had dropped off or what you're doing isn't working right now. And you're just tired and sometimes beating yourself up because it's not working and starting the same thing over again. So I send you five short workouts, even a recovery day in that five days, five days in a row and show you also you get a meta idea of what does scheduling those workouts look like? How does today's workout complement tomorrow's and yesterday's so that you're seeing the strength, you're seeing the intervals and you're seeing even a recovery in a poor day, and it's doable? 15 minutes or less, you have time.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 39:07
Wow, that's awesome. It sounds too good to be true. But I'll tell the listeners if you can't, if you're not watching and you can see Deborah she's very fit for her age and I won't ask what you're currently.l But you look wonderful.
Debra Atkinson 39:20
Well, actually, we brag about that. So I'm 58 you know when you think about when you're 30 and 58 you know has a connotation that's based on your grandparents and your parents. But you know it is like it to whatever you make it.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 39:38
You own that with pride. I mean, I'm I love it. Well tell us your top longevity tip.
Debra Atkinson 39:42
So it's strength training, in case you missed it right. So if you want to be stronger, longer, it's literally the only way that you can increase your metabolism without doing oxidative damage gaining the strength in gaining the lean muscle mass keeps our metabolism in check helps you then alleviate your risk of so many diseases of the brain of the muscle and of the bone. So it's definitely strength training and I don't care if you're watching and you're 90 We know you can see results starting at 90.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 40:16
I love that I've interviewed over I'm sure you have as well over 100 experts and no one has said that for their top longevity tip and many individuals say Sleep, sleep sleep, but I'm glad that you are bringing in the fitness piece of that the strength training. So thank you.
Debra Atkinson 40:29
Dr. Stephanie Gray 40:30
Thank you so much for coming on the show and really just introducing for our listeners the importance of individualizing their exercise, so really alerting to a lot of the perimenopausal women that what they've been doing. They've been conditioned to think maybe right but actually is wrong. So I hope that our listeners connect with you and get the results that they desire. Thanks so much for coming on the show. Well, thank you so much for having me. I was happy she affirmed how important both recovery time and strength training are for muscle and bone building and keeping cortisol down. If you loved what you heard, you're in luck as Deb has an upcoming first and only 12 week stronger program designed exclusively for you based on research featuring women and menopause. This program includes 12 unique weekly workouts, two strength training sessions each week, a guide for starting and progressing at your pace, how to schedule and time your exercise optimally thorough cueing so you know how to do it, where to feel it and how to adapt an exercise if needed, and a private Facebook group where you'll access Deb, her team and other women just like you for support and accountability registration just open and check out the show notes for links to her free gift as well. Be sure to check out my book your longevity blueprint. And if you aren't much of a reader, you're in luck. You can now take my course online where I walk you through each chapter in the book. Plus for a limited time the course is 50% off, check this offer out at your longevity blueprint.com and click the Course tab. One of the biggest things you can do to support the show and help us reach more listeners is to subscribe to the show. Leave us a rating and review on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen. I do read all the reviews and would truly love to hear your suggestions for show topics guests and for how you're applying what you learn on the show to create your own longevity blueprint. This podcast is produced by Team podcast thank you so much for listening and remember, wellness is waiting.
The information provided in this podcast is educational no information provided should be considered to be or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your personal medical authority.
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