Menopause is an escapable reality. It can be confusing, stressful, and all sorts of awful. But it can also be a great time of self-discovery and self-renewal.

In a recent age-specific talk called “Sharing the Sexy”, U.S. certified fitness nutritionist and diet coach to the stars Nadine Tengco explains that it’s possible to manage the changes going on in your body, as well as to gently ease yourself into the transition. Moreover, you can prepare for this milestone by being “Sexy At Any Age”, which is both her battle cry and the title of her upcoming book.

Here are a few things that Nadine revealed about taking care of yourself, and what your 40-year-old self would probably want you to know about being healthy as the years go by.

1. Being sexy also means being healthy.

“When you create programs that create beauty, you actually create health,” explained Nadine. “[You have to] take care of the inside, because it’s not topical. It’s easy to diet, but some are not sustainable.”

Being and staying sexy requires healthy effort. Starving yourself is not sustainable—meaning, you may initially lose weight, but you will gain it back with additional pounds. This happens because our body was not able get the right nutrients it needs to keep functioning normally. So rather than depriving yourself of food, nourish your body the right way.

2. Belly fat is the most difficult thing to lose.

Having killer cuts on your belly isn’t just about doing sit-ups. Nadine revealed: “The belly does not respond to exercise. It only responds to diet. That’s why it’s said that abs are made in the kitchen. If you want to lose belly bilbil, it’s diet, but if you want to have cuts, it’s exercise.”

3. There are two main things that cause you to gain fat around your belly.

“[Those are] sugar and stress,” said Nadine. Excess carbohydrates causes the body to store more sugar, while stress comes in many forms, including nutritive stress. “Eating junk food chokes the cells,” explained Nadine. When your body is stressed, it goes full-on survival mode and stores fat, which results in the excess bulges.

4. Water retention is a big issue.

“Even if you’re doing the right, anti-salbabida diet, it may not work because there’s such a thing as ‘false fat’. False fat is water retention, which is caused by food intolerances and other hormonal responses." According to Nadine, water retention is a big issue because it can cause your body stress, and as mentioned earlier, stress can lead to weight gain.

5. You need carbohydrates.

It’s okay to go low-carb, but never go no carb. “The body feeds the brain first,” said Nadine, which is why rice is best eaten in the morning so that your brain will have its fuel. The minimum amount of carbs that should be taken in a day varies as it is based on each person’s body type.

6. Staying sexy is an on-going process.

It’s not something that can be done in an instant. A quick loss can spell a quick gain. “The first five to eight pounds can be lost rapidly, but you’re going gain back four,” said Nadine. “The moment [that your body] senses that it is losing weight and fat, it is going to be efficient in storing fat. That is why there is such a thing as a plateau.”

This means that you’ll need to be patient about losing weight and actually reprogramming your body to keep the weight off. Crash diets are definitely a no-no. Your metabolism slows down when you do crash diets or when you don’t eat a balanced diet, because your body immediately goes to survival mode, and survival mode spells fat storage.

You’ll need to have clear health goals, and you’ll need to spend time planning your meals. Weight loss is 70 to 80 percent diet and 20 to 30 percent exercise. It may seem hard, but when you learn to listen to your body and to separate what it wants from what it actually needs, it’ll start working with you as you progress towards a healthier lifestyle.


PHOTO: Charlene Owen

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