Inspiration and info for midlife women who lift—or want to start

Category: Nutrition/Recovery

What we eat and how we give our muscles time to repair themselves matters as much as the weights we lift. Find out how to optimize your nutrition and recovery habits.

Woman with insomnia, maybe suffering with menopause, lying in bed with a pillow over her head, anxious and upset because she can't sleep.

My insomnia battle

Hello, dear reader. You may (or may not) have noticed that I haven’t posted any new content here for quite a while… much longer than I intended or wanted.

This has not been due to lack of desire to post. Quite the opposite, in fact.

It’s been the result of hitting a metaphorical brick wall: wicked and at times intractable insomnia.

Female athlete using foam roller to alleviate muscle soreness, DOMS

I’m not sore—do I need to work harder?

My question is, how come I haven’t been getting sore? I’ve been lifting heavier, getting my protein in, but the last few weeks I only feel sore or tender sometimes. Makes me wonder if I’m not working hard enough, but it feels like I am when I’m in the gym!

Soreness is absolutely NOT the measure of how hard you’ve worked!

The underlying biology of delayed onset muscle soreness, which typically hits 12-18 hours after exercise and is often called “DOMS” by lifters) is not very well understood, but we do know it’s the result of microscopic muscle damage (which is how we get muscles to grow) and that a few specific scenarios tend to cause it.

Older woman in superhero cape flexing biceps on a mountaintop.

Recovery: The Unsung Hero to Build Muscle

Ask most people what they’re doing to build muscle and they’ll tell you all about which training program they’re on, which exercises they’re doing, how much protein they’re eating and how many hours they spend in the gym every week. They may even brag about their dedication and “no days off” mentality.

Unfortunately, most lifters don’t understand a key principle:

If you want to build muscle, the real secret is outside the gym.

It’s called recovery, and it’s the unsung hero of gains.

Assortment of protein-rich foods

How Much Protein Do I Need?

“How much protein do I really need to be eating, and what should I eat to get it?” 

I hear this question from new lifters a lot, especially from women. 

Many women (including me!) initially start lifting to change the way they look, and tend to dramatically underestimate how much protein they need, and in fact to eat too few calories in general. No surprise: we’ve heard for our entire lives that less food and endless cardio are the keys to the body we want.

A doctor wraps a woman's injured hand with gauze bandage.

Coping with Injury, Illness, and Other Training Setbacks

Typing these words is an act of defiance. 

The last thing I feel like doing right now is writing. Anything. 

Because, as has happened many other times in my lifting life, I find myself held prisoner by an uncooperative body (thanks, Covid). I can’t train, and it’s upsetting and depressing. 

If you’ve experienced this kind of setback—and nearly everyone has at some point–you know how epically it sucks. Everything’s going your way. You’re feeling strong and poised for big things—only to get shot down by illness or injury and having to start (what feels like) all over again. 

No matter how many times I deal with this, I’m somehow still surprised at how much it messes with my head.

Woman's bare feet walking a tightrope with sunshine behind her

Real Talk About Balance

For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have a confession to make.

I launched this blog at a really bad time.

As I sit here writing, I’m three weeks out from IPL Drug-tested Worlds in Australia, and two weeks from getting on the plane to Sydney. The intensity of training is ramping up, along with the anxiety that always comes with impending competition.

Work stress also happens to be high at the moment. I have all the other usual stuff in my life (a partner; friends; kids who, though semi-grown, still require some hand-holding; mice in the house; cars that need inspection…).

And let’s not forget the part about being menopausal, which means unpredictable and often disrupted sleep and even more anxiety thanks to the effects of hormone imbalances.

So why in hell did I decide to start a website and blog now?

Woman preparing to weigh herself on a digital scale

Escape the Scale Trap

I realized something the other morning when I hopped on the scale for my daily weigh-in. 

My weight had gone up… and I felt BAD about it. 

And that was stupid.

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