If you are not a hockey fan then you probably won’t get the “poke the bear” part … but even so, we all know bears hibernate during the winter … much like we do in Ottawa!  The only difference is that bears actually wake up skinny … we just wake up fat!

I hate to keep harping on our long cold winter, but seriously, if you have not put on at least 5 pounds this winter, you are either a masochist, vegan or have really, really, fast metabolism!  Most boomers start feeling the middle age spread between 45 and 50 years old, and there are good reasons why.  By the way guys, this is for you too … just because women seem to care more about how they look, doesn’t mean you can just let it all hang out!

Venus & Mars – no we actually aren’t that different.  Hormones are the culprit in both men and women’s expanding waistlines.  For men,  the slow down in testosterone production can cause a loss of muscle, fatigue and weight gain.  A slow down in metabolism also causes men to pile on the pounds as they leave their 40s and enter their 50s.  This means you burn fewer calories per day than you did when you were younger at the same activity level.

For women, the female hormone estrogen begins to decline during perimenopause, the time during which a woman’s body makes its natural transition to menopause, and then progesterone starts declining and poof … an increase in body fat that kicks you right in the midsection!  That hurts!

Lean body mass starts to decrease in your 30’s but staying physically active can prevent major weight gain in your boomer years … now they tell me!

Seriously though, boomers need to participate in a physical activity for an average of 60 min. per day to prevent not only weight gain but metabolic diseases, diabetes, and heart disease.  That really takes a lot of commitment.  You need at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity five days a week and 20 minutes of strength training three times a week to be healthy.

Of course diet is a biggie … alcohol and carbs (my favourites) are the biggest culprits for expanding boomer guts and butts!  Here are a few tips … I know, I know, you just want to stop reading this now … but push through!

1.  Cardiovascular exercise, such as brisk walking, strengthens the heart and lungs, helps improve the blood sugar and insulin response, and strengthens large muscle groups, while strength training helps build lean body mass in the arms, legs, and upper and lower back.

2.  Strive to eat protein during meals to promote muscle-protein synthesis, which is essential to the body’s ongoing growth and repair.  Go for the 30/30/30 rule.  Most of us concentrate our protein intake at dinner (meat) and eat very little during the day.  Studies indicate that just doesn’t work.  In a single meal, 30 g of protein had the same anabolic effect as 90 g, showing that after about 30 g, protein synthesis is maxed out.

So, poke that bear … crawl out of that cave and get moving!  Put peanut butter on your toast for protein – snack on Greek yogurt – have a nice big salad with grilled chicken for lunch and sure have a filet mignon, pork tenderloin or piece of salmon for dinner with 1 (ok maybe 2) glasses of red wine and lot’s of veggies.

Then take a nice long, brisk walk on the wild side ….

ps For a list of high protein foods to incorporate in your diet – even if you are vegetarian – check out this link.  Even though it is for bodybuilders, it has really good, clear nutritional information.  Bodybuilding.com