Sex After 40

By: Dr. Stacey Naito – Physician and IFBB Pro

The Shifting Tide

Those of you about to turn the corner and enter the 40 and over zone may be concerned about the impact that getting older will have on your sex life. You may have questions about whether you must resign yourself to becoming a dried-up old lady, with no fun to be had in the bedroom. Thankfully, the reality is that you can have more fulfilling and enjoyable sex than you had in your 20’s or 30’s.

What’s more, society has gotten wind of the idea that people want to live completely fulfilled lives into their advanced years. It’s true that 40 has become the new 20, and the concept is supported by empowered celebrities like J. Lo proclaiming their eternal youth and sexual vitality without shame. So instead of allowing the aging process to shut you down, it’s time to look forward to a new and more sexually fulfilling chapter in your life.

Why Getting Older Is Great For Your Sex Life

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t trade the knowledge and life experience I obtained over my 52 years on the planet to return to my 20’s, because aging has positively impacted every aspect of my life, including what happens behind closed doors. With age comes acceptance of who we are, body flaws and all. Let’s face it, we accumulate stretch marks, cellulite, scars, etc. over time, all of which could send us into a meltdown if we stressed out about them. We have become more comfortable with who we are, which translates to greater body confidence. That body confidence works to our advantage in the bedroom, because we no longer feel uneasy or ashamed of how we look sans clothing. When we are comfortable naked, we can finally relax and enjoy intimate encounters to the fullest.

A woman in her 40’s or 50’s is less likely to take desperate measures to entice her man, such as dressing up in sexy but uncomfortable lingerie, or wearing a pair of high heels guaranteed to aggravate her plantar fasciitis or her bad back. In contrast, it seems there are plenty of women in younger age brackets who follow ridiculous wardrobe guidelines to garner the attention of potential sex partners or followers on social media channels. A woman in her 40’s of beyond doesn’t have the inclination to make a fool out of herself to guarantee a romp in the bedroom. She is older, wiser, and doesn’t have time for such nonsense. She doesn’t feel like she needs to try so hard to win her partner’s favor. Her attitude tends to be more along the lines of, “This is what I got, take it or leave it.” Besides, I am willing to bet that such an attitude is far sexier to a man these days. In addition, most men tend to be more excited about the notion of getting you naked, and once you are in the buff, they aren’t scrutinizing your body for flaws.

Older women are also less selfish in bed, and bolder about declaring what they want. They know their bodies, their likes and dislikes. If single, they are more discerning about how they procure partners, so they are less likely to engage in risky activities which expose them to sexually transmitted diseases. For older women in a relationship, there is a greater likelihood that they have been with the same partner for many years, and have developed a level of intimacy which only comes from a longer term committed relationship. A 40-something woman is usually confident enough to turn to her partner and say, “I really like it when you use your hands on me more”, and not fret about whether her partner will accept her sexual preferences.

Chances are that for older women, there are far fewer household distractions which can impede the natural progression of an afternoon of flirting into a full-blown lovemaking session. Such interludes are pretty much impossible if a baby is crying, or young children are demanding attention. Once children have become old enough to be relatively independent, say from pre-teens on, there may be more opportunities to roll around in the sheets with your partner without any interruptions. That kind of freedom can result in more spontaneous sexual encounters and greater satisfaction.

For those past menopause, Aunt Flo’s monthly visit no longer interferes with any amorous advances. Furthermore, there is no concern about getting pregnant and having an unplanned family addition. It’s incredibly liberating.

Sexual Issues and Aging

Though I have painted a rosy picture of the sex life of older women, there are some issues which can interfere with optimal sexual activity. However, this doesn’t mean that all women over 40 will experience sexual dysfunction. As geriatric psychiatrist and Caring.com senior editor Ken Robbins states, “Impaired sexuality and sexual function aren’t normal consequences of aging.” (https://www.caring.com/articles/sexless-after-40).

Women can experience symptoms of perimenopause as early as 35, and the diminishing estrogen and progesterone levels can result in vaginal dryness and thinning of the vaginal mucosa, both of which can make intercourse painful. If this occurs, make sure to obtain a pelvic exam with a physician who can diagnose and treat the condition. In many cases, a lubricant is sufficient, but hormone replacement therapy may be offered as an option as well.

Some women may experience a decrease in sexual desire as they age, but many others experience a surge in libido from the increased testosterone to estrogen ratio, which increases as estrogen levels continue to diminish. The sexual benefits of testosterone are also enhanced by regular weight training, which naturally boosts testosterone levels in the body. However, the ebb and flow of sexual desire often fluctuates more in women over the age of 40, a result of associated dips and surges in hormonal levels. In addition, the hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings associated with plummeting progesterone levels don’t exactly make a woman feel amorous.

If you are a woman over 40 who is experiencing symptoms of perimenopause, such as hot flashes, and they are frequent enough to disrupt your daily life, seek the advice of a physician. During your visit, you may ask if the addition of hormonal support supplements like maca or dihydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) would be helpful in decreasing the symptoms you are experiencing.
Most importantly, reduce stress in your daily life, get plenty of rest, and communicate with your partner about any sexual concerns you may have.

How To Visualize Your Body Transformation Goal

Body B&AWhenever I do initial consultations with weight management patients I make sure to ask them what their ultimate weight loss goals are.  Invariably my patients will mention a friend or relative who has the physique they desire, or they will mention a time in their lives at which they considered their own bodies to be ideal for them.  At the end of the evaluation, I instruct my patients to find at least one picture of that ideal body and post it in a prominent place, either on a desk, bathroom mirror, refrigerator, or car dashboard.  The whole point is to create a visual representation of the patient’s goal so that it becomes more tangible over time.

Another tip which I give to weight management patients is to take weekly progress pics so that they can monitor the subtle changes in their bodies over an interval period of time.  What they might not see from week to week can be very dramatic when they compare their baseline photos to photos taken many weeks or months later.  Over time it becomes easier to take these progress pictures.  Trust me, I used to do it regularly myself when I was competing. These days, though, I have hit a certain rhythm in which I stay at a specific set point.

Lori HarderThe tips I have just mentioned also work EXTREMELY well for people in the midst of contest prep.  I typically advise contest prep clients to take weekly progress pictures, because they provide a great way to monitor subtle changes week by week, as well as yield information which I can use in order to make small changes in a prep plan.  

When I first began competing in 2009, I quite randomly picked a couple of images of female competitors whose physiques I really admired, printed them, and placed them on my bathroom mirror.  I saw these images daily, and was able to visualize my goal on a consistent basis.  I did not remove these images from my mirror until I moved in October of 2012, and when I did so, I moved the images to bulletin boards in our den.

What is amazing now is that I have images of myself right next to the images of the ladies I had so admired, and you know what?  I achieved my goal of attaining IFBB Pro Status and the best physique of my life, at the ripe age of 47.    These days, I no longer look at the images of these ladies as something to aspire to, but instead look at them as peers.

In summary, there are two things you can do to visualize your goal:

1. FIND AN IMAGE OF THE BODY YOU WANT AND POST IT IN A PROMINENT PLACE.

2. TAKE WEEKLY PROGRESS PICTURES OF YOURSELF.

Visualize and make your goal materialize!

Sit Up Straight!

If you have a tendency to slouch in your seat, you need to pay attention! Poor posture has detrimental effects not only on the body, but also on one’s mood and general attitude.

Poor posture causes muscles in our neck and upper back to become overstretched, while causing other neck muscles and muscles in our torso and between our ribs to become cramped and overstimulated. The muscles in our chest become dominant, and pull our shoulders and upper arms inward and forward when we habitually adopt a stooped posture. This position puts a tremendous load on the diaphragm, and respiration suffers as a result. Even digestion becomes sluggish because the body cannot properly oxygenate and blood cannot circulate as well.

Poor posture can negatively impact your emotional state and confidence, not to mention how others perceive you. If you’re slouching right now, think of how you feel emotionally, mentally. Are you down, depressed? Now sit up straight and take a couple of nice, deep breaths. You should notice an immediate shift in attitude and mood.

Proper spinal alignment also has a positive effect on hormone levels. One Harvard study revealed that an erect posture, with shoulders back and spines nice and straight correlated with a 20 percent increase in testosterone levels and a 25 percent decrease in cortisol levels, while subjects who slouched experienced a 10 percent decrease in circulating testosterone levels and a 15 increase in cortisol.

Lastly, the way you carry yourself has immense bearing on how others perceive you. If you meet someone whose shoulders are pulled forward, your impression may be that the person isn’t the most motivated or energetic you’ve met. Yet if that person had a nice upright stance, with shoulders pulled down and back, your impression would probably be very different.

With some conscious effort, you can correct a hunched posture. Try this stretch at least a couple of times each day, and you will slowly begin to notice a correction in your posture. This is great for resetting the brain and creating more awareness of how you carry your body throughout the day.


AGAINST THE WALL

Stand with your back to a wall, feet together with heels touching wall, and arms hanging at your sides. Relax your shoulders, then pull them back so that they make contact with the wall. Stand in this position for 30 to 60 seconds, taking slow, deep breaths.
When you are ready to step away from the wall, keep your shoulders in the same position. Be aware of how you are breathing, and how your back feels when your shoulders are kept back
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You Got This!

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In keeping with the fact that we are approaching the last NPC Pro Qualifier contest of the year in November, I figured it was a perfect time to talk about envisioning your goal, whether it be the attainment of a Pro Card or some other coveted prize. The key is to adopt the attitude that you have already reached your goal, because such an attitude carries immense power and forces you to adopt an “I won” attitude. I chased after a Pro Card for five years, and I honestly believed that it was only after I had adopted the attitude in 2013 that I already WAS a Pro that my energy truly changed.

Focus is not enough. In order to truly draw the proper energy, you need to envision already reaching your goal. You can always tell when a competitor is “on” because he or she will throw off sparks of “I got this” confidence. There is a glow about that person onstage which sets him or her apart from everyone else. It has less to do with a great suit or great posing (though those things help too) and everything to do with owning that “I won” attitude. I have seen it repeatedly and I also know I had that glow when I won my Pro Card.

So if you have been hitting the stage or the gym with a “Please pick me” attitude, you need to scrap that and truly own the attitude that you have already locked down the win. Even if you don’t nail down a Pro Card spot, you can take that attitude with you to future events and maximize your chances of getting high placings with your confidence.

Bringing Out The Bitch

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We all have limits on what we are willing to put up with before feelings of irritation and anger begin to bubble under the surface and threaten to spill over. Recently I have dealt with more individuals and customer service reps who apparently never learned manners from their parents, and who don’t seem to care when they get on my last nerve. Though I have manners and can be a study in calmness and patience, I can go from zero to bitch in a flash when someone rubs me the wrong way.

I honestly think that there are many people who will assume that women are pushovers, so they are shocked when a confident and assertive woman stands her ground. The problem with a woman asserting herself is that she suddenly comes across as a bitch, even if she is in a position of authority which should afford her the right to speak with conviction. Though I have always been a pretty strong personality, I developed a thicker outer shell over the years because I was railroaded by so many people who took advantage of my generosity. It is a challenge to be a physician, because I automatically am placed in a position in which I have to deal with people’s maladies and complaints. Basically, this means that people come to me only because they have problems which need to be fixed, and because they are usually in pain or experiencing some type of discomfort, they may not be in the best of moods. Though I am empathetic and receptive to the needs of others, this doesn’t mean that I am some sort of pushover in other areas of my life.

Let’s face it: assertive equals bitchy for a lot of people, especially for women. God forbid if you disagree with someone and you are a woman, because all of a sudden you are a bitch. This seems to be the case in all scenarios, including personal relationships. You may be filled with resentment over something, but you also run the risk of appearing confrontational and bitchy if you decide to unload your thoughts and feelings about the situation to the person who is upsetting you. So much for the emancipation of women, because the social climate still reels in horror over an assertive woman.

I will always stand up for myself. If that makes me a bitch, then so be it.

Excusitis And How To Banish It

http://www.rxmuscle.com/rx-girl-articles/5936-excusitis-and-how-to-banish-it.html

The original post was published on Tuesday, 26 June 2012 on RxGirl.com. It is difficult to read on the site, so I have copied and pasted the article here for you to read.

???????????????????????????????????????As a physician and fitness professional I constantly encounter people who suffer from something I like to call “excusitis”. It is not uncommon for a patient to lament over her excess weight, using the fact that she has had children as an excuse for refusing to take charge over her life. Another common scenario is the man who is just entering middle age and is despondent over his growing belly, yet has no intention of giving up his preference for daily treks to fast food establishments. The list goes on and on, but every rationalization I have heard has been based on skewed logic and entrenched in a basic refusal to take ownership in a person’s own responsibility for not being in shape.

I understand that making a decision to be healthy and fit can be very challenging because it requires a person to be held accountable for unhealthy patterns and behaviors. This is complicated by the fact that the American diet is so heavily reliant on processed foods that most people have trained their brains and bodies to hold onto fat and function at a suboptimal level. To be truly fit, a mental shift must occur which motivates oneself to obliterate the old patterns which have served as a blockade to attaining better health. Initially these lifestyle changes can be daunting since they are in opposition to how the person has become accustomed to living. However, if one persists in adopting healthy behaviors, cravings for unhealthy foods will dissipate and a transformation of mind will occur, with the body soon following along.
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Excuses are an easy way out and are reflective of the pervasive message which society sends out. What do I mean by this? If you think about all the fad diets, diet pills, and other weight loss gimmicks which are on the market, it is no surprise that many individuals are threatened by the idea of being proactive about their own health and fitness. Without sugar-coating it, lifelong fitness and wellness rely on a foundation which takes time to establish and which require commitment on the part of the individual.

I find that by sharing before and after photos and transformation stories of individuals who have lost a tremendous amount of weight or battled cancer only to stand later as a beacon of optimal health and fitness, I can often impact patients and clients in a very powerful way. The stories I share are of ordinary people who were often in horrific shape prior to deciding to take a proactive stance on their own health, many of whom are now fitness professionals who serve as incredible inspiration for others. Once I share transformation stories with a patient or client, I set specific goals and monitor their progress within a program. For those who cannot afford to see a physician, dietitian, trainer or coach, there are a multitude of resources available now, from online training and food logs to online support groups which will help a person to stay on track.
Do It
If you have been vacillating between taking charge of your life and wallowing in self-pity, it is time to stop making excuses and choose the former. You will be rewarded with better health, greater vitality, a more fit body and a boost in self-confidence. It’s a win-win situation.

The Funhouse Mirror Effect Part 2: The Women’s Mirror

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It almost seems to be an inherent part of a woman’s nature to be self-effacing, so much so that women often downplay or neglect their beauty and talents. In fact, I am willing to bet that if you placed an average looking man and an average looking woman in front of a mirror and asked them to assess their physical appearance, the man would concentrate on his assets, while the woman would immediately zone in on her imperfections and problem areas. Though the natural human tendency is to practice self-enhancement, in which we rank our abilities or physical attractiveness as higher than it actually is, women are exposed to physical ideals which bust their confidence and often plant a seed of self-loathing. How can an average woman feel good about herself when she sees rail thin models in fashion magazines who are excessively Photoshopped? Consider this: the average high fashion model has these body statistics:

Fashion Editorial Model
FEMALE: Usually 5’8” – 6’0” (175 cm) in height. Tall, thin build, narrow hips, smaller bust, and usually young. Ages start at fourteen up to early twenties.
Weight: 113 – 128 lbs.
Bust: 32” – 34”, cup A, B, sometimes C
Waist: 26” maximum
Hips: 35 1/2” maximum

Thank goodness the tide is turning in favor of a healthy, realistic view of women’s bodies. Women are beginning to understand that fashion magazines depict a view of the female form which is so far removed from reality that it isn’t reasonable to compare themselves to it. I love this passage from an article I read on this subject:

Perhaps we’re finally starting to realize that so much of what we see on TV, in the movies and in magazines is actually fake. A few women’s blogs — particularly Jezebel — have become sort of watchdogs for Photoshop fakery in women’s magazines. Most recently, the blog attained an untouched photo of Jennifer Aniston, posting the untouched picture next to the airbrushed photo of the actress that appeared in an Australian magazine.
“I think those are great because they really remind people that what they’re seeing in the magazines isn’t reality,” says David Frederick, a psychology researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, who co-authored the survey along with researcher Kim Elsesser and professor Janet Lever of California State University, Los Angeles. “You’re taking someone who’s already considered really attractive, and then you’re saying, ‘She’s not enough; we have to do more to her.’ So you’re literally creating an impossible ideal. Even the perfect women aren’t perfect.”

I think it will take a while before we women are completely healed from the skewed perception of ideal female beauty which countless magazines, Barbie dolls, and fashion billboard ads have imprinted on us. It is that skewed view which contributes to the flaw-finding gaze which many women adopt when regarding themselves in the mirror and which makes that reflective surface act more like a funhouse fat mirror.

The Funhouse Mirror Effect Part 1: The Men’s Mirror

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Have you ever seen the cartoon in which a man is looking at himself in a mirror, and instead of seeing his beer belly, balding head and weak jaw, his reflection is that of an Adonis, with a chiseled jaw, washboard abs and a full head of glorious hair? I have encountered quite a few men (especially at the gym) who seem to have a reverse dysmorphia which has them thoroughly convinced that they are America’s Next Top Male Model. While I am all for a certain level of self-confidence no matter how closely a man resembles Golem from Lord of the Rings, I will never understand the boastful behavior and posturing that some less evolved representatives of the male human foolishly choose to display.

I am not suggesting that men don’t have insecurities, because I know they harbor doubts and feelings of inadequacy just like women do. But there is a stark difference between the male tendency to puff out his chest and confidently display his feathers (even if the display looks more like the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree), and the female tendency to amplify any imperfection. Lately I have seen far too many men walking or jogging on the sidewalk who clearly have no business being out in public sans shirt, but they seem completely oblivious to the negative effect their gelatinous bellies and hairy shoulders and back have on passerby. Part of me says bravo on the lack of concern over other people’s opinions, but the rest of me is desperately trying to keep my last meal down.

It appears that men’s inflated self-perception is more honest and congruent with what psychologists refer to as “self-enhancement”, in which people essentially give themselves the benefit of the doubt, exaggerating more desirable personality traits and skills, and considering themselves more physically attractive than they actually are. Of course we would all love to be above average, and thus nudge or enhance our views of ourselves. Believe it, and you can achieve it, I suppose, but it actually works. Most women will be more drawn to an average looking man who exudes confidence over a handsome fella who is self-effacing. Not that I have ever seen a great looking guy who lacked self-confidence, mind you, but confidence is very attractive for both genders.