Loss of Strength a greater concern than loss of muscle

Loss of strength, a greater concern that loss of muscle.

Late last month I ended up getting emergency abdominal surgery, in the matter of hours my world turned upside down.  Thankfully all turned out ok but what was interesting to me was how much muscle I lost in just 2 weeks.  I am a rare breed amongst women.  I have always been able to build muscle and after I retired from competing I couldn’t lose the muscle if I tried (and I really tried).  It took a decade to bring my physique down to a size I felt more comfortable with.

So now 2 weeks post surgery and I love lost about 10 pounds, and all of it muscle.  I put on my stretch jeans and they didn’t need to stretch.  I was shaving my legs and I could pull the skin of my legs to that it didn’t bunch up !!  Never, never have I experienced this!!  Mad at myself, because this was totally avoidable (see the last post on BCAA) I could have forced down some amino acid supplements instead of living off Halo Top ice cream or a fortnight.

I’m not too concerned because if there is one thing I know how to do well, it is build muscle.  I just didn’t think I would have to make it a priority again.

The lose skin was a bummer but what really threw me was my loss of strength.  This week I got back into the gym.  My husband built me the most amazing dream gym in our new house and all I have been able to do is look at it, so I was really excited to actually get to use it!   I go under the squat bar and nearly dropped to my knees.  I have never been super strong on quads but on any given day I can put 150 on my back for reps.  This week I got 6 reps with 65lb AND I was huffing and puffing.  Moving on to some chest and my usual 25 pushups had dropped to 2 very dubious reps.  In 2 weeks my strength has dropped by at least 60% and this for me in a total head game.

I am a pretty vain woman.  Working in gyms all my life, with walls of mirrors all day makes you a little self critial, but this was interesting because it wasnt the visual loss iof muscle which concerned me most, it was the total loss of strength,

muscle couple. Kevin and joanne

So in this blog post lets discuss DYNAPENIA.   Srcopenia is well documented as the loss of muscle mass that occurs, especiallty when we age but Dynapenia is the loss of strength and the two dont always go exactly hand in hand as you might expect.  Credit for the details of this post go to Dr Jurgelwicz of Designs by Health

Having weak muscles and poor strength can affect people of any age, but it may be particularly devastating for older people. Quality of life in older age is intimately tied to one’s degree of mobility, range of motion, and movement without pain. Independent living depends on being able to conduct everyday activities that require a certain degree of muscle strength, such as carrying heavy grocery bags from the car into the house, walking up or down stairs, and getting up out of a chair easily and without a struggle.

According to one study a staggering 16% to 18% of women and 8% to 10% of men in the U.S. over age 65 cannot lift 10 pounds or stoop or kneel down. Forget that gym workout, now we are talking about just getting out of a car or carryig a shopping bad

The age-related loss of muscle strength is not fully and directly correlated with the loss of muscle mass. According to studies, muscle strength is lost at a substantially higher rate than muscle mass, and gaining muscle mass does not necessarily prevent a decline in muscle strength.

 For example, in a small cohort of men over age 69 with low IGF-1 levels but who were otherwise healthy, growth hormone treatment for six months resulted in increased lean tissue mass and decreased fat mass, but no improvements in functional ability. And while both sarcopenia and dynapenia are risk factors for functional limitation  in older adults,  dynapenia seems to have a slight edge over sarcopenia in contributing to these outcomes.

Precise diagnostic criteria for identifying dynapenia are lacking, but two commonly used determinants are grip strength and knee extensor strength. And if muscle size isn’t the main issue in dynapenia, then what is? Researchers believe the loss of strength is closely related to neurological deficits that affect muscle activation and intrinsic force generation. There may be a loss of ability to recruit and fully engage motor neurons and muscle fibers, which may occur regardless of the size of a muscle.

Data indicates that individuals over age 65 show as much as a 43% volume decrease in premotor cortex neuron cell body size compared to younger people, and it has been observed that older adults have maximal motor unit firing rates 35% to 40% lower than those of younger adults.

Not much is known about the role of nutrition in dynapenia, except that the same healthy diet and lifestyle habits that promote general health and wellness might help stave off the neurodegeneration underlying dynapenia. (And to whatever extent dynapenia may be at least somewhat influenced by sarcopenia, protein requirements for older people are likely significantly higher than general dietary guidelines suggest.) That being said, with the goal of delaying this, what holds true of so many other things in life—use it or lose it—likely applies.

To whatever extent possible, people should continue to engage in muscle-strengthening activities as they age. A walk or jog along a scenic outdoor path is great, but for healthy aging, lifting heavy things once in a while might be just as important as a good diet.

This information came to me at just the right time, as I start to hit the gym again, my focus is back to lifting big and basic.  It is fun for me because lifting big things was always fun for me.  Following my competitive years, it had been a struggle to lose the mass so I deliberately didn’t train to my strength max but today I find myself full circle and going back the basics of heavy lifting. Watch this space as my focus for the rest of 2017 is to fill out this skin and get the muscle back that I have taken for granted for so long.   Ho hum life will throw you some lemons, time to make some lemonade 🙂


Ladies over 35 hormones running wild

Ladies, it can all start in your mid 30’s, your hormones start to run wild, creating chaos with your mind, mood and body

Women deal with periods, PMS, pregnancy, post-pregnancy, PCOS, perimenopause until finally menopause. Men just get old!

Ladies we deal with so much, for decades no two weeks are the same with constant body fluctuations. In our 30’s and 40’s what looms on the horizon is the dreaded “Change”. Menopause the official step into maturity. The reality is, however, is that the tricky time is actually before we enter menopause and can last several years. So here is a little overview on what to expect and how to maybe make things a little better.


As women, we have 2 hormones dancing around each month, Estrogen and Progesterone. As we age both start to decline but it is progesterone that declines most rapidly. Although both hormones are dropping it is the greater decline of progesterone that increases the ratio between the 2 hormones and leaves us with estrogen dominance.

The reason we call it Estrogen dominance is because although estrogen is declining the gap between estrogen and progesterone is even greater because of the progesterone drop.
Estrogen dominance can be absolutely miserable because of mood changes (the glass becomes half empty and anxiety can set in), PMS that seems to last weeks with greater water retention and bloating and noticeable weight gain around the middle


Bloodwork may show the decline in both hormones and I have seen some clients treated with estrogen therapy, this, however, can make the situation worse, making a lady, even more, estrogen dominant.
The answer depends on you. Many ladies are against any type of hormone therapy. For those ladies, it is best to keep a low carbohydrate diet as estrogen and insulin are the devil’s playmates and will add to your waistline. For the other ladies, it is well worth exploring the use of a bioidentical progesterone.
I will speak only of my experience as I started using progesterone when I was 47. The water retention that was driving me crazy subsided in just a few days and my mood lifted almost immediately.
I am a pretty cheerful lady and that was the worst. My thoughts we a little depressed and my drive and motivation was stuck in park.

Knowledge is key ladies and I am not trying to sway you in either direction but if you have started to notice some changes but know that you are not menopausal due to a regular cycle it may be a good idea to get a hormonal blood panel from your doctor and have “that: conversation.

If you want a little help finding the right doctor let us know and we can maybe help you with that and if you would like a nutrition plan based on these hormonal years then please get in touch as this subject is one close to my heart.

If sleep is an issue as it is with so many, click on the image below or go to Amazon and search The Shrink Shop sleep Formula.  Much more than melatonin.  12 all natural potent herbs to get you to sleep and to keep you asleep.  Absolutely our favorite product

Ladies over 35 I know its all getting a little cra cra but I hoped this explained why your hormones are running wild and how to help

Let’s get this party started! Who, What, Why

Ladies and Gents born after say 1985, this blog is for you.  Once we get into our mid 30’s things start to change.

What worked before isn’t working anymore, taking your shirt off or wearing a bikini becomes more uncomfortable and it seems like your body is working against you.  Before you resign yourself to “middle age” please start reading and watching this blog.


Everything that is happening to you can be explained and its really quite fascinating once you start to figure out what is going on and what you can do about it.  I will tell you right now that counting calories and adding minutes to your cardio will do very little to help.  Intake and expenditure are important but its a little like focusing on what color to paint a room when the house is built on sand.

Who am I?  Joanne Lee Cornish, you can read full bio in the sidebar.  I was a pro bodybuilder and although I hate to dig up old photos I probably will just to show you I know what I am talking about 🙂  I am 50 and I was an Independent trainer in Gold Gym Venice, CA for 24 years.  I think few will dispute that I made my mark there and was classed as one of the top trainers in the most famous gym in the world.  Outside of Golds I had (and still have), a nutrition business called  The Shrink Shop (hence the name of this blog) Although the name suggests weight loss, my niche is really conditioning and that may be adding muscle and/or losing fat.

I’ve been designing meal plans for over 20 years but about 10 years ago I wrote a seminar series called “If Diets Worked We’d All Be Skinny” it was a 6 part series where I explained everything from childhood obesity to bloating, hormonal weight gain, alcohol, sleep, stress and of course nutrition.  Well, seminar #1 I presented to about 6 of my friends who were kind enough to turn up to support me.  By seminar #6 we were at capacity with people standing in the hallway taking notes.  I was asked to repeat the whole series which I did but we had to move to a larger location.

Does that mean I’m so great?  not really.  What was obvious was that people were really interested in understanding what was going on with their bodies, behaviors and were looking for solutions they could implement with confidence.  This was a game changer for me, as i really find all this stuff totally fascinating but I hadn’t realized so many people felt the same way.

This blog is intended to be informative and fun.  If you have any questions or ideas please let me know

The Shrink Shop was founded on the belief that given clear, valid information, people will make better choices all by themselves.

So let’s get started!

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