Trying to lose weight after the age of 40 can be challenging. I can’t tell you how many women reach out to me saying they’re doing all the same things they used to, but now they’re gaining weight or looking “fluffy in the middle.” Ladies, we can thank changing hormones for that. But it doesn’t have to be a downhill slope. It’s not only possible to get things under control, but actually thrive, build muscle and improve your metabolism at 40, 50 and beyond!
Why Losing Weight Gets Harder With Age
Losing weight as we age comes down to several factors. And yes, I know it’s incredibly frustrating and “unfair.” From hormones to decreased sleep, stress, and age-related muscle loss, the cards seem (on the surface) stacked against us. I’m listing the the top reasons (but keep reading for my solutions). I’m in better shape at 54 with far less effort than when in my 30s..so stick with me here!
Women experience significant hormonal shifts as they approach menopause and beyond. Fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone levels can impact metabolism, leading to weight gain or difficulty in losing weight.
As we age, our metabolism naturally slows down. This decrease in metabolic rate makes it more challenging to burn calories and lose weight. Muscle mass also tends to decrease, which further contributes to a slower metabolism.
Age-related muscle loss, known as sarcopenia, is a common occurrence. As we lose muscle mass, our body’s ability to burn calories diminishes. Since muscle tissue is more metabolically active than fat, maintaining or building muscle becomes crucial for weight loss.
With age, responsibilities often increase, and time becomes more limited. Balancing work, family, and other commitments may result in less time dedicated to physical activity and self-care. Additionally, stress levels tend to rise, which can affect weight management.
Changes in Body Composition:
As women age, they may experience a shift in body composition, with a greater accumulation of fat around the midsection. This type of fat, known as visceral fat, is linked to an increased risk of chronic diseases and can be stubborn to lose.
Factors such as stress, hormonal fluctuations, and life changes can impact eating behaviors. Emotional eating or using food as a coping mechanism may become more prevalent, making weight loss more challenging.
Now you know the why, let’s get to the HOW!
How to Change Your Body After 40
Prioritize Strength Training:
Muscle mass tends to decline as we age, but fear not, my friends! Incorporating regular strength training into your routine can be a game-changer. As we age, our metabolism naturally slows down, making weight loss more challenging. However, incorporating regular strength training workouts can be a powerful tool. Not only does strength training help build and preserve muscle mass, but it also revs up your metabolism. With each strength-building session, you’re increasing your body’s calorie-burning potential even at rest. Plus, the added muscle tone creates a leaner, more sculpted physique. No, ladies, you won’t get bulky! I promise!
Embrace High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT):
These quick bursts of intense exercise followed by short recovery periods are perfect for busy schedules. HIIT boosts your metabolism, burns calories, and continues to torch fat long after your workout ends. Do I recommend this daily? No! In fact, I like Zone 2 Cardio for fat loss. But once or twice a week you can shake things up with HIIT, provided you aren’t taxing your joints and you know your personal limits. Hitting heavy weights tends to be far more beneficial over the long run, but feel free to shake things up from time to time with interval training.
Healthy eating habits are key to achieving sustainable weight loss. Opt for nutrient-dense foods that nourish your body and keep you feeling satisfied. Pay attention to portion sizes, listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues, and savor each bite mindfully. A balanced approach to nutrition will help you create a long-lasting relationship with food. That said…please don’t rely on copious calorie counting and restriction. Part of relieving stress is eating veggies, while also indulging in French fries (if you want them) from time to time.
Hydration is Non-Negotiable:
Water is your best friend! Proper hydration aids digestion, helps control cravings, and keeps your energy levels up. Make it a habit to carry a water bottle with you throughout the day and set reminders to drink up. Infused water or herbal tea can add flavor and further boost hydration.
Get Your Zzz’s:
Quality sleep is a secret weapon for weight loss success. Aim for 7-9 hours of restful sleep each night. Prioritize a consistent bedtime routine, create a calming environment, and limit screen time before bed. When you’re well-rested, your body can recover, rebalance hormones, and maintain optimal metabolic function.
Stress Less, Thrive More:
Stress can wreak havoc on your weight loss journey, especially after 40. Practice stress management techniques such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, or engaging in activities you love. By reducing stress, you lower cortisol levels, improve sleep, and create an environment conducive to weight loss. Personally, I love a good moving meditation, like this one.
Be Consistent with Physical Activity:
Consistency is key when it comes to shedding unwanted pounds. Find activities that you enjoy and make them a part of your daily routine. Whether it’s a brisk walk, dancing, swimming, or a group fitness class, aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. As my friend Sal Di Stefano from Mind Pump says, it’s often the little things you do daily that add up to more steps and more burned calories than time spent in the gym. So yes, park further away. Take the stairs. Fidget. It helps more than you think.
Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals can make all the difference on your weight loss journey. Seek out support from friends, family, or join fitness groups or online communities. Sharing your challenges and successes will provide accountability, motivation, and a sense of belonging. Join some Facebook groups, mom groups or swap food logs with friends using an app like Myfitnesspal.
Emphasize Whole Foods:
Fuel your body with whole, unprocessed foods that nourish and energize you. Fill your plate with lean proteins, colorful vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. Minimize your intake of added sugars, processed snacks, and refined carbohydrates. Your body will thank you for the nutrient-rich goodness! I spent years on fake food and paid the price. So, the less processed the better. Or adopt the 80/20 rule.
Seek Professional Guidance:
If you feel overwhelmed or unsure about navigating the weight loss journey alone, consider consulting a registered dietitian or a certified fitness professional. They can provide personalized care with the education to back it up. And if you think you might have triggers or a tendency to slip into disordered eating, I humbly suggest a qualified therapist. XO!
Comment below and let me know which of these tips helps you the most!
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