My clients in their 40s constantly tell me they can’t believe everything that’s going on with their bodies and no one bothered to warn them. The number one complaint is experienced weight gain when you haven’t changed much in your diet or exercise routine over the years, and yet all of a sudden you’re piling on the pounds and it seems to show more in your midsection.
There are two main culprits behind this 40+ weight gain among women:
1. Slow metabolism.
As any of us age, our metabolism slows down. When this happens, what we used to do in terms of diet and lack of exercise suddenly catches up with us. This may not come as a huge surprise to many, but what might surprise you is that the usual response to this dilemma is probably one of the worst things you can do. Many women simply skip meals and avoid eating when they are hungry to try to reverse weight gain caused by decreased metabolism. This is terrible for your metabolism and won’t help you achieve lasting weight loss.
Eating small amounts of healthy foods, such as vegetables and lean protein, throughout the day allows your body to function at an optimal metabolic rate. When you’re starving, your body’s metabolism slows down even more because what you’ve done is put it into survival mode. You store everything you get because you’re not sure when you’ll get another bite of energy. When you feed it frequently throughout the day, it does just the opposite. It burns everything because it is supplied with energy frequently.
The other culprit for female weight gain after 40 is hormonal balance.
There are many important stages in a woman’s life that we all seem to talk about a lot. The teenage years, the childbearing years and then, of course, the hot flash-ridden menopausal stage. But what is between having children and menopause? This hellish period called perimenopause is only now being recognized by the medical community as the stage before menopause when there can be serious and noticeable symptoms that deserve attention. Weight gain, hair loss, extreme mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and inability to concentrate are some of the beautiful symptoms associated with this time in a woman’s life that can last anywhere from a few months to many years before the actual menopause.
Why? Well, honestly, it’s the body’s way of telling you to stop for a moment and pay attention to taking care of YOU! There aren’t many great medical options for treating perimenopausal symptoms, and that’s only if you really get someone to listen and help you in the first place. What you can do, what you can do alone, is take care of yourself. Proper nutrition and exercise are your best defense against perimenopausal symptoms. Vitamins, minerals, and proteins are the building blocks of hormones in the body, and when your body doesn’t receive adequate nutrition, an even greater imbalance is likely. You need a wide variety, a rainbow if you will, of vegetables in your diet.
Exercise not only aids in weight loss and overall good health, but trust me, it’s a great way to take a bad mood and make it better. More and more people over 40 are hitting the gym and hiring personal trainers like me to help them with their weight loss goals and stress levels.
It won’t solve everything, but eating a wide variety of vegetables and lean protein and exercising regularly will certainly have an effect on your overall health, hormonal balance, and weight loss.
Here are some other interesting facts to keep in mind:
- As we age, the maximum heart rate decreases by 1 beat per year.
- Cardiac output decreases by approximately 20-30% as we age
- 40% of muscle fibers are lost between early adulthood and age 80.
- Strength and the inability to move quickly decrease with age.
- There is a reduction in bone density with aging.
- Women in particular are prone to osteoporosis due to decreased estrogen levels in the postmenopausal stages.
- Joint degeneration commonly occurs in the age group over 55 due to poor posture and inactivity. Osteoarthritis sets in and can affect range of motion.
Simon’s Fitness Tips for Over 40s
- As we age, there are more reasons to kick-start a fitness program, from maintaining your heart to maintaining bone density, muscle strength, and self-esteem, and the list goes on. So start tomorrow!
- Start a structured weight training program with a personal trainer to help reduce sagging skin and improve your cardiovascular health.
- Join a local exercise class that will provide you with a great social scene as well as the benefits of structured sessions – they really are a lot of fun!
- Consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
- Set yourself small challenges and try to build on your results over time. Walk further, go faster, lift slightly heavier weights, etc. This way you will see results faster and get a great sense of accomplishment.
- If you experience pain or discomfort, slow down. Let your body tell you when it’s time to slow down or stop.
- Stay hydrated at all times – This will not only prevent dehydration but also flush toxins out of your body.