I have no energy and my clothes don’t fit – The Challenges of Losing Weight After 40
Fat, frumpy, and old. That is how I feel these day. Despite eating healthy and staying active with regular exercise, I continue to gain weight. My clothes don’t fit and I feel heavy and cumbersome.
Is this what it means to be a middle-aged woman?
Getting older offers many benefits – greater wisdom, more empathy, and a better understanding of who we are. But there are plenty of new challenges as well, like shifts in hormones as we enter our menopausal years, a slower metabolism, and greater risks from chronic diseases.
It is incredibly frustrating to eat well, stay active, and still see the rising numbers on the scale.
Our physicians tell us to “eat healthier” and “exercise more” (as if we haven’t already tried!)
I believe there has to be a better way to support our bodies as we go through the physical and emotional transformation of midlife and the menopausal years. And I believe we can successfully lose weight in midlife – we just need a different approach.
A Holistic Approach to Weight Loss – Losing Weight after Forty
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I refuse to give up. I don’t want to be this overweight, tired, stressed out woman I have become. I am not trying to get my 20 or 30-year old body back. But I do want to feel healthy, centered, strong, and in control of my health and my life.
I believe losing weight after forty is more than simply eating less and exercising more. Using a holistic approach to weight loss, we can balance our energy, our hormones, feel better, and lose weight.
We can feel vibrantly alive, strong and healthy, calm and centered. But we cannot achieve this level of health without considering the amazing changes are bodies are experiencing.
Losing weight in Midlife – 5 key areas
- Food – a new approach
- Movement – consistency
- Coping with stress
- Supporting ourselves – through the physical, emotional, and spiritual transformation of menopause
What does sleep have to do with losing weight after 40? Everything! Sleep is the foundation. If we aren’t getting enough sleep, everything can get a little wonky – both physically and emotionally.
The chronic stress we are living under can affect our cortisol levels and biorhythms, and the hormonal changes of perimenopause and menopause can interrupt our sleep patterns in a much more profound way.
Lack of sleep is too often overlooked when it comes to our ability to lose weight. Studies show sleep deprivation causes changes in the hormones that regulate hunger – ghrelin and leptin.
In addition, numerous studies have linked reduced sleep to the development of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
And of course, when we’re exhausted, we have less motivation and will power to stick to our healthy eating and exercise plan.
The post How to Sleep Better – Simple Strategies for Better Sleep offers great strategies for getting a good night’s sleep.
But sometimes, we need more than strategies to get good sleep. Herbs offer amazing benefits and in addition to helping you fall asleep and stay asleep, can soothe frazzled nerves, relieve muscle aches and pains, and improve your ability to cope with stress.
Herbs are a gentle, safe, and non-addicting solution to many sleep problems. You can read about my Favorite 5 Herbs for Better Sleep here.
There are some great herbal products to help you sleep. Tea blends are nice, but I also enjoy tinctures and capsules – they offer more benefit, work quickly, and unlike bedtime tea – don’t make you have to get up and pee in the middle of the night. ; )
There is no one right way to eat – what works for one person will fail for someone else. We each have to know our bodies and what combinations work best for us, at the stage of life we are currently in.
I don’t believe in strict diets or complicated dietary rules. But I do believe we have moved so far away from healthy eating and are bombarded daily with competing and contradictory information on what’s “good for us”.
Let’s get in touch with our bodies and learn to listen to the signals our body is sending us about what we truly need to be healthy and feel well.
Getting older means we need a new way to approach food and nutrition. Losing weight after 40 presents new challenges as our metabolism slows down and we experience drastic changes in our hormones.
The following are 4 simple strategies to enjoy more energy, increase your health, and help you lose weight.
- Eat small meals and snacks throughout the day
- Include healthy proteins and fats with every meal and snack
- Nourish your gut
- Reduce inflammatory foods
Small Meals and Snacks All Day
Women over forty experience changes in thyroid and hormone levels which can affect our insulin response – causing increased hunger sensations, overeating, as well as increased fat storage. Consuming small, frequent meals and snacks throughout the day is crucial to avoid blood sugar spikes and plummets that lead to increased fat storage and overeating.
Another advantage to eating more frequently, is what’s called the “the thermic effect of food.” The process of digestion requires a good deal of energy in the form of calories, to break down, assimilate, and eliminate food. This is called the thermic effect of food, and eating small, frequent meals consistently can increase the amount of energy you burn each day.
Healthy Proteins and Fats with Every Meal and Snack
Eating small meals every few hours only benefits us if those meals and snacks are balanced. Forget low-fat and low-carb; include healthy sources of fats and proteins with complex carbohydrates for long-lasting energy, stable blood sugar levels, and to avoid food cravings.
Protein and fats provide satiety, help balance our blood sugar levels, and many on this list are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids and other important nutrients.
Examples of healthy proteins:
- nuts and nut butters
- sunflower and pumpkin seeds
- grass-fed beef
- free-range poultry and eggs
- fish like salmon and tilapia
Examples of healthy fats:
- extra-virgin olive oil
- coconut oil
- grass-fed butter
Nourish Your Gut
We are only just beginning to understand the connection between the microbiome within our gut and the impact it has on our health. Research is demonstrating the many ways gut flora promotes normal gastrointestinal function, provides protection from infection, regulates metabolism and comprises more than 75% of our immune system.
New evidence indicates that gut bacteria alter the way we store fat, how we balance levels of glucose in the blood, and how we respond to hormones that make us feel hungry or full. (Source)
More and more research is examining the links between gut flora, obesity, and diseases like diabetes. As science uncovers the intricate links between gut flora and our health, the simplest way we can improve our gut flora is to include regular servings of probiotic foods.
Probiotic-rich foods are everywhere these days.
- Probiotic-rich yogurts
- Sauerkraut and Kimchi
- Apple cider vinegar (organic)
Reduce Inflammatory Foods
Studies show the link between inflammatory foods, obesity, and diabetes. Unfortunately, the standard American diet tempts us with convenience and flavor while delivering an abundance of inflammatory foods and ingredients.
There are many foods and ingredients that can trigger inflammation, and everyone’s response is different. But these are the top 5 inflammatory foods:
- trans fats
- refined flour
- omega-6 fatty acids found in most processed foods and vegetables oils
Increase Your Intake of Anti-inflammatory Foods
We already know we can enjoy greater health by reducing our consumption of highly processed foods. Including more anti-inflammatory foods is the next step.
Some easy and delicious anti-inflammatory foods include:
- Green leafy vegetables – cooked and raw
- Coconut oil
It seems like the older we get, the more responsibilities we assume. Many of us are balancing work, family, and caring for aging parents. Finding time for physical activity becomes more challenging, especially if we find ourselves tired, stressed, and carrying extra pounds.
We can do ourselves a favor by letting go of the “all or nothing” attitude when it comes to exercise. The key to enjoy a strong, healthy, balanced body is to be consistent. Include small amounts of different types of exercise each week.
Here are a few suggestions and the benefits they offer:
- walking – builds strong bones, reduces stress
- yoga and stretching – reduces stress, keeps us flexible
- weight lifting – helps us maintain muscle mass (keeping our metabolism higher), and builds strong bones
- group exercises – stress relief, calorie burning, and social time
How can you make time for consistent physical activity? Make it a priority and create a schedule. Here are some ideas.
- Get up 10 minutes earlier for light yoga and stretching in the morning
- Take a 15-minute break during your work day for a walk
- Join a gym and schedule class times for exercise
- Find an accountability partner – commit to exercise together at a set time each week
- Use the ACE exercise library to find strengthening exercises you can do at home – the library includes exercises without equipment, with limited home equipment (like bands and dumbbells), and by body part
Coping with Stress
The mind and the body are intricately connected, and what affects one affects the other. If we are chronically stressed, overwhelmed, and depressed, our physical health will be affected.
And if our bodies are out of balance – we become exhausted, depressed, and emotionally unbalanced.
Finding healthy ways to cope with stress may be the first place to start if we are struggling to lose weight after 40. Herbal remedies helped me through a very difficult period of my life, and they have become a regular part of my self-care.
I passionately believe herbs should be part of everyone’s wellness plan. In my post Herbal Remedies for Stress Relief, I share my favorite herbs for relieving stress and overwhelm.
Supporting Ourselves – A Holistic Approach to Weight Loss After 40
I believe we can take back our health, and life after forty doesn’t have to mean feeling trapped in our bodies.
We’re super busy women. How can we make the changes we need to feel better and lose weight?
We can. We will. We have managed our lives and responsibilities for all these years, we can do what’s necessary to feel better. Outer change needs to start with inner change. Believe in yourself!
What are you willing to change to make your health and happiness a priority?
Be good to yourself, and I wish you all the best on your health journey. ~ Michelle