The moment I looked at my daughter’s graduation pictures, I knew something had to change. It was all I could do to keep from crying. Did I really look THAT fat? (Yes. I really did.)
But the feeling that settled over me that moment wasn’t one of determination. It was more like hopeless despair. Because I hadn’t just ignored the weight I’d gained over the last several years. I’d done and tried everything to get it off – and nothing worked. Diet after diet, walking, aerobics, gym membership. All came and went, and the scale still refused to budge. I just could not understand why the things that used to work when I was younger had no impact now.
Turns out there are 5 very good reasons the scale stops cooperating after you turn 40:
1. Your metabolism slows down. Your body is shifting gears away from potentially getting pregnant. It’s estimated that if your diet and activity level stays exactly the same as in your 30’s you’ll suddenly have about a 100 calorie a day surplus. Which means that you’ll gain 8 to 10 pounds every year without doing anything differently than before. Worse, the slowdown continues as you get older – so the calorie surplus and the amount of weight it causes you to gain only continue to grow as the years go by.
2. You lose muscle mass. Apparently it takes more muscle to be ready to reproduce. So after 40 your muscles literally start to slowly melt away. And since muscle burns more calories even at rest than fat, your metabolism slows even further.
3. Your hormones begin to change. We don’t want to think about that dreaded M word (menopause) but your body can start to prepare for it up to 10 years before you begin to notice the symptoms. Hormones like leptin and ghrelin (which regulate appetite), adiponectin (which regulates fat storage and energy levels) are produced at different levels than before – all causing your body to hold onto energy, store more fat, and tell you to eat more.
4. Your serotonin levels decline. Have you noticed you’re sleeping less? It’s not your imagination. Unfortunately, your body does its most efficient fat burning while you’re asleep, while it’s making repairs and adjustments based on what has happened during the day. So less sleep means – you guessed it – less fat burning.
5. You’re under more stress. Our 40’s and 50’s are the most stressful decades of our lives. Teenagers (or the “empty nest”), marital issues or divorce, career pressure, aging parents, retirement planning, health problems… all this stress leads to a hormone called cortisol. Studies show elevated levels of cortisol stimulates your appetite and causes you to crave sugary or starchy foods. It then causes this extra energy to be stored as abdominal fat.
So yes, your body really IS working against you. So how do you fight back?
The 5 Things You Have To Do
To Lose Weight Over 40
Your body has changed, partly due to your age and partly due to the weight. If you want to fight the fat, you’ve got to work with your new body instead of against it. It’s not going to be easy – there are no easy victories in the Battle of the Bulge. But victories can be won, and they are oh so sweet. Here’s how to start fighting back:
1. Throw away your scale. Part of what’s gotten us into this mess is that we’ve lost muscle mass. We’re going to have to build some of that muscle back – and muscle weighs more than fat. So it’s likely that you can radically shift your body composition to a leaner, fit physique – and yet you may not lose a single pound. You may even gain a few in the beginning. Seeing that reflected on your scale will do nothing but discourage you. So just don’t. Instead, get a tape measure and keep track of the inches you’re losing.
After all, what’s more important – looking fit and healthy (and actually being so) or getting to an arbitrary number on your scale?
2. Build some muscle. Not big bulging bodybuilder muscles (unless you like and want that look) but you do need to build up your lean muscle mass. This is why just walking or aerobics isn’t as effective for you now as it used to be when you were younger. Get yourself some resistance bands or some light wrist and ankle weights. You don’t have to pump iron, but you do have to make your muscles work to make them grow.
3. Eat more. You heard me. The problem with most of the diets you may have tried is that if you consume too FEW calories, your body goes into “starvation mode” and lowers your metabolism even further. So don’t let that happen. Of course, what you eat matters – this isn’t permission to pig out. Stick with lean proteins and lots of fruits and veggies, and try to eat 6 small meals a day so you never feel hungry or deprived. (Protein also helps with rebuilding your muscle mass – a double benefit!)
4. Take care of yourself. You’re not doing anybody any favors by not taking time for you. Do something every day – whether it be a walk in the sunshine, meditation, a soak in the tub – something to center yourself and de-stress. And while you’re at it, be sure you’re getting the sleep you need. Whether you need a change in routine, a melatonin supplement or help from your doctor, adequate sleep is a must.
5. Get some help. The simple fact is we need a boost when it comes to dealing with the hormonal changes that are making it harder to lose weight. Over the last several years, the media has buzzed over half a dozen different “miracle” supplements. Many have some good, solid science behind their ability to influence the very hormones that are causing us problems.
But none of them work for everyone. Because every body is different, every woman has different hormone levels and different ways her body holds on to fat. The good news is there’s a very good – downright excellent – chance that one of them (or a combination of a couple) WILL work for you. It’s just a matter of finding out which one, and getting a version that’s got the quality to be effective.
So how do you figure out which supplements are most likely to help YOU? Well, you could spend hundreds of dollars trying them all. Or, you could save the time, money and frustration and fill out our short evaluation. It’s 100% free, no purchase required – and once you’ve completed it not only will the results give you some guidance but you’ll also get a nice discount should you choose to try the recommendations.