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After Hitting 40 years old, I realized that all the ways that used to work for weight loss no longer worked for me. My body and my metabolism had taken a big change. I was no longer willing to “diet” the way I did in my twenties and thirties. But, I felt tired (all the time) and well….frumpy. I hated how my clothes fit and tried hard to avoid my image in the mirror.
Being a mom with a career in the health field and a health enthusiast, it was a real struggle for me. I could not understand why the extra weight I was carrying would not come off. I was exercising almost daily, “watching” what I ate and So I though I was doing all the things. At one point, I gave up.
Anyone else ever feel this way? Are you struggling to take off that extra weight after forty? Maybe you are doing pretty good with your diet and going to the gym, but still cannot seem to get that belly fat to budge.
So, after a few years of roller coaster like ups and downs with dieting and exercise, I finally started to put the pieces together. First, our bodies are different and need different things when we pass the forty mark (most of us) AND what many of us learned about dieting back in the 80s and 90s does not work long term!! I was in the “diet” mentality.
If you are still with me, I completely understand how frustrating this is and have made it my mission to help busy women fight the weight loss battle without dieting. Yes, I mean without dieting. I have found that by making simple lifestyle changes and nurturing my body with the things it needs AND by making some shifts in my beliefs about food and exercise had made a world of difference!
Here is a list of 5 simple bu effective shifts that are proven to help with weight loss that have nothing to do with dieting.
Sitting Too Much
Even if you are exercising at the gym each night at a moderate or vigorous level, sitting all day long can be making it difficult for you to lose weight. Studies have shown that a sedentary lifestyle, mainly sitting throughout your day, puts you at risk for metabolic issues. What this means is that sitting at a desk for most of your day, driving for hours a day and then coming home to sit on the couch, call all sabotage your weight loss goals.
We need low level amounts of exercise throughout the day. Low levels of exercise helps keep our metabolism working at its best. So, think about taking the stairs or doing a set of air squats each time you use the restroom. Try walking at lunch. These are simple ways to bump up activity level.
For those of you who work from home, consider a standing desk. While this is not technically moving, standing is better than sitting all day. Mix it up. Put a timer on your phone to remind you. Our bodies are meant to move and often. Finding little pockets of time throughout your day can be a very effective way to start getting your metabolism working better.
Doing too much exercise
On the flip-side of doing too little, if you over-train, and do not give your body proper recovery time, you can be doing more damage to your body. Damage to your body increases cortisol and inflammation and these promote weight gain. So, if you are beating your body up with consistently vigorous exercise or daily endurance exercise to complete fatigue, this may lead to immune system problems, fatigue, sleep disturbances and injury.
I fell into this trap at one time, thinking that more exercise was what I needed. Exercise is great, but too much of it or too many of the same exercises (as you will learn after) can sabotage your plan to drop extra weight.
Keeping track of your heart rate variability (HRV) is a great way to monitor the need for rest days. You can easily do this by using the health feature on an apple watch or use an Oura ring when you sleep. HRV measurements are an accurate and science backed way to see how well you bounce back after exercise and any other stressor.
If measuring your HRV is not possible, then learning to listen to your body and taking that time to rest and recover is important. Remember inflammation is good after exercise – its your body’s way of responding to damage and rebuilding important muscles and structures. If your body cannot keep up with the damage this can lead to a stress cycle that eventually increases chronic inflammation, cortisol and fat gain.
Good exercise for recovery days may include restorative yoga or a leisurely stroll through nature. Maybe even just doing some light housework on those days is enough to get movement without stress on the body.
As an 80s child, I was taught: cardio is the only way to get thin and not bulky. I mean who wants big muscles, right? Wrong. Ok, so the message fed to us was backwards and as you enter the mid-life or mature years, having lean muscle is CRUCIAL for a healthy metabolism and to function!
Doing cardio is beneficial and I am not recommending to avoid it all together, but there are a few things that we have learned through science to keep in mind.
Chronic cardio, as seen with ultra-marathon runners or high endurance athletes, has been found to be detrimental to some people.Science is actually showing that this level of cardio exercise can do more ahrm than good for some people. I suggest reading this article for some clarification – https://www.bcmj.org/articles/impact-excessive-endurance-exercise-heart
For the rest of us who simply do “cardio” to burn fat and calories, I want you to consider this: the body gets really efficient when we perform the same thing over and over again. When trying to lose weight or even maintain a certain weight, doing the same exercise over and over again will not always give you the same result because the body has found a way to perform this as efficiently as possible and will burn less calories over time.
This is known as metabolic efficiency. Some cardio is good for cardiovascular health, but there comes a point in time when no further gain is received. Mixing up cardio and strength training, power moves and balance exercises is a better way to keep the body burning fat and healthy.
For all us ladies over 40, strength training is critical for building lean muscle mass and increasing our resting metabolic rate and improving insulin sensitivity – This is key!!!
Doing the same exercises over and over and over
I totally get how it is time efficient to just do the same exercises at the gym or at home. It makes it easy and to be honest – any exercise is better than no exercise. The body, however, adapts to exercise. Again this is about metabolic efficiency. So, changing things up is the best bet. Keep your exercise plan full of different types of exercise. Try using your muscles in different ways. You need to change it up. Use different muscles. Use muscles in a different way.
Maybe even change up the time of day you do certain exercise. Changes may include doing combination moves, such as Burpees instead of just push-ups. Adding in side plank crunches or one of my favorites is the one leg press-up. This works on upper body strength and challenges balance.
Other ideas: try hiking instead of a walk in the neighborhood or skip the free weight exercises and try a yoga power flow. Maybe sneak in a kickboxing routine or try High Intensity Interval Training (my favorite) for a fast and effective workout.
Lastly, my favorite exercise is not exercise at all…..Try finding activities that you LOVE to include in your life. That may be playing with your kids, going horseback riding, roller-blading, rock climbing, joining the YMCA and swimming….
**Bonus – Do a brain dump of all the ways you like to exercise and stay active and some ideas of what you can try. Maybe include other people in this – make it a social activity if that sounds fun.
Exposure to toxins
Toxins are EVERYWHERE in our environment and guess what our body deals with them by storing them in fat tissue. And guess what….Women are more vulnerable to storing toxins in their fat tissue, since we tend to have more of it naturally.
Toxins stored in our fat tissue make that fat even harder to lose AND when you do shed that fat, those toxins can wreak havoc on your skin and digestion. So, aside from doing “detox” regimens, prevention is the best medicine. While it is nearly impossible to not be exposed to all the toxins because they are so common in our environments, there are some ways to reduce exposure.
A simple way to avoid exposure to BPA which is a known endocrine “disruptor” is to avoid plastic water bottles. Using a stainless steel water bottle is a much better option and they last forever. Another great way to reduce toxic load is to avoid processed foods, especially foods that are laden with preservatives and refined vegetable oils. GMO foods are also high in toxins. So, trying to eat organic non-GMO as much as possible can help. While even organic is not perfect, it’s better than food laced with pesticides.
Two great resources are the Thrive Market which provides an on-line supermarket with tons of organic foods and safer products and Butcher Box and online source for meats and seafood.
Another concern are the toxic chemicals we use on a daily basis on our bodies and to clean our homes. I love “live clean” household and self-care products and try and use them as much as possible. Everything from toothpaste to shampoo and laundry detergent.
Check out this link for the Environmental Working Group’s list of safer products. You can find out about safe sunscreen, drinking water issues and more: https://www.ewg.org/
If you are interested in more healthy tips for weight loss and feeling better in your 40s and beyond, sign up for my Facebook group, Health Boss or get on my email list, so you get updates on workshops, coaching and blog posts 🙂
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