I wish I could say I was one of those 20 somethings who could eat anything and not gain weight. Being overweight was an issue I dealt with my whole life, never benefiting from the fast metabolism that allowed me to binge and still wear skinny jeans. Now in my 40's it seems even harder to take it off and keep it off. WHY????
Here are 5 reasons why losing weight after 40 becomes more challenging (and ways to defeat Father Time)
I'm sure you saw that one coming from a mile away! It is no secret that a change in hormones is one of the top culprits in the 40+ weight loss struggle. Hormones are powerful little chemical messengers in your body that play a role in everything from puberty and reproduction to mood and metabolism. When unbalanced, one may begin to feel fatigued or depressed, experience mood swings, irregular menstrual cycles, infertility and, you guessed it...weight gain!
I wish I could go back to my stressed out 20 something me and tell myself to chill...it's only going to get harder! Not to downplay the stressors of those wonder years, I just realize now most of what stressed me out was temporary or fixable and not the end of the world. Now as a mom, stress compounds not only from the safety and well being of myself, but also little humans that depend on me. This "adulting" lifestyle has introduced the stress of work, home, family, bills, hobbies and all around life balance. Adrenal glands are working overtime, hormones like cortisol are toying with my hunger and satiety cues, all resulting in weight gain with am emphasis on relocating stored body fat to the belly. It's true..adulting IS hard!
3. Poor Sleep
1 (hormones) + 2 (stress) = 3 Poor Sleep. Whether it is a hot flash in the middle of the night or a racing mind as you lay your head down on the pillow, sleep quality decreases as age increases. Add to the mix our dependence on all things technology and our brains do not know the difference between night and day. Less sleep or less restful sleep disrupts the hormonal balance, confuses our hunger vs. satiety cues, gets us craving carbs, confuses the natural circadian sleep/wake rhythm and leads the needle on the scale in the wrong direction.
4. Less Physically Active
So now you are tired, and stressed.... perfect recipe for a Binge Watching session. Who wants to lace up for a walk or put on yoga pants to actually do yoga, right? In my 20's I was walking to and from classes, meeting up with friends to go out to clubs at night and having boundless energy to go, go go! I wish I could go back and bottle some of that up. These days life looks more like 8 hours at a computer that zaps any enthusiasm I might have had to lace up for a walk after work. All work and no play...you know the story.
5. Decrease Lean Muscle
Less movement and no motivation to go to the gym means less resistance training. As we age, our lean muscle mass naturally declines (design flaw of the human body). Lean muscle burns more calories (aka metabolism) when the body is at rest. That roaring 20 something metabolism fire is a thing of the past. As lean muscle decreases, so does metabolism, fewer calories are burned throughout a day than once upon a time. Do the math. If you are burning fewer calories a day, but still eating the same amount of calories you did when in your 20's or 30's, where do the extra ones go? You guessed it...it is being stored right there in that lower belly bulge. Thanks again, hormones!!
Defend Yourself in your 40's
It's not like we can stop the clock on aging. What's a 40 something to do? Purchase shares in elastic waist bands? Hide under a cozy blanket with the top Netflix subscription? Cry???
Deep breath...there is a solution! (and it is not one of the above) There are many ways we can win the battle of the belly bulge. It will take change, commitment and consistency but it is possible. Here are some simple and realistic steps you can begin incorporating to battle the bulge:
The Bottom Line
Weight gain is sneaky and silent. A pound this year, two next year. By the time you have reached the next decade, you could be carrying an extra 10-20 pounds. The key is maintenance and prevention. Changing bodies requires changes in habits. Slowly incorporating these simple steps I have shared will have you moving in the right direction.
Need more support? Let's set up a time we can chat about your struggle. Together we can create a plan of action that will keep Father Time quiet!
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I'm Liz. Mom, wife, teacher, Health Coach. My passion lies in everything health and wellness. When new research and trends pop up, you can bet I am finding the best resources to information, weeding out the not so good and making the great easy to digest. From meal planning and recipes to exercise and mindfulness, wellness touches upon so many dimensions. Your path to optimal health is out there and I can help you find it.