How to overcome weight problems after 40 | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

I am already in my mid-40s and have dealt with and currently work with several female clients who are 40 and above.  I believe that regardless of age, you can still resolve your weight issues and achieve your best body as long as you focus your attention on improving body composition, being consistent with movement, healthy eating, and always keeping track of your monthly period (that can always affect your eating, energy level and moods). The rate of weight loss in women often varies depending on their hormone levels, body type, fitness level, metabolism, and stress level.

Aim to improve your body composition

When you reach your 40s, a lot of changes can happen to your body – you can experience hormonal shifts, fluctuating energy levels, and a slower metabolism – which can all lead to weight gain.

You can always aim for weight loss, but it’s time to reset your mindset by focusing more on improving your body composition so you can balance your hormones, improve your energy level and lose body fat while building muscles so you can increase your metabolism even at your age. I have witnessed a lot of women in their forties (and above) who reversed the effects of aging by abandoning food deprivation and extreme diet strategies just to lose weight.

Build muscles and you can definitely resolve your weight issues and even achieve your best body with a higher level of fitness.

If you are trying to lose weight, focus on getting rid of your extra body fat while maintaining or gaining more muscles, which requires consistent effort, patience and discipline. Know the difference between losing weight (fat and muscles) and losing fat only.

Losing a pound of weight by dieting only will lead to fat and muscle loss. Losing muscle mass would equate to losing your strength and slowing down your metabolism. So you should aim for a well-balanced and quality weight loss by saving your muscles mass while you lose body fat. And losing a pound of fat per week from diet and exercise means working out at least an hour a day and eliminating extra calories that you get from junk food, extra sugar consumption, and highly processed foods.

Be SUPER consistent with your balanced fitness routine

A balanced fitness routine is a combination of cardio, strength, core, and flexibility training. Achieving 10,000 or more steps a day from lifestyle walking is great to ensure at least 200 to 300 calorie burn/day.  However engaging in formal workouts like strength training and cardio exercises can help you reach your target exercise heart rate, improve your fitness level and achieve more calorie burn. For effective fat loss, I recommend that you achieve at least a 200-calorie burn per day from formal workouts (cardio, strength, or a combination of both), and then you can just get additional calorie burn from your lifestyle activities such as walking, doing household chores, climbing up and down the stairs and malling/shopping.

Focus on safe and effective lifestyle-based strength training at least twice a week to build or maintain muscle mass. Choose a strength training program that you can do even on your own even while on vacation using body weight or light resistance training tools such as dumbbells or resistance bands.

Aim to do more sets and repetitions to achieve a higher calorie burn while effectively losing body fat. In fact, a 2019 study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research shows that high-volume resistance training (three sets of up to 15 repetitions per exercise) is more effective than low-volume resistance training (one set per exercise) in total body fat and trunk fat loss of untrained older women.

Engage in 30 minutes cardio exercises on most days of the week. Choose a cardio workout that is doable, enjoyable, and can be incorporated into your lifestyle such as brisk walking or dancing. Women above their 40s are more susceptible to developing joint injuries, so it is best to avoid or modify some moves, especially during high-intensity cardio workouts incorporating faster, high-impact moves such as jumping.

Be aware of your menstrual cycle

If you experience PMS symptoms as early as mid-cycle or ovulation,  a lot of things can disrupt your motivation to be consistent with your healthy lifestyle routines. So making it a habit to track your menstrual cycle can help you prepare to manage your usual pre-menstrual symptoms (PMS) such as weight gain, cravings, mood swings, bloating, and physical discomforts such as headaches, back pain, and cramping.

Combat your PMS cravings for sweets or salty foods by making healthier foods available at home especially during your pre-menstrual period so you can avoid the temptations of eating of daughter’s freshly baked cookies or your son’s favorite snack chips.

Stick to a consistent workout routine even during your PMS period by choosing light (walking, lightweight training yoga, and/or Pilates) to moderate-intensity workouts (moderate resistance training, jogging, swimming, cycling, and/or dancing) that won’t cause physical discomfort and can make you abandon your planned exercise routine.

Don’t get too affected by the numbers on the scale. It is important to know that your weight can increase from one to five pounds before your period.  Don’t be discouraged because the weight will eventually normalize after a few days of menstruation, especially if you’re not overeating and you’re still exercising.

However, overexercising, food restriction, sleep, and unhealthy eating caused by stress can really affect one’s menstrual cycle. I’ve had clients who improved their monthly periods by just fixing and balancing their lifestyle habits.

How to regulate your monthly periods

  •   Manage your stress by applying strategies like getting at least seven-hour of sleep or giving yourself a break, at least an hour each day to drop pleasurable activities (watching an episode of Netflix series, exercising with your friends, or spending your “me time” in a quiet place) that can keep your mind away from work or family obligations.
  •   Avoid exercises that can cause too much stress to your body. Running can be a good exercise for you, but too much intensity (running at a faster pace that increases your heart rate too much) and/or prolonged duration (of more than an hour) can stress your body. So either you lessen the intensity and/or duration or choose another form of cardio workout that won’t stress your body too much like swimming or dancing.
  •   Stay away from unhealthy foods that can affect your hormones such as processed foods, high-sugar desserts (cakes and pastries), too much alcohol, and deep-fried foods. Drink more water and eat more quality foods such as vegetables, fruits, healthy carbs, good fats, and healthy protein.

Email the author at [email protected] or follow her on Instagram @mitchfelipemendoza