Hello my fellow mid-lifers. If you are reading this, it’s likely you’ve noticed some unwanted changes to your body after the age of 40. A loss of muscle mass and weight gain are common for people as they enter middle-age. It happened to me, and I’ve been in the fitness industry for over 16 years. Getting fit after 40 isn’t as hard as it might seem, however. The trick is to change our mind-set and make appropriate adjustments to our old fitness and diet routines.
After many trial and error attempts, I’ve finally found what works for me. I put a plan in place to lose my mid-life weight gain and regain body confidence. I’m half way through week two, and I’m down 8lbs. Today, I will share 7 tips that helped me gain back control of my health and fitness.
Tip #1: Be honest to yourself and make the decision you are ready for change. It’s easy to get into a pattern of denial. We make excuses for why we can’t exercise or eat better: not enough time, nothing seems to work, it’s impossible to lose weight at this age. Don’t be hard on yourself, but be honest. I had a list of excuses and lies I was telling myself. What it really came down to was I didn’t want to make the changes I knew I had to make. Instead of accepting this, I started labelling myself. Labels are useless, and most of the time untrue. Have you put labels on yourself? If so, get rid of them. They won’t serve you – stop bullying yourself and start treating yourself the way you would treat a loved one.
Tip #2: Make fitness fun. My biggest mistake in trying to keep my strength after 40 was that I started to dislike working out. In my 20s and 30s, I worked out hard. HIIT training and running were my go-tos, but these intense training sessions started taking a toll on me with age. High Intensity training is still possible in our 40s, but it isn’t necessary. My other challenge was that I started dreading the gym. The same old routine with the same old equipment – I needed a change. You may need to experiment and find what excites you, but I will share what I did.
I switch out running for long trail hikes. Slowing down allowed me to take in the beauty of the trails. When I ran, my focus was on breathing and the pain in my legs. Hiking still challenges me, but it is easier on my body, and I take time to appreciate nature. I’m getting a great cardio workout, and I’m enjoying it.
I bought a mountain bike and took some lessons. Learning something new is fun, and I push myself to get better. I was terrified when I started, but now I love getting out on a sunny day for a ride.
I incorporated a variety of strength training routines: check out my 30-day strong challenge https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChKqwvEUm3rkYI57y9vbngQ if you want some inspiration. I moved away from the gym, and set up my home gym. This made it easier for me to get in a workout whenever I had time.
Tip #3: Find ways to reduce stress. Stress creates a hormone called Cortisol which tells the body to hold on to fat. Excess stress means more cortisol, and this can sabotage any weight loss attempts. Take an easy walk in nice weather, or go for a swim in a lake. Cuddle your pets, read a book, do some yoga or meditate. Find a stress reliever that works for you.
Tip #4: Examine your diet. My diet was pretty strict in my 20s and 30s. I counted calories and ate mostly vegetables and lean proteins. As I aged, I had less overall energy than, and I started making poor eating choices. It happened gradually, but before I knew it my daily caloric intake had greatly increased. I was also indulging in foods I would never consider when I was younger. Burgers, chips, and chocolate made appearances more than they should have. I had to come to grips with the fact that my older body needed less calories, so I needed to find a diet that was appropriate for my age. I’ve reduced my caloric intake by incorporating intermittent fasting. I eat brunch and dinner, and I am eating healthy fats, whole grains, lean proteins, limited full fat dairy, vegetables, and limited fruits and berries. What ever your diet is, choose unprocessed whole foods. My caloric intake currently is around 1200 – this is for weight loss. I’m 5’4” and 46 years old. When I move to maintenance, I will up my caloric intake to 1500 – 1600 cals.
Tip #5: DON’T Drink your calories – Reduce or eliminate sugary drinks and alcohol in your diet. This was the hard one for me, as I love my white wine. However, I needed to make a choice. What was more important: having my nightly 2 glasses of wine, or to feel better about my body. I’m not saying you have to give up alcohol all together, but drinking will make weight loss very challenging in your older years. Switch out high caloric beverages for ones with less sugar and calories. For example: a vodka soda with lime over a glass of wine or beer. If pop or juice are your thing, change it up for soda water with lime or lemon. You can still indulge in your drink of choice occasionally, but keep it to a minimum.
Tip #6: Get your sleep. When we are properly rested, we have more energy. That energy will help motivate you to work out. Additionally, when we are tired, we tend to crave fatty and sugary foods. Proper rest means a better workout and healthier diet.
Tip #7: Be kind to yourself. Mid-life is challenging in many ways: work stress, raising children, perimenopause. It may take some time to adjust and accept were you are at. Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve put on a few pounds, or if you’ve let your fitness routines slip by the waste side. Weight can be lost, and you can increase your activity when you’re ready. The hardest part of making change is starting. When you’re ready, let go of the “can’ts” and let yourself see what you’re made of.