“Stop following weight loss protocols designed for twenty year old male bodybuilders & female fitness models in their twenties & thirties!. Perimenopause, Menopause & Postmenopausal change requires a different approach” — Dr. Jade Teta
This quote from one of my favorite fitness mentors above sums it up.
Common complaints I often hear from friends, clients and women in my online community who are over 40…
- They are gaining weight especially the stubborn belly fat.
- They are always tired (but they can’t seem to sleep through the night)
- The fitness and nutrition routine they have been following for years is no longer working.
Does this sound familiar? If yes, then you can blame those crazy hormones and also that fact that we lose muscle mass every year as we age!
The hormones Estrogen and Progesterone start to decline around age 40. With this imbalance of hormones, calories are more easily stored as fat, fat is less easily accessed as fuel and muscles become harder to build. Declining estrogen levels also trigger an increased appetite for sweet and starchy foods. The food you used to be able to eat that did not affect your waistline may now do just that. The stressful exercise and lack of sleep you could tolerate in your younger years, while still remaining lean, will now start to show itself on your waist.
Many women experiencing weight gain increase their frequency and duration of exercise thinking they need to eat less and exercise more. And this is the farthest from the truth!! Without getting too much into the science of it, this is an added stress to the body and when your hormones are already out of balance, it will have the opposite effect and leads to weight gain and extreme fatigue. But don’t get discouraged….There is a way to fight it. It’s a combination of strength training, stress reduction and proper nutrition. Here are some science based tips below that I’ve learned through my own research and courses:
- Ladies, we have to stop the marathon workouts!! Time to shift your mindset. Longer workouts are NOT better. Most women at this point have elevated cortisol/stress hormones and long exercise sessions will further increase one’s stress hormones. Elevated Cortisol levels ultimately leads to a storage of fat, especially around the middle. The very place that most women are desperate to lose fat. What do you need to be doing instead? Shorter, more intense workouts have less effect on cortisol production(our stress hormone). Why is this so important now?? The hormone Progesterone, helps to buffer the negative effects of Cortisol. When over 40, we have declining levels of Progesterone and became more sensitive to the effects from stress. Changing up your fitness routine from chronic, long cardio to strength training, high intensity intervals, and metabolic workouts will help preserve your muscle mass and metabolism, as well as reducing midlife bone density loss. Choose exercises that involve more than one muscle group for a more efficient workout that burns more calories (both during the workout and later).
- Move as often as you can! Keep in mind that movement and activities of daily living should be considered separate from exercise. Walk and stand and move as much as you possibly can.
- The way you ate in your twenties or thirties most likely won’t work now. At this stage of your life, it’s really crucial to limit SUGAR, STARCHY CARBS, PROCESSED FOODS and ALCOHOL. I know you are giving me the side eye for the last one. 😉 Why is this so important now?? The hormone, Estrogen, helps keep you sensitive to insulin. When over 40, we have declining levels of Estrogen and become more resistant to insulin. Your body will not bring as much sugar into the cells for energy and stores it as fat instead. Concentrate on filling your diet with mostly protein and fibrous vegetables as these two things will fill you up the most with very low calories. Then add in fat, starch, and sugar to your body’s unique tolerance to give you energy and make the foods you eat satisfying.
- Watch your habits not your weight. Changing hormones and a slower metabolism means that weight loss won’t happen as easily or as quickly as it might have happened in your 20s and 30s. Focusing on the scale is likely to leave you feeling frustrated and ready to give up. Set performance or habit goals. How is your endurance? Can you make it through more of the workout before you feel exhausted? How is your strength? Can you do any moves better/longer/faster than you did on day 1? Can you lift heavier? How is your self confidence? Do you feel proud? Are you eating more colorful veggies? Are you eating protein with every meal? These are the types of questions you should ask to track your progress.
- All Or Nothing Gets You NOTHING!! We often feel if we take time off from our workouts, our results will go away.Over exercising, chronic and extreme dieting, worries of body image, work worries, relationship tension, sleep deprivation are all forms of stress. This is the time to prioritize sleep, rest and recovery! Cortisol can also be controlled and lowered by relaxing activities. These include leisure walking, yoga, Tai Chi, as well as massage, sauna, and other restorative activities.
These guidelines can be effective for ALL ages, but for those of us over 40, NOW more than ever is the time to practice them. If you are still not sure what you need to be doing and would like the support and guidance of a fitness and nutrition coach who gets the challenges of women over 40, then let’s chat! To schedule a FREE 30 min Ditch the Yo Yo Strategy Session, just click here.>>>https://calendly.com/foreverbfitness/30min