It’s not your metabolism. It’s your mind. If you’re looking down at a little bit of pudge and you’re not happy about it, you can’t just blame the aging process. It’s, um, you.
There, I said it. But don’t worry, this is tough love—emphasis on love—and I’m right in the soup with you. Yes, your metabolism does slow down once you hit the age of 40. You will lose about 5% of your daily calorie burn each decade, so if you regularly consume 1,500 calories per day at age 40, to maintain weight you’ll need to drop to 1,425 calories by age 50. It’s definitely an adjustment, but not that big of one.
Weight Loss Culprits
The more likely reason for the creeping pounds is the demand on your time. Remember how busy we thought we were in our 20s? Don’t you wish that was all you had to do now? Our careers are established and full of responsibilities, we’ve likely got both kids and aging parents that we need to care for, and then you need time for your spouse and time for yourself. Notice what was last on my list? Yep, time for yourself is frequently last on everyone’s list.
You successfully get everyone out the door in the morning, work with panache to impress the boss, make sure everyone is fed, dry, and happy in the evening, and then you’re likely thinking more about your favorite TV show than a jog around the neighborhood.
OK, maybe that’s just me, but I doubt it.
This is nothing new; we’ve been doing it for generations. Our social mores are such that taking care of ourselves first is selfish. We’ve been conditioned to make sure our loved ones are happy before we worry about ourselves in the time that’s (maybe) left over.
Social Traditions are Wrong!
Polite society developed without scientific fact, because the opposite of above is, in fact, true. If you spend a little time on yourself every day then you’ll have more energy to soar at work and keep your home life running smoothly. Heck, President Obama gets his basketball games in and keeps running the country. Not an Obama, fan? Fine, George W. Bush was an avid runner and rarely missed a workout. If they can do it …
Staying Thin in Your 40s
Eat smart. Add one or two servings of veggies a day and drop one or two servings of starch. That is likely all that you’ll need to keep your weight stable. You’ll be eating more nutrients with less calories and your body will thank you.
Sugar is enemy #1. Ditch as much sugar as you can from your diet. Remember that starches are easily converted to sugar so limit those too. If you don’t eat them, they can’t go to your hips.
Exercise smart. I bet you’re a lot more sedentary than you realize. How much time do you sit during the day? There’s work time, driving time, eating, watching TV, etc. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of movement a day and try for an hour. It doesn’t have to be intense activity all the time, but you do need to work up a sweat a few times a week.
Change your culture. If you’re gaining weight, a lot of the reason has to do with the environment you’ve created. Change it. Move more, drag your family with you if necessary, find workout buddies, teach yourself to cook more healthfully. These are just a few ideas to change your lifestyle and I bet you can think of a bunch that apply to you. Start with something small, wait until it becomes second nature, and then change something else after a few weeks. Within a few months, you’ll have an entirely new and healthier environment and likely your waistline will show the result.
Have you been fighting your waistline in your 40s? I talk about this every once in a while. It’s something I struggle with. I am constantly aware of the battle between getting work done and getting a workout in and I succeed as often as I fail. The biggest reason why I’ve been successful lately is that my family has finally come around to my way of thinking. Fitness is important to all of us now and that makes it a lot easier to stay fit.
Let me know what you’ve done to stay trim in your 40s and what the pitfalls are that you have to watch out for. Need another little nudge? Here’s how 20 minutes of exercise a day can change your life.