I’m smack dab in the middle of my 40s, and I can tell you from personal experience that getting five pounds off used to be a whole lot easier in my 20s and 30s than it is today. It’s easy to feel like you’re at war with your body trying to get the scale to budge, but it doesn’t have to be this way. I’ve got some tips to keep you focused.
Realize Your Body Has Changed
Our hormones are dropping, our metabolism is shifting, we can not eat the way we used to. I’ve learned the hard way that I can’t shovel food in my mouth like I used to and still stay in my skinny jeans. Yes, this is annoying. No, this is not fair. But the sooner you accept it, the sooner you can do something about it.
Weight Gain in Your 40s is a Bad Idea
Trust me, I’ve seen it hundreds of times with my clients. You do not want to gain weight in your 40s. It’s sooo much harder to get it off and keep it off. If you’ve been futzing around for a couple decades since college, now is the time to take “being in the normal weight range” seriously. We are getting older, there are diseases to think about. After all, seven of the top ten causes of death in the U.S. are related to obesity. It is literally in our own hands how long we live simply by choosing what we eat and how we move. Time to pay attention.
Ditch Starches, Ditch Sugar
Do these two things and your life will be much easier. No, you don’t need to eliminate them entirely from your diet; you’ll only set yourself up for failure. But I guarantee that the more you cut back on processed foods loaded with starches and sugars, the better you’ll feel. The bloat will magically evaporate, digestive disturbances will calm down, all kinds of good things will happen. If you don’t believe me, watch the documentary “Sugar: The Bitter Truth.” This film really woke me up, and when I started making dietary changes, I saw immediate benefits.
I was a Jane Fonda girl with multiple sets of leg warmers and I hopped and bopped with the best of them. I’m pretty sure if I did those workouts now my knees would never forgive me. Pick exercise that feels good to your body and engages your mind. This could mean a high-impact activity like running or Zumba, or it could be something more forgiving to the joints like yoga or Pilates. And can we please send the “No Pain, No Gain” mentality that has crept back into fitness back to the 1980s? Whose bright idea was it to dust that off again? (I’m looking at you CrossFit and P90X!) In our 40s, we have enough on our plates, so choose a handful of activities that work for you and don’t worry about what anyone else is doing.
Your First Line of Defense is Your Plate
The most important thing you can do is eat well. Period. Yes I’m a Pilates instructor, but what I focus on first is what I put in my body. Lean proteins and vegetables should be the first priority, add in whole grains and fruits in smaller quantities, and treat everything else as an occasional treat. It’s the best way to ward off the diseases of old age and stay vibrant.
This is the period in our lives when those high school and college reunions start to really make you think. Remember the high school jock who looks like he swallowed a whale? Remember the nebbishy guy who looks pretty darned hot these days? A couple decades of crappy living really starts to show in one’s 40s and you can tell with a glance who took care of themselves and who didn’t.
I plan on living to be 100 and I plan on looking good while I’m doing it. As far as I’m concerned, I’m not even middle-aged yet. How about you? What are you doing to live your best life?
photo credit: Shannon Kringen