Losing Weight at 40

losing weight at 40

You don't have to travel over the hill if you don't want to ...

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.

Move Smart

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? Cheers, Lisa

photo credit: Shannon Kringen

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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6 Responses to Losing Weight at 40

  1. Tammy October 5, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

    Like you, I plan to have a long, quality life. Eating better, stretching, drinking water, and keeping up with the weight bearing exercise is part of my strategy to get there.

    It is amazing how much easier it is for the pounds to come on and so much more difficult to get them off again!

    I fully agree with you that it’s all about the food. I want to still be able to periodically eat half a pizza, but I know that doing so means weeks of hard work to get the scale back to its starting point.

  2. Lisa Johnson October 5, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

    Tammy, I’m nodding vigorously … yep, yep, yep … so far the only stinky thing about being in my 40s is the inability to just shed a couple of pounds whenever I feel like it. That is also probably the only thing I miss about my 20s. :-) L–

  3. workout mommy October 7, 2012 at 9:48 pm #

    I’m FINALLY coming to grips with the fact that what is on my plate is more important than any other factor. (sigh)
    Not fair at all…..but that is life! I’m going to check out the sugar documentary, thanks for the rec! :)

  4. Julie October 8, 2012 at 7:00 am #

    Well, I expected a bit more from that article :( Am so desesperatly trying to loose ONE pound. Am 42, with Ashimoto disease, meno for 12 years now. I’m eating super-clean, no refined sugars, no grain, proteins at each meals or snacks, I use coconut oil… I take whatever tricks I can get right now.

  5. Lisa Johnson October 8, 2012 at 3:27 pm #


    Hashimoto is tough … there is a link about it for those who don’t know at the bottom. But basically your thyroid is not being nice to you and slowing everything down. Julie I’d focus on the physical metabolism boosters that are highlighted in the Smarter Science of Slim, since it sounds like you’re eating as clean as possible. And always check out anything new that you’re doing with your doctor before you actually do it.


  6. Lisa Johnson October 8, 2012 at 3:28 pm #

    Workout Mommy, I’ve definitely been coming to the same conclusion myself over the past 18 months or so. Particularly a hard shift for me since I work people out for a living ;-) But I see exercise complimenting diet now. It’s 1A and 1B if you will. If you can only do one thing make sure you eat right, once that’s under control, then start thinking about how you move. :-)

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