How to Lose Stubborn Weight after 40
Weight gain after 40 might feel very sudden. However, it starts with a series of metabolic changes that happen years before you see those extra 10 to 20 pounds parked in your midsection and that you cannot get rid of no matter what you do.
It can be extremely frustrating. You’re doing all the right things but don’t see any major results. You eat less than ever before, buy organic produce, and start a new fitness routine.
You cut the carbs, then you cut the fat, then you don’t know what to cut anymore…and you end up highly stressed, which contributes to another whole chain of events you definitely don’t need. Sounds familiar?
If you add to all that the never-ending feeling of being chronically bloated, a sudden loss of muscle mass, and the anticipation of peri-menopause – if it hasn’t happened just yet – you rightly say: enough is enough. You decide it’s time to feel like yourself again. Good for you!
Why can I paint this picture so well? Because I went through the same you’re going through a few years ago. Read my story.
Not to worry. Nutrition coach to the rescue! No matter how long those metabolic changes have been happening, the right nutrition and lifestyle changes can set you free. Your body will catch up and get on the healthy train in no time.
But first, you need to understand why your body is storing fat instead of burning it. After all, weight gain is the symptom of an underlying issue and not the issue itself.
Why We Gain Weight after 40
If we see weight gain as an SOS message from our body trying to tell us that something is not working well, then we can say “thank you and namaste”, move on, and start looking for the root cause of the problem. Much more effective than taking it personally or feeling a victim of age and a slave of bad food!
Most of the time, the root causes of weight gain can be narrowed to the following three:
There are seven metabolic hormones in charge of telling the body when to burn fat to keep us moving and when to store that same fat in case of an emergency. If one of those hormones is not well balanced, it sends the wrong message, and the perfect hormonal harmony we enjoy so much ends. Not good.
Our bodies need to have the right amount and ratio of certain essential nutrients to be able to keep our engines working smoothly. When we eat too many processed or white foods, bad fats and carbs, and not enough veggies and good quality protein, our engines can start letting us down slowly but surely….even if it takes 10 years to show up.
Even though we all talk about how important it is to keep our minds as healthy as our bodies, I believe mental health still takes a secondary place in the more physical world. It’s easier to tackle something you can see – weight gain – than a busy and cluttered mind. Hello, meditation!
So now let’s talk about what we can do to lose those uninvited extra pounds once and for all.
How to Lose the Midlife, Midsection Weight after 40
Get blood work done
When I start working with new clients, it’s ideal to have their most recent blood work results. They give me an incredible insight into how their seven metabolic hormones are doing, what nutritional deficiencies they have, and how the combination of stress and other factors is affecting important health biomarkers.
When clients don’t have any recent blood work or they were not tested for everything I’d like to see, I share my list of recommended tests so they can ask their doctor exactly what to test for and speak intelligently about it. When I get the results, I use that great information to optimize even more my clients’ nutrition plan.
The way I interpret blood work is more functional and preventive than the traditional doctors’ approach and a fantastic eye-opening exercise. It also brings a lot of accountability to the table. Knowing that we’ll be testing for the same biomarkers at the end of the program keeps clients focused.
It’s amazing to see how quickly our bodies welcome the love we give them through the best quality foods, the right fitness routine, and mental health practices. It doesn’t take that long to get healthy.
Improve your diet
A clean diet that is personalized to your body type and lifestyle will get you 80-90% of the way to the healthiest you. Then you can optimize with exercise and mental health therapies and get to the finish line like a pro.
The approach I follow with clients is three-fold:
1. Eliminate (or reduce significantly) bad quality foods and common food allergens that interfere with proper digestion and inhibit a healthy weight. The 3 top culprits are sugar, dairy, and gluten. Think bread, pasta, processed foods, soft drinks, cheese, and cow’s milk. Want to know why they’re not that great for you? Read how these foods also affect your immunity levels.
2. Integrate foods and strategies that will balance your blood sugar and insulin levels. Insulin is the one key hormone that needs to work at its best so the rest of the 6 metabolic hormones can do the same.
Stock up on broccoli, peppers, and dark leafy greens. Take in as many anti-oxidants as you can – blueberries have the highest concentration but any other berries will give you an amazing boost of anti-oxidants. Eat enough protein and healthy fats at each meal – think wild-caught fish, avocados, lean turkey, and plant-based protein such as our beloved chickpeas and lentils.
Top all this goodness with hormone-balancing foods such as flax, hemp, and pumpkin seeds and the fantastic sea veggies (spirulina, chlorella, and such), and you’ll be feeling like yourself again in no time.
3. From deficiency to sufficiency. I’m not a huge advocate for too many supplements or multi-vitamins. I prefer that my clients get the ‘medicine’ their bodies need from the foods they eat as much as they can. Food is medicine!
However, there are certain nutrients most people are depleted from nowadays that cannot be sourced from food alone. Here is where having blood work results works wonders. I can highly optimize my clients’ healthy strategies so they can see results faster and smarter.
Exercise your body and mind
Even if you’ve considered yourself an active person all your life, losing weight after 40 can feel like you take three steps forward when you exercise one day and two steps backward when you exercise next. One of the reasons why it’s so difficult to lose excess weight is that we lose muscle mass as we age. The composition of our body tissue also changes. As we lose muscle mass, our ability to metabolize foods and burn calories goes down.
What to do? Core and well-balanced workouts that focus on a mix of strength, cardio, and conditioning exercises. One important tip – be careful not to overexercise. Rest days are important. If your body thinks of hard workouts as major stressors in your life, it will preserve more body fat to help you in case of an emergency, backfiring all the good work you’ve been putting into it.
Last but not least, train your mind as well as you train your body. Mental health is key to manage stress and challenging situations that you don’t have control over. Meditate, prioritize me-time, treat yourself to a massage, have a nice bath with Epsom salt and nourishing essential oils, or simply disconnect from social media and work for a couple of hours. Your body will love you for it!
Now that you know why we gain weight after 40 and the top healthy strategies that will help you get rid of it to feel and look amazing again, you’re on your way to the healthiest you.