Many women arrive at middle-age to find that their once tried-and-true weight loss or maintenance methods no longer work. For many, this is a time to reassess old practices in regards to diet, exercise and lifestyle. Start experimenting with new strategies to jump start your weight loss. For most women, the answer lies not in a single approach but in a multi-dimensional, lifestyle-based one.
How Should I Exercise?
Middle-age is a game changer for most women. Changes in hormonal levels, decreases in muscle mass and a slower metabolism all contribute to weight gain or a stalled scale. Keeping it off becomes more challenging. You can still lose weight and stay healthy. Mix up your workouts. Try cross-training, including several types of workouts into your regular weekly routine. Be sure to add weight training, which builds lean muscle and burns more calories overall, to your routine. Try running or walking one day, cycling on another and a weight training session on the third, one that targets all the major muscle groups. Strive for 30- to 60-minute cardio sessions and 20 to 30 minutes for weight training.
Eating for the Long Haul
Strive to eat as healthy a diet as possible. Skipping meals is a bad idea and, in the long run, will not help you to lose weight. It can even slow your metabolism if you make it a regular habit. Focus on eating a clean, minimally processed diet including fresh fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains. Try to eliminate or cut back on artificial ingredients, artificial colors, trans fats, added sugars and packaged foods. Eating smaller meals more frequently might work better for you. Foods lower on the glycemic index may help keep you full longer and your blood sugar more stable, helping you to avoid crashes and make better food choices.
What About Stress?
The stress hormone cortisol rises when you experience stress. Your body is designed to sufficiently manage stress as long as you resolve it in a short period of time. One problem with living in a modern world is that the stress response is triggered far more often than your body is equipped to handle. Middle-aged women tend to have greater stress loads placed upon them. They may be dealing with raising children, caring for ailing parents and even their own health crisis. Since excess weight and cortisol are linked, learning to manage your daily stress is key. Meditation, mindful breathing, tai chi, yoga, massage and acupuncture are well-established ways to better handle stress and may also assist in your weight loss efforts.
When Was My Last Check-Up?
Sometimes, in spite of your best efforts, the scale just won't budge. Don't give up your healthy lifestyle just because the scale may spit back a number you don't like. Keep eating well and moving your body. If it's been a while since your last comprehensive check-up, now is a good time to schedule an appointment with your doctor. In some cases, stalled weight loss attempts are due to an underlying medical condition that has gone undetected. Make a list of all your questions and concerns. Knowing what diagnostic testing you should have done at your age is important. You have the right to request these tests.
- International Journal of Obesity: Effects of Physical Activity, Intensity, Frequency, and Activity Type on 10-y Weight Change in Middle-Aged Men and Women
- International Journal of Obesity: Relationship of a Large Weight Loss to Long-Term Weight Change Among Young and Middle-Aged US Women
- Nutrition Journal: Low Glycaemic Index Diets Improve Glucose Tolerance in Women with Previous History of Gestational Diabetes: A Six Months Randomized Trial
- Yoga Journal: Lose Weight with Restorative Yoga