Many women arrive at middle age to find that their once tried-and-true weight loss methods no longer work. For many, this is a time to reassess old practices in regards to diet, exercise and lifestyle.
Experimenting with new strategies to jump start your weight loss can be challenging but rewarding. Rather than the fast fixes that may have worked before, middle age requires big shifts in lifestyle, nutrition, stress management and overall health.
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.
Staying active or becoming more active is key to keeping your metabolism revved. If you've slipped into sedentary habits, now is the time to get moving. Walk at every opportunity, whether it's up a flight of stairs instead of taking the elevator or a 30-minute walk on your lunch break. Get up and move around once every hour.
Mix in some more physically demanding workouts such as running, cycling, swimming or using the elliptical machine at the gym. Make sure you work hard and break a sweat. The tougher the workout, the more calories you burn.
Add weight training, which builds lean muscle and revs your metabolism, to your routine. Do total-body weight-training workouts each week, take classes at your gym that involve weight training or calisthenics, or take up yoga or Pilates.
Most importantly, make time for exercise. Don't let other obligations bite into your exercise time. Schedule workouts on most days of the week and stick to them, just as you would a meeting with your boss or lunch with friends.
Eat for the Long Haul
A healthy diet is more important than ever when you hit middle age. 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. Eat regular, balanced meals to keep your metabolism working and avoid cravings for unhealthy foods. Eating smaller meals more frequently might work better for you.
Eliminate or drastically cut back on artificial ingredients, artificial colors, trans fats, added sugars and packaged foods. 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.
Prepare more fresh foods at home ahead of time so you always heave something healthy to eat when you come home after a long day. Take a nutritious, calorie-controlled lunch to work instead of going for fast food with coworkers.
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 crises.
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.
Visit Your Doctor
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.
- 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