A Guide to Losing Weight Over 40
If you feel like you started gaining weight for no reason as your 40’s approached, you’re probably correct.
Even if you eat the same way you’ve always eaten and are just as active as you’ve always been, it’s possible that a slight natural throttle to your metabolism is making your body slightly less efficient.
You aren’t making excuses and you aren’t imagining it. It’s really happening.
A few small changes to your diet and lifestyle will help you burn off some of that unwanted weight and allow you to maintain a weight you’re comfortable with.
Our Bodies Change As We Age
By the time you reach your forties, your body understands that it’s done growing and developing. You produce fewer hormones, and your basal metabolic rate slows down.
You’re likely to store more energy from food and use less energy when you exercise.
The shifts in your hormone levels may contribute to lower energy levels overall, making it a little more difficult to work out with vigor and gusto.
Hormonal changes may also lead to muscle loss. This muscle loss isn’t usually problematic and isn’t indicative that something is wrong with your body unless you experience noticeable weakness.
It’s simply the result of muscle fibers naturally declining with age. Muscle burns more calories to sustain than fat. When you have less muscle, your body is using fewer calories to perform basic functions.
The Barriers to Losing Weight Over 40
Outside of the fact that your body isn’t prepared to work with you the same way it once was, you may have adopted some unhealthy habits over the years.
It may be tempting to slam on the breaks and stop your bad habits in their tracks. Don’t do that.
Panicking and attempting to overcommit to changes in your diet and lifestyle will likely set you up for failure. If something isn’t sustainable, it won’t produce meaningful change.
Be Wary of Fad Diets
Before you make a grocery list designed to change your life, consider what you’re attempting to do.
People claim success with keto diets, vegan diets, high protein diets, low carb diets, and every other kind of “diet.”
If your goal is to lose weight and keep it off and you’re relying on a diet to achieve that, you’re going to need to be committed to that diet for the rest of your life.
People on the opposite side of diet culture are quick to point out that diets don’t work. Maintaining a healthy weight isn’t a diet. It’s a lifestyle.
Unless you want to avoid bread for the rest of your life, you’ll need to formulate a sustainable way of eating.
Taking a Balanced Approach
All you need to do to lose weight is consume fewer calories than you use. Start by calculating your total daily energy expenditure. It will tell you how many calories your body requires to get through the day.
Eat at least 200 calories less than that amount, but not more than 500 calories less. You can eat exactly that amount and increase your physical activity to make up the difference.
If you like bread, eat bread. If you want to have ice cream from time to time, have ice cream from time to time.
If Friday night is usually pizza night at your house, have a slice. You don’t need to ban any foods from your life or develop restrictive habits.
Moderation is more than enough to carry you to your goal.
Every month, recalculate your goal. As you lose weight, the calorie requirements will go down. If you become more physically active, the numbers might go up.
When you reach your target healthy weight, make one final calculation and try to stay close to that amount.
By the time you reach your target weight, you should be able to intuitively know how certain foods work with your body and have a better idea of what constitutes a serving size.
Balance and moderation should come naturally. You won’t need to obsess about it for the rest of your life. If you feel like you’re starting to put on some unwanted weight, act early.
You’ll be back at your target before you know it.
What About Exercise?
Exercise, especially cardiovascular exercise, is extremely beneficial to your health.
Most people envision running marathons and heavy weightlifting when they think of exercise, but this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.
Exercise is great for you and it’s something you should regularly engage in, but it isn’t the “be all, end all” factor of this equation.
You can lose weight without exercising at all. As long as your body is operating in a caloric deficit, fat stores will begin to burn away.
This process is slow and gradual if the burn of fat isn’t increased through exercise, meaning more patience is necessary to reach your weight loss target.
Much like with strict diets, strict exercise regimens can be disheartening.
Unless you’re actively attempting to build a muscular physique or you’re training for a rigorous athletic event, your exercise routine doesn’t need to be on par with the routines of people whose lifestyles are built around athletic goals.
Any exercise is better than no exercise. If you can only manage a 20-minute walk every morning or a half an hour YouTube-guided workout a few times a week, it still counts.
You don’t necessarily need to get a gym membership and hire a personal trainer if doing so doesn’t coincide with your lifestyle, budget, or physical ability.
Finding exercises you enjoy and doing it as often as you’re feasibly able to do it is more than enough.
Self Care and Better Choices Are Important at Any Age
Many people begin to realize the importance of taking better care of themselves somewhere in their late thirties or early forties. They’re a little less resilient, and they want to be mindful about making good choices that protect their health.
Start your wellness journey now. Be mindful of what you eat. Take the grill out and prepare yourself some veggie burgers for your weekly lunch. Spend more time engaging in exercise or physical activity that you enjoy, like camping or hiking.
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