Gaining weight in middle age is an extremely common reality, and many women struggle to accept this change as they transition into this new phase of life. Gaining a few pounds can be quite an inconvenient and unwelcome side effect of aging, and since most people don’t enjoy carrying extra weight, it’s important to have strategies for dealing with these changes and reclaiming control over your body. In this blog post, we’ll explore some tips you can use to deal with increased weight gain as you age, from understanding causes and effects, consulting health care professionals, and understanding why nutrition matters more than ever before as a woman ages. So whether you are having trouble adjusting to the changing shape of your body or want practical ways on how to best handle the inevitable rise in your BMI, take heart! Change isn’t necessarily bad; it’s just different…and that’s something each one of us can learn how to manage effectively.
Bye Bye Hourglass Figure
Women of a certain age often find their iconic hourglass silhouette starting to slip away. I am a woman who’s over 40, and if you are as well, you may be noticing that this classic figure tends to disappear as you get into your 40s and 50s. There’s no need for it to be lost forever; you may just require an extra helping hand.
You may wonder:
“What has happened?”
“What’s gone wrong?”
“How did this all of a sudden creep up on me?”
That’s sometimes what I wonder when I look in the mirror and I see my figure is not the same, and I wonder, as you may too: What’s going on? As a functional medicine practitioner, I have the perspective to look beyond surface-level issues and dive deeper into what’s happening inside someone’s body. This understanding can help us make changes that bring about lasting results.
Maybe you feel like you have the same lifestyle that you’ve had for many years.
Maybe you feel like you’re exercising fairly often.
That you eat a fairly healthy whole-food diet.
Or you sleep fairly well and are not under an incredible amount of stress.
Or maybe you’ve kept everything pretty steady.
It’s a fact of life that many women experience unwelcome weight gain, especially around the midsection. But this doesn’t mean they’re not doing anything to keep their figures in shape—often times the cause is more complex than it appears.
Let me tell you a little secret
This is somewhat normal, although it’s not awesome, and we don’t love it.
When you get older, usually after your 40s, your sex hormones start to change. This means that female hormones go down, leading to menopause. Estrogen and progesterone are on the decline. Our ovaries are not producing as much as they did in our 20s and early to mid-30s.
It’s okay. However, as women age, we may not realize that our bodies’ response to sugar decreases due to declining levels of female hormones. This can lead our bodies into a downward spiral if we’re not careful.
Sweet treats like candy and muffins are sources of added sugar, which you can see on top or in the treat itself. But that’s only part of the story—sugars come to us from more than just those obvious sources.
Often, sugars are hidden in carbohydrates and even in some healthy whole grains and some of the more starchy vegetables. Our bodies don’t work well with too much sugar. Insulin helps break down the sugar and put it into cells. But if we have too much, insulin can’t do its job.
As a result, a lot of these sugars just free float in the bloodstream, where they start to rise and even spike our blood sugars. With this, it creates some inflammation in the blood and in the cells, and it also slows down our metabolism.
So, it makes us more prone to weight gain around the belly. It’s unfortunate, but there are things we can do about it.
To Fast or Not to Fast?
Believe it or not, not everyone requires a low-to-no carb diet to help them maintain their waistline. As you get into your 40s and beyond, there are things you can do.
One of them is to ensure you’re not overeating and that you’re not eating too frequently.
Some things that are really popular, and there is numerous research behind them (and they do work!), is to do intermittent fasting.
Now, you don’t have to be extreme to have some benefits and results. Extremism can be tempting, especially when it comes to diet and exercise. But if you take it too far in pursuit of those initial results, all that effort might just result in a rebound effect with potentially negative consequences. If we go too far outside of what would be considered normal for our body to accomplish, there are going to be ramifications.
Research shows that when women fast for about 12 to 14 hours, it helps their bodies use insulin better. This means their bodies can use carbohydrates better when they eat them. Typically, the easiest time to get this done isn’t during the day. It’s at night. It starts once you finish your dinner and continues until you get to breakfast or whenever you want to start eating for the next day.
What to be Aware Of
It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to start reducing your carbohydrate intake significantly. Sometimes, we need to be aware of the types of carbohydrates coming in and how some are higher in sugar than others.
Potatoes have the potential to be sweet in more ways than one! That’s because they contain lots of starch, which can cause a spike in blood sugar levels around mid-life when our bodies become less responsive. I’m not saying you have to take potatoes out of your diet entirely, especially if you enjoy them. However, we may need to reduce the amount that we take in at once, and we may need to reduce our overall intake.
Potatoes may be delicious, but as we age, our bodies don’t respond to them in the same way. To keep your blood sugar levels steady, try cutting back on potatoes a bit—especially if you’re over forty. It’s true that female hormones can also play their part and make it even more difficult.
A Couple (or more) Tips to Keep in Mind
Again, we don’t want to think in extremes. Women in this age group have lower levels of their female hormones. This happens because their ovaries make fewer hormones than before. It will be like this until they go into menopause.
Other areas of the body will eventually start to pick up the slack. The brain communicates with our adrenal glands, and we are able to make a little bit of this estrogen and progesterone there. This serves as a backup system once our ovaries stop producing. Our adrenals are also one of the primary areas that communicate with the brain to respond to stress.
We need to be mindful of this. If we’re overtaxing the adrenals by going into extremes—fasting, exercise, or anything really, it’s going to put more stress on our bodies. Our adrenals are going through changes, especially when we are in our 40s and 50s. This can cause stress. And this stress can make it harder to adjust to changes in female hormones.
So why put more stress on them by stressing them out?
What often happens is that these extreme diets and fasts backfire. The adrenals will not be able to keep up with the amount of stress that we’re putting on them. We won’t be able to produce enough cortisol, and this will also slow down our metabolism and therefore cause weight gain.
The less extreme we can be and the more specific we can be, the more we can understand what’s happening with our bodies as we get into our 40s and early to mid-50s.
There’s no need to fight it. These are natural changes meant to happen in our bodies. We just need to make some minor adjustments to help us respond more positively to what’s happening.
Don’t resort to extreme measures! I’ve spoken and worked with thousands of women who have tried this, only for it to backfire, no matter how successful their initial results were. Let’s work together to find the best approach that fits your lifestyle goals.
Small and Effective Strategies
I highly recommend you just put some of those small strategies in place as a starting point. Fasting for 12–14 hours a day in between dinner and breakfast and starting to look at how much starchy carbohydrates you’re ingesting on a daily basis. Then, start to slowly cut back a little bit of it. Oftentimes, this is all that is needed to get a positive response and stop the waistline from expanding.
Are you feeling stuck in finding a solution to your health issues and weight gain? Let’s talk—I’m here to help! Visit my website so we can develop a personalized plan that will get you where you want to be.
I’d be really happy to connect with you on a complimentary consult and chat about your health, including whether it may be a good fit for us to work together to optimize your hormone health and overall health and wellness as you approach the transition into menopause and beyond.
All in all, middle-aged women can and should enjoy the process of changing their body shape. It is possible to have a range of body shapes that are beautiful, healthy, and just right for each person. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to dealing with midlife weight gain; the journey to a better version of oneself will be different for everyone. Remember: small but effective strategies are more powerful than drastic changes that cannot be sustained over long periods of time. Find what works for you, and don’t be afraid to experiment until you find something that sticks. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the process, take a deep breath and remember: You are worth it! If you’re ready to embark on your own journey and make positive lifestyle changes, why not schedule a free discovery call today? Take the first step back towards balance, health, and happiness!
Struggling to lose mid-body weight? We’re here for you! Take the first step and book your Free Discovery Call today. It’s an informal, helpful way to see if we can work together effectively while getting some of those important questions answered—all without any pressure whatsoever.
Plus, connect with a network of other like-minded individuals in our Private Facebook Community dedicated to living healthier lives. Are you ready to join us on this journey?
DISCLAIMER: The information in this email is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content is for general informational purposes only and does not replace a consultation with your own doctor/health professional