If you’ve noticed your weight gradually increase after 40, then here’s what’s happening, why the usual solutions don’t work, and what you need to do to lose weight.
As a weight loss doctor who works primarily with women over 40, I see two groups of clients in my practice.
1. Women who have been overweight most of their adult life and have tried many different diets.
2. Women who have been slim all their life and then in their forties, fifties or even sixties started to notice the weight increasing, sometimes very quickly.
This blog post is about the second group.
“After being slim for so long why has my weight started increasing?”
Why would someone who has been thin all their life suddenly notice their weight increasing?
First of all, we should always exclude any medical problems. This involves a visit to your GP/ family doctor to get some tests, especially thyroid function tests. This might be the cause of weight gain in a small minority of women
But for most women (and even the women with medical causes) the following factors will also be at work:
1. Slowing metabolism.
As we age, our metabolisms slow. This means that we require less food as we get older. In fact, a woman in her 50s may require 400 fewer calories than a woman in her 20s. This means over time, even if our diets remain unchanged, we may still gain weight.
Contrary to popular opinion, menopause doesn’t cause weight gain. But what it does do is cause a change in body shape. Most women, before menopause, carry most of their fat in their hips and thighs. After menopause the distribution of fat changes so that more is stored in the abdomen.
Practically speaking many women notice their belt size changes or that the waist of their trousers or jeans gets tighter.
3. Creeping bad habits
Over time, it’s easy for bad habits to creep in. Even small changes in daily calorie intake (that chocolate muffin you decide to have at morning tea) can have a large effect over time.
“My weight is inching up slowly and I can’t seem to do anything about it”
Most clients in this predicament, feel especially helpless. After all, this has never been a problem before. They are unfamiliar with the torment of having struggled with their weight all their life.
At this point in time, three possible solutions seem to present themselves:
1. Should I join the gym?
2. Should I go on a diet?
3. Should I just bury my head in the sand and hope it sorts itself out?
Unfortunately none of these will deliver the reversal of weight gain that you desire.
Exercise while being very good for your health, is not enough on its own for weight loss for women over 40. I very often hear of women who have committed to regular workouts at the gym and stuck to them for many weeks, and felt very disappointed when it had no effect on their weight.
Exercise alone will not do it. You need to eat fewer calories.
So surely then, a diet is the way to go? Well, actually no. Diets (drastically cutting back your eating for a temporary period) are not a long-term solution to a slowing metabolism and creeping bad habits.
What has your experience been?
You may have already tried diets and exercise before and agree that they didn’t get you the result you desired.
You might have even fallen for the diet industry line that the reason you failed is because you either “didn’t want it enough” or didn’t push yourself hard enough.
And when you think to yourself “I can’t (or don’t want to) push myself any more” it can be tempting to give up. You might decide that “middle-age” weight gain is inevitable. Perhaps it’s what happened to your mother. Perhaps you have resigned yourself to the fact that it was going to happen to you too.
Don’t believe it. Weight gain after forty is not inevitable.
You may be feeling down and disillusioned, helpless and hopeless.
But not for much longer…
Here’s what you need to know:
1. You can lose weight. But you’ll need to think differently about how you’re going to do it.
2. Rather than trying to lose the weight overnight with some kind of fad diet, you need to reverse the bad habits and introduce some new habits that will help you shed the pounds.
3. Whatever you do, you need to make it sustainable. Only do things that you know you will be able to maintain for the rest of your life.
4. Rather than overhauling your diet (which kept you slim until a few years ago), just work on making small changes (more about this below). Small changes are easy to integrate into your life.
5. You need a plan that you can easily follow. You could see how easy it might be to make a couple of changes and then get distracted or give up. That won’t work. You need to have a plan that means you consistently take action.
6. The changes you make need to focus on creating new habits (My free 7 Day Course gives you the details on what to do).
7. You need to become more aware of every food decision you make. As you go through the process, this will become second nature.
Most of all, take a long term perspective. You won’t have gained weight over a week, so don’t expect to lose it that quickly either. You are going to be maintaining your weight for the rest of your life, so treat it like a long term activity.
It can be disturbing to notice your weight go up when you’ve never had a problem with it before. But rest assured there are others who have been through this and have turned things around.
You can too.
My FREE “How to Lose Weight without Dieting” 7 Day e-course will show you what you need to do to apply this approach to your life.