The older we get, the more difficult it can be to lose weight naturally. Our metabolism can slow down, our less-than-healthy habits can become ingrained, and our hormonal imbalances can trigger intense cravings, stress, and emotional eating.
Whether you’re looking to lose those stubborn 10 to 20 pounds or to lose a significant amount of weight, the success of your weight loss journey greatly depends on how you prepare for it.
In my years as a weight loss coach, I’ve discovered that, contrary to popular belief, losing weight is not just about food choices and exercising.
For real, long-lasting weight loss results, we need to change our lives in every way. It is not only about what you eat— it’s also about how you think and how you feel.
Now, this may sound overwhelming, but every journey begins with taking the first step.
So, if you're ready to ditch the fad diets and grueling workouts, and actually change your life for the better to release the extra weight, here are the 5 most important things I've learned for weight loss for women over 40.
When it comes to losing those stubborn pounds, most women go straight to diet and exercise. They zero in on the things they can do, while shaming themselves for what they've been doing wrong.
However, I've helped hundreds of clients on their weight loss journeys, and most people would be surprised to know that losing weight (and keeping it off) is just as much about how we are being as it is about what we are doing.
And, most importantly, it's about how we are being while we are eating.
For instance, I see clients all the time who eat nothing but salads and low-fat foods. They exercise, check off the boxes, and try to do everything right, but still can't seem to lose the extra pounds.
I ask them, how do they feel? Not just in terms of their energy, but also their emotional and spiritual state.
For instance, do you often eat in a rush? Do you ever finish your meal while you're working, and don't even remember eating it (or enjoying it, for that matter?)
You might not think this makes a difference, but it does.
A growing body of research suggests that stress and mental/emotional health correlate with our ability to lose weight.
Something as simple as slowing down and taking a few deep breaths before we eat can transform the way our bodies absorb and digest food. Of course, what we eat is important too, but most people overlook the fact of how we are being while we are eating–– which requires a deeper look within yourself, rather than just at your habits.
If we're trying to lose weight, we might get in the habit of eating food that we don't actually enjoy.
The truth is, food is meant to be enjoyed!
We're social, emotional creatures, and gathering around a dinner table is about more than just eating food—it's a chance to feel pleasure and joy, while gathering with others.
When we try out certain diets with a lot of rules, we can take the EASE out of eating. And the truth is, ease helps our metabolism function properly, and it also helps our bodies digest. Ease is the absence of stress, which is known to lead to gaining weight.
So while yes, many of us need to fundamentally eat healthier food, it still should taste good, and bring you joy! If it doesn't, then I would argue, that it is not actually "healthy," and you need to keep searching around for some healthy, delicious options that you actually enjoy.
Why are you really eating those chocolate covered pretzels?
I know they taste good, but what is the emotional state that leads to snacking on them in the middle of the day?
Is it because you're bored at work, and need a little "reward?" (I've totally been guilty of this btw...)
Is it because it's a fun ritual or routine with your coworkers?
Are you starving because you didn't eat enough lunch?
Or are you just in the mood for something sweet?
None of the reasons above are inherently good or bad, so there is no judgement here. My point is that, in order to truly lose weight and keep it off, we have to get to the root cause of our eating.
Why are we eating what we do, when we do?
When I go through this activity with my clients, I always tell them to get curious, not judgmental. The truth is, we all have reasons for eating the way we do, and also for the various cravings that we have. By getting curious as to our WHY, we can become more AWARE when our cravings arrive. So we're no longer just mindlessly following our cravings, but mindfully observing when and how they arise, and consciously deciding how we respond do them.
As an example, so many women crave something sweet— like chocolate. While this is fine in moderation, we should be mindful of our why.
For women over 40, one pattern I see often is that women do not have enough pleasure in their lives. If we're not getting enough pleasure in our relationships, or pleasure in our body, we will seek it out in other ways.
Now you might be thinking–– how does "getting curious" help me lose weight after 40?
This goes back to point #1— weight loss is a spiritual journey, not just a physical one.
After all, 99% of clients I work with know exactly what would help them lose weight (eat healthier and exercise more), but for some reason, they're not doing it.
So to be a part of the small percentage of people who lose weight and keep it off, we have to take a much deeper look at our decisions, and a good place to start is by deconstructing our cravings.
Most of the time, people who have trouble losing weight after 40 have gotten into habits of eating packaged, processed, or fast foods, or sugary drinks like Frappacinos, sugary smoothies, soda, sweet tea, or sugary juices.
And I totally get it!
It's really hard to create new habits when Diet Pepsi has been your favorite drink for the past 10 years. It's a journey into the unfamiliar (hello spiritual journey again!), and many obstacles arise like: will an alternative, like kombucha actually taste good? And why is it so much more expensive?!
For this reason, it can be helpful to get a coach or join a program that gives you REAL FOOD recipes that are actually delicious and easy to prepare.
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Either way, if you're eating real food (like fresh vegetables, whole grains, fresh herbs, fruits, and proteins), you'll be surprised how much easier it is to lose weight.
Most people don't realize there is excessive amounts of sugar in almost everything we buy packaged in the supermarket— from yogurt, to cereal, and even bread! It takes a very savvy consumer to navigate the grocery aisles— even the stuff that's supposed to be "healthy."
***If you're interested in receiving my FREE healthy shopping guide, click here and I'll send it to you!
1. Cook as many of your own meals as possible, since home-cooked food usually contains half the sugar, salt, and oil as food eaten out.
2. Find out what vegetables and fruit are in season, and use them as the inspiration to cook your meals. (Fresh vegetables are more nutritious than packaged vegetables that have been shipped from across the country).
3. Here's my rule: eat as many snacks and deserts as you want, as long as you make them! (This slows down your ability to just tear open a bag of oreos, while still allowing you to enjoy your snacks and deserts.)
When you think about "hitting the gym," or having to "exercise," how does it make you feel? What is your gut reaction?
For many, it's dread. Or just something you don't want to do because you know it will be hard, or it's going to hurt...
But when you think about the word "movement," how does it make you feel?
The truth is, a brisk, 30 minute walk can help you lose weight in a similar way as jogging on a treadmill. Dancing to the point where you break a sweat can work wonders for shedding pounds (not to mention the benefits to your mental and emotional health!) Even a great yoga class can provide your body with plenty of strength-training and flexibility while promoting healthy blood flow and overall stress release.
When I work with clients, one of the first things I do is help them ditch their idea of "exercise" as something they hate, and instead, make a list of things they love to do where they move their body, and schedule them into their week.
Whether it's hiking, kayaking, bellydancing, spin classes, salsa lessons, or yoga— the options are endless. You'll be far more likely to schedule in these activities regularly if you have FUN while doing them.
I’ll admit it right now. I don’t believe there is a perfect diet. Weight loss is not a straight line or one-way street that anyone can follow to get the results they want. Everyone is different, therefore, what works for each person will vary.
When we shift the internal conversation from “I want to be skinny” to “I want to be healthy”, our whole perception of our goal changes.
We stop watching the scale and start testing our endurance. We appreciate our newfound energy instead of just being interested in fitting into a size 4.
Looking great in pictures and a smaller waistline will be an added bonus, but not the end goal.
After all, a higher quality of life is the ultimate reward.
Losing emotional and physical weight permanently is about diving deep to get behind what’s really holding you back, and uncovering the reasons why you’re holding on to that extra weight. But you have to be willing to go there; to take a good, long look at yourself and be honest and transparent with yourself.
The truth is, living a healthy life is about loving yourself. Because you love yourself, you want to give yourself the best – and that includes a healthy life and body.
Replacing destructive habits with new, healthy ones is not easy. It takes time, dedication and a whole lot of forgiveness to shift our perception of ourselves and commit to a new lifestyle. You need to have fun along the way. Don’t take yourself too seriously, look for healthy habits that you enjoy, and celebrate every achievement!
Committing to a healthier you is one of the biggest gifts you can give yourself.
To learn more about my private 1-on-1 coaching to lose weight for women over 40, get through menopause without a hitch, and start living the life of your dreams— click here to schedule your FREE consultation!