woman on the beachLosing weight over 40 is a different ball-game for certain! Many women struggle for years, try different diets, lose weight but then put the weight back on again. It's a frustrating cycle.

I received the following note from *Jennifer, age 54 of Wilmington, NC:

Dear Lynn,

I am 54 and I have gained 50 pounds over the past ten years. I am in the midst of menopause. My doctor says I am clinically obese. I feel like I have tried everything. I have done Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem and most recently a paleo diet. The paleo worked the best for me but I still have had trouble maintaining and it all comes down to craving carbs.

I can eat really healthy all day long but when I get to late afternoon and evening, all I want is sweets, breads and pasta! And if I give into the craving, I can't stop with one bite. I noticte that even after I eat a healthy dinner, I have intense cravings for carbs.

I have a device I wear on my wrist and I make sure I do 10000 steps, daily.  I eat lots of veggies and salads during the day. I blow it every evening though.

Two years ago, I lost 40 pounds on a paleo diet but wasn't able to maintain in the the life phase and gained 30 lbs back. 

I know the low carb diet is beneficial IF I can stick with it.

Desperate for help,

Jennifer

Jennifer's story is all too common.

There are several factors at play here. Let's break it down and address each one by one.

Your body in mid-life:

There are many hormones in the body - and the levels change as we grow older. The hormone leptin has a very important job and that is to regulate your appetite and the speed of your metabolism.

Studies have shown that people who are obese have drastically higher amounts of leptin in their bodies than people who are physically fit. While obese people have a lot of leptin, which is supposed to regulate the appetite, these people’s bodies are resisting that effect. This can cause a person to never feel “full” after eating food, which in turn can cause excessive eating.

Food:

The best way to control leptin is through a  very balanced diet, high in colorful, high fiber vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein, similar to what I offer in my 12 Weeks to Total Transformation program. Read more about leptin resistance here.

In addition not eating enough protein and eating the wrong kinds of carbohydrates, can also contribute to a lack of feeling full.

It's crucial that you avoid refined flours and sugars because these can cause blood insulin levels to raise and lower quickly and cause more cravings.

Keep in mind, processed foods, and foods high in saturated and trans fats have also been found to cause hormonal disturbances when consumed long term.

Based on my team of experts that I consult for nutritional information, it is recommend  you consume 80 grams of protein and 2 cups of high fiber dark leafy greens (kale, spinach, swiss chard) or cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage) at lunch and dinner.

You also want to be sure you have some healthy fats in your diet. Go read this article I wrote about healthy fats.

Also, the cravings you are having may be for a lot of reasons which I address below. You might read my article about cravings and what to do about them here.

Water intake:

It's very common for for people to neglect this very important piece to healthy weight loss and maintenance of weight loss. As part of the programs I have developed, getting enough water throughout the day is critically important for keeping the body and (believe it or not) the BRAIN hydrated and working optimally to keep you on track mentally as well as physically.

Check out my article here on the importance of drinking water and how much water to drink.

Your exercise plan:

It is so great that you are getting 1000 steps in each day! Fitness Trainer Lisa Weinert (The Wellness Diva) advises you will likely need to enhance your current exercise regimen.  Incorporating some "resistance training" into your regimen is key, especially over the age of 40. I also highly recommend a very gentle, simple yoga practice to enhance your flexibility and help your brain and body align and learn how to work together. Read my article about the role of exercise after the age of 40.

Your emotions an thoughts:

Since there are so many pieces of this puzzle to losing weight over 40, it's hard to emphasize any one as more important than another. But the mental and emotional piece is one that is skipped over by most diet and weight loss programs. Getting your mind-set clear and focused along with attending to the emotions that drive us to dive into the cookie jar or the ice cream tub are KEYS to helping you get beyond this evening-carb-gnoshing experience you are having. You can begin by developing a mindfulness practice in relationship to food and eating. Check out this article and video.  In my program 12 Weeks to Total Transformation we do in-depth work at the mental and emotional level through specific journaling techniques, guided relaxations and meditation.

Stress - get a grip on this!

This is one of the top reasons we women over 40 struggle with weight gain. When stressful events happen, our bodies respond with a release of a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is a necessary hormone when operating at normal times and at normal levels assists the body in being awake and alert to move through the day. With chronic stress, too much cortisol at the wrong times sends the body into a state of emergency. When the body feels it is in emergency, it holds onto excess fat. Cortisol levels that spike in the night interfere with our sleep rhythms robbing us of the necessary sleep we need to repair and rest from the day.

It is KEY to either eliminate sources of unnecessary stress OR learn how to develop a relaxation response instead of a stress response.

Practical Tips:

  1. Planning and preparation are KEY!
  2. Always have plenty of healthy snacks prepared and on hand. Take them with you when you leave home. This way you always have something on hand when you are in a rush and get hungry. If you get too hungry and don’t have something healthy nearby you are likely to make an unhealthy choice. I recommend keeping a few raw almonds and an organic apple with you, in your bag, your car and in your desk at work. Never give yourself an excuse to make an unhealthy choice.  I have found a very high quality grass-fed whey protein product you might use as a stand-by also. Toss a scoop in a shaker-drink-cup and just mix with water, shake and drink later in the day. Click here to learn more about the Real Dose products - specifically this high quality whey protein product.
  3. Measure out 1/2 gallon to 3/4 gallon of purified water each morning and aim to finish the container by 7 pm.
  4. Try hot tea in the evening - specifically I recommend Kava Kava tea which calms the nerves, relaxes the mind and body and helps the belly feel full.
  5. Go to bed earlier. Aim to start your bed time routine wind-down at 9:00 and slip under the sheets and blankets by 10:00. Grab my free Sleep Tight Guide for lots of tips on getting a good night's sleep and why it's so important in mid-life.
  6. Learn to relax. It's not something you an do instantaneously - it takes practice. Sign up for my Yoga & Meditation Over 40 series where you will get access to a wide array of audio guided meditations for relaxation. OR if you should decide to join the 12 Weeks to Total Transformation you will get many of these recordings as downloads you can keep forever.

I hope this helps get you started in a slightly new direction because I am certain these tips and bits of info will yield you the results you are looking for body+mind+spirit!

I would love to work with you one on one! You can learn more about my personalized coaching programs here.

*No actual names of clients or customers are used. While this is an actual letter from a member of the Wonders Wellness community her name has been changed to protect her confidentiality.