I don’t want to say it was easy, but maintaining a healthy weight required a lot less effort in my 20s and 30s. A few fries here or a slice of cake there barely made a difference in the grand scheme of things. And I never thought twice about saying yes to a happy hour after a hard day at work. But something happened after age 40, and now it takes a whole lot more than a spin class and a protein shake to see a difference on my scale.
If you’re finding it harder to see the results you want, a few simple lifestyle changes can help move the needle. Try these tips that can help you maintain a healthy weight after age 40.
Get Enough Sleep
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A good night’s sleep can help you stay on track with your weight loss goals. Studies have shown that a lack of sleep can cause an increase in appetite and cause you to choose food that is high in calories and carbs. Make sure your bedroom is set up for sleep by turning off the television and other electronic devices when it’s time to turn in. It can also help to maintain a consistent bedtime (even on weekends).
Schedule Your Workouts
You may have the best intentions, but it’s easy to skip out on your workout if a better option comes along. One of the best ways to stay on top of your workouts is to make sure they’re part of your routine. If a walk or a yoga class is on your calendar, like a meeting or a doctor’s appointment, you’re less likely to blow it off.
But Don’t Count On Cardio Alone
You may have been able to burn tons of calories on the treadmill in your 20s and 30s. But once you’re over 40, strength and flexibility training need to be a part of your fitness routine. Strength training will help you build muscle and burn calories all day long, while flexibility training helps maintain your overall joint health.
Put Some Protein in Your Breakfast
Cereal and toast may be your go-to breakfast, but if you’re trying to lose weight, it may not be the best choice. According to fitness trainer Trudie German, adding protein to your breakfast can help you stay full longer and prevent overeating during the day. Greek yogurt, cottage cheese and nut butter are great options. She adds that it can help to plan your breakfast the night before to avoid making bad choices when you’re in a rush.
Cut Back on Carbs (But Not Completely)
If the scale isn’t moving in the right direction, it might be tempting to cut carbs from your diet. But you shouldn’t eliminate them completely. A carb free diet deprives your body of important nutrients and can come with some pretty uncomfortable side effects, including constipation, fatigue, and irritability. Having 40 percent of your total calories come from carbs is the sweet spot for women over 40. Simple swaps like whole grain tortillas and brown rice can help you stay on track.
Cut Back on Alcohol Too
Hitting happy hour a little too hard is one of the worst things you can do when you’re trying to lose weight. Although you don’t have to cut alcohol completely, women who drink heavily can find themselves at an increased risk for obesity. If you’re going to drink, stick to five ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or a 1.5-ounce shot of distilled spirits a day. Drinking more alcohol can lower your inhibitions and cause you to make bad food choices. It can also interfere with your sleep schedule, which can impact your metabolism.
Drink Lots of Water
When you’re thinking about your overall diet, you can’t forget the impact of sodas and juices. Those empty calories and added sugar aren’t doing a thing to help you get to the weight you want. Opt for water instead, which can help you feel fuller and boost your metabolism.
Pay Attention to Portions
If you aren’t getting the results you want, it may be because you’re eating more than you should. Portion control is a big part of effective weight management. You may be surprised where you can make cuts. For example, a single serving of meat, fish, or poultry should be equal to the size of a deck of cards.
It might be tempting to reach for a bag of chips when you’re in the mood for a snack, but after 40, it’s more important than ever to make smart choices when it comes to snacking. Choosing sources of lean protein, fiber and can help you feel fuller between meals. Mixed nuts, dark chocolate and popcorn (without a ton of butter, of course) are great choices.
Too Blessed to Be Stressed
Let’s face it. Adulting is hard. And over time, the demands of work and family can really take their toll. Stress is a natural part of life, but it can also have a negative impact on your weight loss goals. Research has found that increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol can contribute to weight gain. High levels of stress can also lead to stress eating which can completely derail your diet. Whether it’s binge watching your favorite show, a manicure or a good laugh with a good friend, do your best to find ways to make self-care a priority.
Treats are OK
Losing weight doesn’t have to mean giving up dessert altogether. It’s ok to allow yourself a sweet treat every now and then. Try a piece of dark chocolate or fruit with yogurt or whipped cream to satisfy your sweet tooth. In the long run, you’ll be less likely to binge on things that are unhealthy.
There’s something to the saying, there’s strength in numbers. When it comes to working out, a little friendly competition can give you the motivation you need to keep up your routine. Plus, a walk can be a great excuse to get together with your BFFs.