After 10 years, I feel like I have experienced everything and anything when it comes to losing weight after 40. I know it may seem impossible or there might be many obstacles in your way but I am here to share the best lessons I have learned about weight loss for women over 40!
It’s been 10 years since I started my weight loss journey. At that time, I was 35 years old with 2 little girls and I worked 40+ outside the home. As you can imagine, life was chaotic at that time!
But, during the busiest of my life, I managed to get my sh*t together and completely transform into a happy healthier version of myself. Years later, even though it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, I’ve managed to maintain this healthy lifestyle and successfully managed to keep the weight off.
Today, life looks very different for me. My kids are teenagers, I’ve been divorced and remarried, I work full-time for myself, and I’m 45.
While my life is still very busy, it doesn’t feel as chaotic because I’ve continued with the habits and routines that have not only helped me with losing weight after 40 but also keeps all of my hot zones under control.
So, I guess you can say I have better control over my life.
The Biggest Challenges I Faced Losing Weight After 40
The huge challenge now, and what has changed the most from when I started out, is I’m 45 and that has brought on a lot of hormonal and body changes that, quite honestly, I wasn’t expecting. It hit me like a ton of bricks.
Here are some of the challenges I’ve experienced since hitting 40:
I get extremely tired during “that time of the month”.
Now, I’m not talking about the tiredness you feel from maybe staying up too late but pure exhaustion- Where I could lay on a cold floor in the middle of a store and fall asleep.
I don’t mean to be dramatic but there are a couple of days out of the months where I almost can’t control how tired I get.
I get a ton of headaches.
About 2-3 years ago, I started getting mild migraines. Up until then, I’d only get an occasional headache when I didn’t get enough sleep or if someone or something stressed me out.
Now, once a month or so, I’ll get these blinding headaches and migraines that make me want to hide out in my room with the darkest of curtains.
I have stomach issues.
In the last year, I’ve developed sensitivities to sugar and carbs.
But every time I eat anything that has a lot of sugar and carbs, I will get a stomach ache and will also feel lethargic.
I get skin rashes.
Since losing weight after 40, I’ve started to get redness on my cheeks and rashes on my torso area. I’ve never had skin issues but once I hit 42, these skin issues came out of nowhere!
I’ve learned they are manageable by reducing sugar, dairy, and gluten. I don’t need to get rid of those foods completely but my skin most certainly looks better when I focus on fruits, veggies, and lean proteins.
I can’t lose weight with just portion control.
Not only does sugar and carbs hurt my tummy but it’s so much harder for me to lose weight when I don’t pay attention to sugar and carbs. This is very different from when I first started losing weight after 40.
At that time, I could eat anything I wanted as long as I kept it within moderation… That’s not the case today.
As a 45-year old hormonal woman, I need to keep carbs below 100 grams a day (if not less) and sugar less than 50 grams. If I go over that, I can feel it almost immediately.
Weight settles in my stomach area.
My stomach has always been my trouble spot, even when I first started. But since turning 40, it’s gotten much worse. All of my extra weight will settle right in my stomach! And truthfully, that’s the hardest spot for me to lose.
Also, I got so much more bloated now than I used to. It’s worse when I don’t control, sugar, carbs, and processed foods. So if I want to have a somewhat of a flat tummy, I need to eat fruit, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
Does All Of This Sound Familiar?
Are you nodding your head to all of these? Turning 40 and dealing with managing all the hormonal changes and symptoms that come with that ain’t no joke.
Losing weight is hard enough but, add some hormones to the mix, and it can feel downright impossible. Trust me, I get it. I’m living it right now and I know it can feel very discouraging
But, I have really good news for you! I’ve been able to manage all the challenges and symptoms I just mentioned and also maintain a weight loss and continue with a healthy lifestyle.
Now, I’m not saying I’m perfect. Not even close. There have been weeks, months, and truthfully years where maintaining a weight loss was a struggle. I’ve put on weight and then struggled to get it off.
However, in the last 10 years, I never went back to my starting weight. I’ve managed to maintain a 25 – 40lb weight loss over the last 10 years even during times where it was a major challenge.
So, I decided to put together some lessons learned that have helped me tremendously with sustaining healthy lifestyle habits and losing weight after 40.
Losing Weight After 40: The Best Lessons I Learned
Over the years, I’ve written some posts on lessons learned.
The first one I wrote after 4 years and was focused on advice I’d give my 40lb heavier self. I love reading this post when I need a burst of motivation. It has great tips if you’re just getting started.
The second post I wrote 5 years after starting my weight loss journey. That post is a mixture of action based advice along with tips I’ve learned along the way. Read it here.
In today’s post, I want to share a mixture of action based tips, resources, and mindset tips. Like I said, each one plays a significant role in keeping me motivated and moving forward on my goals. These have all helped me a great deal with the hormonal side of being over 40.
Lesson 1: The basics still apply.
The most important lesson I learned since starting my weight loss journey 10 years ago is everything I did in the beginning still applies. Yes, some things have changed like the way certain foods affect my body but the basics still apply.
So when I start to get off track or feel overwhelmed, I find that going back to the basics always works best for me.
Simple things like:
Tracking calories and other nutritional information
No matter what foods you eat- if you eat more than you burn, then you’ll never lose weight. So regardless if I cut out sugar or eat more whole grains, at the end of the day, I need to eat within a certain calories range to lose weight or maintain a weight loss.
Creating a meal plan gives you a roadmap for the week. It outlines what you’re going to eat for that week and also is needed to purchase groceries.
Without a meal plan, you’re much more likely to order take out or purchase a bunch of food you don’t need.
Take a look at this post I put together about healthy meal planning if you need a bit of help!
Meal prep is the #1 way I continue to eat healthy, even 10 years later! It was important when I worked outside the home with little kids and it’s just as important now working from home with my kids as teenagers.
Here’s everything you need to know about meal prep!
At the very beginning of my weight loss journey, I lost 30 pounds just by keeping portions under control and staying under my daily calorie range. 6 months into my journey, I added in exercise.
I wish I had started right away with exercise because it makes it easier to manage weight. It also makes your body look better. I always say that eating healthy will help you look good with clothes on and exercise will help you look good naked.
It’s the truth.
I keep exercise a part of my life not just for the physical benefits but, now that I’m over 40, it helps keep me focused, energized, reduces my stress, and manages other hormonal symptoms.
Those are the weight loss basics that still work 10 years later and no matter your age. Don’t get caught up in special diet gimmicks geared towards the older more mature woman.
At the end of the day, it comes down to the basics.
Lesson 2: Toning, toning, and more toning!
While exercise is important, the most important exercise routine once you turn 40 is your toning routine. I’ve always been a cardio queen and focused mostly on using my treadmill to break a sweat. That worked when I was in my 30s but definitely did not once I hit my 40s.
I fought toning for a very long time. Not that I hated it- it’s just I was content with running on my treadmill. However, this past year, I started to focus on toning and within a couple of months, I noticed results that I haven’t seen in a while. My entire body started to feel leaner. I also started to lose weight because I was building more muscle which was causing my body to burn more calories.
I still run because I need that for my sanity but adding in a simply toning routine has changed my life!
As you get old, you start to lose muscle mass. The more muscle you lose, the slower your metabolism gets. This is why it seems that once you hit 40, our metabolism comes to a standstill or slow considerably. Because, if you’re not building lean muscle, then it most likely is.
Building lean muscle will help you burn more calories and it will also help add shape to your body.
Lesson 3: Control the amount of sugar you eat.
When I first started, I felt very strong about eating whatever I wanted as long as I kept it within my daily calories. I did not want to go into making any lifestyle changes feeling like I was totally depriving myself.
For example, I couldn’t give up my French vanilla coffee creamer, even if you paid me. And that has a ton of sugar in it. 3 tablespoons equals out to be 15 grams of sugar just in my morning cup of coffee!
Anyway, in the beginning, I was able to keep french vanilla creamer in my diet and still lose weight. Again, just keeping it with calories.
Anyway, about a year or so ago, sugar started to disagree with me. Especially, in the morning and afternoon after drinking a cup of coffee with french vanilla creamer. Actually, it was probably longer than that but I didn’t want to admit my coffee creamer or sugar was an issue.
But, every time I drank it or had any sweets, my stomach hurt and I started to struggle with keeping the weight off. I finally decided to give up coffee creamer this past spring and it has made a HUGE difference. Now, I just use a couple of tablespoons of heavy cream. I will indulge on Saturday or Sunday but for the most part, I keep sugar to a minimum.
I should mention that I do still believe in portion control and eating in moderation. However, I also believe that you need to pay attention to the way foods affect your body when you are trying to lose weight after 40.
Lesson 4: Embrace a low carb lifestyle.
Again, pay attention to the way food makes you feel. Just like sugar, high process carbs were making it really hard for me to lose weight even with keeping calories in check. They caused me to feel bloated and lethargic.
I also think processed carbs (and sugar) played a big role in my skin issues. When I get off track with sugar and carbs, I can almost immediately see it in the way my skin looks.
When I’m talking about carbs, I’m referring to white refined carbs like white pasta and rice. Those are the ones that have affected me the most in my hormonal years. The good carbs that come from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains don’t have a negative effect on me.
With that being said, I do think it’s important to keep carbs under 100 if you’re over 40 and trying to lose weight. For me, this amount keeps me from feeling deprived but still enjoy things like whole-grain pasta, bread, fruits, and veggies.
Lesson 5: Drink green smoothies when losing weight after 40.
If you’ve been here long enough, you know all about my infinite love of green smoothies and what they have done to help me keep losing weight after 40.
If you’ve never tried one before or don’t know how to make one, check out this step by step tutorial I put together- just for you! It even has a bunch of my favorite green smoothie recipes. 😉
Smoothies are such a game-changer – especially for women over 40! They certainly were for me. Smoothies keep me hydrated, energized, and focused. All of the hormonal symptoms that I mentioned earlier are significantly reduced, if not eliminated, by keeping smoothies are part of my daily diet.
So, if there’s one thing I’d recommend to try if you’re struggling with hormonal challenges is to start drinking smoothies.
These two smoothies are the ones I drink most often:
Lesson 6: Take Supplements!
Now, please keep in mind that I’m not a doctor nor do I play one on TV. I’m simply sharing what has worked for me!
I’m a big believer in the healing power of food I shared that in the previous lessons. However, I’m also a believer in high-quality supplements.
In my early 40’s, I started to experience hormonal symptoms like:
- Mood changes
- Breast tenderness
So, I researched supplements.
I started using Garden of Life Woman 40+ vitamins and they made a huge difference and brought me a lot of relief. I’ve been taking them for 4 years and highly recommend them. I purchase mine online from Thrive Market!
You can get them from the grocery store but they are more expensive there. You can also get them from Amazon but I could never find a consistent seller that offers them.
Another supplement I love is collagen. This helps with skin issues, makes your hair beautiful, and even helps with gut issues. I purchase the Thrive Market brand because it’s organic, grass-fed, and super high quality. Plus for $24.99, you can’t beat that price.
The last supplement I take is a probiotic. I take the Garden of Life Ultimate Care Once Daily. This was such a game-changer for me!
I wish I started taking this years ago because not only did it help with stomach issues, I feel it helps with my skin too. If you’re bloated and have any kind of GI issues, I recommend giving this probiotic a try.
These are my favorite supplements that I take daily to keep my hormones balanced and to help me feel my best!
Lesson 7: Use high-quality skincare products.
Remember when I mentioned that I started having skin rashes a few years ago? Well, I went to the dermatologist a few times and they gave some creams that didn’t work. I changed my skincare routine more times than I like to admit and god knows the amount of money I spent on skincare products.
In addition to changing my diet to reduce sugar and carbs and taking supplements, I want to mention that I think changing my skincare products to a higher quality brand made a huge difference. Not just a high-quality brand but an organic brand free of dies, perfumes, and additives.
I use the iLike Organic Skincare Rosehip line. I have the:
- Milk cleanser
- Rosehip exfoliator
I purchase the iLike brand from Dermstore. It’s on the pricier side but completely worth it, in my opinion.
I wanted to add this lesson here because it was so hard to go through hormonal skin issues. I mean, once I hit 40, I felt like skin problems should be behind me, yet they weren’t.
Now, I get asked all the time about my skin. What do I do to keep the redness away and it looking healthy and clear? Since so many women over 40 deal with this, I thought it’d be helpful to share what worked for me!
Lesson 8: Take time to relax!
I know this sounds very basic but since turning 40, I find that sometimes I don’t handle stress the best, or I tend to get overwhelmed. Even without hormones, there’s a lot going on and a lot to deal with.
So blocking out time to be alone and relax is something that helps me reset and recharge.
My advice is to schedule in relax time. Don’t just wait until you’re burnt out because, at that point, it will take longer to get back on track. Schedule time every week or even every day to just take time to sit, reflect, and relax.
Lesson 9: Manage and protect your time.
Just like you, I’m a very busy person. I have teenage daughters, a business, a home, a needy husband, and an even needier dog. Not to mention, the rest of my family and friends.
I was busy when I started on my weight loss journey and 10 years later, I’m still busy. But, it’s a different kind of busy now because my kids are older and I work from home. Nonetheless, there are things that need to get done on top of everything I want to get done.
If I don’t manage and protect my time, it can get overwhelming very fast. I can start with a list of goals and then at the end of the week reflect and think “what the heck was that”.
If I want to meal plan, meal prep, exercise, and keep up with all the things that help me sustain healthy habits, then I absolutely need to plan for those things and make them a priority in my schedule.
The best way I manage and protect my time is to:
- SAY NO. Now that I’m older, I say no all the time. I’m not rude about it but there are things that are a priority. If I don’t say no, it won’t get done. So stop feeling bad and say no!
- Create goals and a to-do list. Yup, I still do this. I keep ideas in my notes app of my phone and every month and week I turn those into goals and then into to-do lists.
- Time-block. Those to-do lists get scheduled into my calendar during specific blocks of time. I’ve learned that if I want to continue to accomplish big goals, then I must make time for it.
Lesson 10: Stay grateful.
Last but not least, one of the things I’ve really learned in my 40s is to focus on being grateful. Overall, throughout my life, I’ve always been a grateful person. But once you get older, you’ve been through some stuff – well, at least I have- and that stuff can really bring you down if you let it.
When you focus on all the negative things, then that trickles down into the rest of your life making it harder to be a healthier, happier person. When you focus on things that make you mad or bitter, then most likely you’re focusing on the things you can’t control anyway.
So, I’ve learned to let those things go and focus on good things in life and be grateful for all of it. No matter what’s going on around me, I always stay grateful. This keeps me positive and focused on moving forward!