Being 40 is definitely one of the best things that ever happened to me. Blowing those 40 candles a couple of years ago, taught me that it was all true: you are more comfortable in your own skin; you can tell people to go to hell when needed; and you develop a sort of self confidence that wasn’t quiet there before. If you are a woman you wear red lipstick and own it (and you if you are a guy, you can too!). I also experimented some changes in my body, starting with the realization that my arms were not as long as I need them to be, especially when reading the back of a package; and more important how my body was not responding the same way to food the way it did before. Losing weight is not as easy as skipping dinner for a couple of nights, and it is taking longer and is harder to get rid of some stored fat in specific areas.
However, it is not all bad news. Once we understand and learn some of the changes our bodies are going through, we are more likely to make the necessary adjustments to rock this new decade!
The excess of food becomes fat, and this is something that you can not send to hell (unfortunately ) and it happens because you metabolism is slower, way slower than it was when you were in your twenties, and even in your thirties. “The main culprit that slows metabolism and often leads to yo-yo dieting is what I call shrinking muscle syndrome,” says Caroline Apovian, MD, director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at Boston Medical Center and the author of The Overnight Diet: The Proven Plan for Fast and Permanent Weight Loss.
According to prevention.com “starting at age 30, most people begin to lose about half a pound of the metabolism-revving tissue each year. Poof! Gone, just like that. And at age 50, the rate doubles. “The average sedentary woman may have lost nearly 15 pounds of muscle by the time she reaches her late 50s, a change that could cause her to gain nearly the same amount in body fat,” says Wayne Westcott, PhD, a Prevention advisory board member and the director of fitness research at Quincy College in Massachusetts.
What is important here, is to understand that by eating one “Fitness Pancake” you are not going to get in shape and be in the cover of a magazine wearing red bikini; or that by eating a double decker with bacon, avocado and an extra side of fries, it is not going to make you look like Homer Simpson.
What to do? The best advice is to consume the right amount of lean protein for your body. This does not mean to eat plain protein with not carbohydrates whatsoever, but as the base of a well balanced diet with enough starchy carbs; fiber carbs (vegetables) and good fats.
How do you know what is the right amount of protein?
This is when a nutritionist plays an important role. A professional in this area will take into consideration important factors such as: your lifestyle and activity level (the protein requirements are not the same for a person that works 8+ hours a day behind a desk, versus a person that works on a construction site).
There is NOT a way to get this exact number by only standing on a scale or in front of a mirror.
Habits; preferences; weight; age; gender; body fat percentage, these are all necessary data to calculate your so called “numbers”: the right amount of calories a day, and in consequence the right amount of macronutrients your body needs: Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats.
There is also a super important factor to take into consideration, and is the so called “Hormonal Factor”. According to Andrea Holwegner RD, “hormonal changes during perimenopause (which can begin in your ’40s but in some cases even in the mid ’30s) can cause more fat storage especially around the midsection. As your body stores more fat around the midsection this can also change insulin sensitivity and changes in blood sugar management. This can further increase weight, heart disease and diabetes risk.(healthstandnutrition.com) A nutritionist should teach you to eat the right foods, the right amount, and at the right time.
The best we can do, besides hiring a professional that will coach, teach and support you, is to understand and come to terms with the fact that not a significant change will happen overnight. If you have been carrying extra weight for the last ten years, it is impossible to expect a “Beach Body” in two weeks.
Our health is the most precious gift we have, regarding the age, but at this age it should be our priority, otherwise, how can we enjoy the life that we have worked so hard for, if we don’t have the health to do so?
Stay calm, trust the process and run for the hills if you come across fat lies like: “Lose 20 lb. in 2 weeks”; “Drink this every night and your belly fat will miraculously disappear”. Remember that is all about consistency, and NOTHING will beat natural, wholesome food.
Enjoy the ride! You are 40!
Gaby Ondrasek Certified Nutritionist – Owner and Founder of G.O Nutrition For You