Is the shape of your body changing, as you’re getting older? Were you once a healthy pear shape but recently you have noticed your body changing into an unhealthy apple shape?
• Pear-shaped body: wider hips and thighs, with more weight below the waist
• Apple-shaped body: wider waist and belly, with more weight above the waist
The sad fact is that most women in the United States are overweight by the time they reach midlife. Aging and poor lifestyle choices are the main causes. Additionally, as we get older our metabolism slows down. Several studies have shown that peri-menopause, regardless of age, is associated with increased fat in the belly area as well as decreased lean body mass (muscle). When we reach our midlife years we have to work harder to keep the same body we had in our younger years.
Excess weight raises the risk of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease (which is particularly linked with excess fat in the belly area), type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, and some types of cancer (including breast and colon). Luckily, there are some things you can do to prevent midlife weight gain.
1. Clean up your diet
Add whole foods to your diet and stop eating the junk. Find out if you have any food allergies; if you suspect that you do eliminate those foods from your diet for at least 2 weeks. At midlife we need to adjust the balance of our macronutrients—proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. We need more good fats to help with dwindling hormone production, fewer carbohydrates to keep blood sugar low, and moderate amounts of protein to build muscle. However, too much protein can also cause weight gain.
2. Get Some Sleep
Some people brag about functioning on little sleep, but we pay a huge price when we stay up late and get up early. Studies show that sleeping less than 5 hours per night promotes weight gain. The amount of sleep you get affects levels of ghrelin and leptin, the hormones that regulate hunger. Ghrelin is the hormone that tells you when to eat and leptin is the hormone that tells you to stop eating. When you are sleep deprived, your body secretes more ghrelin and less leptin, which leads to weight gain. Lack of sleep also leads to fatigue, which generally leads to a decrease in physical activity which leads to increased fat.
2. Stay Active
The best exercise for losing weight is the one you’ll do on a consistent basis. In my opinion, whole body workouts are the best for us mid-lifers. The more muscles that are used the more calories can be burned and the greater the weight loss will be. Exercising isn’t only for weigh loss, it also helps balance hormones and improves mood. Working out intensely raises the heart rate and burns even more calories. Interval training, where short bursts of intense activity are followed by a recovery period, is especially helpful. Strength training is also important because it will helps to build muscle, which raises the metabolic rate and causes you to burn more calories. Strength training also has an added benefit called “after burn”.