Running is a popular activity for women over 40. I see many women who tell me that they run, run and run. And they tell me that they watch their calories. And they also tell me that they struggle to lose weight, particularly from around their middle.
Why is this?
The answer is simple.
If you are over 40 and are perimenopausal or menopausal, your body is going through some significant changes. And those stubborn extra pounds you are carrying are linked to your hormones.
No amount of running and pounding the streets will make the slightest bit of difference to your weight
And that’s because you are dealing with hormonal weight gain. When this happens, you need a totally different approach. It’s the time to focus on your hormonal health and less so on your calorie intake. And this is why: Your weight will be resistant to change until you get your hormones working for you and not against you.
Let’s dig a little deeper to explore what may be going on for you.
Firstly, as you age, you naturally become a little more resistant to insulin. Insulin is the hormone which instructs your body to take the glucose you eat (from carbs) and put it into your cells so that it can be used for energy.
When this process becomes less effective, blood sugar rises, and you struggle to transfer it to your cells. And as a result, you struggle to use it as energy in the way that you should. In brief, you just can’t manage carbs like you used to.
And you can start to get extra weight, particularly around your middle
And secondly, the other hormone to be mindful of is cortisol. This is your stress hormone. Its role is to keep you safe from danger by releasing sugar into your blood stream so that you have the energy you need for a fight and flight type response. But this extra glucose can also end up as extra weight around the middle. In a way, cortisol is trying to protect you by storing fat around your tummy. It is there ready for an emergency when you may need extra fuel to deal it. But if you are not burning it off, well it just stays there. And the problem is this: Most modern-day stresses – sitting in a traffic jam, being late for a meeting, arguing with the kids, don’t require you to burn through your energy stores.
So, for women over 40, what you eat and the lifestyle you lead to re balance these hormones becomes super important. It is no longer a case of just upping the cardio if you want to lose weight.
So, here is what to do:
- Stay away from the sugar and refined carbs. It is best to follow a low Glycaemic load diet to keep your blood sugars balanced.
- Make sure that you include protein and healthy fats with every meal. This will help to reduce insulin levels and keep you fuller for longer
- Reduce alcohol – it is in essence a cup of sugar!! And it will increase insulin and cortisol levels.
- Do the right sort of exercise. Over doing cardio exercises can raise cortisol levels and encourage your body to hang onto fat. Resistance training and HIIT is great for building muscles, improving your metabolic rate, and putting you into fat burning mode.
- Get into the habit of practising a little self-care every day. Super important to lower those cortisol levels and reducing that stored weight around the middle. Yoga, meditation, deep breathing or even a little walk round the garden will help
- Learn to sleep like a baby. Poor sleep increases cortisol levels. So, try and get to bed at a decent time, don’t uses gadgets before bed time and keep the room very dark and cool/
If you are interested in knowing how your hormones are behaving in your body, have you considered getting them tested? Why not get started by downloading my guide for a healthy and happy menopause here.