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  • Writer's pictureSally Humphries

Fitness, Diet and Lifestyle after 40

Updated: Mar 29

It is no surprise that things change as we get older. Most people expect things to quite literally go downhill from 40 onwards and while this can be true, I'm here to tell you it doesn't have to be this way. Yes, there are changes that occur, especially for women (and for guys too!) — but these changes can be mitigated, minimised or even diminished with a little bit of self-care and some ultra awesome bio-hacks!

Read on if you want to find out some good news about ageing backwards.

How you think

Contrary to popular belief, there are things that you can do to minimise the effects of ageing but ultimately the most important thing to realise is that how you view yourself will determine the way you go. This is the first and most important factor in resisting the downward turn of ageing. I hear people too often simply excepting to diminish with time and talk about it constantly. They give in to aches and pains and do nothing to deal with physical imbalances and issues as they arise because they believe it is the inevitable happening. This mindset is WRONG and will take you to you grave early all the while not allowing you to enjoy your later years. 'As a man thinketh so is he'. If you think sick, you'll be sick. If you expect pain, you'll get pain. If you see yourself as weak and ageing, you will be, weak and ageing. Yes ageing happens but you do not have to become decrepit because of it.

The first signs of aches and pains are your body telling you that you are weak and need to get strong. The inability to deal with stress or lose weight around the belly area are signs that you need a different strategy to when you were in your 20's and that adaptations need to be made to have a fully functional, healthy body. Let's face it, are our bodies struggling due to age or due to a lifetime of abuse with the way we eat, drink and sleep? I suggest it's probably the latter!

As Your Body Changes So Should You! I've alluded to the above already, but one thing we have to come to terms with is that we have to make adjustments as we get older to accommodate our physiological, biochemical and emotional changes. Let me explain.

When we were young we could stay up all night an go straight to work the next day, ready to party again the next evening. As we get older, we struggle to stay up past 10pm and find we can't fully get through the day if we haven't slept well!

Our younger selves would run out of the house without breakfast and eat a chocolatey donut on the way to work with a caramel latte to wash it down and have seemingly no effects. However, try that in your 40's and 50's (even late 30's!) and see if your blood sugar isn't all over the place all day wreaking havoc with your emotions, cravings and ultimately your waistline! No, we simply cannot drink all night with no food and get away with it. We cannot skip a few meals and lose weight within a day or two. We simply cannot wing it and neither should we want to! That way of life is unhealthy even for a young person and I would never recommend it to anyone! So, understanding how the body (and mind) changes, enables us to be more strategic in how we optimise our bodies functionality.

Age related weakness I could go on about this all day and night but the number one reason people struggle as they get older is the lack of lean musculature to hold them up and keep them strong enough to move and enjoy life.

Here is how weakness in your muscle tone affects every area in your life: You feel weak and feeble and have less confidence in moving around — whether to walk, run, jump, dance or lift things. This limits your range of motion and the activity you undertake which in turn causes you to use your body less and less causing more muscle loss and even more diminished confidence. This brings on more aches and pains and you buy-in to the belief that your body is ageing and there's nothing you can do about it. You now take part in less activities and become more sedentary. Your body becomes affected as does your confidence and your quality of life. It a vicious cycle that goes downward very fast! Lack of Energy You lack energy most of the time. An inactive lifestyle doesn't give you more energy but less. The old adage that if you don't use it you lose it is true. The less your body is used the more it adapts to not being used. Muscle gets wasted away, bone mass diminishes, capillaries die, arteries clog up, stiffened sets in, metabolism slows down, weight plies on, sleep is affected, depression sets in and soon you're wondering what is the point of life! Need I go on?

The problem is, all the above, while inter-related, happen so gradually over time that we don't make the association. We adjust to these gradual changes bit by bit and before we know it we need assistance to get out of the car, a back rest for our chair and a stroll to get in and out of bed! Ok, so if you've just turned 40 that may not be the case but I can guarantee that there are things that you cannot do now that you could just a few years ago. See, I told you!

Weight Gain And of course we come to the crunch. This is the main reason we're all here. You want to find out why you suddenly you cannot get rid of the middle tyre around your waist or why you've developed a little ouch in your belly after being skinny all your life (men?). Middle age weight gain is yet another symptom of our bodies changing and us not adapting. As mentioned before, you cannot do what you've always done in your youth and expect the same results. We have to make changes. These include but are not limited to:

1. Eat more protein 2. Increase muscle mass 3. Get good quality and quantity of sleep 4. Reduce stress 5. Eat a whole food, balanced diet 6. Get at least 10,000 steps in a day or just increase overall movement 7. Take a good quality multivitamin 8. Drink sufficient water 9. Get sufficient sunlight at the right times (morning) 10. Reduce blue light time at night 11. Limit or eliminate sugar and highly processed carbohydrates

Conclusion: To make the your latter years better than your former there bare many things you can do to mitigate, minimise and diminish the effects of ageing, which by the way are not inevitable due to ageing but inevitable due to lack of activity and self care. These changes include mindset (very important) how you see yourself, getting strong and staying active, changes diet and lifestyle habits to elicit changes in your body and mind and ultimately not giving in to the aches and pains.

It may be an upward struggle but it's worth it in the end!

Here are some examples of older women who have taken their health and bodies in their own hands!




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