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December 21, 2020

Lose weight over 40

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On this episode of the 40+ Fitness Podcast, we discuss the top approaches to lose weight after 40.

Transcript

Let's Say Hello

[00:01:53.710] – Allan
Ras, how's are things going?

[00:01:56.080] – Ras
Great. How are you today, Allan?

[00:01:57.940] – Allan
I'm doing all right. We're up in Boquete. My wife had the surgery, a successful surgery this week, and she needs a week or so to recover. So this week we're up in Boquete and it's up in the mountains. So we're going from, you know, temperatures in the 80s to temperatures in the 60s, early 70s. And so, yeah, it's for me, cold.

[00:02:22.060] – Ras
That does sound chilly.

[00:02:25.300] – Allan
I'm wearing a sweatshirt. I'd never thought, you know, again. I knew if I came to Boquete I'd need a sweatshirt. So that's why I have a sweatshirt.

[00:02:33.430] – Ras
Good thing. Oh, my goodness.

[00:02:37.630] – Allan
Like, OK, I can put up with this for five days and then we've got to go back to the the comfort of 70s, 80s.

[00:02:46.180] – Ras
That sounds wonderful. Right now we're in the 40s today, just getting out of the 30s and we don't have a whole ton of snow up here quite yet. But it's coming. I think this weekend is when we're going to get our first snowfall, a real snowfall.

[00:02:59.270] – Allan
OK, well, I know we talked last week and you said that was something you wanted.

[00:03:03.100] – Ras
Yep.

[00:03:03.460] – Allan
Get the snow. So at least it'd be pretty.

[00:03:05.500] – Ras
Yes. And it's going to be cold. It might as well snow and look nice. Yep, that's for sure.

[00:03:10.990] – Allan
There you go. OK, well we're going to talk about weight loss today and why don't we just go ahead and get into that discussion.

[00:03:18.940] – Ras
Sure.

Weight Loss After 40

As a personal trainer, the number one question I get from clients and potential clients is why is weight loss so hard and weight gain so easy now that I'm over 40? Most people believe it has to do with their metabolic rate. And while most of us will put on extra pounds as we get into midlife, this isn't a natural decline related to aging. Muscle mass is going down, which all of the things being even should mean that we're losing weight after 40.

However, we're obviously putting on body fat faster than we're losing that muscle mass, and that's why our weight is going up. Weight loss after 40 is complicated by several factors. In this episode, I'm going to talk about all of them and some of the things that you can do to address each one so you can shed those unwanted pounds. I call them the five pillars of weight loss after 40.

Why Lose Weight?

But before we get into the how to of weight loss, I want to cover a few reasons why losing those excess pounds is important. Why you want to lose weight after 40? Excess body fat is bad for your liver and heart health. If you carry those extra pounds as abdominal fat, you have what we call visceral fat. This increases your risk of health issues such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, heart disease, type two diabetes and insulin resistance. Excess body weight is also bad for your joints, too often people stop exercising because their joints hurt, which causes even more weight gain. It's a vicious cycle.

It's hard to increase your activity level when you're in pain and actually maybe even causing more damage to that joint. So losing those excess pounds is going to be important to make sure that you're not damaging joints that would otherwise be very useful to you in the future.

Being overweight causes other issues like sleep apnea, increased estrogen levels, and increase in stress hormones. All of these make weight loss that much harder. So it's time to turn the script and get back on track.

The Five Pillars of Weight Loss After 40

How to lose weight after 40 to reach and maintain a healthy weight for you. First, we have to understand the five pillars to healthy weight loss, they are hormones, nutrition, sleep, stress management and movement and each of them is important in their own way to helping you lose weight after 40.

Hormones

Hormones, there are over twenty-seven key hormones that affect your ability to lose weight, but for the purposes of this discussion, I'm going to stick to seven that I'll group into three buckets. There are the sex hormones. And we're going to primarily talk about estrogen and testosterone. There are hunger hormones which include leptin and ghrelin, and there are energy management, fat storage hormones which include insulin, glucagon and cortisol.

Your estrogen and testosterone levels affect your body composition and how fat is distributed on your body. Because men have more testosterone, it's easier for them to lose weight and maintain muscle mass. I know it's not fair, but it is what it is. And we have to work with what we have. So women, it is going to be a little bit more difficult for you to lose weight. But that doesn't mean it's impossible. It just means we have to work a little bit smarter.

Men are going to have an easier way of it. So if you're trying to lose weight and your husband's trying to lose weight, then your husband's going to have an easier time of it. And so if you're the guy and your wife is trying to lose weight, realize you're going to be able to lose weight faster than her. It's the testosterone that's predominantly responsible for making that happen.

Leptin and ghrelin are these signaling hormones that tell your body when you're hungry and when you're full, unfortunately, the way the standard American diet is set up and the way we tend to eat, you know, always busy at our desk, in our car on the run, really interrupts this communication.

Leptin and ghrelin need time to communicate with the body to let it know what's going on. And many times we're not giving it the time to do so. Insulin has been called the queen of weight loss hormones and for good reason with glucagon, it helps maintain your blood sugar level.

If you're pounding your body with unhealthy snacks and meals. Like fried foods, chips, ice cream, you get the picture and you're not clearing out your glycogen stores in your muscles and liver, more on that later. With aerobic exercise and resistance training, insulin has no choice but to store the excess sugar as body fat.

Cortisol is a stress hormone when you're stressed out, cortisol rises, having elevated cortisol levels causes you to have a slower metabolism and store fat in your abdominal area, visceral fat. Both of these are really, really bad. So we can see how the hormones affect our ability to either lose weight or gain weight. What do we do about it? The best thing we can do for our sex hormones is to monitor our hormone levels, eat healthy and get regular exercise.

We can deal with our hunger signaling if we improve the quality of our food, if we take smaller bites and we eat slower. This gives your brain time to process those hunger cues. It's important to get comfortable with being a little bit hungry from time to time. If you really want to lose weight, you need to be able to manage that, that ability to just say, OK, I can be a little hungry. Maybe drink a little bit of water, take a little bit of time between those meals, you don't have to be eating all the time.

The whole old mantra of “eat every three hours” is what's part of the problem. You shouldn't have to eat every three hours. If you get good at managing your energy levels and eating good high-quality foods, your body will be just fine without that extra fuel.

And we can manage our energy management fat storage hormones through some simple lifestyle changes that are within the other four pillars of health. So we're going to talk about those and how you can use the other four pillars, which you have a lot of control over going forward.

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Nutrition

So the next one is nutrition, why do we eat? First and foremost, we eat to stay alive. Food provides energy and building blocks that our body needs. But if that's all it was, we could take those nutrition pills that they had in the science fiction books and shows. You know, just take a pill, we got the vitamins, we got the nutrition and we're good, right? No, we also eat for enjoyment and for social connections.

So as we do these things and we eat for the social connection enjoyment, we build a relationship with food. Now, having a relationship with food is not the bad thing, but it can be. If you're emotionally eating because you're stressed, because you're upset, because you're lonely. That emotional eating is really one of the main reasons why people overeat.

Regardless of how you choose to eat, and I mean that rather you go with the high fat, the low carb, the high carb, the low fat vegan paleo Mediterranean. You can lose weight after 40 with a few simple tactics.

The first step. And the one almost every single person skips is to track what you eat in a food diary. I know it's difficult, I know it's cumbersome, I know it's not fun, but it's something that you need to do. Now, one way you can do this and make it very, very simple. With an app or notebook, put down what you ate and how many servings you had. That's it. It's pretty simple. You're not counting calories, not doing anything.

Is this how many servings did you have of what? This teaches you a key lesson on portion size and control. And now, again, I didn't say track your calories, track the grams of protein, fat, carbs. That's because those aren't what make healthy diet healthy. In general, healthy foods are what we know they are.

OK, olive oil is better for us than margarine, we know fruit is better than refined carbs. We know that alcoholic calorie drinks, I mean, drinks are just calories without much nutritional benefit. So rather than worry about the the you know, the calories and the grams of this or that, just start trying to make better food choices.

And if you're logging these things, you're going to see I had two bags of chips yesterday. I had ice cream every night last week. Those will be easy things to start knocking off, particularly if you're understanding why you're eating what you're eating, which is what you can do with a food journal. So now once you know how much you're eating, and in some cases, like I said, the why, you begin to make better choices. Now, once you start doing that over time, that now becomes who you are.

That becomes more of a lifestyle, a healthy lifestyle. Because in the end, if you don't make what you're doing sustainable, you'll stay on that weight gain yo yo dieting and you're going to basically experience what you have so far. So the core of the nutrition piece is do a food diary, track portions, track what you ate, and then you can go back and assess why you ate, what you ate, and make better choices. That's going to go a long way.

Now as you get down the road on this, maybe you do need to look at some of those other factors like calories and grams and carbs and things like that when you plateau. But initially, all you need to do is make healthier choices and know what you're putting in your mouth every day so you can make the best decisions going forward.

Sleep

The second pillar is sleep, lack of sleep is kind of like this badge of honor, just stop it, OK? It's not doing any good. You're not winning anybody's hearts and minds by not sleeping. You need seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Everybody is a little different, but all of us need between seven and nine hours of sleep.

Yes, you can get by with less. Yes, some people will sleep more, but in general, everybody needs seven to nine hours. A night of good restful sleep comes from letting your body go through all of the natural sleep patterns. That's deep sleep, very deep sleep, REM sleep and light sleep. Now you hear some people talk about a fifth, another deep, a very, very deep sleep. But generally I just break it into the four. That's a little old school, but deep sleep, very deep sleep, rem sleep and light sleep.

Now, when you're dealing with sleep now, obviously for a lot of people, there are things that are outside of their control like, you know, hot flashes and night sweats or sleep apnea. But many of the things that mess up our sleep are self-inflicted. And I see this all the time. Avoid blue light. We know that. We know that watching TV, watching on a computer, being on our phone late at night is not helping our sleep. Cut out alcohol consumption prior to bedtime so that, you know, in the general sense, those are the two things that really disrupt our sleep the most and they're easy to fix.

OK, now, I'm not going to dive deep into the sleep discussion. I will link in this show notes for this episode. You can a 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/465 and I'll have links to other episodes that I've done on sleep. Obviously with 465 episodes and sleep being such an important component of health. We've covered this a few times.

Additional Podcast Episodes on Sleep

Stress Management

The next pillar of healthy weight loss over 40 is stress management and this was a big one for me. Excess stress and my inability to manage it was one of the major contributors to my weight management issues. Not only did stress cause me to make for poor food choices, it put me in a chronic high cortisol mode, which meant my fat distribution made me look horrible and put me at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease. So I would I would use breathing exercises, meditation and weight training. You know, there's nothing like throwing around some heavy weights to help manage stress.

But even this wasn't enough. And I made a pretty big, drastic choice and I opted out of the rat race. I dropped out of corporate when I got laid off and I just didn't go back. Now, I know that's not possible for most people, you know, but for us, our kids were on their own. You know, they're out of, past college. Tammy was on board with this. So I made a self-love based decision to choose myself over money. And security.

Now, three years later, I'm more sure than ever that I made the right decision, so stress management is a key thing and there are things you can do to manage stress in the moment. But the best tactic I have found by far is to just jettison it. So if you've got bad relationships, as hard as it is jettison it. If you've got a bad job, change jobs if it can help but jettison it.

That's the easiest and best solution, not maybe the easiest. I take that back, but you get the idea. Now again stress management is kind of a deep topic. We've talked about this a few times on the podcast, so I'm going to link to some stress management episodes in the show. Notes you can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/465. And I'll have some stress management links there. We've done quite a few shows on that as I was going through my stressful years.

Movement

The next pillar, a final pillar of weight loss after 40 is movement. Now you might have thought, OK, I'm his personal trainer. Why is movement last? And no, I didn't save the best for last. Only a small percentage of people listen to the end of this podcast. So if you're still with me, I do want to thank you. You have a very special place in my heart. So one, you know, most people are going to get the big thing, which is the understanding hormones and the nutrition. Beyond that, then sleep and stress management and then finally this this movement thing.

Now, I'm going to tell you straight out that there are four absolutes when it comes to exercise, training or movement, whatever you want to call it. I know a lot of people get put off by the term exercise or training or movement. You know, it is what it is. We have to train. We have to do something for our bodies. Now that the must, the very you must…You must strength train. You must do strength training to ensure you avoid that muscle loss we talked about earlier.

And osteoporosis strengthening the loss you're going to loss of bone density. Strength and bone density are critical for maintaining independence as we age. Strength training is a non-negotiable. You must be strength training period. You should do some form of aerobic activity for your cardiovascular health and endurance and stamina. In order to keep up and keep doing the things you love to do, you have to maintain the stamina required to do it.

If you want to keep up with your grandkids at the zoo or keep running or keep swimming or playing tennis or all the other things that you like to enjoy doing. You have to start training yourself a little bit harder, you have to push a little bit harder than just doing the thing to maintain that stamina to be able to do it on a regular basis. OK, so have some training in mind that pushes you cardiovascular so that you have the stamina, endurance to do the things you love. And then movement is life. If you're not moving your body, then you're slowly letting your body go.

OK, so walk, dance, play, make movement a part of who you are. It's not just about burning calories. It will burn calories. It will improve your sleep, it will help you manage stress and it will also help improve your hormone balance. So it does a lot for us, but it's really about how our body was designed. It was designed to move OK.

And then I guess the fourth absolute in this whole list thing is you have to enjoy what you're doing, but you don't always have to do just what you enjoy. And I know that's kind of sounds backwards, but, you know, if you start strength training and you start seeing yourself get stronger, you're going to start enjoying strength training.

I know that sounds weird, but you will if you don't enjoy running initially or walking at a pace and getting yourself winded, eventually you will. I promise that those are just natural things. Our bodies love to move. And so initially you may have to push yourself to do some things you don't enjoy.

For example, if I want to be in the aerobic capacity, the stamina to be able to play sand volleyball, I'm going to have to work on my cardiovascular. I'm going to have to do some things to keep my legs strong and keep them with the stamina they need to keep up with what I would want to do.

I'm going to have to do some training, which might not be exactly the thing I love doing, like running sprints in the sand. But I'm doing that so that I can enjoy more volleyball. I can play longer, I can have more fun. So make make movement, not just your life, make it fun, but do the things that allow you to keep making it fun.

If you allow yourself to go down, it's much harder to climb back up. And if you get yourself up, it's much easier to stay there. So do some training every day. It doesn't have to be hard training, but have a program so you can define fitness on your own terms now.

Everybody wants to blame our sedentary lifestyles for this obesity crisis we're going through right now, unfortunately, move more and eat less doesn't work. So I want you to look back at these five pillars of weight loss after 40, that's hormones, nutrition, sleep, stress management and movement. The cool thing of this is we have control over all five of them. We just have to apply patience, persistence and progression.

Now, I'm here for you, if you need any help with this, you want to learn a little bit more, you can email me at allan@40plusfitnesspodcast.com or you can book a discovery call at 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/discovery.

It's a no sale call, it's a 15-minute call. We get on, we start talking about what your goals are and we address each of these five pillars of health and how you can modify your lifestyle to make sure that you're losing weight after 40.


Post Show/Recap

[00:23:36.090] – Allan
Welcome back Ras.

[00:23:36.570] – Ras
Hey Allan. Well, you sure had the $64,000 question, why is weight loss so hard and weight gain so easy?

[00:23:45.810] – Allan
Yeah, you know, as I as I went through preparing to do that, when I actually wrote it out, almost like a blog post, because it just, there was, I didn't want to miss anything. Because I think a lot of times we have this conversation and it's not that people hear what they want to hear, but it's just, you know, you really have to, in my mind, lay it out in a way where they OK, you're going to have to trip over these things before you're going to get to the thing you think matters most.

[00:24:14.370] – Allan
Like what exercise do I do to make my abs show? And I'm like, I don't know. I just don't know, because there isn't an exercise that's going to make that happen. It's, there's five pillars and all those have to be just about perfect, just about right or weight loss is going to be quite difficult.

[00:24:35.460] – Ras
Yeah, well, it's so true. And, you know, having being over 40, I'm closing in on 50 myself and it is a little bit harder at this age to keep the weight off or lose weight. And, you know, of course, I look back in my 20s thinking I never had to diet. I never had to run or do anything, really. But after having kids and as the years tick by, it does become a little easier to put it on and a lot harder to take it off.

[00:25:05.100] – Allan
Yeah, I you know, I had the six pack when I was in my 20s. You know, walking around, it was just the natural way I was. I was naturally thin and put on muscle well, and and did very well. You know, I was in the military, in the infantry, so we moved a bit. And so for me, it was not really a problem. Weight gain was not a problem. In fact, I spent most of my younger years trying to gain weight unsuccessfully.

[00:25:30.360] – Allan
But then once I kind of got past my 30s, you know, the metabolism and everything, just everything seems to start slowing down. And, you know, we can we can try to blame it on metabolism, and that's maybe a part of it. But it's not the whole picture. So, you know, the calories in and calories out is not wrong. It's just I think what a lot of people don't recognize about that model is that that makes sense in a closed system. By a closed system, I mean, in a box.

[00:25:57.570] – Allan
So if you burn something in a box, it has a certain volume, it's going to burn. It's going to create a certain amount of energy. That's going to be a certain number of calories. Calories are measure of energy. Now, when we sit down to eat. A serving is not a serving, is not a serving, unless you're measuring down to the microgram exactly how much of each and every ingredient you put into your mouth and, you know, you go into the store and even when you see the calories marked on the back of a box, there's a tolerance there.

[00:26:28.570] – Allan
That serving size could be 10, 20 percent more or 10, 20 percent less. They have a tolerance. And when you go into a restaurant, that tolerance can be even more. The person serving you that day or whoever is putting that stuff on your plate, they may have just been a little bit happy with the forks, with the spoons, and they might have given you a little bit more potatoes and a little bit more gravy. And the biscuit today might just be a little bit fluffier and bigger than it was last time you ate there.

[00:26:58.240] – Allan
So the amount you're putting in changes and then as it comes to exercise, you know, you step on that machine and then that machine or your watch or whatever is telling you, oh, you burned 3000 calories today and that can be off by 50 percent.

[00:27:16.210] – Ras
Mm hmm. Yeah. All this technology we have at our hands, it's not a perfect scenario. Not perfect science.

[00:27:23.320] – Allan
Yeah. And they're estimates, so they're good to understand, I did this. But I can tell you that in an hour of exercise when I was in my 20s, I could easily burn a thousand calories, you know. But at that point I'm running six-minute miles and, you know, I'm pushing myself really, really hard with all the extra muscle and all the extra things that are moving around. If I were to go to try to exercise, to go the same distance, I would go when I was in my 20s. I'm literally having to go twice as long.

[00:28:00.790] – Ras
Mm hmm.

[00:28:01.690] – Allan
And nobody has time for that. You're not going to do two or three workouts in a day just to have the calorie burn necessary. And it really doesn't make any sense to do so because it's like, why are you burning more calories for the sake of eating more?

[00:28:16.090] – Ras
Mm hmm true.

[00:28:16.690] – Allan
And you can get by with fewer calories. So if you if you get your hormones in line. And the reason I really wanted to put that first in this conversation is if you over if you don't pay attention to that, you sit there and say, oh, I'm normal, I'm just going to be normal. You don't understand that you don't have as much testosterone. So weight loss becomes harder even for men. You have less testosterone. Weight loss is harder.

[00:28:42.880] – Ras
Mm hmm.

[00:28:44.800] – Allan
Why is that? Well, it's because the biochemical things that happen with testosterone are more inclusive to for you to add muscle. And they naturally allow you to have more growth hormone, which naturally makes you lose body fat. Those are just natural progression of how the human body human physiology works. If we don't. If we don't have to move a lot and foods abundant, we're going to gain weight. We're not lifting heavy things, doing a lot, our bodies can naturally settle down for a period of time. But when things get hairy and we're running out of food, things have to happen in our body where now we're burning more energy.

[00:29:22.930] – Allan
I mean, we're able to survive and get that done. We will get more food. We're able to do the things that are necessary, those are just survival traits that now don't necessarily serve us all the time. Particularly if we're looking at trying to stay lean and I hate to say this guy's and somewhat gal's, is that fat is not this dorment thing we carry. It's not just a package that's attached to our body.

[00:29:45.040] – Allan
It actually does signaling. It tells our body to create more estrogen, which is just the exact opposite. Now, it also has the capacity to release hormones that tell our body to stop eating. But if we're not eating right, then our body doesn't get that signal. So it's complex. But the cool thing is that if you understand your hormones, you'll have the patience and persistence to keep working through this, understanding it's harder now. But then the other four that we talked about, you know, sleep, stress, movement and nutrition and probably nutrition, really kind of the top one there. Those are the four pillars we have complete almost complete control over.

[00:30:28.570] – Ras
Mm hmm. Oh, yeah, for sure. Especially movement. And that's really and if you think it's an evolution of sorts of your age, you know, thinking in your 20s, you were busy and working and going out with friends and doing other athletic pursuits, and then you settle in, you have kids things kind of slow down a little and then work takes over and you're probably doing even less than you were before. And so it's kind of hard to get out of a rut sometimes.

[00:30:57.370] – Ras
You know, you've got your nine to five work schedule, you've got kid responsibilities, not a ton of time for yourself and maybe a little bit more sedentary than you really should be. So it's I think it's important for people, especially our age who are over 40, to find new ways to introduce more movement throughout the day, especially if you have a desk job.

[00:31:19.770] – Allan
Yeah, well, the movement is definitely going to help, but it's not the end all be all. You know, they tell you you can't out exercise a bad diet and take it further. You can't out exercise bad sleep. You can't out exercise stress. If you're trying to push yourself in, you know, in exercise and you're already in a high stress environment.

[00:31:39.790] – Allan
Guess what? Exercise is a stressor. In so many cases, even though it feels good to get up there just like me, I throw weights around, you know, I do a couple of breathing exercises in the elevator, walk over to the gym, throw heavy things around, feels good. But recognizing I wasn't getting the I wasn't getting the muscle gains that I should have probably been getting from the amount of work that I was doing.

[00:32:07.400] – Allan
I wasn't necessarily getting super, super stronger the way that I could have been getting because the stress hormones. Cortisol is catabolic, causes a breakdown of muscle. When you're in when you're in a fight or flight mode, your body doesn't think, oh, well, let's add muscle. You know, muscle is energy intensive. It could slow us down.

[00:32:31.990] – Allan
You know, faster runners, particularly distance runners, don't want a ton of muscle. A shorter distance runner. Sure, they have the muscle because they are going to do a short little sprint and then they're done. But anyone that needs to get away from the bear because they're under stress doesn't need to be carrying a lot of extra body weight. So when they're in those chronic, when you're in that chronic stress environment, you're not going to put on muscle the way that you want to and you're not going to take off body fat.

[00:33:00.550] – Ras
True.

[00:33:00.550] – Allan
You're the way that you want to and how it's where it's proportioned on your body. It's also not in your best interest, but your body. Cortisol doesn't care. Cortisol just wants to keep you alive. So those hormones are important to at least understand when things aren't going well. It at least helps you understand that those other four pillars are there to manage them, understand your hormones, and then manage those other four.

[00:33:27.190] – Allan
And in many cases, what's really, really cool is, as I said, those four pillars, if you're doing nutrition right, you're doing the stress management, you're sleeping well and you're moving consistently. If you're doing all those things, you're helping your body normalize those very hormones, all of them, you know. So doing those things right, those those lifestyle things have a curative effect on your hormone system.

[00:33:54.710] – Ras
Like you had said earlier, that there's no one exercise, there's no one special meal. There's no quick fix to any of these things. But I guess paying attention to each of these five pillars that you had mentioned, like it's a it's a big picture thing. You just need to do, move the needle a little bit with each of these five elements and see where it gets you.

[00:34:17.170] – Allan
Absolutely. All right. Well, anything else that we need to go into this week, Rachel?

[00:34:22.150] – Ras
No, this is a really great podcast. I hope hope to see a lot of downloads off of this one.

[00:34:27.340] – Allan
Yeah, I hope so, too.

[00:34:28.570] – Ras
It'd be very valuable.

[00:34:30.140] – Allan
OK, all right.

[00:34:31.810] – Allan
Well, with nothing else to do, I will talk to you next week.

[00:34:36.040] – Ras
You bet take care.

[00:34:37.240] – Allan
You too.

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