As a woman in my forties I totally get the challenges that busy women in my age group face. Like it or not, despite our best efforts at exercising regularly and eating healthily, our bodies will change with age. Once we reach the age of 35 our body starts to change hormonally and we are more prone to gaining unwanted pounds around the mid-section. Fact.
So what do we do?
First, let’s understand why this is happening and embrace this natural change.
Our bodies can no longer tolerate junk food, sugar and alcohol
Forget what we ate and drank in our 20s. That was then and this is now. We simply can’t put away what we used to and get away with it. This is a frustrating time as it means having to change our eating habits, particularly if we are no longer exercising as much as we once did.
We are less active due to career and family demands
Long hours sitting at a desk, coupled with juggling the demands of family mean we struggle to find the time to do anything for ourselves, let alone exercise. And if we don’t particularly enjoy exercising, this is not going to be a priority when we get those precious free hours (minutes!) to ourselves.
We are more stressed
We experience a feeling of loss of control over our lifestyle because of the demands placed upon us. We might drink more to escape this reality and to take the edge off a busy day. In desperation we also try fad diets and crazy bootcamps in a concerted effort to turn things around. But we are not consistent and so don’t see the results we want.
We are bombarded by social media images
Images of young celebrities looking beautifully tanned and slim, seemingly without making any effort whatsoever and living a far more reckless life than we are. But there are no quick fixes. The promises of a bikini body in 7 days, or dropping 2 dress sizes by following the new workout plan, or juice detox makes us think this is actually doable (which of course it isn’t) and that we are a failure for being unable to achieve this. We assume it is our fault, that we have no willpower.
Our self-confidence is challenged
Bottom line, we don’t feel sexy anymore. Our identity has been compromised. We see wrinkles appearing on our face and grey hairs sprouting from our heads. We try desperately to take action to prevent this from happening but we still don’t feel good inside. We don’t identify with the person we were pre-children and feel a little lost. Plus, the idea of walking into a new exercise class or the gym fills us with dread. The fear of making a total fool of ourselves is paralysing.
Our hormones change
Our levels of oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone start to decline. At the same time, our metabolism slows, our energy drops and we start to feel aches and pains in our body that weren’t there before. It also takes us longer to recover from illness or injury. We notice that we are gaining belly fat and losing muscle mass.
Argh! It all feels so out of control.
BUT this is a natural process. I’m not asking you to like it but there is NOTHING you can do about it. We can’t turn back the clock but what we CAN do is embrace this new chapter in our lives and fine-tune what we have so we can FEEL good about ourselves again. It just takes a few tweaks here and there.
So, what is the secret to living a life we love?
Let go of guilt and self-blame related to your body image
We will all go through these changes (even those lithe celebrities) and you must focus on controlling the things you CAN do to adapt your lifestyle and optimize your health.
Be aware of nutrition
You need to adjust your food intake to account for your loss of muscle mass if you are no longer exercising. But don’t focus on lowering your calorie intake because this may slow your metabolism down, which can result in weight gain. Eat wholefoods, and where possible eat five meals a day to prevent you from getting hungry and over-eating. Include protein in every meal to stabilize your blood sugar and control your appetite and lower your intake of startchy carbs and refined sugar.
You may be pleased to hear that long cardio sessions are not the secret to weight loss/toning when we are in our 40s. If you do too much it overtaxes your body and increases your levels of the stress hormone cortisol, causing belly fat. Your goal should be to add muscle to your body using your own body weight. Ballet fitness workouts are fantastic for this and will help you to achieve a strong feminine physique.
Hands down the best exercise you can do is body weight training, to build muscle and prevent any loss of muscle mass. Muscle is the most metabolically active tissue in the body so the more muscle you lose the slower your metabolic rate, which can contribute to weight gain. Focus on realistic workout plans that fit into your lifestyle and are enjoyable. You are then far more likely to stick at it and see the results you want.
Lack of sleep increases the levels of cortisol, which as we now know deposits fat around the belly. We need to aim for 8 hours of sleep every night, so set your alarm clock to go to bed to ensure you are giving yourself a fighting chance of achieving this.
Increase your energy
Rev up your energy levels and you are going to feel more like working out. Eat right, exercise smarter and sleep well and you are going to feel like a new woman.
If you have fallen into a workout rut, or have given up entirely, now is the time to get creative and find a new activity to bolster your enthusiasm and rev up your metabolism. Ballet fitness workouts tick all the boxes and I’m blown away by the results my amazing clients talk about not only in terms of their physique, but also their mindset and their emotional wellbeing.
Focus on what you CAN do. You CAN feel more energized and fit short workouts in at home. You do have the willpower – you just haven’t given yourself the best chance yet. You need to invest time in yourself.
“The Breaking Ballet workouts] showed me how much I had to gain, how much strength I could gain, and it just really inspired me, honestly, to start this whole fitness journey of really caring for myself, because if I don’t take care of myself, then I don’t have the energy to take care of my family.” Erin, BBackstage Member.
Let’s celebrate our age and what our body has achieved for us so far. Then let’s love our body and do the best we can for it at this point in time. More than ever before, we can feel comfortable in our own skin, without pressure to look a certain way and instead feel confident, strong and sexy.
For more information about the Breaking Ballet monthly membership click here.
Sarah is the founder of Breaking Ballet, a unique fitness course using classical technique. Click here to find out more.
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