Are you falling for these common weight loss myths? Here are 6 things to avoid when losing weight for women over 40.
It’s incredibly common for women over 40 to struggle to get the scales moving. Most of the time, this is because they’re unsure of the best approach to take. With slimming clubs, low-carb approaches, 5:2 diets and spin classes taking over mainstream media… there are a lot of different lifestyles to choose from.
What makes things even worse, is many of these approaches don’t actually work for women over 40. There are plenty of weight loss myths which could actually cause you to take a step backwards, instead of moving closer towards your goals!
Many women in this situation end up feeling completely stuck when it comes to their weight. They’re watching their weight creep up every year, choosing to cover up ‘problem areas’, and no longer enjoying shopping for clothes. Most of the time, this is all because of the amount of weight loss myths and misinformation pushed by the mainstream media!
In our most recent podcast episode, we reveal some top weight loss myths which keep women over 40 from reaching their goals. Here’s what to watch out for.
Myth: You can do the same as in your 20s
For many women, it’s easy to carry on doing what’s worked for you in the past. For example, perhaps you joined a slimming club in your 30s which helped you lose some excess fat. Now, you might find that the results are much different as you age.
It can be tempting to have another go at what’s worked previously. However, when you’re in your 40s, there’s a lot more to consider…
Firstly, your body and lifestyle are much different. For example, hormonal changes can start 5 to 10 years before clinical menopause… so you might have hormonal imbalances which are affecting your weight. Additionally, life becomes much more stressful as your career and family begin to grow.
On top of this, your body becomes much more sensitive to stress. Stress triggers the release of cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol is brilliant in short bursts, however if it’s chronically elevated, it can have major impacts on other areas of your life.
If cortisol levels are too high, it makes losing weight very difficult – as it leads to 3 major problems:
- Leptin resistance – increased cravings and not feeling full even after eating
- Insulin resistance – which makes it harder to lose weight, especially from around the middle
- Thyroid deregulation – slows your metabolism down, meaning you have to eat a lot less to lose weight
Your stress response increases with age, and it’s three times more prominent in women. This makes it harder to lose weight, and easier to gain it, if you don’t manage these cortisol levels. Most mainstream diets don’t take this into account.
So, what’s the solution? Women over forty need to find a lifestyle which is optimised for their circumstances. One which keeps stress levels low, works with your changing hormones, and takes the minimum amount of time to see the maximum results.
Myth: All weight loss is the same
Most slimming clubs and fad diets promote rapid weight loss… which can have hugely negative impacts. Additionally, they make you cut out or ban certain foods, or replace meals with shakes or juice. You will likely see lots of weight loss in the first few weeks at these clubs, and you might believe they are working really well. However, this is not necessarily the case.
In truth, your body is made up of many components. Fad diets tend to capitalise on this to make it seem like your progress is better than it actually is. Most fad diets cut out carbs, reduce salt intake, and heavily reduced caloric intake. So, it’s likely you’ll see plenty of water weight loss and muscle loss in the first few weeks on these diets.
So, what’s the solution? We recommend focusing on losing body fat, rather than just general weight. Plus, it’s important to do this in a way which is sustainable. For example, you should avoid cutting out whole food groups and instead focus on eating the right amount for you over the week. Additionally it’s important to improve muscle gain through strength training, and measure your progress in terms of inches lost as well as weight.
Myth: Cardio burns fat
Most people believe that cardio is the best exercise for burning fat, yet this is a common weight loss myth. Most social media influencers preach this mentality, and it seems logical that really difficult and sweaty workouts burn the most calories.
In truth, cardio can burn plenty of calories, but it isn’t always the best way to lose weight. This is especially true for women who are over 40. This is because cardio is usually very high impact, which means you’ll burn through muscle easily, and you won’t tone or firm up your body.
As a solution, we recommend doing low impact strength training. This is kind to your joints, builds muscle to tone you up, carries low risk, and avoids raising your stress hormones.
Myth: There’s such thing as a slow metabolism
You might have heard the phrase “some people are born with a fast metabolism.” You might have even blamed a slow metabolism for weight gain in the past. Some people even use this as an excuse for their weight gain…
In truth, studies show that metabolism has a very low impact on weight loss. For the most part, metabolism is vastly the same from person to person. Instead, it’s about what each person does or doesn’t do each day that will burn more calories.
Someone who has a “fast metabolism” might move more, fidget more, or even have a more active job. They might also be taller, have more muscle, or be a different gender…
Instead, you should consciously plan to move more so you burn more calories. You could plan a lunchtime walk each day, or do something active in the evenings, for example, redecorate a room or spend time in the garden.
Myth: You should lose weight every week
Most people can get demoralised when they step on the scales at the end of a week of eating well, to see the number hasn’t changed. A couple of weeks into seeing no results, they might give up…
In reality, body weight will never drop consistently, especially for women over 40. Monthly hormonal fluctuations cause water retention, which can cause water weight to increase temporarily. This masks any weight loss occurring at the same time.
Additionally, changes in stress levels can cause cortisol to affect water retention; a stressful week of work could easily gain and retain 2lbs of water.
The solution for this is to not expect your weight to drop every week. Use multiple measures of progress so that you’re not demotivated if the scales haven’t changed. It’s also handy to have a coach who knows about these temporary changes in body weight, so they know if it’s something to worry about it or not.
Myth: You can do it on your own
It’s easy to fail in private. For example, even our coaches at Trinity don’t write their own fitness plans!
If you were going to succeed on your own, you probably would have already done it! So we recommend saving yourself years, and lots of struggle, by getting a proven program tailored to you.
For example, you could try to fix your car yourself, but you need a lot of time to learn how to do this – since it’s not your area of expertise. Or, you could invest in an expert with a proven track record to fix it for you.
If you’re interested in finding a long-term, sustainable diet designed for women over 40, you can find out more about working with us here!