Are you a woman over forty? Here are five reasons the scales aren’t moving, and what we recommend you to do instead.

We speak to a lot of women in their 40s and 50s who are looking to drop a dress size or two, but they’re struggling to see any movement with their weight. They’re trying all the plans and programmes which worked for them in their 20s and 30s, but the scales aren’t moving.

This can be really frustrating – and can leave people feeling completely trapped.

It’s true that age and hormones can make it easier to gain weight, especially around the middle, and more difficult to lose it again. But the good news is that there’s a quick and easy way to escape from this situation.

It usually comes down to a few simple mistakes that people make, which stop them from getting the results they want.

Here are the 5 most common reasons that women over forty struggle to see movement on the scales. Plus, we include our most effective strategies for when the scales aren’t moving, so you can drop those couple of dress sizes in the next few months, and feel amazing in all your favourite clothes.

You can also hear about these tips on our podcast.

Changing hormones related to menopause

Physical and hormonal changes can start up to ten years before clinical menopause. This leads to a drop in levels of progesterone and oestrogen, joint aches and pains and changes to metabolism.

All of this can make it easier to gain weight and more difficult to lose it again (especially around the middle) and leave many women stuck and unable to see results.

Most people try to do bog-standard diets and exercise approaches, which work well for women in their 20s and 30s but aren’t optimal for women over 40. Inside our Fit Over 40 program, our clients are able to lose 1-2 stone every 12 weeks following a hormonally-optimised nutrition and exercise approach that doesn’t involve anything too extreme.

Elevated stress hormone levels

When you get stressed, it raises the stress hormone cortisol. This is called a stress response. If this is just for a short period of time, it’s not a problem at all. If cortisol is too high for too long, it triggers the weight gain triangle:

  • Leptin resistance – increased cravings
  • Insulin resistance – more likely to store fat around the middle
  • Thyroid deregulation – slows down metabolism

As you age, this stress response gets bigger, meaning it’s more likely you’ll be left with chronically elevated cortisol levels, especially if you also have a stressful career.

If this isn’t managed, it can turn to disrupting stress hormones. Instead, we recommend you avoid following nutrition and exercise approaches which over stress the body – like most fitness programmes do.

Instead, focus on doing low impact, low stress exercise, and following a nutrition approach which doesn’t make you do anything extreme like cutting your calories down really low.

Consuming too many or too few calories

Another common approach people take is to drastically reduce their calories, assuming that if they just eat less they’ll see results. You may be able to get away with this when you’re younger, but it doesn’t work well for women over forty.

The body perceives very low calorie dieting as another source of stress. This adds to the total stress (allostatic stress) on the body, and spikes cortisol. This often means people can’t lose weight AND they’re hungry all the time.

For women over forty, there’s a specific calorie sweet spot that’s:

  • High enough to avoid over-stressing the body
  • Low enough to consistently lose 1-2lbs every week

We calculate this for every client who joins our Fit Over 40 program based on specific information unique to each client. This means our members are able to keep their stress levels low, enjoy eating the things they like without feeling hungry AND lose 1-2 stone every 12 weeks!

Doing the wrong type of exercise

A lot of popular types of exercise are very inefficient for women over forty. You have to put in a LOT of effort to see little to no results. This includes cardio, HIIT, gym classes, running and spinning.

These approaches can feel effective, as you sweat a lot and feel really tired, but that’s not actually a good measure of an effective workout. These all create an elevated stress response (specifically the stress hormone cortisol).

Therefore, these types of exercise often make it harder to see results for women over forty, as they work against your changing hormones.

We recommend LIST training – low-impact strength training – instead. This keeps the stress level on the body low – to avoid triggering weight gain triangle. Plus, it’s gentle on the joints and keeps you toned!

Not staying consistent

Having the right approach to follow is one thing, but the reality is, if you don’t put that into action consistently then you’re not going to see results.

Most plans and programmes focus on the “what to do” more than they focus on how to actually put that into action. A lot of the women over forty who we work with have busy careers, hectic family lives, high stress levels and very little time and energy available to focus on their fitness.

When you add in holidays, social events and other distractions which can throw people off track, it can be really difficult to keep going with eating well and exercising.

The problem with going it alone is it’s really easy to fail in private. When there’s no consequences, you can simply throw in the towel at any point – which of course leads to either not making any progress, undoing all the results you’ve got or putting on more weight and getting even further away from your goals.

We’ve found that keeping our clients accountable has been one of the most powerful ways to make sure they get the results they want no matter what.

We track and monitor what the women inside our Fit Over 40 programme do every week, meaning we can reach out to them any time we think they might be going a little off track and make sure they get the help and support they need to keep going no matter what!

To find out more about how Trinity can help you see the results you deserve, simply click here.