Staying fit and looking your best in your forties, fifties, and beyond can be challenging. You can expect a few extra pounds to creep on, but it’s actually ok.
Research has emerged that strongly suggests that fitness over 40 is a far better predictor of health and longevity than weight. This is great news for those who are haunted by a few extra pounds.
Here are my 3 best fitness tips if you are over 40:
Most people can easily name the first two. However, these are commonly misinterpreted. This is partly why people continue to search repeatedly for new diets and exercise plans. This is about fitness not about getting skinny. Fat loss is often a by-product of these tips, but not the focus.
Focusing on the scale number is not always in our best interest and can backfire. A better focus is on overall fitness.
People who are fit, and carry extra weight have a lower risk for many diseases than those who are sedentary and thin.
The following three tips will help you get consistent at behaviors that will improve your fitness over 40.
1. Sweat Equity
By the time we hit our 40’s our body has begun slowing down and actually breaking down. We may not notice, but each year beginning around age 30, we lose lean muscle. After a decade or two, it adds up to a significant loss of metabolism-supporting tissue.
This is called sarcopenia. Left unchecked, our metabolism will need less and less energy to maintain itself. This means we can’t eat as we used to. Sweat equity…aka… exercise is necessary to replace and maintain lean muscle and tissue mass. For people over 40, random exercise will not work.
Effective approaches include a combination of challenging the cardiovascular system, maintaining and gaining back muscle and bone tissue, and maintaining mobility and balance.
What can we do to avoid this slump in metabolism and protect our tissues and bones?
I have said this hundreds and hundreds of times: Participate consistently with a training program that is carefully designed for your age. Random exercise does not cut it once we are over 40. If we are going to put in the effort to live well, then we want our time and sweat equity to pay off.
I designed the Air Hug Training Membership specifically for women over 40. The pillars of the program include meeting the woman at her unique fitness level, providing safe modifications and progressions, improving cardiovascular fitness, and optimizing the metabolism with muscle-sparing resistance training. We round it out with lots of mobility and balance work. For more information click here.
2. Sustainable Nutrition
The truth is that there are no quick diets, detoxes, or magic pills that improve fitness and health. A sustainable nutrition program doesn’t promise rippled abs in 6 weeks or a guaranteed sustainable weight loss.
These quick schemes can not sustain long-term fitness.
Worse yet, they are detrimental to our health and fitness. Stay with me here. The behaviors required to achieve those elusive abs can do heavy damage to the metabolism. In the long run, they lead to a softer flabbier, and heavier body.
Future efforts at weight loss will be even more difficult due to lost muscle and gained fat. Muscle is metabolically active tissue which means that it requires a certain amount of energy just to maintain itself. Muscle burns energy at rest, fat burns almost no energy at rest.
These quick-fix approaches actually damage the metabolism by diminishing muscle mass even more than normal aging.
Hold on for a minute! It is important to understand that a human body can not lose fat without losing some muscle, and vice versa. Another important fact to remember is that a female body over 40 will not ‘bulk’ up with muscle and fat without excessively long and difficult weight training and hefty calories.
Here comes a fact you can stink your teeth into. According to studies published by cardiologist Carl J. Lavin, MD, and his colleagues, having a moderate muscle mass and moderate fat mass and being fit, provides a lower risk of suffering from a severe heart event. Being thin and unfit raises the risk.
Being unfit at any size raises the risk. But get this, low body fat and high muscle mass provided a higher risk too. So you don’t have to look like a bodybuilder to be heart-healthy, and it may even hurt you. Research points to fitness, not body weight as the best predictor of lowering the risk for numerous diseases.
Sustainable nutrition is a nutrition plan that emphasizes vegetables, just enough protein, and limiting inflammatory foods. Carbs are not the demon, but processed carbs might be. For more information visit this page.
3. Confident Mindset.
This is the behavior that is the most overlooked and undervalued, but the fact is that your brain can be your biggest asset or a big a$$hole. Your brain is literal. If you feed it garbage thoughts, it will turn on you and treat you like garbage, even if you are only joking. The brain does not understand sarcasm.
For over a decade I have coached women on sustainable nutrition and also on nutrition for bodybuilding competitions. There is a difference. (That is a conversation for another time) There is a constant that is vital to success for all of us.
That constant is a success mindset.
There have been times on my own journey that I have slipped into an inferior state of mind, feeling like an imposter in my own life. Consequently, my habits suffered during these times. Imposter syndrome is a term used for entrepreneurs who lack confidence in their ability to practice their craft. Imposter syndrome can also be present for those who long to have a higher level of fitness but view thems selves as unable or unworthy to do so.
We need to train our brains to understand that we are not imposters. This is not a one-and-done thought. Our brain needs a continuous reminder that we are worthy and capable of maintaining our fitness. We are capable of embracing healthy habits.
Research is emerging that supports fitness over thinness for better health and longevity. It can be distracting and tempting to just aim for weight loss, but it is more important to prioritize fitness over thinness. [Remember they are not the same.]
There you have it – 3 of my best tips to staying fit over 40!
For the past several years, I have been teaching 5 Principles for motiving your mind in my sustainable nutrition membership. (based on the teachings of Les Brown)
Here is a brief explanation of each:
Believe it is possible You must believe that it is possible for you to learn and maintain fit living habits that are sustainable for life.
Believe it is necessary. You must understand that it is necessary for you to learn these habits and practice them consistently.
Believe it is your responsibility. This is one hundred percent your responsibility. Nobody can do this for you.
Know that it is hard. Yes, this will be hard. Learn to expect the hard. We say ’embrace the suck’. I love this quote in Glennon Doyle’s book, Untamed “We can do hard things”
Know that you are worthy. Understanding your worthiness brings about confidence and makes the above principles come together.