Over 40 - struggling to lose the weight

RachW
Member

After 3  hip surgeries in my mid thirties, I gained weight and got pretty lazy.  Once COVID hit and most of my outlets for fun were shutdown, I realized that I missed working out and was not happy with my health. Like many of you, a  lot changed during COVID and I had the opportunity to reprioritize the things in my life and working out /my fitness rose to the top. 

 

I've been working out with a trainer at the gym for the last 18 months.  The first year I saw great results in building muscle, which of course made my clothes fit better, but I have plateaued and don't seem to be losing fat and gaining muscle anymore.  I workout 3-4 times a week and focus on lifting weights.  I've added some cardio into my weekly routine My nutrition is pretty good (like everyone I enjoy a piece of birthday cake, or a couple drinks on the weekend, but overall no fast food, mostly protein and veggies with a few fats and carbs. 

 

Without tracking calories cause I can't seen to hold myself accountable to it, anyone have any suggestions on how they were able to kick the weight loss into gear after 40?  All the articles I read tell me to lift weights, and get moderate exercise 3-4x a week.  I walk 11k steps a day, lift weights 3-4x a week and have added in some interval cardio (sprints) and I can't see to lose the pesky fat.  I used to be able to add a workout a week and see the scale move...not anymore.  I talk to the trainers and they actually tell me to eat more...maybe they are right, but it doesn't make sense to me since its calories in vs calories out.

 

Please help!  Any suggestions or great articles that could help?  

12 REPLIES 12

GoodbyeVal
Member

@RachW I'm feeling the same; it seems like i'm doing everything I am supposed to, but nothing is getting the weight off. It's really frustrating. I almost think my body wants to stay this way forever (but that's not what I want). I heard about eating more calories too, but that goes against everything I've ever learned. Hoping some good advice comes!

Vanessa
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi @RachW, I think a lot of people are having the same problems as you (me included). I actually took a break from my weight loss journey for my mental health. It became very consuming and I think I just needed to regroup before going back in!

 

I'm hoping some of our Guides may have some insight. Looping in @Margeaux_H @Chris_F @Heather_C to see if any of you have some advice for this!

Margeaux_H
Guide
Guide

Hi @RachW  I have been struggling with the exact same thing.  Spent most of the Spring and Summer trying to get rid of covid pounds but between menopause and my already slow metabolism nothing was working.  Finally over the last six weeks I have managed to lose a good amount of weight and it really was a change in diet. I have been  I am not a nutritionist and I do hear you on the calories in calories out, but if you are building muscle you may want to talk to your doctor about what to eat more of.  I would think you might want to add more protein into your day and they may help.  Also try switching up your workout routine.  maybe add a little more cardio and a little less weights for a bit.  Also, remember muscle weighs more than fat so if you have gained alot of muscle mass you will most likely see the scale go up.  

I love the idea of switching up the workout for a bit.  I will continue to lift weights, but transition my focus to cardio for a couple weeks.  Just need something to move the needle.

Chris_F
Guide
Guide

HI there - well after 40 is does get harder ... and after 50 it's well....harder too - but I PROMISE it's possible to lose that extra weight and feel better.  A few things - I am doing an hour long discussion on Macros tomorrow - counting your macronutrients is a more specific way to count calories .... and as we get older it's worth trying the exercise  for a few weeks to get a handle on what you are really doing.  Between getting the right number of calories, the right TYPE of calories and getting in enough movement - you can move the needle ... it doesn't have to be all consuming ... but I'll be talking about it tomorrow - it's under EVENTS - 11amPT tomorrow (tuesday Aug 31st) !! 

 

RachW
Member

Thanks Chris_F!  I am going to try to make the Macros discussion today.  

Heather_C
Guide
Guide

Hi @RachW ! I'm a registered dietitian, so hoping to offer some perspective from nutrition science (the "evidence") and also 10+ years of counseling clients and working in sports nutrition. 🙂 Thanks for the tag @Vanessa !

 

We were once told that weight is simply an equation -- calories in, calories out -- but of course it can't be that simple! If it was that simple, 1) no one would have any trouble losing weight and 2) we wouldn't have a $72 Billion weight loss industry continuing to profit off of the weight loss mystery. 😉 We just aren't robots, or calculators. Our metabolism is way more evolved and complicated, which is actually great! It keeps us alive. As the body loses weight, metabolism actually slows down to make sure we don't lose "too much" because that threatens our life. This is part of why people often experience a plateau, and then eventually why they gain weight back (another survival mechanism!).  Other things that impact our weight: stress (hi, COVID! And many many other things that fall under this umbrella), muscle mass, lifestyle, nutrition, disease / illness, and of course...genetics. 

I share that to shed some light on what often feels like a personal failure, but is actually a miscommunicated message about weight and a pretty amazing survival instinct. You're totally not alone in feeling that calorie or macro counting doesn't feel sustainable! It can be a helpful tool to see if we're eating enough, but long-term, our brains are not wired to be so rigid with food intake behaviors. 

That said! Your trainers are probably right. I know it seems counterintuitive, but we do sometimes see weight gain when people aren't eating enough, because the body is going into survival mode and storing fat to help you in the event of a famine or starvation (which is a threat to our life!). So by increasing your intake, and getting more of what your body needs to support your training goals and your health, you may see some body changes. Or you may not, but it may help you feel better and stronger in your workouts and day to day. 🙂 

This may be another topic all together, but I have a question about fat accumulation after menopause -- Do hormones play a role, in the sense that our bodies are trying to maintain some estrogen production through an increase in adipose tissue? Or is that "slower metabolism after menopause" a myth?

@sassafras 

Good questions!  Yes I do know that hormones play a role (from colleagues who specialize in obesity medicine) as there is evidence to support being on hormone therapy during the perimenopausal period is associated with weight loss.  I don't know which hormone therapy exactly is needed but I would suggest it is a conversation to have with your PCP or gynecologist. 

RachW
Member

Thank you @Heather_C !  This is helpful!  I will track my food for the next week and see where I can make some improvements.  I can do a week...just NOT a year 🙂

melisah
Member

Hi, menopause did the same to me. I've always been fit and never struggled with weight until suddenly in perimenopause when I gained weight that wouldn't come off in the same ways that had always worked for me. I spent about a year trying to adjust my diet (more protein, more plants, less inflammatory foods), boost exercise, even gave up my wine 😉  I'm also a gynecologist, and have been telling patients experiencing perimenopausal weight gain the same strategy for years. It was super frustrating to have it not work in my own life. What finally worked for me, and I had patients seeing more success as well, was focusing hard on being plant based (with lean proteins) and doing a short term period (about 4 weeks) of intermittent fasting (no eating between 7 pm and 11 am), and of course staying active. I'm no nutritionist, but what I've read indicates that long term intermittent fasting is not recommended for women of any age, but at menopause may be the jumpstart that many of us need. Would love some input from @Heather_C and @Chris_F 

Valerie_C
Guide
Guide

Great conversations! I would add a plug for sleep as sleep deprivation is associated with weight gain.  Make sure you are getting 7-9 hours a night and if you snore, gasp for air at night or feel sleepy during the day talk to your doctor as these may be signs of undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea.