7 Exercise and Nutrition Tips for Hormonal Balance and Weight Loss
Have you noticed changes in how your body reacts to certain food? Did you just realise that since you turned 40 your mid-section has slowly started to expand even though you haven’t changed anything in your diet? This post was written by my sister, Colleen. Over to her.
Unfortunately, it’s part of the cycle of life that the body goes through changes; the ones in the 40s are significant in a woman’s life as the hormonal changes influence bone density, muscle mass and can cause weight gain, food cravings and mood swings.
The decrease in the hormone called estrogen is behind of many of these symptoms. Let’s consider what estrogen does in the female body. It:
In women over age 40, low estrogen levels can be a sign of approaching menopause. This time of transition is called perimenopause. Your ovaries will still produce estrogen at this phase, however it will continue to slow until you reach menopause, when you’re no longer producing estrogen.
In brief, if you would like to stay in shape, be fit and healthy and feel great about yourself, you will need to adjust your lifestyle habits, including nutrition, exercise and stress management to ensure your hormones can stay balanced. Here are 7 habits to embrace or include in your 40s to prevent hormonal imbalance and help you manage your weight and stress levels.
1. Embrace balanced meals
Ideally, every meal should include a good balance of macro- and micronutrients, e.g. protein, carbs, fats, vitamins and minerals. Ensure you have a good source of lean protein, some form of carbohydrates (can be fibrous vegetables which will also make you feel more satisfied), a portion of vegetables and healthy fats.
This will also help you to stay in control of your portions. Losing weight is pure Maths, you need to eat less than your body uses on average.
2. Experiment with cutting back on grains and dairy
When we say experiment, we do mean to try different amounts for a few days and listen to your body. It will have an impact on many women, whilst there may be some who won’t feel any difference. This doesn’t mean you should go paleo, as every body is different. Testing for a few days or a week will have you learn more about your body and you may explore new recipes and meals that you like.
3. Cut back on processed foods and added sugar
Most women will become less able to metabolise excess dietary sugar and their body will store it as excess fat. The high sodium content in most processed foods will lead to water retention which can make you look puffier than you really are. Give it a go and see how you feel after a week or so.
4. Drink Smart
Many don’t realise how much calories their fluids contain. Make wise choices and cut back on the sugary drinks, high calorie hot drinks and alcohol. Drinking a cup of black coffee (about 5 calories) instead of a creamy latte with caramel syrup (300+ cal) can make all the difference. A glass of wine is about 130 calories, a pint of beer is about 200, so ensure you choose your drinks to stay in line with your daily intake.
5. Exercise for hormonal balance
Most likely you already have some sort of exercise routine but you feel it doesn’t bring the desired results. There are a few reasons you should still practice some form of activity: helps to regulate blood sugars, improves bone density, stimulates the production of ‘feel good’ hormones and is essential for weight management. If you feel like you’re being punished while working out, you should consider a different approach, that you can enjoy and would serve the purpose.
Aim to perform some form of exercise 4-5 times a week and stay active during the day too: choose the stairs instead of lifts or escalator, carry a shopping basket instead of pushing a trolley, do your own gardening, etc. These all add up.
6. Work smarter, not harder in the gym
Choose shorter, 45-60 mins workouts that include compound, full body exercises for strength and higher intensity cardio or intervals for metabolic boost. If you feel you can’t motivate yourself enough, get a gym buddy or join group classes that meet the criteria above. This will save you time and will make you feel like Wonder Woman after.
7. Focus on stress management
Your body needs cortisol to perform a series of processes, however when you’re under a lot of stress, your cortisol levels will rise high. This can manifest in midnight wake-up or insomnia paired with daytime drowsiness, food cravings and feeling lethargic. The easiest way to solve this is to avoid situations where you can get stressed, but we appreciate that’s not always possible. The second-best thing is to incorporate daily habits to manage your stress levels.
Ensure you take at least 30 minutes for yourself every day to relax. This can be guided meditation, listening to chilling music, watching a comedy to have a laugh or taking a walk outdoors, far from distractions. Also ensure you take a day regularly to recover, where you don’t answer the phone and spend time with your loved ones enjoying life.
Dealing with the life changes in your 40s is stressful enough, however there are ways to ensure you stay on top of your health and fitness game so you’ll be strong and healthy to face any obstacles, stay confident and enjoy life. If you need to dig a little deeper or more guidance on how to implement these habits, contact Colm to ask your questions!