Middle Age and Weight Redistribution
Many things happen during middle age, and one of them is the redistribution of fat around the body. Women may find that excess weight is sitting around the middle and adding to the very uncomfortable muffin top spillage over the top of jeans.
There are many reasons for this which we shall explore in this blog. The fact is that fat held around the middle of the body is particularly detrimental to health and is a sign that the metabolism is not working as efficiently as it once did.
Illnesses and fat stored around the middle
Fat around the middle is known to increase the risk of many illnesses such as diabetes, strokes, heart disease high blood pressure and more. It is also a fact that as people get older they may become less active and muscle mass begins to be lost.
Diet alone will not address this problem, it needs a multi level approach.
Your body is laying weight around the middle for a number of reasons:
1. Long term stress
2. Unhealthy lifestyle
3. Poor nutrition
4. Lack of exercise
5. Excessive alcohol consumption
6 Thyroid and adrenal issues
During periods of stress your body is pumping out adrenaline and cortisol due to the flight or fight response. In caveman times this was necessary to respond to threats. However the types of stress experienced today is completely different in comparison to that time.
Perhaps you are stressed at work, home, or while driving through traffic or another type of stress. Your body will respond accordingly. Due to the release of these hormones and the fact that your body is not doing anything physical in response to the perceived threat, it will then lay down fat deposits.
Cortisol and appetite
Once the perceived threat is over it is common for the cortisol levels to remain high and your appetite increases — not great if you are trying to control and manage your weight.
Raised cortisol affects wellbeing and moods, causing feelings of tension, anxiety and a feeling of irritability.
Many people who are stressed have a tendency to eat the wrong types of foods as a means of comforting themselves. Sugary snacks, chocolate, crisps, wrong types of carbohydrates and fried fatty food is going to complicate matters even further. All that extra weight is likely to end up around the middle.
There are also those that eat less and lose their appetites in periods of stress.
In periods of prolonged stress the body is unable to keep up, the adrenals cease to work efficiently and energy levels drop significantly. Your body is in stress overload.
The key is in staying tuned into your mind and body and not allowing stress to impact your life to the degree that your health begins to suffer.
Your body needs to know that there are no longer any perceived threats to allow it to begin to let go of the excess roll of fat that sits around the middle.
Menopause is also a time of stress for some women as they deal with hormonal fluctuations, mood swings, less energy, and all of the changes that menopause brings. This is particularly challenging for women in corporate jobs trying to function productively while her body processes all of these changes mentioned above.
Men also do not escape the effects of hormonal changes in midlife and they begin to produce less and less testosterone. Men in middle age lose muscle mass if they are not exercising regularly and less muscle mass means less calories expenditure.
Another gland that impacts weight control is the thyroid gland in the neck. The thyroid is responsible for metabolism and body temperature. When there are high levels of cortisol as a result of stress the function of the thyroid may reduce.
What you can do
It is imperative to take control of eating habits and behaviour. It is necessary to find a way of addressing comfort eating, or eating the wrong food groups for the wrong reasons.
Seven tips to take control of your weight
1. No more dieting, diets do not work
2. Let go of sugar and refined carbohydrates
3. Make sure you have a little protein at each meal
4. Let go of your morning coffee and caffeine drinks
5. Address your stress levels
6 Eliminate or reduce alcohol
7. Consider supplementation
8. Exercise regularly
Instead of leaving huge gaps in-between meals, eat little and often to keep the metabolism burning. Don’t skip breakfast, your body has been fasting all night.
Caffeine is a stimulant
Be careful with caffeine. It is a stimulant that causes your body to start the release of cortisol and eventually may mess up the way your body responds to the release of insulin. Caffeine is also very addictive.
Alcohol is your enemy
Alcohol is also a stimulant which interferes with the absorption of nutrients and your sleep patterns. It also causes your body to dehydrate which is stressful for the body. Remember that the liver is a very busy organ. When you drink alcohol you are overloading it and it may not be able to do its job efficiently or well.
This is a personal choice, but I have seen the many benefits of supplementation with my clients. Study the benefits of chromium, magnesium, zinc, rhodiola rosea, and many other wonderful supplements. Speak to your local health shop regarding recommendations and make an informed choice to take them or not.
Exercise consistently and choose exercise that you know you will enjoy. This is important to stay motivated to continue. Choosing weight bearing exercise is going to help to increase your muscle mass which is ideal particularly for the midlife years.
You will find a free downloadable shopping list on the flourish beyond 40 website. Avoid food that is labeled “diet or low fat”. Avoid all artificial sweeteners. Eat organic where possible. Include more beans and pulses into your diet. Drink plenty water each day to help flush the body of toxins.
If you enjoy spices in your food then enjoy including them in your cooking. Include nuts, seeds and avocados.
There is a plethora of wonderful books and information that you can access to support your weight goals.
Now that you know the factors that are adding to weight gain around the middle, you can take proactive action to make changes to your health, wellness and lifestyle. The good news is that you are likely to let go of weight around the middle once you address the factors that are causing it.
Being able to manage stress levels and noticing when stress levels become too high is going to help you stay in control of your weight. Make sure you use effective stress management techniques and strategies to support your goals of healthy weight management.
If you enjoyed reading this blog you may enjoy reading the other blogs on the site.
Have a great stress free day!
Isobel McArthur – Founder of Flourish Beyond 40