Exercise – Why less may be better in your 40s and beyond

Exercise – Why less may be better in your 40s and beyond


Exercise is a bit like Marmite – you either love it or hate it.  We all know the many benefits of exercise and how good it is for us on so many levels.  However, there is an aside which nudged me to write this Blog.Exercise

I am a woman let’s say well beyond the age of 40.  In fact, I am now 54 years young.  No shame in that either. I am not precious or self-conscious in telling people my age.  Nothing to hide, yet so much to be proud of in these wise years.  A lifetime of experiences and learning from mistakes made along the way.

Weight Issues

In my work with women in their 40s and beyond and in fact younger in some cases. Issues of weight always pop up in the sessions. Weight issues are also something I have struggled with myself, particularly in the younger years.  Interestingly the past year issues of weight popped up again and in a sense accidentally.



People describe me as a “curvy” woman.  I have hips, and I’m short.  A weight gain of 2kg looks like 7kg on me.  Last year at this time I was called “obese” by the GP, which was to say, the numbers on the chart were not in my favour. Of course, I already knew this as I was doing a fair amount of comfort eating after moving home from England to Scotland.  I know my own eating patterns better than anyone.  Coupled with the fact that I also work from home in Scotland and mostly online creating Journals over at, and conducting Skype sessions for and This involves a lot of sitting on my backside.

At the time I was living in a Farmhouse in rural Scotland with not another soul or houses nearby and life felt a little lonely.  So I found myself sedentary and eating too much.  Calories in and calories out were way out of balance and weight began to creep on slowly.

Another move a few months later into town and feeling much less isolated brought positive change.  I became more active and let go of a little weight, enjoyed the feeling of getting into my clothes and feeling at home in my body again.

Fast forward to joining the local gym, and getting up at 5 am and following a routine of HIIT class, lifting heavy weights in the gym, and swimming each day.  Weight literally began to fall off. I wasn’t feeling hungry and my calorie deficit went the opposite way. I felt truly fit, healthy, energized, toned but I noticed I was “losing” my face and tried to ignore this fact as I was enjoying all the exercise and associated benefits.

On one of my monthly work visits to Yorkshire, people kept asking me if I was ill, some were very honest and said I looked gaunt (another word for haggard), and generally looked unhealthy.  My husband felt the same way and said so on many occasions.

A Choice

So I took a long hard look in the mirror and yes it was true.  My body looked a lot better, but my face had suffered and had lost its fullness.  This prompted a memory of being told years ago “when a woman reaches a certain age, she has to choose between her butt or her face”.  This isn’t necessarily true for all women, but perhaps women who have a certain shaped face – like mine.

The past two months there has been a major turnaround, as the focus has now been on cutting back the daily workouts to four a week.  My food intake has increased significantly and I am eating what I should be and slowly regaining a few kilos.  My curves are coming back. Yes, I chose my face over my butt.  Lifting heavier weights and gaining some great fat burning muscle and increasing tone feels good.  Although my weight is creeping up, my body fat percentage is going down.

Exercise Factors

There are certain factors to consider when you exercise in midlife and beyond.  Firstly, recovery time in between workouts.  Young people tend to recover in around 18 hours.  A person in their 40s and beyond can take up to 36 hours.


Not giving yourself adequate recovery time can actually age you according to John Higgins, MD, associate professor of medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Centre at Houston and director of exercise physiology at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Centre.  He pointed out that if we use the same muscles too soon after a workout can trigger inflammation.

Classes such as HIIT can be incredibly fun, and people love it for the calorie burn too.  Dr. Higgins has found that these workouts have led to rhabdomyolysis – which can be very dangerous particularly if you become dehydrated.  He recommends 48 hours between classes to give adequate recovery time.

Many women fall into the cardio only trap, with no weight training.  In midlife and beyond we are losing muscle at a high rate. Muscle is a great thing to have on our body as muscle burns calories constantly, even at rest.  As a result, a body with no muscle burns fewer calories, plus there is no tone.

Building Lean Body Mass

Weight training two to three days a week will help you maintain and build lean body mass.  You are not going to look like a weightlifter, we are not made that way. Yes, you may see a little increase on the scales. This is because your body fat percentage is changing in your favour.  Why not invest in body fat monitor scales to see this for yourself.

If you are using machines, start to include weights as they help to stabilize your core.  Mixing up both adds variety and interest.

Free Radicals

Prolonged exercise causes the body to change its metabolism and as result, there are more free radicals released that damages cells and may speed up ageing. We are already overexposed to free radicals in pollution and an unhealthy lifestyle; we really don’t need any more to be flooding our system.  There are many plastic surgeons who believe that running is not good for facial tissues.  Skin flopping up and down will eventually loosen. Not a great youthful look.  As we move into midlife and beyond osteoporosis becomes a factor.  Our body needs a little impact on bone health.

The bottom line is that we cannot do the same thing we did at 20 without there being a consequence.  It is easy to fall into overtraining mode, and as a result, move towards burnout due to chronic fatigue.


Balance is key.  Yes, exercise, and eating healthily is vital, but it is necessary to take a different approach than you did in your younger years.  Your body will thank you and so will your face.

 If you enjoyed this blog, then you may enjoy our other blogs on the site too.











Changing Your Mindset



I have just returned from an amazing trip to the Middle East where I was invited so speak at the Women’s Peak Performance Summit on changing the mindset.  Set in the beautiful surroundings of the Anantara Eastern Mangroves and Spa in Abu Dhabi and lovely warm sunshine, a truly lovely experience.



It was a great trip in many respects, one because I was returning to the country where I lived in for 28 years and where I established a very successful business and made wonderful friends along the way.  Secondly I was breaking through my own fear barriers of public speaking by changing my own mindset.

The talk went incredibly well and it felt incredibly empowering to finally push that old obstacle to success out of the way once and for all and I am left feeling excited and inspired to do more public speaking events.



The mind can be a prison or it can a garden that flourishes, all depending on what you choose to feed it with our expose it to.  You can choose to grow weeds or you can choose to grow flowers, and it all comes down to the thoughts you think, the words you use, and the actions you take (or not).

A mindset focused in the right direction gets the results you are looking for. There are two mindsets; the growth mindset or the fixed mindset.  In the growth mindset there is a lot of energy and action taking.




A person operating from a growth mindset will generally not perceive failure as failure but as an opportunity to learn, improve and do it better next time. They are genuinely happy for other people’s success, and they truly believe that if they put their mind to it they can achieve it.  People operating from the growth mindset tend to get the results they want.

On the other side there is the fixed mindset.  There isn’t much happening there, and it is all rather stagnant and flat.  A person operating from a fixed mindset tends to give up as soon as they feel they have failed, they may also feel slightly threatened by another person’s success and they also do not tend to thrive as well as a person operating from a growth mindset.

Why not take a moment to reflect which side you may be operating from.


So what do you do if you find yourself in the fixed mindset too much?  First of all, let go of judging yourself as to why you are over there in the first place.  There are many reasons for this.

Let’s take a look at ways to move you towards a growth mindset.




 The thoughts you think and the words you use in your vocabulary have energy, impact and power behind them.  Words such as can’t, won’t, try, should, impossible are all limiting words.  The word but, for example, is normally followed by a negative statement: I would love to apply for that job BUT I am not clever enough, I would like to eat healthily BUT I haven’t got the willpower.




The same applies to the word don’t, the more we focus on what we don’t want, the more we attract it into our lives.  If I were to ask you “don’t think of a purple elephant”, what are you thinking of right now?

Become more aware of the thoughts you think and the words you use. In communication and dialogue use words such as; can, now, will, possible, ready.  There is action and movement in these words.



Some of the beliefs you have are not necessarily useful or helpful for you in present time.  They may not be your own and may come from what you have been taught to believe as a child.  Maybe a teacher told you that you were stupid, or dumb, or someone told you that you are not good enough.

Some of the beliefs I have heard in my work with many people are “because my family are all diabetic then I will be too, or everyone in my family is obese so I will be too.”  These beliefs are not helpful for you in your life and as such may be impacting and sabotaging all that you are working towards becoming who you want to be.

Take time to reflect on what your own programmed beliefs are, and take steps towards letting them go and embracing new beliefs that support your growth, development and potential.



It may be time to challenge the little voice inside that whispers “you are not good enough, clever enough, pretty enough” and so on.  You are enough, you are more than enough.  Begin to acknowledge all of your achievements in life so far.  Challenge that voice within by asking “is this really true”?  When you hear “what if I fail”? Challenge with “what if I succeed”?  Negative self talk will sabotage your goals and dreams.



Start today to implement new mindset behaviour to help to get you to where you want to be. Work with the three step process provided.  Yes, change can be scary, yet it is incredibly empowering.

perimenopause menopause libido intimacy hormones

Your Menopause Journey – A blog for the Partner In Your Life

PERIMENOPAUSE AND MENOPAUSE  – A Blog for the partner in your life

Many men do not realise the extent of how the symptoms of the perimenopause or menopause affect their partners.  Indeed some may feel that their partner has changed beyond all recognition and appear to be hijacked by hormonal fluctuations.

What do you do when your partner is happy one minute and in a pool of tears the next?  Maybe you find yourself wondering “where is the woman that I married”?  If any of the above resonates with you, then this blog is written especially for you.

Perhaps the tips in this blog can serve as a self-help guide to help you navigate what can be the turbulent ocean of the perimenopause/menopause.

What Can Men Expect?

So what can you expect from your partner at this time in her life (and yours)?  What can you do help her feel better?  Read on to get some helpful information to help both of you  come out the other side stronger than you were before.

The following are the most common symptoms of perimenopause (the phase before menopause) and the menopause.

Your partner may have one or two of these symptoms, or she may have all.  A great deal of how she experiences the perimenopause and menopause will depend on the diet and lifestyle she chooses to follow.

 Diet and Lifestyle

Healthy food 2


A diet full of processed foods, takeaways, cakes and biscuits is not going to do her any favours.  Unfortunately the body may become more efficient in gaining weight in the menopause years.

Maybe it is time to think carefully about what is going into the shopping trolley.   Junk food is likely to land directly on her body very quickly when excess calories are consumed.

Perimenopause and Menopause Symptoms

* Night sweats * Tearfulness * Weight gain

* Hot flushes * Anxiety * Loss of confidence

* Irritability * Loss of libido

* Mood swings * Loss of energy

Perhaps you have recognised some of the above in your partner?  So what can you do?

Five Ways to Help Your Partner

lovers for blog

1. Communicate

It is important to keep communication wide open at this time.  You are her life companion, and hopefully a partner she feels safe and loved enough to share her concerns with.

When she does her best to try to tell you how she feels, please don’t interrupt her, don’t offer your expert opinion on this subject as you do not truly know what she is going through.

Learn to be a “heart with ears” meaning; giving her the opportunity to tell you in her own way what she is feeling.  Please don’t look away from her when she is speaking either, respect her enough to give her the attention she needs. Learn to really listen and truly “hear what she is saying”.

2. Reassure

Your partner may be feeling many different types of emotions.   She may be feeling sad that her ability to conceive is coming to an end.  She may feel insecure if weight is redistributing itself, or not be at peace with the ageing process and the march of time on the face and body.

Gentlemen, it is not the time to start an affair because you are unable to relate fully to your partner at this time.  You may also want to think twice about criticising or belittling her.  This is a part of a woman’s journey, and with small changes and an adjustment of  mindset and lifestyle, this phase can also be viewed as a new beginning.

3. Maintain a Sense of Humour

It is a true saying that laughter is good medicine.  Remember that you have not “lost” your wife forever.  She is still there, and she will be back at the end of the menopause journey.

Do things together that your both really enjoy.  Go to the cinema and watch uplifting funny movies.  Be with people that are positive and happy.  Plan your future to include doing all the things you love.  Be happy.  Every day is blessing and life is precious.  Spend your time well as tomorrow is a promise not guaranteed for everyone.

4. Maintain intimacy and affection

There may be days when your partner looks in the mirror and does not like herself much at all. If she is feeling less than “sexy” she won’t be expecting you to find her sexy either.  She may even rebuke your sexual advances.

Please don’t think she is being cold or rejecting you.  Those hormones can do quite a dampening job on the libido.  Add in to the mix that she may not be sleeping well due to night sweats, and insomnia.

You may be blissfully unaware that all of this is happening while you snore happily beside her.  Give her what she needs.  If affection is needed be it in the way of a hug, or putting your arms  around her, then do it.

Maybe she isn’t in the mood for sex, but may be in the mood to lie together and be close.  Once again she is not rejecting you.  Be patient, kind and considerate.  Great things can happen when there are no expectations.

5. Give the space she needs

As your partner navigates this phase of her life she may also be handling a number of other issues. The responsibilities of work, family commitments may be weighing heavy on her mind and on her time.

If she asks for some “me” time, it is not because she does not want to be with you, it is because she wants to be with herself for a little while.  Why not surprise her once in a while with a Spa voucher, or run her a nice bubble bath, buy her favourite magazine, and close the door and leave her be for while.

I hope the above has helped you in some way.  If you have enjoyed this blog why not head over to the Sexuality and Relationships blog for more tips and information.

Have a love filled day!

Isobel McArthur – Founder of Flourish Beyond 40

Bereavement and Dealing With Loss

“Real loss is only possible when you love something more than you love yourself” – Robin Williams

The one thing in life that we are all guaranteed to experience is loss and bereavement. Many people associate loss with death; however loss can be defined as anything that is no longer in your life that causes you significant emotional discomfort and pain.  Therefore loss can be related to:

  • Loss of health
  • Loss of youth (the aging process)
  • Partner/friends/family
  • Loss of job or lifestyle
  • Loss of security
  • Loss of confidence or self esteem
  • Loss of pets
  • Loss independence
  • Loss of choices
  • Loss of a future you had planned
  • Loss of purpose in life
  • Finances

And I am sure you would be able to add to this list.

Dealing with loss

We are Taught to Acquire, but not How to Cope with Loss and Bereavement

It is interesting that at School we are taught to “get”; get a good education, get a good job, get a partner, get a nice house, car, children, clothes and so the list continues.  As a society we are taught many things, but one thing is absent from the school curriculum: how do we deal with loss when it arrives in our life?  What do you do with the overwhelming feelings of sadness, bereavement, and the ensuing emotional rollercoaster of emotions?

According to the Grief Recovery Institute, 8 million people become new grievers each year. The divorce rate exceeds 45% not including those who are not married.  That is a lot of loss and bereavement.

People seek out Counsellors, to help which is good, but what if you knew how to manage the emotions of loss as it arrived in your life?  What if you had the tools that you needed to feel better?

We have all known loss and will continue to know loss on the journey of life.  Each individual processes their losses in a different and unique way.   There is a tendency to feel so uncomfortable with loss that it is pushed under the carpet and covered up with an “I am fine” attitude.  However this is not useful or helpful as those emotions will arise at some point in the future when you least expect it to happen.

bereavement feeling sad

So What Can You do When you Experience Loss in Your Life?

Well how long is a piece of string?  Here are some tips to help you deal with loss and also to help others:

Don’t say the following:

Don’t cry

Crying is good and allows you to release


Don’t feel bad    



He she is in a better place  

Is this true? How do you know?


There are plenty more partners

But you wanted the one you lost


You have to be strong for….   

How? When you are in deep pain


Keep yourself busy    

Is the same as brushing it under the carpet.


People do not know how to deal with loss as they have not been taught how to deal with it either.  Quite often they do not know what to say, when to say it, or if they should say it at all, and they are afraid of our tears, emotions and feelings.  In some cases it may trigger their own.  You may find people are reluctant to hear about your loss and will change the subject or worse still they are not hearing what a griever has to say.

A person in loss needs to be heard.  You may wish to say “I am sorry, what happened?”  Then listen without interrupting, without offering your own comparisons, without offering advice.  Be a heart with ears and hear what they are saying.

You may wish to offer your help in other ways by offering to babysit, cook dinner, and let them know you are there for them; help them with housework and invite them to events.  Don’t push them away or isolate them from your life.

Other people may say to you, “I know how you feel” but they don’t.  Your loss is unique and personal to you, and the only person that really knows how you are feeling is you.

A person in grief and sadness is likely to experience the following:

  • Reduced concentration
  • Feeling of numbness
  • Emotional rollercoaster
  • Eating habits may change to more or less
  • Disrupted sleep

Please seek out the help and support you need if you are dealing with loss. The Grief Recovery Programme is excellent.

If you have enjoyed this Blog and would like to know more, why not check out our Dealing with Loss Module to see how we can help and support you.

Have a wonderful day!


Isobel McArthur

Founder of Flourish Beyond 40

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