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.










menopause mindset mastery

Menopause Mindset Mastery- 3 positive changes

Menopause Mindset Mastery – 3 positive changes

Menopause Mindset Mastery is incredibly helpful as you approach menopause and for many different reasons.

During my weekly shopping trip to the supermarket the other day, I overheard a conversation between two middle aged women that went like this: – “well I may as well eat whatever I want, I’m in menopause so it’s all downhill from here”.  To which the friend replied “oh yes, totally agree, I’ve gained so much weight, must be the hormones”.  Oh dear, a true example of a very negative menopause mindset!


I couldn’t help but take a little sneak peak into their shopping trolleys. No surprise there; crisps, chocolate, cakes, biscuits, boxed cereals, processed food, a few bottles of wine, and a lonely looking piece of broccoli.

Positive Mindset


menopause mindset mastery

Later in the day I had a Skype session with one of the Flourish Beyond 40 Programme participants who happily told me that she had dropped one dress size and never felt hungry!  She was happy, exuberant, and excited about life.  A great example of menopause mindset mastery.

I’m not saying that you won’t gain weight during menopause, or that your body won’t be extra efficient at converting excess calories into fat.  Unfortunately most of it landing it straight onto your tummy, otherwise knows as the  “menopot”.

We all know that menopause can be an extremely challenging time for many women, and not so challenging for others.  What is evident that a positive menopause mindset will likely improve your overall health and wellbeing in a big way.

menopause mindset mastery

When your  menopause mindset is focused in the right direction, you are far more likely to get the results you want.  As a result, you are more inclined to make healthier lifestyle choices to navigate this phase with more ease and comfort.

Are you a pessimist or an optimist?

Take a moment and think about these questions: are you an optimist or a pessimist?  Do you always find the negative in situations and people rather than the positive?

Are you focusing your attention on everything you don’t want rather than what you do?  Instead of thinking:

  • I don’t want to be fat and frumpy after menopause

Why not choose to think:

  • I choose to be fit, healthy, happy and well in menopause and beyond

Age is Lifestyle Not a Number

I get it ladies, I really do.  I too am travelling the menopause journey with you.  However, I know that the right  mindset works.

3 Steps to Menopause Mindset Mastery

menopause mindset mastery

How you too can develop a Menopause Mindset Mastery

  1. First of all, start to be aware of the stories you are telling yourself.  What are you choosing to believe about the menopause?  Beliefs such as “it’s all downhill from here”, “there is nothing to look forward to now”, “my partner will no longer find me attractive”, are all incredibly emotionally damaging.

How many times do you hear yourself speaking unkindly to yourself when you look in the mirror?  Would you talk to your best friend that way?  It may be time for you to show as much compassion to yourself as you do for others.

Life Expectancy

Do you know that the average life expectancy for a woman now is 86!  So ladies, how are you going to choose to live the rest of your life? If you are 50 now, then that’s more than 30 years.  What does your mindset say now?

No you don’t have to dress frumpily

No you don’t have to wear your hair short

No you don’t have to apologize for speaking your mind

No you don’t have to feel invisible

No you don’t need to stop taking care of yourself

No you don’t have to stop wearing make up


menopause mindset mastery

Why not take some time this week and write down the beliefs you currently hold and believe about yourself that are not necessarily helpful or useful to you?  Ask yourself why you are choosing to hold them?  This is the first step towards developing menopause mindset mastery.

Once you have this written down in front of you, decide what you want to choose to believe instead.  Embrace beliefs such as “I am wiser and have lots of juicy life experience to deal with life”, “I am in charge of my lifestyle choices”, “midlife can be totally liberating an empowering”.

The thing is, all of the above are actually true.  Think about all that you have achieved in your life so far.  In fact, why not write down all of your achievements and read it, acknowledge, accept it and celebrate all of those achievements no matter how small!

Maybe there have been times in your life where you discovered how much inner strength you have.  Knowing this is incredibly empowering.

Ladies you are not going downhill.  Quite the opposite in fact.  You are entering a new, exciting, liberating phase of your life.  Yes, your body may not behave as it did in your 20s, but you can work with what you have to be the best version of you possible. Of course you can’t keep the unhealthy choices and lifestyle you led in your 20s, because your body will let you know immediately.

menopause mindset mastery

You are entering a time of freedom from monthly periods.  A time where you may find that you have more time on your hands when children have left home.  A time where you can now focus on your wants, needs, and desires.  Time to take care of you!  How exciting is that?


  1. Write some great positive affirmations to help you develop new positive beliefs. Affirmations are a great way to change thoughts, feelings and behaviors.  Make sure you repeat your affirmations several times a day and that they are worded correctly. This is another great step towards menopause mindset mastery.

Affirmations also need to be realistic, believable, and achievable.  There is no point stating an affirmation such as “I will lose 10 kilos a week”.  This is highly unlikely and your mind will throw it out and dismiss it completely.  You could say “it is easy for me to let go of 1 to 2 pounds a week”.  Take some time this week to write some great powerful affirmations to create the changes you want.

  1. Have you thought about how grateful you are to your body for allowing you to be able to move, exercise and live? A great exercise is to write a letter to your body such as; Dear body, I am grateful that I am able to hear, see, move, feel …… (fill in the blanks).

Creating Change

Are you taking care of the inside as much as the outside?  How is your nutrition? Could you make any improvements? Are you exercising regularly? If not, why not?  Are you surrounding yourself with people that lift you up and inspire you?  Life is way too precious to be with negative draining people.

Reflect on these questions deeply ladies.  The answers will bring you the solutions you are seeking.

So there is no time like the present to create change, so why not start today?   Make a commitment to yourself to make the rest of your life, the best of your life.

If you have enjoyed this blog you may enjoy the Emotional Wellness blog, the Healthy Eating Blog and many others over at Flourish Beyond 40.

Have a wonderful day!














Weight and Exercise in Mid-life and Beyond

Weight management and exercise is an issue for many women, not just those going through the menopause.  The feeling of frustration when the scales tip in the wrong direction can be very disheartening, particularly if you have been “good” with your diet and exercise regimen.  Unfortunately, in the middle years and beyond, the metabolism slows down and your body burns fewer calories than it once did.



“Those who think they have no time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness” – Edward Stanley

For those of you in the menopausal years you may have found that you are gaining weight primarily in the tummy area, whereas pre-menopause you may have gained in the hips and thighs.  This is mainly due to oestrogen depletion, and beyond 50 there may be issues of insulin resistance which makes letting go of weight a challenge.

Many women find that by reducing the amount of carbohydrates they include into their diet helps them to stay in control of their weight.  After all, white bread, white rice, and white pasta have no real nutritional value, so why would you eat it when you can fill up on tasty natural vegetables?  This really is the time to clean up your diet.

Start by getting rid of the following:

  • Food additives
  • Processed foods
  • Boxed cereals
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Takeaways



Here are some tips to help you to let go of excess weight:

  • Don’t buy unhealthy food and bring it into the home; if it isn’t in the cupboard you cannot eat it
  • Eat mindfully and slowly, chew your food thoroughly and savour every bite
  • Put your knife and fork down between mouthfuls
  • Eat from a smaller plate
  • Hypnotherapy may also help you to stay on track

You are an adult. Stop being controlled by cakes, biscuits or sweets.

Do your best to eat your food in as natural state as possible.  Go organic as much as you can.  Eat little and often and keep your diet healthy, natural and clean.

The menopausal years do bring changes such as a slower metabolism, hormonal fluctuations, and disrupted sleep patterns, but the thyroid may also become more sluggish too.

Think of your body like a high performance car.  You would take care of it, put good fuel and oil into it to ensure optimum performance, and you would put it into the garage to fix it if something went wrong.  The same applies to your body.  If you do not put the correct food into your body, or take care of it, it is likely to fall into a state of disrepair as a result of neglect.

Respect your body, it has served you well to this point.  Maybe it has carried and fed your babies, and it deserves love, attention and care, through diet, exercise, and good lifestyle choices.

You already know that your body is going through changes during the midlife years.  How you deal with those is a significant factor in how your overall health and wellness will be.  Will you sit back and accept that this is happening and do nothing to help yourself?  Or are you willing to make a commitment to the management of your weight, fitness and wellness goals?

It is a true saying, “if you keep doing the same thing, you will continue to get the same results”.  Now is the time to really pay attention to your diet and what you are choosing to put into your mouth.  Now is the time to ensure you incorporate exercise into your life.  This can be as simple as a 20 minute walk every day, or attending exercise classes.

The key to staying motivated with exercise is to do something that you really enjoy and look forward to doing.  If you really dislike going to the gym and working out with other people, then why not exercise at home? Instead of sitting on the sofa watching a movie in the evening, why not buy a small trampoline and jump up and down a little while watching TV? Simple, effective, fun and easy on the joints.

There are so many exercise options available and keeping it varied will help to keep you motivated and on track:

  • Yoga
  • Zumba
  • Spinning
  • Swimming
  • Bootcamp

These are only five of the many different types of exercise that you could do.  Aim for four times per week and maybe walking each day.  Remember that exercise burns calories, speeds up the metabolism and gives you that feel-good endorphin rush.  You may wish to ask yourself why you are not exercising.

Exercise is not about making the time to exercise, it is about creating the time.  It is a tiny percentage of your day.


If you have enjoyed this Blog and would like to know more, why not head over to the Flourish Beyond 40 Services and Shop to see how we can help support you in your journey towards health and wellness. We even have a Weight Management & Excercise Module along with a range of other programmes.

Have a fun filled day!


Isobel McArthur

Founder of Flourish Beyond 40

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