It is easy to point the finger at hormone changes when we think of why people gain weight as they transition into midlife; however, hormonal changes are only part of what is going on. Poor routines and daily choices are the bigger culprits under these circumstances: overeating, little to no exercise and stress are all contributing factors. Healthy habits do make a difference!
Studies show that if people make conscious choices about what they eat and how they move they are less likely to put on weight. In general, people in midlife move less, when what they really need to do is be moving more to maintain or power-up their metabolism. As we age there is a tendency to lose muscle mass, but muscle cells expend more energy than fat cells – which is why it is important to pursue activities (2 – 3 times per week) that maintain muscle mass, tone and prevent osteoporosis. Yoga and pilates are great group-based exercise classes that can be incredibly beneficial for building and maintaining muscle.
People entering middle age – but this is true across all age groups – must keep a positive mindset. If you believe that you are old then you will start to act and feel old. If there is an expectation that you will gain weight, it will most likely be what happens. Thinking of fitness as fun, socially enjoyable and playful can improve your emotional state and increase the likelihood of forming and keeping good habits. When you start to consistently move more you feel better. When you feel better you eat better, and when you eat better and move more, you will most likely sleep better. This beautiful cycle of healthy habits is what will keep you fit, healthy, happy and full of life.
Once you set a larger intention, it’s key to find specific small things you can do everyday to put intention to action. Small, relatively simple, easy actions can be enormous in setting and keeping habits.
Here are 4 strategies to form healthy habits that you can start today and maintain throughout your life:
- Stay away from sugary drinks – choose water instead or soda or juices – why drink extra sugar?
- Choose fresh, whole foods and avoid processed foods
- Keep a food journal
- We often misjudge how active we are as well as our food needs.
- We miscalculate how much we eat – it can be very easy to mindlessly eat
- Build awareness and be honest with yourself
- By writing things down you can identify unhealthy habits and create positive changes
- Find a gym, a yoga studio or pilates centre close to your house or work – a place that makes you feel at ease and free to be yourself, where you like the teachers and the classes and where you can attend classes 2 – 5 times per week.