Weight Loss and Exercise for Women Over 40: Do’s & Don’ts

scale and measuring tape Dealing with incontinence? Over 40 and a little overweight?

There’s a chance you’ve been advised by a healthcare professional to lose weight in support of reducing or eliminating your incontinence. With extra weight, your pelvic floor has to work extra hard to support everything above it. As a result, obesity is a strong risk factor for incontinence. In fact, Epidemiological studies have shown that each 5-unit increase in BMI is associated with 20-70% increase in incontinence risk. When it comes to weight loss, people always say to modify the same two things: diet and exercise. The only problem is that these modifications need to change with you as you grow older. If you’re over 40 now and the workouts you’ve been doing since college aren’t cutting it anymore, take a look at these weight loss tips.

What’s Making it so Difficult to Lose Weight?

What is changing inside you that your regular workouts don’t seem to be doing anything anymore? Two things happen as our bodies age: our metabolism slows and our estrogen levels fall. These changes result in our bodies burning fewer calories and being extra vulnerable to the urge to snack. So how do we counteract this?

Tip: Modify Your Meals

Take a look at your portion size. Is it the same as when you were in your 20s or possibly larger? If the answer to that is yes, you might want to cut back to keep up with your slowing metabolism. While the average woman is eating around 2,000 calories a day, she should cut back about 400 to 500 in order to achieve weight loss. Although the thought of cutting back on calories sounds daunting, keep in mind that you’re not eating less, you’re just eating smarter. Eat foods like fruits and vegetables to help fill your stomach with low-calorie nutrients if you are struggling with hunger. They are a much better alternative to those sugary snacks our bodies crave when we’re hungry. Don’t drink your calories. It’s easy to forget about beverages when evaluating your calories, but don’t forget that they can deliver just as many calories as food if you’re not smart about it. Cut out soda and check out your lattes, iced teas, and alcoholic drinks to see if you’re missing any major source of calories when evaluating your diet. Be Picky. Eliminate or reduce the number of refined carbs you’re eating (e.g. white rice, soft sandwich bread, and pizza dough). These are tough for your body to digest. Instead, increase the amount of lean protein your body gets (e.g. plain Greek yogurt, legumes, and skinless white-meat poultry). This will not only be easier for you to digest, but it will help … your muscles. Be picky with your cheat foods too. It’s ok to indulge every now and then, but make sure the indulgence is worth it. Take time to appreciate what you choose to eat instead of mindlessly eating chips in front of the TV. If you do, your indulgences will be better appreciated. Go Slowly and Steadily. This applies to both your food and your exercise. Don’t skip breakfast and save all of your calories for lunch and dinner. That’s a recipe for a slower metabolism and impulsive snacking. Instead, have 5 or 6 small meals throughout the day. You’ll kick off your metabolism early in the morning as well as to stave off hunger by eating more often. Around the age of 40, women experience a dip in testosterone production. Because of this, dieting is not enough to lose weight, but combining it with the right kind of exercise will work wonders. While some of us pursue cardio workouts as a way to shed pounds, women over 40 should actually be weight-lifting. Women tend to lose muscle mass as they age and it is important to maintain muscle mass because muscle actually burns more fat.

Tip: Strength Training Instead of Cardio

Women around the age of 40 are going through many changes due to menopause. Women naturally lose muscle, but after menopause women lose it twice as quickly, causing the metabolism to slow as well. This means that our tried and true cardio workouts probably won’t make the cut. If you want to lose weight, then you must lift weights and maintain or increase your muscle mass. I’m not talking about 3-5 pound weights. Your body gets used to those and quickly they won’t be effective. The key is to challenge your muscles by increasing the amount of weight you’re lifting. Doing this can help reverse the effects of losing this muscle. In the long run, you will lose weight because the kind of muscle you build from strength training burns about 50% more calories than the muscles from cardio.

Are you not seeing enough improvement with your incontinence symptoms after losing weight? Don’t worry, there are other options. Consider a Kegel exercise device to give you the boost you’re looking for.