Fighting Fat Over 40

by Linda Franklin

Fighting Fat Over 40 Linda Franklin The Real Cougar WomanI don’t like to use scare tactics but this fact is enough to frighten the you-know-what out of every woman over 40.

You will gain  gain 30 pounds a year if you eat the same in middle age as you did in your 30’s.

Losing weight in your 20’s and 30’s is much less complicated:  just eat a bit less and move a bit more.. But at 40 all that changes. 

Like so many women approaching middle age, you become the last item on your priority list.  Focusing on your diet is just too much work on top of everything else you do.  It’s so much easier to grab something fast than plan healthy meals.
I don’t know about you, but food is always on my mind. I love it, but, there comes a point that you have to realize it’s impossible to eat and drink whatever you want and stay healthy and trim.  Our bodies just won’t accomdate the abuse we give it.
Dr. Pamela Peeke says, “once we turn 40, our metabolic rate, which is our ability to burn calaries, drops. We lose muscle tone. We get stressed and eat more calories than we need, when what we should be doing is exercising more and controlling portion sizes.”

Dr. Peeke is right.  I have recently lost 14 pounds by basically cutting down my portions and cutting out my favorite cheat – ice cream.  I do indulge occasionally, but not every day like I used to.  I  go to the gym 2 or 3 times a week – not happily – but I go.  I try to get in cardio, weights and stretching because it’s very important we do all three.

This is interesting.  Since I have lost the weight, it’s staying off.  I think my metabolism has changed and I am maintaining my new weight.  I get weighed every morning now because when I don’t I tend to get careless.  History has taught me not to bury my head in the sand.  It’s important to catch the pounds creeping back on sooner than later.

Here a few of Dr. Peeke’s tips for fighting flab over 40.


After 40, the rules of self-care change. You need to embrace this and re-evaluate your lifestyle. A woman’s metabolism declines at the rate of at least 5 per cent per decade, starting at the age of 20, due to the natural loss of muscle mass that comes with age. The less muscle mass you have, the fewer calories your body is able to burn.



Much of the fat gained during this time will accumulate around the waist. I call it Stress Fat since it is the main source of fat that gives you energy to fight or take flight during stressful situations. Too much is dangerous since it places a woman at risk of heart disease, high-blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, diabetes and cancer.

You may be tempted to resort to extreme calorie restriction to make up for this loss of calorie-burning metabolism. Don’t. Calorie restriction depresses the metabolism further.

A healthy body starts with a healthy mind. It’s not about squeezing into a size six or trying to lose 20lb before your daughter’s wedding. I always tell my patients that ‘fit’ looks and feels better than ‘thin’.


Over-eating in the late afternoon and evening is one of the biggest culprits behind stress-induced weight gain in women over 40. I call the hours between 3pm and midnight the Corti-Zone — the time when levels of the stress hormone cortisol plummet, and mindless, unfocused, stress-driven eating dominates.

Rather than accepting this, most people fight it. Desperately seeking energy, they gulp coffee and eat sugary foods in the hope of boosting energy levels.

Once stress eating has started, it sets up a mindset of hopelessness and continued eating. Instead, plan and be realistic. If you know the day is going to be tough, arm yourself with a healthy daily eating plan as well as stress-reducing solutions.


Portion sizes are easier to measure than calories and, in my opinion, more important because declining metabolisms mean women over 40 should eat less.

In the morning, try measuring out your breakfast cereal serving as dictated by the food label on the carton. It may appear small, but memorise it. This is what a serving looks like.

You can also try using a smaller sized bowl or plate than normal. This will make it difficult to over-eat.


Over 40, I believe you need to do at least 45 minutes of aerobic physical activity five or six times a week and 30 minutes of strength training twice a week.

Training with weights stimulates muscles to activate all the body’s other systems (endocrine, cardio-vascular), which then adapt and grow stronger to support your stronger muscles.

Many women don’t have a block of time every morning or evening to fit in a workout, but accruing exercise throughout the day is just as beneficial. It can be as simple as a brisk walk outside or on a treadmill, cycling, swimming or lifting light weights.


Each woman’s response to food in the face of stress is different. After a particularly hectic or worry-filled day, some women can’t force down a sandwich; others are ravenous.  Being fat is not simply about food choices, it’s about how you cope when life seems tough. 

When your best intentions for healthy eating and exercise are thwarted by events outside your control, understand that you haven’t failed — as baseball fans say, you’ve just been thrown a curveball: something unexpected has happened. Acknowledging this and moving on helps get your diet back on track.

The Real Cougar Woman is a 5-carat diamond who knows the importance of taking care of her health, beauty, relationships, finances and spirituality.  Linda Franklin says,”there is no stopping a woman who has a strong belief system, passion and a dream. All things are possible”. Linda’s book, Don’t Ever Call Me Ma’am helps women of all ages tap into their power and live life to the fullest.


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