May 28, 2020
For most of human history, the average life expectancy was less than 50 years. Today, being in your 40s is considered the halfway marker, statistically speaking. During our 40s, bodies and minds can undergo a cascade of changes, some of which can take us by surprise.
For me, the changes started gradually: a little brain fog, fatigue, weight gain, aches and pains. I didn’t notice them right away, and figured they were no big deal – after all, I ate well. A few extra pounds and a little memory loss just seemed like normal aging. It was when I realized I’d gained almost twenty pounds over the course of a few years, though, I decided I needed to make a change.
I had just entered my forties. I knew there were reasons for the changes I was experiencing, but that didn’t mean I was happy about it. I had secretly been living with the emotional burden of these unwelcome changes for a while, telling myself that I was okay with them. Deep down, I felt a sense of failure. I was a long-time fitness instructor and had owned my own bootcamp company for many years, so my weight gain left me feeling like a fraud.
For me, it wasn’t about getting skinny. As a culture, we need a better vocabulary when it comes to how we talk about bodies – especially women’s bodies – and how we change, or grow, or age. For example, post-partem women being described as getting their “body back” in magazines – why do people write that? Where did their body go, anyway? Did it leave it leave a note? I have so many questions!
My next steps were focused on making healthy, positive life-long changes. I needed to find a solution that was sustainable over time.
One day, I decided it was time to make a change. I created a long-term goal, figured out what was no longer working for me, and slowly started making changes. I recognized that I needed to tweak my diet and began tracking my macros to make sure I was getting the right balance of carbohydrates, fats, and protein. I was shocked by how skewed my eating was — turns out 3 mixed drinks a night doesn’t equal a balanced diet. Putting it in writing helped keep me accountable and on target.
Another obstacle I faced in my journey was dealing with physical pain. I had developed serious issues with my shoulder, foot, and knees, and allowed myself not to exercise because of that. But, once I started easing back into a regular exercise program, my pains started to become alleviated. I did weight training for 30-45 minutes and either biked, walked, or ran for 20-30 minutes, 5 days a week. I never felt overwhelmed with this program, but if I ever felt like I needed a break, I took it.
One of the biggest keys to my success was creating a regular routine. I started my day with warm lemon water and a few moments of meditation to prepare for whatever life threw at me. I made Saturday nights my treat night to enjoy all the things I had been craving. I took Sundays as a rest day to reflect, reset, and refocus.
After about six months of consistency, I had lost almost 20 pounds and felt I was in the best shape of my life. My brain fog disappeared, and my energy returned. Most importantly, I have been able to maintain and enjoy these lifestyle changes. I don’t feel like I’m in my twenties or thirties again – but I'm proud of my 45-year-old self.
Now that I’ve been sharing my health journey, I’ve started to hear from others who are experiencing the same struggles and wondering how to make a change. We have a choice: give in and accept the changes, or to continually work to progress. In the grand scheme of things, gaining weight isn’t a big deal — and there are many ways to be in this world. Many body types, many lifestyles, many ways of eating, many ways of moving. We all deserve to be the best version of ourselves and it can be rewarding to work through the personal journey of discovering that person.