Many women in their forties have a lot going on, and it can be pretty stressful…
Parents are getting older, children still need you, and you have work, household chores, a partner, and some kind of social life to maintain.
And then there’s actually looking after yourself too, alongside dealing with fluctuating hormones and the arrival of perimenopause.
That’s a lot to deal with.
Most women have also spent the last couple of decades putting others before themselves, gradually slipping right to the bottom of the pecking order behind the cat, the goldfish, and everyone else’s children.
Now is the time when that needs to change.
To make life better, healthier and more enjoyable, YOU need to move back up the priority list.
Take care of yourself so you can be at your best for everyone else, and equally (if not or more) importantly, life a life you truly enjoy.
Here’s some top tips for how to do this:
Do regular exercise that’s enjoyable and reduces stress.
The ‘enjoyable and reduces stress’ part is key. When you have a lot going on, the endorphins from exercise can have a hugely positive impact both physically and mentally.
We all know exercise benefits our health in a host of different ways, but we also often struggle to fit it in. Making it as easy to fit in as possible, and going for activities that feel fun and rewarding, will give you the best chance of sticking with it and reaping the rewards.
Look for ways you can make keeping active a habit and part of your daily life. A fitbit or other step tracker is a great tool for this.
And plan fun activities into your week – walking in nature, zumba, cycling, salsa, boxercise, Tai Chi (my mum and I enjoyed trying this out)… whatever makes you feel good.
To be strong, more toned, find it easier to lose weight, feel better in your clothes, protect your body as you get older, and feel like a badass…
That’s a summary of the benefits, but to go into a little more detail:
As we age we naturally lose muscle mass, and it’s SO important to keep hold of as much of it as we can. If we don’t use it, we lose it.
Lifting weights is essentially telling your body ‘hey, I need this muscle, so if you want to burn energy please take it from my fat cells instead, thank you very much‘
You won’t get bulky; you’ll just get stronger, and be protecting your body as it gets older.
Many women don’t realise that weights training can have a very positive impact on bone density too. Working muscles cause bones and tendons to get stronger in response.
In my personal training sessions with clients, we focus on exercises that use large groups of muscles to strengthen the body as a whole, as well as incorporating balance and co-ordination work, thereby reducing risk of trips, falls and bone breaks in decades to come, on top of all the other benefits.
One more thing… you’ll very likely find it strengthens your mind, confidence, and sense of achievement too.
Don’t follow restrictive diets.
These just cause you physical stress (in that your body is deprived of nutrients) and mental stress (in that you feel hungry and miserable). Often at this time of life your body is already stressed, so a much more gentle approach is need. Building a healthy and enjoyable lifestyle will serve you so much better in the long run.
Through building an awareness of portion sizes and calories (checking them rather than religiously counting them), eating healthy foods most of the time, staying mindful when you are eating, and building regular exercise into your life, you will lose weight naturally over time.
It may take longer, but the results will last a lot longer too. For more detailed guidance on nutrition, you can download my free weight loss guide HERE.
Below is a delicious-looking day of healthy foods from one of my clients Caz. How great would eating this make you feel?
Change how you think about food.
See it as nourishment for your amazing body. Focus on good things you can add in to your diet, and let them naturally crowd out the bad stuff that makes you feel crap. Plan your day so your body always gets enough of what it needs – protein through the day and lots of veg, definitely.
Alongside this, good things to include are fruit, 1-2 servings of healthy fats (salmon, avocado, eggs, olive oil, nuts, seeds, flaxseed are all great options), and 1-2 servings of slow digesting carbs such as oats, potato, sweet potato, beans, pulses, quinoa, lentils or wholemeal / sourdough bread.
At this time in your life it becomes more important than ever to get enough sleep. 10.30pm to 6.30am is the optimal time to be getting your zzzz. It can be really tough if you have young kids who are prone to waking you up at ungodly hours with various problems, but do your best.
If you have to put your favourite program on record to watch at the weekend so you can get an early night, do that! It might mean you don’t get as much ‘downtime’, but ‘sleeptime’ is more important, and there has to be a sacrifice made somewhere. You will feel so much better for it.
Get out in nature whenever you can.
There’s something special about being in nature and breathing in pure fresh air. It can rejuvenate us, clear our minds, reduce our stress, and make us feel grateful for the simplicity and beauty in the natural world. Go out and enjoy that whenever you can.
If you can walk in nature on your own and taking time just for you, even better. You could use this time to think about your life and positive changes you are making, listen to an audiobook or podcast, or just relax and enjoy the peace.
Practice some kind of mindfulness / relaxation.
Yoga and meditation are both AMAZING for lowering stress levels and making you feel so much happier and more relaxed. If you can, doing one or both of these in a class would be great at least at first, so you commit to being there and learn how to do it properly. Once you’ve got a good understanding and built up the habit, its something you could do at home if that suited you better.
There’s so many different types of yoga and meditation so it’s well worth exploring to find something that appeals to you. If you really can’t or don’t want to commit to a class, you can download free apps on your phone that give you guided meditations stating at as little as one minute long. Search for ‘Headspace’ or ‘Insight Timer’ and try them out.
Do something that makes you happy every day.
How many times do you do something that’s not for the kids, your partner, your family or your friends? Something that just makes YOU happy?
If you’re like most of the women I work with, chances are it’s not very often! YOU deserve to be happy, and by treating yourself well you’ll have much more energy for looking after others too, not to mention more enjoyment in day to day life.
This could be something super simple, like playing your favourite song, painting your nails, or sitting down for 10 minutes to read a book. It doesn’t need to be expensive (though of course spending money on yourself now and again, especially for things like a massage or some pampering, is great too). You could run yourself a luxurious hot bath with your favourite bath salts, or meet a friend and treat yourself to a delicious and healthy brunch or lunch.
Be kind to yourself.
As women, we tend to be extremely critical and tough on ourselves.
This never helps, and just causes more stress and negative feelings. When you notice yourself being self-critical, either in your head or out loud, stop that thought and change it for a better one.
Would you say that to your children or your best friend? You deserve to be treated just as well as you treat them. Now is the time to start being your own best friend.
LOVE your body now.
Accept yourself as you are and appreciate the body you have. This is the basis for positive change. We all want to improve in some way, but it’s so much better (and more likely we’ll succeed) if we do this from a position of self love rather than self hate.
However your body currently looks and feels, it’s got you through everything in life so far. If it’s produced and carried children, that’s even more incredible.
Our bodies are AMAZING. Be proud of yours. If you’ve been neglecting it for a while, now is the time to nourish and nurture it, both physically and mentally. Plan how you can improve your health, and feel stronger, fitter and happier in yourself. But keep remembering how great you are now too.
There’s free guides on nutrition and menopause, plus a mini healthy recipe ebook for you HERE
And any questions you have or help you need, feel free to drop me a message HERE