It’s not your imagination. Those extra pounds get extra stubborn after you turn 40. Here are some reasons you might be fighting the battle of the bulge extra hard as you get older.
As women approach menopause, hormones — the chemical messengers that control most bodily functions — start to fluctuate, Healthline says. It can cause a slew of changes, including decreased bone density, less lean muscle mass, a lower sex drive and mood changes. The good news is that this phase of life will soon end. Just continue to eat well, get plenty of rest and exercise regularly. This, too, shall pass.
Your metabolism slows down as you age, meaning your resting metabolic rate gets slower. You may also start to carry more fat around your waistline. Combat this by staying as active as you can. Experts at Healthline recommend a combination of strength training and cardio.
Your aging body may also start to ignore insulin, the hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. This makes your blood sugar higher, which makes you hungrier and more susceptible to cravings. This is one reason you may start packing on unwanted pounds and it can leave you at greater risk for Type 2 diabetes. Keep your meals a healthy mix of carbohydrates, protein and fat — without loading up on carbs too much — to fight this trend.
Women in middle age are also often in the middle of a sea of stress. They’re managing their own busy families, often balancing the needs of aging parents with their responsibilities to their older children. Women, in particular, are under heavy stress loads, Healthline says, and that stress causes your body to produce more cortisol, the fight-or-flight hormone. Cortisol drops your blood sugar, making you want to eat more. Talk to your health care provider about managing your stress levels.
A lot of women report trouble sleeping as they get older, Healthline says, and sleep disruption gives you less energy to exercise, less energy to manage your life and can have an adverse effect on all aspects of your health. Try to establish a soothing bedtime routine — with no electronics — and avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed. Those can cause hot flashes and night sweats, which can, in turn can disrupt your sleep.