Perusing through old photographs brought back memories of when I was skinny. Those were the good old days. The reality is I will never look like that again. As a child, I was super skinny with no fat thighs or flabby arms and certainly no hormones that had an influencing effect on my weight. I was never weight conscious and I could eat what I wanted without gaining any wait. Very active in playing netball and could easily clock in a good 8 – 10 hours of sleep.
Remembering that my weight annoyed the dressmaker who made my matric ball dress. My waist size would be smaller every time I went for a fitting. Resulting in the dressmaker having to make the necessary adjustments. As a shy and very naive teenager, I would just smile and accept the criticism of my skinny shape. It didn’t bother me at all. Life was then carefree and my weight was certainly not an issue.
At twenty my weight was still not an issue. I never watched what I ate or counted every single calorie. Was it in the genes or a fast metabolism?
I guess none of the above – it was because I was in my early twenties.
I became less active during my mid twenties. Partied more, ate what I wanted to and drank more alcohol. Noticing some gradual changes in my weight didn’t bother me. The thought of going to gym wasn’t appealing. Then it all changed two years before I had to get married. I looked at myself in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw. Totally disgusted in myself, I made a drastic decision to shed the kilos. I joined Weigh-Less, started exercising again and lost the kilos.
At 30, I had my first child and the weight just piled on. I lost a few kilos after the birth of my daughter but I never went back to my goal weight. And after the birth of my second daughter, I just felt like a whale. Carrying a little human in your tummy puts enormous strain on your body. There is no doubt that your body goes through hell. Besides fluctuating hormones, your body aches, your skin stretches and you have water retention all over. People judge and expect you to miraculously shed the weight, once you have a baby.
Eight months after my second daughter was born, the pressure of losing the weight mounted on me. I just couldn’t see myself wearing maternity clothes for the rest of my life. I decided to take control of my weight and started eating healthy. Cutting out junk food and incorporating exercise into my daily routine. I wanted to be a healthy mom. I maintained my weight for about 2 years. At 36, I slowly gained weight again.
Life got in the way, I was raising two children, studying part-time and just didn’t have time to focus on my weight or exercise.
It was becoming much harder to lose the weight in my late 30s.
Fast forward to 40 and it is an even bigger challenge.
Why is it so difficult to lose weight after 40?
Research shows that aging depletes your body’s muscle tissue, which slows your metabolism which causes you to gain weight. Hormones play an even bigger role in stagnating weight loss over 40.
How do hormones influence weight gain beyond 40?
These hormones influence weight gain beyond 40.
As you age the body produces less estrogen for women and less testosterone for men. Entering perimenopause and menopause, your ovulation cycle changes as the estrogen levels drop. Estrogen influences other hormones as well. You tend to be hungrier as your estrogen levels dropped causing your insulin levels to increase and your thyroid levels to go down. You tend to eat more but burning less calories.
Progesterone is a female sex hormone produced in the ovaries. It is imperative for a healthy menstrual cycle, breast development and pregnancy. A decline in progesterone levels occurs when you are over 40 and entering perimenopause or menopause. Without enough progesterone, estrogen becomes the dominant hormone. Causing low sex drive, hot flashes, mood changes and the body to retain water. These hormonal changes leads to bloating around the stomach area and weight gain.
Cortisol is a hormone that controls your body’s response to stress and it hinders weight loss. When you are stressed you either eat more or eat less. This has an impact on your metabolism.
As explained in my previous post insulin is a hormone that is essential to carry glucose from your bloodstream into the cells where it is used for energy. Although, as previously mentioned a drop in estrogen levels can cause insulin levels to increase but high blood glucose levels are also caused by eating too much processed foods and white sugars.
Leptin is a hormone produced by the body’s fat cells. It’s primary target is the brain and will send signals to a part of the brain that controls your appetite. Leptin resistance sends messages to the brain that you starving. Therefore you tend to eat more but burn less calories.
The butterfly shaped thyroid gland in situated below your Adam’s apple. The thyroid gland takes iodine which is found in many foods and converts it into thyroid hormones. If your thyroid is underactive, it does not produce enough thyroid hormones. This slows down your metabolism and leads to weight gain.
Bottom line is, hormones has an effect on your weight beyond 40. So it doesn’t look to promising to lose weight then does it. Not true!
Managing hormone control
Hormones can be controlled but leading an unhealthy lifestyle will not do the trick.
- Eat healthier fats,
- omega-3 enriched foods
- have more protein
- eat smaller portions
- eat herbs that promote hormone balance
- drink less caffeine
- eat less processed foods and white sugar
- supplement with magenesium or Vitamin B
Truth be told, I love food. When I feel like eating something, I want to eat it and I’m not going to deprive myself from having it. In saying that, I do limit myself with junk food, I try and eat healthy and watch my portion sizes. Incorporating exercise in my daily routine has proven to alleviate the struggle.
I don’t want to look the way I looked when I was a child or when I was in my 20s. The reality is, I will never look like that again. I just want to be healthy. I’ve come to a point where my weight is no longer an issue and I’ve excepted the way I look. No more diets. Weight loss is no longer going to consume my life. It doesn’t define who I am and my life goes beyond appearance. As long as I am living a healthy lifestyle and within my BMI range, I am happy.