What is the best tell-tale sign of turning 40?
It is the feeling that the whole world is out to get you! Sigh!!! Pun intended!
No matter how technologically advanced mankind is, age reversal is not in our hands.
Is growing old that bad? They say 40 is the new 20, life begins at 40, age is just a number…. feels good huh! But why is my lower back hurting so much?
Turning 40 brings with it a whole range of issues to deal with. Work-life balance, raising family, hormone imbalance, unexplained weight gain, irregular menstrual cycle, slow metabolism, unexpected pregnancy scare, reduced bladder control, thinning hair, perimenopause, osteoporosis, brain fog, vitamin, and calcium deficiency… the list goes on!
A woman’s body undergoes lot of changes post 40. A little bit of physical and mental preparation is all a woman needs to turn the 40’s into Fabulous years!
Hormone imbalance in women – signs and symptoms
From menarche to menopause, hormones rule over a woman’s life. Reduced levels of estrogen and progesterone play havoc once a woman turns 40. Most of these hormone imbalances happen due to natural aging.
1. Unexplained weight gain
What is the worst thing about being over 40?
Most women would agree with me when I say unexplained and undesirable weight gain (that too in inappropriate places)!
Your junk food cravings, dessert addiction take a major hit once you turn 40. Mere imagination of protruding belly makes you run away from ice cream!
After 40, women lose muscle mass – which is responsible for burning calories in the body. With slower metabolism, losing weight is twice as harder than you were young! Weight gain is also partly because of the fluctuating hormone levels which make the body retain water before ovulation or menstrual cycle. Can’t a woman catch a break!!
How can you lose weight after 40?
- Include lean proteins like fish, chicken, lentils, beans, low fat milk and yogurt in your diet.
- Eat energy fueling complex carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, peas, and whole grains.
- Cut down your portion size.
- Say no alcoholic beverages.
- Do not skip breakfast.
- If exercise is not the part of your daily routine, now is the time to act upon! Regular brisk walking helps you build muscles and fight fat.
- Strength training helps you lose weight. If you have time at your disposal, hit the gym!
- Do not fall victim to any fad diets. They do you more harm than good.
- Weight loss does not happen overnight. Have patience, determination, and dedication.
Remember, after 40 your focus must be on being fit than thin! Ideal way to check your weight loss is by measuring the inches than pounds! If you lose inches and there is no significant change in your weight, it means you are losing fat and gaining muscle. Be assured, you are on the right path!
Perimenopause is the phase when your body gets ready for menopause, it usually starts 8-10 years before menopause. During perimenopause, the ovaries slowly start running out of eggs. Perimenopause brings significant changes in a woman’s life –
- Irregular periods – Your menstrual bleeding may be heavy; periods may come closer or far apart.
- Sleep deprivation, fatigue, anxiety, mood swings are common symptoms of perimenopause.
- Hot flashes, night sweat, breast tenderness, hair loss, vaginal dryness, lack of concentration and reduced libido are other common issues faced by women during perimenopause.
- Maintaining healthy weight, well balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamins, regular sleep patterns, giving up smoking and alcohol, regular exercise help to reduce the perimenopause problems.
Osteoporosis is a condition where bones become weak and brittle, thus prone to fractures even at the slightest trigger. Both men and women lose bone density after age 30. Women over the age of 50 are more at risk to osteoporosis. Working on fracture-free bones must begin at an early age.
- A healthy diet rich in calcium is essential to preserve bone density.
- Include low fat dairy products, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and soy milk to surge the calcium levels naturally.
- Make sure your body absorbs vitamin D, exposure to natural sun light is the best way to do it.
- Low intensity weight baring exercises like brisk walking, jogging help to reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
- Take short breaks during work hours and move around.
- Smokers have low bone density, quit smoking.
- Reduce alcohol and caffeinated drink consumption as they affect the amount of calcium absorbed by the body.
4. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
What is riskier? A live volcano or a hurricane?
None! It is a woman with PMS! Fidgety and Unpredictable!
Do not blame us, it is the hormones!
Estrogen levels drop during the second half of menstrual cycle leading to premenstrual syndrome. As you grow older, PMS gets worse too. Your feelings appear to be on the edge; you may not need any reason to be weepy and emotional. Bloating and menstrual cramps make you irritable. Fatigue, anxiety, and heavy mood swings make it further harder. Your hunger and food cravings may increase.
Along with estrogen, serotonin hormone levels drop too during PMS. Serotonin works like a mood stabilizer. Know more about serotonin and other happy hormones here.
How to relieve the symptoms of PMS naturally?
- Eat a well-balanced diet rich in dietary fibers to relieve the constipation symptoms which most women face days before the menstrual cycle.
- Reduce the intake of salt to prevent bloating. Drink plenty of water.
- Eat small portions of food at frequent intervals to reduce the feeling of fullness.
- Get enough sleep.
- Yoga and meditation help to calm your mind and reduce the stress levels.
- Research suggests that 8 weeks of aerobic exercises reduces the PMS symptoms.
Some women may not find any relief even after the lifestyle and diet changes. It is vital to consult your health practitioner in such cases.
5. Slow Metabolism
As you grow old, one can hear you say “I am going to skip dinner, had heavy lunch” more often. You start missing the days when you can gobble down a whole pizza and reach for the desserts. It feels like your digestive organs are not working at their optimal levels.
What is metabolism?
Chemical reactions that happen in the cells of our body to convert food into energy is metabolism. We need this energy to carry on with our everyday activities. As we grow old, we lose muscle mass which plays a crucial role in burning calories, hence calories are burnt in a slow pace resulting in slow metabolism.
How can you improve metabolism?
- The more physically active you are, higher the rate of metabolism. Include regular exercise in your daily routine.
- Instead of hearty meals, consume 5-6 small meals a day which increases your metabolism.
- Count your calories.
- Drinking more water is important for digestive functions to work properly.
- Eating protein rich food, spicy foods, green tea helps to boost your metabolism.
- Learn more about metabolism and ways to boost it here.
6. Stress and anxiety pangs
Being in your 40s is certainly not easy. Balancing work, managing home, and raising family can take a toll on you, both physically and emotionally. Catering to the needs of growing kids and meeting office deadlines can be stressful.
Stress can affect your health adversely. Sleep deprivation, loss of appetite, fatigue, irritability, and weight gain are some of the signs that your body is not coping up with the stress physically and emotionally.
How to manage your stress levels?
- Yoga and meditation reduce your stress levels.
- Form a close support group of friends or family. Turn to them for advice or emotional support.
- Do not stretch beyond your limits. Sometimes, saying ‘No’ is important.
- Learn to let things go and be more forgiving.
- Learn to love yourself! Now is the good time to start self-care.
- Be kind, compassionate and optimistic. Hope springs eternal!
Embrace your 40s with a positive mindset.
With a little change you can turn it into Fabulous years of your life! Learn to balance your hormones and life!
In the end, it’s all hormonal!!
What is BMR?
BMR is Basal Metabolic Rate, it is used to calculate the calories required to keep your body functioning at rest i.e., it calculates the calories your body needs to perform basic life functions like breathing, heartbeat, food digestion and brain function etc. Calculate your BMR here.
Is early menopause the same as perimenopause?
No, perimenopause is a stage where your estrogen levels drop down effecting your menstrual cycle among other things. It starts almost a decade before your menopause.
Menopause is the end of menstrual cycle. If it happens to women younger than 45 years, it is called early menopause. It is the phase where a woman does not get menstrual periods for at least 12 months.
In simple words, perimenopause is the beginning of the end and early menopause is the end.
What is the function of estrogen hormone?
Estrogen hormone is responsible for the development and regulation of female reproductive system. It regulates menstrual cycle and develops secondary sex characteristics like breasts and pubic hair. Estrogen levels drop as a woman grows older. Know more about estrogen here.