I have been athletic my whole life; if I wasn’t doing layback spins, I was running like the wind, trying to hit a homerun or spiking volleyballs. Although my weight has always fluctuated somewhat, I used to be able to think about losing weight and make it happen. By and large, I have successfully maintained the same dress size for over 10 years.
Then I turned thirty and everything changed. I went up 2-3 dress sizes seemingly overnight. Ok… I was doing my MBA, working a demanding job that involved a lot of travel and adjusting to a move back to the big city. Life was crazy! Surely this was the reason. I was just reliving my Frosh 15. As soon as school finished, I’d be right back to where I was.
Well… School has been out for over a year, and I’m still struggling to drop one more size. And getting to where I am has been extremely challenging. Much more challenging than ever before! I had heard of this “weight gain after 30” phenomenon, but I was sure it wasn’t going to happen to me. Sharing my challenges with friends and colleagues has revealed that they too have been dealing with the same issues.
So, the past few months, I have made it my mission (I may have become a little obsessed) to better understand the reasons behind weight gain over 30 and how to manage it effectively. I have read countless books and articles, spoken with nutritionists, doctors and other healthcare professionals and learned from other women who have successfully managed through this challenge.
I know what you’re thinking… It’s all about hormones. They are the cause of the slowdown in our metabolism. I thought that too. But I quickly came to the sobering realization that, unless you’re dealing with thyroid challenges, hormones only play a small role in this. Everything else is about living a balanced lifestyle.
THE TOP THREE CAUSES OF WEIGHT GAIN AFTER 30
Reason 1: Busy Lifestyle
When we hit 30, most of us are at the top of our career trajectory; working long hours, sitting behind a desk all day and eating catered food at important business meetings. In addition to this, many of us are facing major life changes – buying our first homes, moving in with our partners, getting married or starting families. Balancing all this leaves very little time for healthy and nutritious meals and exercise – both of which are increasingly more critical to maintaining a healthy weight after 30.
How to Beat It:
- Give up unnecessary commitments and make more time for YOU
- Make Sunday a cooking day and make as much snacks, lunches and dinners as you can to free up some time during the week
- Use the time this frees up to add regular exercise to your routine and protect this time as much as possible
- Engage in active social activities with friends and loved ones or your kids
Reason 2: Increased Stress
With a busy lifestyle comes increased and chronic stress. Chronic stress produces the stress hormone cortisol which not only slows down metabolism, but makes it more difficult to shed unwanted weight. In addition, prolonged stress can cause changes in your blood sugar levels that could result in hyperglycemia or metabolic syndrome, which significantly impair your metabolic functioning. Plus the stress can cause us to eat unhealthy foods. How many of us turn to cookies, chips or wine to help reduce some of the stress? Guilty!
How to Beat It:
- Yoga is a great way to relieve stress and remain centered through life’s toughest challenges
- Try having bubble baths at night to help you unwind from your busy day. If you’re married or in a relationship, this can also be a nice way to spend time with your partner and infuse romance into your relationship
- Go for a manicure and/or pedicure, or treat yourself to a spa day. Doing something nice for yourself will automatically enhance your mood and give you the recharge you need to get through whatever is on your plate.
Reason 3: Inadequate Sleep
Our busy lifestyle and stress often leads to inadequate sleep. We have so much on our plate, we`re staying up late and getting up early just to keep up. And when we do sleep, it`s poor quality sleep. We`re reliving the stressful day we had, thinking about all that needs to be done tomorrow, etc. Lack of sleep also produces hormones that impede the proper functioning of our metabolism. Plus we`re taking in more calories we realize through the consumption of caffeinated drinks and sugary treats for that boost of energy to get us through the day.
How to Beat It:
- Use fruits for sustained energy boosts during the day
- Avoid caffeine after 2pm
- Aim to exercise 5 hours before you go to sleep to optimize the quality of your sleep
- Aim for 7.5 hours of sleep a night
How you do you manage your weight?