Modern life is hectic – we spend our days rushing around, juggling responsibilities, and constantly playing catch-up. Days, weeks and months can fly by in a blur, time passes and things change – but often we’re so busy that we don’t even notice those changes. That is, until we finally pause and see the dramatic difference in our reflection.
So often in the clinic, I meet women who are unhappy with the way their body has changed over time. They just don’t feel like themselves anymore. But I believe the key to regaining body confidence is to first understand why your body has changed, and then take sensible steps to tackle the issues at play.
I’m not talking fad diets or gruelling exercise regimes. These methods may promise to make you lose weight but crucially, their promise to transform you into a completely different person can be incredibly detrimental. I am a strong believer that you don’t have to lose yourself to get into shape. Read on and discover how…
Top four reasons your body shape has changed
As you near your forties, you may start to notice changes to your body – weight gain, feeling less toned, muscles looking less defined, for example. These changes are often the result of four key factors:
- Your daily life is more sedentary and your metabolism has slowed down.
- You’re getting less sleep often due to chronic levels of stress.
- Your busy life is leading to poor food choices (cravings), affecting your gut microbiome.
- Hormone decline makes losing weight more challenging.
Four body positive solutions you can put into practice today
The good news is that you don’t have to just accept these changes to your body. I am a firm believer in not punishing yourself to get into better shape. Instead, you can make positive, empowering, healthy changes that will make you feel good about yourself.
1. Get moving
Not exercising enough to burn off calories is a sure-fire way to gain weight. I have found a health tracker, such as a Fitbit, a great motivator to stay active.
Ideally, aim for mix of cardiovascular and resistance exercise. Cardiovascular exercise, such as walking and running, is great for stamina. It also “Lowers your risk of heart and circulatory diseases, and can help stop them getting worse by lowering your resting blood pressure and heart rate, improving your cholesterol levels helping you keep to a healthy weight, which in turn reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes” (Ref 1).
Resistance exercise, on the other hand, is good for your metabolism as it increases your testosterone levels. If weights aren’t your thing, opt for resistance bands. The beauty of them is that they are small and portable, so you can use them anywhere and anytime. Exercise with a friend or blast out your favourite tunes to make your fitness session fun and embrace that endorphin rush!
2. Get a decent night’s sleep
A lack of sleep can affect your hunger levels and make you more prone to cravings for unhealthy sugary and salty foods. Overnight is when your hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin reset so don’t eat 2 hours before bed. Instead, aim for the recommended 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep per night to give your body a vital opportunity to repair cells and restore energy (Ref 2).
It’s important to remember that a good sleep routine starts way before bedtime – cut out the caffeine after midday and avoid all screen time for an hour before bed. Instead, wind down with a book or listen to some gentle, calming music. Make your bedroom a relaxing haven – it needs to be dark, warm and comfortable. Finally, a few simple breathing exercises can help you to drift off into a peaceful slumber.
3. Look after your gut
We now have a greater understanding than ever of the need for good bacteria in the gut and the importance of maintaining healthy microbiome, which is linked to maintaining a healthy weight (Ref 3).
Ensure your gut microbiome contains enough good bacteria by adding probiotics to your daily meals. Yoghurt drinks and fermented foods are a great source of probiotics. For an extra boost, include prebiotics as well to fuel the probiotics to really get to work. Good sources of prebiotics include onions, leeks, garlic, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, mushrooms, oats, and whole grains. Why not get experimental in the kitchen and get creative with some delicious gut-friendly recipes.
4. Keep hormones in check
Hormones are closely linked to weight management (Ref 4). Insulin, leptin and ghrelin, for example, balance your hunger and blood sugar levels but these are easily disrupted by poor sleep and excessive stress and extreme calorie reduction.
The good news is that by following the advice above and getting into a good routine of exercising, sleeping well and eating the right foods, hormones can often settle down naturally. For women in perimenopause and menopause, however, exploring HRT solutions can also make a huge difference, balance is key to preventing middle age spread.
A little extra help
I understand that you can be doing all the right things yet you still get stubborn bulges of fat. This can be particularly true for women and I know it can really affect your body confidence. In this case, a body contouring treatment such as CoolSculpting® could be just the boost you need.
CoolSculpting® involves a process called cryolipolysis where fat cells are cooled to a temperature of -7°C and destroyed. Over the course of the next 3-4 months, the body gets rid of these cells, creating a smoother, more contoured silhouette.
We usually expect a 20-30% reduction in fat from a CoolSculpting® treatment (Ref 5). That’s a noticeable amount that could be just what you need to feel comfortable in your jeans, dress or bikini and get your confidence back.
Book your consultation
Chin, tummy, thighs, arms – they can all be treated successfully with CoolSculpting® but it is important to remember that it is not a miracle fix. Whilst it is fantastic at permanently reducing fat cells in the treated areas, if you do not maintain a healthy lifestyle, you can gain weight in untreated areas that still have an abundance of fat cells. And it cannot help with obesity.
The best way to decipher if CoolSculpting® is the right treatment for you is to book a consultation at DRVICTORIA ™ Clinic. Here, we can have an in-depth discussion about your lifestyle and the sort of results you can expect to get.
In the meantime, we’ve got lots more helpful information on our CoolSculpting® web page. Have a read, then get in touch and I’ll be happy to help you get back to feeling like yourself again.
Dr Victoria is a qualified practitioner in CoolSculpting®, menopause and weight management services who, as a woman in her 50s, has experienced all these challenges and can discuss these issues from both a clinical and personal point of view. Dr Victoria supported women during Covid with a weekly weight loss group combined with my understanding of hormonal changes in peri-menopause and how difficult it is to loose weight by diet alone.
- Ref 1: British Heart Foundation, 3 Exercises That Are Best for Heart Health
- Ref 2: Sleep Foundation, How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?
- Ref 3: WebMD Health News, Gut Microbiome Could Make Weight Loss Easier for Some
- Ref 4: Healthline, How Hormones Influence Your Weight: All You Need to Know
- Ref 5: Safety and efficacy of cryolipolysis for non‐invasive reduction of submental fat by S. Kilmer, A. Burns, B. Zelickson published in Lasers in surgery and medicine 2016
- American Society for Microbiology, Baseline Gut Metagenomic Functional Gene Signature Associated with Variable Weight Loss Responses following a Healthy Lifestyle Intervention in Humans, Diener, Qin, Zhou, Patwardhan, Tang, Lovejoy, Magis, Price, Hood, and Gibbon, 2021