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The Science of Weight Loss for Women Over 40

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So here’s a fun fact for you: when it comes to losing weight, your body doesn’t actually care about your goals.

It doesn’t care what size jeans you want to fit into, or what the number on the scale says, or whether or not you’re finally ready to wear a bikini this summer.

But your body does have a goal.

And that goal, more than anything else, is to SURVIVE.

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Your body’s primary purpose is SELF-PRESERVATION.

To keep your heart pumping and your brain working and your blood flowing through your veins.

And that might not seem all that relevant, but that’s actually why, for so many of us, losing weight feels like an uphill battle. It’s not because we’re weak, or because we don’t have enough willpower, or because we’re just not trying hard enough.

It’s because our bodies are literally working against us.

They’re fighting to hold onto every last ounce of fat, and they’re driving us to consume more and more calories to keep us alive.

We’re basically fighting an invisible war against our own biology, and most of us don’t even realize it.

So today, we’re going to do something about that.

We’re going to dive deep into the science of weight loss so that you can fully understand what’s REALLY happening in your body when you try to lose weight, which will probably ALSO help you understand why so much of what you’ve tried—and all the expert advice you’ve always heard—hasn’t worked.

It’s going to be fun, and I think really eye-opening. So get ready. Because once you see the light, you can’t unsee it.As a 46 year old woman, I know what it’s like to struggle with your weight.

Because I struggled for a really, really long time. Years and years and years.

And I can’t tell you how many different diets I tried over the years, but they all pretty much followed the same blueprint—cut back on food and cut your calories while trying to get more exercise. Drinking all the water, because obviously you have to stay hydrated and fill your stomach with water if you’re not actually going to be eating enough food. Eat lots of salads with low fat dressing. Rice cakes with fat free cream cheese. Lean protein and celery sticks and lots of apples.

And sometimes if I really wanted to mix things up, I’d do a 5 day juice cleanse or go on a green smoothie kick.

But I was always committed. I was always ALL IN.

At least until I couldn’t take it anymore. And then I’d fall off the wagon and eat an entire bag of Doritos in one sitting while lamenting the fact that I just didn’t seem to have enough willpower.

And then a few weeks later, I’d start the same cycle again.

Doing all the things. Making myself miserable for as long as I could stand it. Then falling off the wagon yet again.

And I don’t know if this has happened to you, but what I started to notice is that over time, my diets seemed to be less and less effective.

Where I used to be able to easily lose 5 or 10 or even 15 pounds by cutting back, I’d instead see the scale absolutely refuse to budge, no matter how hard I tried.

And yet, I had no problem packing on more pounds the minute I gave up.

So my weight just kept creeping up. And it got harder and harder and harder. And then, after I turned 40, it got almost impossible.

Sound familiar? Because my guess is that if you’re reading this blog, you’ve struggled with the same thing. And we’re not alone. Statistics say that about 80% of women over 40 are overweight, and half of those women are actively trying to lose weight.

But I think the fact that this struggle is still so raw and fresh in my mind is what makes me so passionate about this work that we do at Thinlicious, and the way we’re helping women lose weight and get healthy FOR LIFE.

Because it wasn’t until I took a totally DIFFERENT approach that things turned around for me. Number one, I STOPPED DIETING. I stopped trying to eat less and exercise more. And instead, I started doing REAL RESEARCH into the actual science of weight loss, and into what causes us to gain weight in the first place, and why our bodies cling to fat, especially as we get older.

And what I discovered absolutely SHOCKED me, because it was SO different from everything we’ve ever been told, and everything I was constantly trying to do.

Because healthy sustainable weight loss ISN’T about calories. It’s about HORMONES.

And it’s about eating in a way that will actually SUPPORT your hormones and BALANCE your hormones and REVERSE INSULIN RESISTANCE. And when you do that, the weight comes off pretty easily. Honestly, it feels like a miracle.

That’s how I lost more than 40 pounds, and have kept it off for years now.

Without ever dieting again.

But let me tell you, after struggling for so long, it really does feel like FREEDOM. And that’s why to me, the work we’re doing here isn’t really about weight loss. It’s about freedom. The freedom to look and feel your best. The freedom to STOP DIETING. The freedom to finally have the time & energy to focus on something OTHER than losing weight.

It’s the freedom I want for every single woman reading this right now.

Because I understand how discouraging it is to go on yet another diet, only to end up gaining back all the weight you lost and then some.

And I understand how much all of this can impact your self-esteem, and how it can make you feel like a failure.

Because even though I’ve been successful at losing 40 pounds and keeping it off, and even though I’ve spent the last few years diving deep into all the science behind weight loss and metabolism, there are still days that I struggle.

I still have days where I look in the mirror and don’t like what I see. I still have days where I feel bloated and lumpy and gross. I still have days where I want to throw in the towel and just go back to eating all the things and pretending like I don’t care. I still have days where I eat all the things and say screw it.

Do you know what I mean?

Those days SUCK. And I want you to know that I totally get that.

But the good news is that I have now learned SO much about why our bodies do what they do, and why it’s so hard for us to lose weight and keep it off. I’ve learned so much about the science behind metabolism, and how certain foods and toxins and hormones all work together to keep us fat and make us feel like crap.

And I’ve also learned a lot about what actually DOES work, and about the simple changes we can make in our lives and in our diets that can have a HUGE impact—not just on the number that shows up on the scale, but on how we look AND feel.

And that’s exactly what I want to talk about today—about the science of weight loss, and why losing weight can be so incredibly difficult, especially for women over 40. And then I want to spend some time talking about what actually works, and about the changes you can start making today to help you start seeing real, lasting results.

Because I know how much of an impact that can have. Honestly, when I think about the fact that I’ve finally been able to reach my weight loss goal and actually maintain it—and that I’ve been able to get to a place where I actually LIKE the way I look, and where I feel CONFIDENT in my own skin, and where I can wear a bikini if I want to, or a super tight dress, or whatever, and not be embarrassed….it literally brings me to tears.

Because I know how much it’s changed my life. And I want that so much for you too.

But before we dive into all that, there’s one thing that I want to mention really quickly. And that is that if you are a brand new reader of this blog, or if you’re just getting started on your weight loss journey and you’re looking for a little bit more guidance on how to get started, then you’ll definitely want to grab our free starter guide. 

It’s called Flip the Switch, and it will explain in detail why it feels like your metabolism has stopped working, and what you can do to get it started again. You can download it HERE. 

Okay, so with that out of the way, let’s dive into the topic for today, which is the science of weight loss for women over 40, and how to stop yo-yo dieting for good.And I think the best place to start is by really taking a good look at the SCIENCE of weight loss, and understanding what is actually happening in our bodies when we try to lose weight.Because the truth is that it’s not just a matter of eating less and moving more or “calories in and calories out”, like we’ve all been told a million times. And it’s not just a matter of willpower, or of needing to try harder. And it’s certainly not about some magic pill or fad diet, or about cutting out all the fun foods from your life.

There is a lot more happening beneath the surface, and if we don’t understand that, then we’re basically setting ourselves up for failure. We’re fighting an invisible battle that we don’t even realize we’re fighting, because we don’t actually understand what’s going on.

And so, the more that I’ve learned about what’s ACTUALLY happening in our bodies, the more I’ve been able to change my approach to weight loss, and the more successful I’ve been able to be. Because knowledge really is power, and once you understand the underlying issues, you can start to develop a plan that actually works for you.

The Problem with Calorie Restriction

And I think the first and most important thing to understand is that our bodies are not just passive vessels that respond to what we put into them. They are highly complex systems that are designed to keep us alive and functioning.And that means that when something changes—when we start to eat less, or when we start to exercise more, or when we introduce a new medication or hormone, or when our stress levels go up, or when we’re not getting enough sleep—basically any time we do something that our body perceives as a threat, it tries to adjust in order to keep us alive.At a very basic level, this adjustment comes in the form of what’s called “metabolic adaptation,” which is essentially just a fancy way of saying that our bodies start to slow down our metabolism in response to perceived threats. They try to conserve energy, and they become more efficient at using the calories we DO consume.And this is where the idea that “losing weight is just a matter of eating less and moving more” starts to break down. Because while it’s true that eating fewer calories than we burn can create a calorie deficit and lead to weight loss, it can also trigger metabolic adaptation, which makes it even harder for us to lose weight.And on top of that, the idea of “calories in and calories out” is basically laughable. Because the reality is that our body is already burning thousands and thousands of calories every single day—far more than most of us could ever eat in a day—just to keep our heart pumping and brain working and blood flowing through our veins. In fact, our body actually has to CREATE more energy to keep us alive—a process that happens in our mitochondria.

And what that really means is that the more we restrict our calories, the more our bodies start to fight back. It goes into survival mode and protection mode. So the more we diet and restrict ourselves, the more we slow down our metabolism. So it becomes this vicious cycle that feels impossible to break.

And this is exactly why so many of us—especially women over 40—have been on SO many diets and have lost and gained the same 10, 20, 30, 50 pounds so many times. Because every time we restrict our calories and then eventually start to eat normally again, our metabolism has slowed down so much that we end up gaining back even MORE weight. We’re basically fighting against our own biology, and it feels impossible to win.And what’s even worse is that we’re told that this is all our fault. We’re told that we just need to have more willpower, or that we need to restrict our calories even further, or that we need to try this new diet or that new diet. When in reality, it’s not about willpower or a lack of effort. It’s about the fact that our bodies are literally working against us.

The Problem with Insulin Resistance

And if that’s not bad enough, there are a couple of other factors that are also working against us. The first of these has to do with insulin resistance, which we’ve talked about a lot on this site and which I’m just going to briefly cover once again, in case you’re not familiar.

Insulin resistance is a condition in which our bodies become less and less responsive to the hormone insulin, which is responsible for regulating our blood sugar levels. And when our bodies become insulin resistant, it means that we’re not able to process carbohydrates and sugars as effectively as we should, which leads to a whole host of other issues, including fatigue, brain fog, inflammation, and weight gain.

And while insulin resistance is something that affects a lot of people, it’s especially common in women over 40. In fact, studies have shown that at least 90% of women over 40 have some level of insulin resistance, which is pretty crazy.

But what’s even crazier is that insulin resistance can actually make it IMPOSSIBLE for us to lose weight. That’s because when our bodies are insulin resistant, it means that we have excess insulin floating around in our bloodstream all the time. And insulin is a storage hormone, which means that when it’s present, our bodies are in fat-storage mode, and we’re not able to burn fat for fuel.

So even if you’re restricting your calories and eating a super low-fat diet, as long as you have high insulin and insulin resistance, your body is not actually able to access the energy stored in your fat cells. It’s like trying to fill up your car’s gas tank, but the nozzle is jammed and the gas won’t go in. No matter how much you try, it’s just not gonna happen.

And this right here is another big problem that so many of us are facing. We’ve been told for years that the best way to lose weight is to cut out the fat and eat a low-fat diet. But what they didn’t tell us is that when we do that, we’re basically setting ourselves up for failure.

Because the truth is that FAT is not the enemy. Fat is actually an essential nutrient that our bodies need in order to function properly. Our hormones are made from fat. Our brains are made from fat. Fat is what allows our bodies to absorb certain vitamins and nutrients. Fat is what keeps us full and satisfied. Fat is what gives us energy.

And when we cut out fat and eat a low-fat diet, our bodies don’t have what they need to function properly. Our hormones get out of whack. We’re constantly hungry and never satisfied. We have no energy. And we can’t lose weight, because we’ve turned off the switch that allows our bodies to actually burn fat for fuel.

The Role of Leptin in Weight Loss

Now, let’s talk about the other big factor that’s working against us: leptin resistance. Leptin is a hormone produced by our fat cells that plays a crucial role in regulating our metabolism and appetite. It signals to our brain when we’ve had enough food and helps to regulate our energy balance. When our leptin levels are working properly, we feel full and satisfied after eating a meal.

But just like with insulin resistance, when our bodies become resistant to leptin, it means that our brains don’t receive the signal that we’re full and we end up overeating. And not only that, but leptin resistance also slows down our metabolism, making it even harder to lose weight.

And just like with insulin resistance, leptin resistance is also more common in women over 40. This is due to a variety of factors including hormonal changes, inflammation, and stress. And unfortunately, the more weight we gain, the more our bodies produce leptin, which can lead to even greater resistance.

So not only do we have insulin and fat working against us, but now we also have leptin resistance making weight loss feel nearly impossible. It’s like trying to run a race with weights strapped to our ankles. No matter how hard we try, it’s going to be an uphill battle.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, there’s a really simple solution to both insulin resistance and metabolic adaptation, and it’s something that I know works, because I’ve been able to see the results in my own life.

Understanding the Role of Ghrelin

But before we talk about that solution, there’s one more important hormone that I want to touch on really quickly, and that’s ghrelin. Ghrelin is often referred to as the “hunger hormone,” and it’s responsible for signaling to your brain that you’re hungry and need to eat.

And while ghrelin is definitely an important hormone that serves a necessary function in our bodies, it can also sometimes get out of whack, making it even harder for us to lose weight. That’s because ghrelin levels are often highest in the morning, and then gradually decrease throughout the day, until they’re at their lowest right before you go to bed. This is what allows us to sleep through the night without waking up hungry.

But if your ghrelin levels are out of balance, it means that you’re basically hungry all the time. And this is a really common issue, especially for people who have been on a lot of diets or who have struggled with binge eating, because over time, your body can become less and less responsive to ghrelin.

So again, you’re not just dealing with a lack of willpower. You’re dealing with a very real hormonal issue that makes it almost impossible for you to NOT think about food all the time. And that can be incredibly discouraging.

And what’s even worse is that a lot of the foods we’ve been told are “healthy”—like whole grains and fruit and low-fat dairy and starchy vegetables and legumes—are actually foods that can spike our ghrelin levels and make us even more hungry. So we’re basically setting ourselves up for failure, without even realizing it, by eating all the foods that are making it impossible for us to lose weight.

So ghrelin is a big deal too.

And maybe you’re starting to see the problem and why it’s been so hard. Because all these hormones in our body work together in a delicate balance, which means when one gets out of whack they basically all do, like a chain of dominoes.

And then when you think about all the hormonal changes that start happening for women after 40, you start to realize that it’s all connected.

How Menopause & Perimenopause Come Into Play

The reality is that during menopause and perimenopause, which is the 3-10 year period BEFORE menopause, there are profound changes happening in a woman’s body, that significantly impact the hormonal balance necessary for maintaining a healthy weight. During this time, estrogen and progesterone levels decrease, while testosterone and cortisol levels increase.

Estrogen not only helps to regulate our menstrual cycle, but it also plays a role in regulating body fat distribution. That means that your decline in estrogen levels, in particular, is associated with a decrease in metabolic rate, the speed at which the body converts stored energy into working energy. This slowdown can contribute to weight gain, particularly in the abdominal area, making it harder to lose weight. Additionally, these hormonal changes can affect the body’s distribution of fat, leading to a greater accumulation of visceral fat, which is linked to increased risks for heart disease and diabetes.

Progesterone also plays a role in regulating weight by stimulating metabolism and reducing water retention. When it decreases during perimenopause and menopause, we may experience bloating and water weight gain.

Furthermore, the increase in testosterone during this time can lead to more abdominal fat storage, as well as increased cravings for high-fat and high-sugar foods.

And let’s not forget about cortisol, the stress hormone. As we go through perimenopause and menopause, our bodies are under more stress due to hormonal changes and other factors like lack of sleep and increased responsibilities. This can lead to chronically elevated levels of cortisol, which can contribute to insulin resistance and weight gain.

So as you can see, menopause and perimenopause can have a significant impact on our hormones, making it even more challenging to lose weight. But that still doesn’t mean we’re doomed to gain weight and feel tired and sluggish forever. I promise.

Bringing it all together

And at this point I know this might all sound a bit overwhelming – like you’re stuck in a battle with your own body. And honestly, sometimes it can feel that way. But here’s the good news: understanding is the first step towards regaining control. Realizing that these hormonal shifts are natural and, more importantly, manageable, can be incredibly empowering.

The key lies in understanding that’s it’s all related, and it’s all HORMONES.

For so long, we’ve been sold a pack of lies about weight loss and about what works and what doesn’t. We’ve been told to cut our calories and watch the fat and get more exercise and develop more willpower.

But NONE of that actually works.

The ONLY thing that really works is understanding how to support our hormones and work WITH our bodies, instead of constantly fighting against them.

If you can do that, if you can actually take the steps to REVERSE your insulin resistance, it’s like the dominoes start to fall in reverse. Because, like I said, all your hormones are interconnected. What affects one affects them all. 

And if you can start to actually HEAL your body and balance your hormones with a holistic approach, the weight loss is actually the EASY part. It just happens naturally. Because now your body is no longer in crisis mode. It’s no longer focused on self preservation and clinging to your fat. So the weight starts to come off naturally.

Without dieting. Without drugs. And without making yourself miserable.

The Science-Based Solution to Weight Loss

So what’s the solution? How do we actually start working with our bodies instead of against them? How do we start to heal our metabolism and regulate our hormones, so that we can actually lose weight and keep it off? And what are some of the most effective strategies for making ACTUAL progress towards our weight loss goals without ever falling back into that yo-yo diet doom loop ever again?Well, it’s actually pretty simple, and it really comes down to a few key things.

You need to reverse your insulin resistance, which will in turn help to balance all the other hormones that are out of whack, and you need to heal your gut, which is directly connected to all of this too.

So how do you do that?

Reversing Insulin Resistance

Well, the first step is to start cutting back on the foods that are causing your insulin levels to spike, namely carbohydrates—especially highly refined carbohydrates—sugar, and highly processed foods and oils, while at the same time increasing your intake of healthy fats, whole foods, and nutrient dense proteins.

And honestly, there’s really no getting around this. It’s the only way. Because when you eliminate sugar and refined carbohydrates—which your body basically treats like sugar—you’re eliminating the #1 thing that’s causing your insulin levels to rise.And that’s a good thing, because it means that you can actually start to reverse your insulin resistance. When you cut out the sugar and processed crap, and actually give your body the healthy fat and protein it needs, you’re giving your body a chance to heal, and to start working the way it’s supposed to. You’re allowing your cells to become more sensitive to insulin again, so that you don’t have to produce as much of it.And that’s when the magic starts to happen. All of a sudden, your body is able to start burning fat for fuel, instead of just storing it. You have more energy. You’re not as hungry. Your metabolism starts to speed up. You start losing weight, and you’re actually able to keep it off.Because honestly, that’s what I see happen every single day in our TAS program. People who are just starting out on our program, and who are still a little skeptical, because it seems almost too good to be true.

Like how is it that I can eat all this delicious food and still lose weight? And why didn’t anyone tell me that eating this way was actually HEALTHY, and not just some crazy fad diet? It’s so frustrating that we’ve been told for so long that FAT is bad, when really it’s SUGAR that is the problem.

Of course if you read the post I wrote a few weeks ago, about how Big Food and Big Pharma are actually conspiring against us to keep us sick and fat, then you may remember that the sugar industry actually knowingly PAID for this lie. Back in the 60’s and 70’s they funded a fake study to blame heart disease on FAT, knowing full well that sugar was actually the problem. And that’s the same lie that’s been told ever since.

So don’t buy into it anymore. 

If you want to lose weight and get healthy, you’ve got to reverse your insulin resistance and balance your hormones, and the only way to do that is to cut out sugar and refined carbohydrates and get more healthy fat and nutrient dense protein.

So that’s the first step.

Healing Your Gut

The second step, then, after you’ve started reversing your insulin resistance, is healing your gut.That’s because the health of your gut—and specifically the balance of good bacteria in your gut—is directly connected to both metabolic function and weight loss. In fact, numerous studies have shown that people who have a healthy gut and a good balance of beneficial bacteria are far more likely to be able to maintain a healthy weight, while people with poor gut health tend to struggle with weight gain and obesity.But that’s not all. Healing your gut can also help to reduce inflammation, improve insulin sensitivity, regulate hormone function, and even decrease the risk of common diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.So it’s basically a really big deal.But how do you actually heal your gut? What are the steps you need to take in order to get your digestive system back on track and start seeing real results?

Well, you’ll be happy to know it’s actually many of the same things I’ve already mentioned—eliminating sugar, refined carbohydrates, and all the processed crap while increasing your healthy fats and nutrient dense protein.

But when it comes to gut health, the processed crap is what’s really killing you, so that definitely has to go. No more soda, no more sugary coffee drinks, no more energy drinks, no more cookies or chips or crackers, no more fast food or takeout or packaged meals. Just say no.

The second thing you can do to start healing your gut and losing weight is to focus on eating more whole, unprocessed foods. This means lots of fresh vegetables, healthy fats like avocado and olive oil, high-quality proteins like grass-fed beef and wild-caught fish, and a moderate amount of fruit and nuts. And again, these are basically the same foods that are going to reverse your insulin resistance, so it’s not overly complicated.But the third thing you can do to start healing your gut that IS a little different is to get more probiotics. These are the beneficial bacteria that your gut needs to function properly, and they can come in many forms—from supplements to fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir. You may also want to consider taking a prebiotic supplement as well, which helps to feed the good bacteria in your gut.

And finally, don’t forget about the importance of stress management and getting enough sleep. Chronic stress and lack of sleep can wreak havoc on your gut health, so make sure to prioritize self-care practices like meditation, relaxation techniques, and setting a regular sleep schedule.

Overall, the key to healing your gut is to focus on real, whole foods and eliminating processed junk from your diet while also incorporating probiotics and managing stress.

Final Thoughts

In the end, what I’ve learned from this journey and from truly understanding the REAL science of weight loss, is that transforming your health isn’t just about dropping pounds; it’s about changing your lifestyle in a way that deeply nourishes and sustains you and actually HEALS your body from the inside out.

The reality is that the Standard American Diet we’ve all been exposed to for the past 75 years has slowly been killing us. It’s caused an epidemic of insulin resistance, hormonal imbalance, and leaky gut syndrome that has led to 80% of the population being overweight.

But there actually IS a solution to all of this, and it’s not really that complicated.

But even though we’ve talked a lot about cutting out the bad stuff – the sugar, the refined carbs, the processed foods – and while that’s super important, it’s also about what you add into your life.

It’s about making room for more of the good stuff. And not just the good foods, though those are important, but also the good experiences and habits that support your overall well-being.

Around here we call ourselves Health Rebels because in this day and age, saying things that shouldn’t be controversial—things like avoid processed foods and use drugs as a last resort—actually for some reason are considered counter-culture.

And that makes me sad. Because it shouldn’t be that way.

But it also makes me more determined than ever to speak up, and to speak the truth, and to build an incredible community of Health Rebels like me who are DONE with the lies and the bullshit, and actually want the REAL freedom that comes from actually healing your body.

So if you’re not already in our Health Rebel group on Facebook, be sure to join.

And if you’re not in our TAS program, I can tell you that there is no better way to incorporate these changes into your life than with the support of our amazing coaches and the incredible women in our program. We do our best to make it easy, with meal plans and guidance and education, but it’s really the ongoing support and community that make it so effective.

If you want to find out more, you can grab our free guide HERE, or you can watch my free training, which you can find HERE.

In the meantime, be sure to pass on this blog post if you found it helpful, and come back next week for a new one.

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