Many women notice sudden weight gain at 40 or in the years following. That’s the case for this woman, who is also divorced.
I feel like I need a makeover since my divorce. I’ve got plenty of cute clothes but they don’t fit. I guess I’m in a funk. I’ve gained a few pounds. I’m working on my diet and getting back to the gym, but honestly, I feel like I’m just stuck in a rut. I’d love some advice on how to get back into shape after divorce.
Thank you for sharing your struggles. I hear a desire for a fresh start and feeling good in your skin, and I say, yes!
When I was going through my divorce, I felt a strong need to feel beautiful and sensual and comfortable in my own body, alone, without someone else’s presence being a validation of my worth as a woman.
As a functional nutritional therapist with a focus on digestive health, I’m not going to recommend calorie counting and dieting.
Instead, I’d rather equip you with some useful tools for sudden weight gain at 40, and a lifetime of being comfortable with your body. Below are three tools that I think will most help.
Tools for sudden weight gain at 40 and your post-divorce beautiful body:
1. Managing blood sugar
2. Mindfulness around eating
3. Choosing a way of moving your body that you love
Managing blood sugar:
How you start your day & manage your blood sugar throughout the day will determine how much fat is stored because blood sugar regulation is one of the body’s TOP Priorities.
Healthy Blood Sugar Scenario
In a healthy blood sugar scenario, you start your day with a balanced breakfast that includes high-quality protein, healthy fats & veggies. An example of a great breakfast might be a couple of pastured eggs, 1/2 an avocado, and some steamed broccoli drizzled with olive oil, with a bowl of berries on the side.
With this kind of breakfast, you go about your day. You feel good, satiated, never in a state of emergency. There is a balance between storing & mobilizing blood sugar in equal amounts.
Unhealthy Blood Sugar Scenario
But let’s say you start your day with a “typical” American breakfast, such as a bowl of cereal with low-fat milk, a banana, a glass of orange juice, & coffee w/ cream & sugar.
Every one of these items (except for the cream) is going to turn to blood sugar quickly. In this scenario, the blood sugar spikes past the Upper Limit.
To your body, this is a state of emergency, and the hormone messages are panicked and overcompensating. Two things happen:
1. Extra blood sugar gets stored as body fat.
2. Blood sugar levels crash.
This scenario leads to 1 of 3 things, sometimes a combination of all three:
1. You crave sugar.
2. Your adrenals send a rush of the stress hormone cortisol, which increases fat storage.
3. You consume caffeine (which is like a sledgehammer to the adrenals. Eventually, the adrenals are exhausted, causing varied & multiple health problems).
These responses spike the blood sugar levels back up, and the extreme pattern continues — storing fat, not using it, storing fat, not using it.
So, how you eat in the morning has a significant impact on your weight.
It will be so much easier to eat to what your body needs if you are in a restful, conscious state before meals instead of survival mode from the pressures of the day.
Mindful eating tools:
Vocalize gratitude for the animals & plants that nourish your body. Their death feeds your life, and it costs something. When you think about it, eating is a beautiful, grief-filled act.
Take several deep breaths of 4/7/8. Breathing in for 4 seconds, holding for 7 seconds, & then exhaling slowly for 8 seconds. This breath pattern will help you to get into parasympathetic mode (the rest & digest mode of the autonomic nervous system).
Chewing each bite helps your digestion. Thorough mechanical digestion in the mouth means the stomach & GI tract has to work less to extract nutrients. It also signals a more relaxed state and allows the time needed for your brain to register that you are getting the necessary nutrients.
Choosing a way of moving your body that you love
Lastly, find a movement that you love. Dancing, running, yoga, CrossFit, biking, skiing, swimming, rowing, raking your lawn — anything that gets you moving.
When my heart was first being split open with separation, my sister challenged me to climb the mountain outside my door — every day. I traded a breaking heart for a pumping heart, and the extra pounds floated off while I grew new strength and depth.
When I moved away from that mountain, I picked up running, starting with an app on my phone. I fell in love with how I felt, and the efficiency of running, as a busy mother and business owner.
My favorite movement is dance. I can step into my sensuality, my power, I can move emotions through my body, work up a sweat, and change my mindset.
It doesn’t matter what movement you choose; it just needs to be something you enjoy!
In closing, that sudden weight gain at 40, along with divorce is so hard, and its tempting to let the stress of it cause you not to take care of your body. But, I promise you, if you can use these three tools, you’ll be a stronger, healthier, more vibrant woman post-divorce.
Melanie Christner is a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Certified GAPS™ Practitioner. She works with smart, dedicated women who want a simple plan to heal their bodies from digestion outward, for themselves or their kids. She is a divorced mother to four hearty eaters. To learn more visit: HonestBody.com.