Healthy lifestyles in our 30s, 40s & 50s

For a story that will appear in an upcoming issue of Health magazine, a reporter is looking to interview M.D.s/Ph.D.s who have studied physiological changes in a woman in her 30s, 40s, and 50s — these should be changes that *specifically* affect her weight, muscle/metabolism, and fitness. I’m especially interested in new, surprising research for each decade — and very specific examples (backed up by new science) of how your body uniquely changes in each decade. The piece will look at these changes and make specific recommendations in terms of fitness and nutrition for each decade.

Health is our ability to have happiness and a positive approach and optimist view of life. The key is to enjoy the journey and to learn to balance your career and personal life to enjoy the moments. Sometimes we will sacrifice home over career or career over home and this is a normal process. Stress is a positive process in our life unless it goes to the extreme. Stress is what gives us the drive to pursue our goals in life.

I believe there are three main areas of health defined as mental, medical and physical health; mind and spiritual defined as Mental Health; body mechanisms for physical activities and exercise such as muscle strength, stretching and metabolism defined as Physical Health and nutrition defined as Medical Health including complete blood work for preventive medicine, vitamins, minerals, hormones and nutritional supplements.  There is definitely overlap in the three aspects of health and various roles in exercise, eating and well being for the application of health.

Genetics and environment have an effect on weight.  Environmental factors have a greater influence on women than men.

It used to be that women in their 30s were entering their career and/or balancing marriage and children.  They have a higher metabolism and usually are able to keep their weight off due to their constant motion regardless if they work out or not.  In your 40’s you are either experiencing “empty nest syndrome” or learning to pursue the prime of your career or find an interest or activity you finally have the time to focus on.  Then in your 50s if not before our hormonal makeup changes too.  The goals is to keep us as young as possible. Hormones are related to insulin and carbohydrate metabolism.

Nutrition can play a role in reduction of stress and anxiety.  The more we can stress the importance of nutrition and health the more it will have a positive effect on our stress and anxiety levels.

A recent study by American Psychological Association (APA) found a very disturbing fact of younger Americans and their difficulty to achieve healthy living goals.  All generations reported managing stress is extremely important.  The study indicates that Millennials  (age 18-33) and Gen Xers (age 34-47) report the highest level of stress and Boomers (age 48-66) still had a higher level of stress that that is healthy.

Although this study did not separate for gender – it found that younger Americans are eating more combined with drinking and smoking at a higher rate.  The only level of exercise was walking.  Certainly, this high rate of young adults eating more that the other groups and using food as comfort to deal with stress is disturbing.

There is a need to account for metabolism as well as calories consumed verses calories expended.  The individual differences due to body mechanisms, age, exercise levels and stages in your life are to be taken into consideration.  The expectation of immediate and unrealistic weight loss leads to jumping from one fade diet to another.  These continuous fad diets are often utilized by women and may be a cause of regain of weight.  There is a history of a regain of at least a third of the weight loss in a year.  This allows women attempting weight loss to become a victim.  They blame genetics; environment, hormones and I just cannot change.  It is necessary to take into account your mood, stress and goals on health and eating.  In addition, I find most women lie about what they are eating, and so it is difficult to even have an idea what they eat; they hide food, sneak food and become obsessed with food and weight.  This leads into a continuous cycle of the same behavior and the same results.

Therefore, we as psychologists, MD’s need to implement an intervention plan for the mainstream population that is entering middle age and defined as 30-60 years old.  A program needs to combine the three aspects of health; mental, medical and physical to focus on healthy eating, weight loss, exercise and activities for leisure that continue to get our bodies to move and increase our metabolism.

In my opinion, women have more of a problem with weight due to increased lack of self esteem and confidence especially as all women’s magazine show the young, beautiful and thin model.

Individual focus on cognitive processes as they related to eating, exercise, stress and health will focus future generations on reduction in illness and disease. The continued study in the area of body ad mind fitness will benefit all.  The key is balance our mind and body with enjoyment and health without obsession or guilt. Health is our ability to realize that life offers challenges, yet we have control over how we handle the experiences and how we fulfill our live.  To do this we must have an equal balance of mental, physical and spiritual well being which changes throughout our lifetime in various degrees and at various points in our life.  Certainly, it seems like we have more focus on nutrition and health yet the facts show the younger generation is failing to take notice and psychologically are starting a lifetime spiral.