Today is my 46th birthday. I'm the happiest and healthiest I've ever been physically, mentally, and emotionally (a lot given the 2020 circumstances). This photo was hard to post because I feel a little embarrassed, like I'm showing off, but I promise I'm not. I'm showing you that it is never too late to improve your health. I'm actually more healthy after 40 than I've ever been before!
Healthy exercise after 40
In my 20s and 30s, I never ever thought I would have abs. I trained 20 hours a week for Iron-distance triathlons, 24-hour adventure races, and ultra-marathons. The result? A ton of endurance and the ability to go on for hours. However, I wasn't super lean. Even though I knew that ultra-endurance training wasn't healthy, I kept at it, pretending that pushing myself that hard and exercising at that level was beneficial. Turns out, it was really more of an escape from my job. Something I could identify with that made me feel worthy, and a way to impress people when I told them I had covered over 300 miles in a week or worked out for three hours that day.
The result after a decade of that was nervous system fatigue, sleepless nights, gut issues, and triggering three autoimmune diseases. Oh yeah, and going into menopause at 36 years old. When I was diagnosed at 39, I did one last race after my 40th birthday and said goodbye to competition. Surprisingly, I didn't miss it because I was able to identify with something more important, the growth of my business, and helping my clients.
How I work out now:
- I exercise daily for about an hour in the morning. Heavy on the strength training (no pun intended), running less than 30 minutes, mountain and greenway biking for 40-90 minutes, or jumping rope.
- I do a lot of Movement Opportunities, which include hula hooping while I read, phone walkie talkies, walking meetings, and riding my FitBike while watching webinars.
- I have three baseline exercises I do every day – 50 pull-ups, 75 push-ups, and 100 kettlebell swings.
Key change? Doing more interval workouts instead of long, slow endurance training. The law of diminishing returns will get you when doing those kinds of activities. Building muscle is more important as you get older. And for the love of suns and guns…pick up more than five pounds.
Nutrition after 40
If you've read my books, you know that growing up, the only vegetables I ate were corn and potatoes (which I don't even count as vegetables now). I started eating more variety in my 30s but was still a potato-chip carbatarian more than a vegetarian. Once I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Disease and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, I went gluten-free and never looked back. My chronic gut problems went away after about two months. I slept better, had more energy, and managed my Hashimoto's. I don't substitute with many GF grains, limiting all grains to two servings on most days. Limiting makes it sound like I'm strict, but there are days when I have zero, and I don't miss them. Why? I. Love. Vegetables.
I had no idea how good veggies could be once I knew how to cook them properly. I easily get 5-6 servings a day and sometimes up to 9. It's not a challenge for me to get them in. I use vegetables the same way I used carbs in the past – subbing zucchini noodles for pasta noodles, and coconut wraps for flour tortillas.
I also was a sugar addict. I now limit it, but definitely don't eliminate it. I don't have the cravings I had before because I don't eat it during the week. I break the cycle by not having it all the time. Where I used to have to eat something every morning before I worked out – gel, banana, toast – I work out fasted every morning because I'm able to tap into my fat stores easier.
How I eat now:
- Loads of veggies, often starting my day with at least one serving.
- Fermented foods in the form of home-brewed Kombucha, real sauerkraut, and kimchi.
- Seaweed or kelp a few times a week.
- Sweets only on the weekends or holidays (real holidays, not like Columbus Day).
- Fasted workouts in the morning. Note that when you first start doing this, you may feel terrible because your body is used to needing carbs. After 2-3 weeks, your body will get more used to it. This is one of the top ways I feel I was able to get leaner.
I'm such a fan of Brussels sprouts that I was delighted to see that my friend Ron's new restaurant, Mookie's New York Deli, actually named a dish after me – Marcey's Crispy Brussels Sprouts!
Mental health after 40
I am a recovering perfectionist and admit to high-strung, high-intensity behavior. I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop or reach the next rung on the ladder. Rarely being present in the moment or even considering anything I did good enough. That changed when I hit 40 and became a business owner. Learning it all and attempting to do it all made me a fan of ‘good enough.' I also started meditating and self-hypnosis, even with just two minutes, and now do it daily. The change took a couple of years to notice, but now I wouldn't go without it.
How I'm happier now:
- I meditate or do self-hypnosis daily for 10-25 minutes, sometimes twice.
- I get less worked up over things, and if I find myself going down a ruminating path, I can stop it quicker. Note – I didn't say I don't do it, just not nearly as much and for shorter time periods. It's a hard habit to break.
- I limit my news and don't do any social media except LinkedIn (people tend not to be mean, political, or controversial on that platform).
There are definitely other things I do now that I feel make a difference, but those can be found in the Work Well. Play More! Productive, Clutter-Free, Healthy Living – One Step at a Time book.
Two things I'm adding this year to be healthy after 40.
A far-infrared sauna will soon be delivered to my house. Far-infrared has been shown to boost immunity, increase blood flow, reduce inflammation, improve heart health, heal wounds faster and slow down aging (among other benefits). I'm also buying a rebounder. Yes, that bouncy thing you used to jump up and down on at your grandma's house! Rebounding is gentle on your joints, strengthens bones, and has been shown to increase lymph flow by 15 times! Just like with the sauna, the benefits are too many to be listed. After playing on one for five days at my friend Sara's house, it became a must-have.
There you go…a few reasons why I'm healthier at 46 than I was at 36 and even 26. It's not too late. It's never too late. Make one change at a time.
Need help implementing small behavior changes to improve your health?
Check out the sneak peek from Marcey's latest book →