If you’re over the age of 40, you may have already noticed that your clothes don’t seem to fit the same as when you were younger. Maybe you’re carrying a little extra weight around your midsection or on your thighs. It’s common for individuals to pack on the pounds as they approach midlife—and for them to keep piling on.
Age and excessive weight gain are two factors that contribute to varicose veins and poor vein health. Aging causes wear and tear on the valves in your veins. These valves regulate blood flow and when damaged, blood is unable to circulate properly, which can cause blood to back up and pool in the legs, leading unsightly varicose veins. Excessive weight gain has the same effects, for added weight puts pressure on your veins and, over time, damages their valves.
This is why it's important to maintain a healthy weight as you age. Here are some tips to shed pounds and keep weight gain at bay during midlife and beyond:
1. Deal With Stress
When you’re stressed, you may find yourself drawn to unhealthy high-calorie foods. You may also eat in order to deal with your emotional needs — this is often called emotional eating or stress eating.
To prevent weight gain caused by stress, find ways to deal with stress early on. This includes learning problem-solving skills and practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation and yoga.
You can also track your eating habits and emotions. This will help you identify when your mood is driving you to eat. And whenever you get cravings for food — especially junk food — ask yourself if you are really hungry. If not, find something to distract you until the cravings pass.
2. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Several studies have found a connection between lack of sleep and weight gain. In particular, sleeping less than five hours a night may increase your chances of being overweight or obese. On the flip side, sleeping too much — more than nine hours a night — may also increase your risk.
Sleep deprivation affects the hormones that regulate hunger, causing you to eat more. In particular, people who don’t get enough sleep tend to crave high-calorie foods like sugary beverages and fatty junk food. Over tim,e even an extra hundred calories a day will quickly add up to unwanted pounds.
To improve your sleep:
- Commit to sleeping seven to nine hours a night.
- Go to bed and wake up on a regular schedule.
- Keep your room dark, cool and comfortable.
- Avoid using electronics right before you go to bed, including laptops, smartphones and DVD players.
- Skip alcohol and caffeine several hours before your regular bedtime.
- Seek out medical help if you continue to sleep poorly.
3. Fill Up on Healthy Foods
There are countless weight loss programs that offer quick results, but the best approach for sustainable weight loss is eating fewer calories and filling up on healthy foods first. This includes filling your plate with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat protein sources like beans, legumes and lean meats. After that, it’s important to find a diet that works for you and your schedule.
If you often eat at restaurants, try cooking at least two to three healthy meals at home a week. You will be able to better control the fat, sodium and calories in your meal. Also, if you tend to snack throughout the day, start looking for healthy replacements like cut-up vegetables, homemade applesauce and fresh vegetable juice.
4. Move More During the Day
Combined with a healthy diet, exercise can boost your weight loss. Regular physical activity burns more calories, which means your food will fuel your muscles, not simply go to your waist.
Exercise, though, has other benefits that will help you maintain a healthy weight throughout midlife and beyond. Exercising can reduce stress, which makes you less likely to eat emotionally. You will also sleep better when you exercise regularly.
Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, five days a week. This includes a combination of cardiovascular exercise and resistance or weight training. But even more important, make a point to move more throughout your day, whether it’s walking or biking to work, or stepping on a treadmill every time your watch television.