Sleep, Stress, and Sugar After 40

Getting the most of your fitness and personal training routines after the age of 40 takes a different approach.  Let’s review the dirty little secret personal trainers and other fitness pros don’t want you to know: It is never your workout in the gym that makes you better.  It is the recovery from the workout that makes you stronger, fitter, leaner, and overall healthier.

When it comes to time in the gym, more is not more.  This is something that a 20 year old fitness influencer often misses.  When we are in our 20’s, our body recovers from anything lightning fast without any effort.  Once we are over 40, we want to have a more conscientious strategy.

This is where the Three S’s: Sleep, Stress, and Sugar come in.  It’s pretty trendy lately to equate recovery with the use of really expensive massage/recovery gatchets like theraguns and normateks.  Gadgets have their place, but without a solid foundation, they are just good ways to put a lot of your money in someone else’s pocket with minimal benefit to yourself.

When we are younger we don’t need to care so much about the Three S’s.  You can get away with a lot when you’re in your 20’s.  After 40, it’s time to realize that a lot of what feels like “aging” is really just accumulated poor lifestyle choices.  The Three S’s are key to turning back the clock on all that fake aging.

Sleep.  As we age, it becomes harder to get consistent quality sleep.  Some of this is practical.  Kids and work stress mean you usually aren’t drowning in spare time.  Some of it is natural due to just getting older.

Either way, the best advice I have found to help improve my personal training clients’ sleep is the 10, 3, 2, 1, 0 rule.  10 hours before bed no more caffeine.  3 hours before bed no more food or alcohol.  2 hours before bed no more work.  1 hour before bed no more screen time.  0 is the number of times you allow yourself to hit snooze.

Follow these rules consistently and you’ll have more energy, find your appetite more under control, get great results from your time in the gym, and feel awesome!  You will also perform better at your work and reduce long term risks of diseases like alzheimer’s and dementia.  Sleep is truly a wonder drug!

Stress.  After 40 two things happen with stress.  We tend to have more of it and the physiological toll it takes is worse.  Think of stress as an umbrella term for a lot of different things that are very common, but not very good for you.  It has both a physical and mental component to it.  I’ll take a whack at a couple simple tricks to reduce your overall stress.

  1. Stop saying yes to everything.  It is so common to be unbelievably overcommitted professionally, personally, and with family.  You cannot do everything or please everyone and the more you try, the less effective you will be. Plus, you’ll totally neglect your own needs, further eroding your ability to serve others.

  2. Get off social media.  I am aware of the irony that I share these articles on social media.  If you own a small business, it’s a necessary evil but I will fully admit I don’t need to be on it with the frequency I am.  Remember social media is like the little dot from the laser pointer and we are the cats that can’t take our eyes off it.  We chase it left and right but whoever controls the laser pointer doesn’t necessarily have our best interests at heart.  It’s usually more profitable to keep us angry, feeling insecure, and stressed.  Unplug from it.

  3. Stop high volume, low payoff exercise.  I’ve written about this before.  High rep, high pace, low resistance exercise gets you all the pain and none of the gain of working out, particularly for over 40 females.  This can cause an increase in your cortisol and other stress hormone levels.  It ironically causes your workout to signal to your body to cling to its fat stores.  Replace it with some targeted strength and conditioning that is written for you and you’ll see a massive difference.

Sugar.  When we’re in our 20’s we can eat a whole sleeve of oreos and not even worry about it.  After 40 it seems like if we are within a quarter mile of a sugar cube, we gain 5lbs.  When I say sugar, I really mean processed, refined, and added sugar.  You don’t need to worry about the sugar in an apple.  It’s really when sugar is removed from its natural source and refined down to a concentration you would never find in nature that it’s easy to over consume.  It’s also hard to do the whole “everything in moderation” thing when you have to stand and wait next to a literal WALL of sugar every time you check out at a grocery store or pharmacy.  On top of that it has been sneakily added to virtually any food you can buy. What’s moderate about that?

The more we have, the more we want it.  The more stressed we are overall, the more tempting a quick binge on some comfort food.  This turns into a downward spiral.  Overall stress leads to poor eating choices.  Digesting poor food choices causes more physiological stress.  Rinse and repeat.

Curb the sugar and you’ll get more out of your workouts, lose weight faster, have better energy, and crave sugar less.  This is why we have a strict “no added sugar” rule for our Fall and New Year PROGRAM.  We get it out of foods that aren’t even supposed to be sweet, we give our taste buds a chance to enjoy real flavor from real food, and then after 4 weeks we can set a new baseline for how we will consume refined sugar on a sustainable basis.

According to the book “Younger Next Year” by Crowly and Lodge, most of aging is optional.  When you get the Three S’s working for you instead of against you, you’ll be see the power of that statement.

When you’re ready to talk with a personal trainer about your goals, fill out the form at the top or bottom of this page and I will take care of the rest : )

Serving Portsmouth, Kittery, and the broader Seacoast community, we help people finally get in shape, feel confident, and have all day energy, even if getting everything done is a constant struggle.


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