I’ll start by saying how much I really do love being in my 40’s. But, things definitely do change. I’m 43 to be exact and this decade really is different than the ones before it. While some of my health and wellness goals are still the same, there is also a lot that has shifted in my 40’s.
Today I’m sharing 7 healthy lifestyle habits I’m focusing on now that I’m in my 40’s. Things are so different in our bodies, with our hormones and more when we hit 40. At least that’s been my experience.
In my early 20’s, “wellness” to me was all about staying thin and sadly, I wasn’t using much sunscreen back then. Late 20’s was centered on fertility and that’s also when I had both of my babies. Early 30’s was the stress of losing the baby weight and having young children (don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute of it!) and late 30’s was really when I finally started to feel like I might really be starting to get it together to focus on wellness.
Then came 40! Now the stressors are different, my body is different, my hormones are different and what works for weight loss and energy is different.
I have tried to really pay more attention to how I feel in my 40’s and to take note of what helps me feel (and look) my best right now.
Please note: these are just 7 healthy lifestyle habits in my 40’s that help ME to feel my best. Please do not consider any of this medical advice as I am not a healthcare professional.
7 healthy lifestyle habits I’m focusing on in my 40’s
1. Getting really good sleep
I take my good sleep very seriously these days and I put this one at the top of the list for a reason. Sleep is the foundation of my wellness and it just helps me to feel better every day – more energized, more productive and overall happier. I also have more energy for my workouts when I’m well rested.
Many important bodily processes happen when we sleep. Whether or not we get good sleep affects our hormones, our appetites and even weight gain. That’s because certain hormones are regulated when we sleep. We have hormones that affect our hunger (ghrelin), satiety (leptin) and blood sugar and fat storage (insulin). All of these can become disregulated with a lack of good nightly sleep. In addition, other cells are regenerated while we are sleeping, and this impacts things like our skin cell turnover, our body’s natural detoxification processes and so much more.
Some of the ways I make sure I’m getting good sleep: cutting off my caffeine intake at a certain time every day, establishing and following a consistent bedtime routine, making sure I don’t eat too heavy or too close to bedtime, enjoying a cup of my favorite calming chamomile rose tea while I’m winding down (it also has glowing skin benefits!), tracking my sleep quality with my Apple Watch and utilizing supplements like melatonin when I need them. I shoot for around 7 hours and 45 minutes of good sleep every night, which is my personal sweet spot.
2. Daily exercise
Daily movement is another one that’s pretty high up there on my list. Because here’s the truth: weight loss and building muscle are more challenging after age 40. And our basal metabolic rate decreases with each passing year which also makes it harder to burn calories. Now for the good news: with a regular exercise regimen, we can build back muscle, boost metabolism and even lose weight, if that’s the goal.
There’s not a right or wrong way to exercise (unless you’re doing something that’s harmful to your body in some way), but my favorite combination for exercise and what I’ve seen the best results with is a combination of resistance training to build muscle, cardio to burn fat and keep my heart healthy and power yoga for conditioning, flexibility and mind-body awareness. Here’s my current tentative weekly workout schedule:
- Monday – 45 min Peloton ride
- Tuesday – Hot yoga class
- Wednesday – Full body strength training circuits or a Pilates reformer class
- Thursday – 45 min Peloton ride
- Friday – Full body strength training circuits or a Pilates reformer class
- Saturday – Hot yoga class
- Sunday – Long walk
Again, this is just tentative because not every week looks the same. But I fully believe that one of the reasons I’m so consistent with daily exercise is because I stick to my daily and weekly routines and schedule. Knowing this schedule ahead of time helps me to plan my days in advance and prioritize exercise.
Now if you don’t love what I love, that’s okay! The most important things to remember with exercise is to do activities that you love, and do them consistently. Also, I think it’s good to mix it up so you’re hitting muscle building, cardio and flexibility/mind-body regularly. If you’re just starting out with exercise, it’s important that you always check with your doctor first, and then start low and slow. It’s best to build your intensity, time exercising and level of resistance slowly.
3. Managing my stress
Our 40’s is the time when a combination of demanding life situations, hormone shifts and daily habits make it feel as if life is overwhelmingly stressful.
For me, a little bit of self care each day helps me to manage everyday stressors better. I definitely consider my daily exercise a big part of my self care, but I also notice a huge difference when I practice gratitude, journal to check in with myself and how I’m feeling in mind, body and soul and doing just one or two other things in the way of self-care everyday. Some of my self-care go-to’s are reading 10 pages of my current book (here are a few of my favorite books), listening to a good podcast to learn about something new, taking a walk outside when I need a hit of mother nature, my morning and evening skincare routines and hot baths. Lately I’m trying to incorpoarate a hot bath at least 2-3 times a week and I go all out with epsom salts, candles, palo santo and spa music or bath meditation music. Baths also help me to sleep better at night. (Read more on that here!)
I also use a couple of supplements that are believed to help the body better handle stress. Please remember that it’s always important to talk with your doctor before adding any new supplements to your routine. The ones that I use daily for stress are rhodiola rosea and phosphatidylserine.
Finally, we can’t talk about stress reduction without mentioning sex…yep, I’m going there ladies! Sex can help relieve stress and anxiety by triggering the release of feel-good hormones including oxytocin. These hormones promote relaxation and can help relieve feelings of anxiety.
4. Eating healthy foods (and limiting unhealthy foods) as much as possible
As a certified health coach since 2012, I have tried every way of eating imaginable and I do believe there are benefits to many of the diet philosophies that are out there. While I do not follow any particular diet philosophy, I’ve kind of created my own based on what makes my body feel my best. As a person who has had a history of unpleasant digestive symptoms over the years, I try to eat in a way that keeps my digestive system happiest. When my digestion is balanced and happy, my entire body works better.
This includes minimizing processed foods (these tend to be inflammatory in the body) and focusing on eating mostly whole foods, eating plenty of plants so that I get the fiber that my digestive system needs to be regular and healthy, making sure I am getting protein but not stressing about hitting a certain number of grams, balancing my blood sugar and cooking quick and simple meals at home and limiting eating out. If I had to choose one word to describe how I tend to eat it would be Mediterranean with plenty of veggies, whole grains, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds and olive oil, some fish, chicken, eggs and yogurt, and very minimal amounts of red meat, sugar and processed foods.
5. Being mindful of caffeine and alcohol
In my 40’s I’ve definitely noticed a shift in my body as far as how sensitive I am to caffeine and alcohol, and to the effects that come with both of those. I think I could definitely be the type of person to over do caffeine, if I let myself. It’s that false energy that tells you you need to do everything and never rest!
My body doesn’t do well on coffee, it’s just too acidic for me. So most of the time, I’m a tea drinker because I like to keep my digestion happy. I love this vanilla almond black tea in the morning with a splash of almond milk and a few drops of stevia. Black tea has slightly less caffeine than coffee so it definitely energizes me. I usually try to cut off my afternoon caffeine intake by around 2:00 pm but if I do need just a little bump in energy, I love Four Sigmatic’s Matcha Latte. It has a couple of added adaptogens that also help with focus and creativity, and there is no crash afterwards like there can sometimes be with coffee.
As far as alcohol goes, I’m not here to tell you you need to avoid it completely! I love a glass or two of rosé or pinot noir. But, I also know without a doubt that I get better sleep and feel more rested when I don’t drink alcohol at night. In fact, my heart rate runs about 10-12 beats faster when I’m sleeping on the nights when I drink wine. (Thank you to my Apple Watch for filling me in on that bit of info!)
So I really do try to limit alcohol intake to Friday and Saturday evenings only, for the most part. If I do have a drink during the week, I like to have it as early as possible – during the true cocktail hour – so my body can metabolize that alcohol as much as possible before I go to sleep. On nights when I’m not drinking alcohol, I still love something fun in a fancy glass. My favorites are the Rowdy Mermaid kombuchas, the Zero-Proof Margaritas from Recess and anything from Kin Euphorics.
6. A solid AM and PM skincare routine
I started to get really serious about creating a solid anti-aging sincare routine about a year and a half ago, when I turned 42. I was noticing that my skin was changing in my 40’s, of course – more fine lines, more dark spots, duller texture and my skin felt much drier than it ever has before. There are literally TONS of skincare products on the market and every guru tells you that you need something different. But the products that I consistently have heard and read about as being the important ones in your 40’s and beyond are a vitamin C serum, a hyaluronic acid, a retinol, lipids and of course, sunscreen. I’ve tweaked my routine here and there since I started, but here’s what my daily AM and PM skincare routine currently looks like:
- Gentle cleanse
- Vitamin C serum
- Hyaluronic acid serum
- Antioxidant lip repair
- Sunscreen (the BEST!)
- Remove makeup
- Gentle cleanse
- Retinol (3x’s / week) OR at-home microneedling device
- Hyaluronic acid serum
- Antioxidant lip repair
I can really see a difference in my skin and in the texture, brightness, hydration and fine lines since starting this regimen. I may make small tweaks to the products I’m using, but this is the overall regimen I’ll stick to as far as the components.
7. Having rituals and routines in place so that these habits are always easy to come back to when I fall off track (because I do)
Setting up rituals and routines in your day and week are so important, and here’s why: rituals and routines are what will carry you on the days you are lacking in motivation.
I’m also a big fan of habit stacking, which is when you stack a new, desired habit on top of a habit you’re already doing. So it might be something like, “After I drink a cup of coffee, I’ll do a 20 minute workout,” or “After dinner, I’ll go for a 30 minute walk.” With habit stacking, you utilize the current habits that you have in place – your daily habits – and stack healthy new habits on to them.
We know that it takes around 21 days to form a positive new habit, so commit to your new routine for at least 21 days to make sure you’re giving that new habit the opportunity to really take hold. I also find it very helpful to schedule my week out in advance, planning both my workouts and what I’ll be making for meals, at the beginning of every week. For more on routines and scheduling, read this article: The Secret to Sticking With Healthy Habits.
I hope you enjoyed reading the 7 Healthy Lifestyle Habits I’m Focusing On In My 40’s! If you liked this blog post, please leave me a comment below telling me which one was your favorite. And if you know of someone who would be interested in this type of content, I’d be so grateful if your considered sharing this with them!
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