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Top 5 Tips About Turning 40

40When I turned 40, I wasn’t vaguely bothered by the fact I was turning 40. After all, it’s just a number.

But, a lot of people I knew were significantly bothered about leaving their 30s behind. They got depressed, went into denial, all kinds of things.

Why?

It’s not a death knell to having fun and experiencing life. After all doesn’t the saying go “life begins at 40”, and nowadays 40 is the new 30.

In the 16th century average life expectancy fluctuated between 30 and 40 and didn’t actually rise above 40 until mid-19th century

Even in 1905 the average life expectancy was just over 49 years.

So you could say that back then reaching 40 was an achievement and considered pretty old.

Today though, average life expectancy is a lot higher, so why is there still this stigma attached to turning 40?

That aside, here are the top 5 tips I learned as I climbed over the hurdle:

Tip 5 – Watch your weight (aka Middle Age Spread)

You know when you were younger, you could polish off pretty much anything you fancied food-wise and have room for more with no fear that your jeans wouldn’t fit the next day?

Middle-age spread is not a myth.

I’ve always been fairly obsessive of my weight as you know, but when I hit 40 those few pounds I put on were not quite so easy to shift.

In fact, 2 years ago I was probably the heaviest I have been for over 20 years. I mean a lot of people probably wouldn’t even have noticed, but I did. My jeans started to feel a little too tight – and this is coming from the girl who always buys a pair of jeans 2 sizes to big to start with – and I just felt uncomfortable.

Nothing I did seemed to shift the weight.

In the end I radically adjusted my diet. I gave up sugar, completely, for about 3 months and the weight fell of. Then I gradually started introducing the sugar again, and when I felt a bit heavy, cut it out.

And I started exercising more. Nothing ridiculous like 5 hours at a gym every day. No. I found some fab workout DVDs which I could do at home – and yes I know you need the willpower to make yourself do it – but they were 10 minute workouts. If I had enough time to take out to make a cup of tea, I had enough time whilst the kettle was boiling to do a 10 minute workout.

2 years down the line I feel healthier than ever. It is now part of my daily routine to exercise and if I want a piece of cake I will have it, but just cut down on the sugar for the next couple of days.

So, don’t forget to watch your weight.

Tip 4.  Mid-Life Crisis

I guess, turning 40 does make you ponder about your life; what you’ve done, what you regret doing, what you regret not doing, what you feel you should have done, what you feel life is all about.

Of course, the answer to that one is 42!

Hitting 40 does whack you with a reality check that life is passing you by.

Some people go out and buy a sports car, others just inwardly panic.

After all you’ve had 40 years on the planet and what have you done?

I haven’t really done much with my life, to be honest. For sure, I went to  university and got a degree. I didn’t use it. I sort of fell into the IT world (and was part of the gig economy before it was the ‘in’ thing to do), went to drama school because I’d always wanted to give it a shot, had a baby (not exactly how it was supposed to be) and kind of floundered.

I don’t regret a thing. After all I would be in the same place I am now even if things had been different. It’s all down to the choices you make, and I’ve been too scared to do anything most of my life.

But when I hit 40, that was when I started rediscovering me and rebuilding myself.

So rather than a mid-life crisis, I had a mid-life re-birth.

Tip 3. Bloody Hormones

Yup, when you reach 40 those old hormones start wreaking havoc.

For us women we have “the change” to look forward too.

Although the average age for the menopause is about 51, it’s actually more about the ‘peri’. This is the transitional phase between the regular, normal monthly gubbins we’ve been used to for oh so many years and them stopping. Perimenopause can last between 4 and 8 years and normally starts in your mid-40s, but can start earlier!!

To be honest, the symptoms of the ‘peri’ are pretty much the same as the real thing, so once you start the ‘peri’ the end is in sight, so to speak.

But don’t think men have it easy. Yes, our estrogen levels may experience a sudden drop in our 40s, but for men their testosterone is on the decline by 1% a year from the age of 30.

So we may get night sweats, hot flushes and soreness in various areas, but men get to join us in the depression, mood swings, decreased libido and weight gain.

So do we all need to go onto HRT?

No!

The simple things, apparently are to make sure you get enough sleep, watch your weight (see Tip 5), exercise and try not to get too stressed.

Tip 2. Go With The Flow

Let’s face it, we can’t stop time. If we could we would all stop the clock at the most amazing points in our life, wouldn’t we?

Yes, we’re going to get wrinkles, begin to go grey or bald (if we haven’t started already), our joints will start creaking and bits of us might stop working properly.

BUT that’s just life.

Just embrace it.

I’m not saying let yourself go, of course not, we’re turning only turning 40. We still want to feel good and more importantly feel alive.

So take the vitamins, buy the anti-ageing stuff (although personally egg-white face masks and olive oil are a wonder), colour your hair, buy a toupee, anything o ensure you still feel good about yourself.

BUT.

We can’t, and shouldn’t want to compete with the 20-somethings.

We have something they don’t possess yet, experience and maybe, just maybe a little bit of wisdom.

Tip 1. Don’t Panic, Just Jump In

Turning 40 does not mean it’s time for the twinset and pearls or pipe and slippers. Definitely not!

It’s time for adventure.

After all, in your 20s you couldn’t afford it, in your 70s you might be too old to enjoy it, so isn’t your 40s the perfect time to start something new and enjoy an adventure or 2?

When I turned 40 I wrote of list of 40 things to do in my 40s – and yes, there are a couple of gaps at the bottom to which I am still open to suggestions. Some of the them are stupid, silly and inconsequential. But they are just things I’ve always wanted to be able to do.

It’s fun trying to think of what to put on there, and even more fun when you do them. I know I haven’t done many of them, but I am confident that I can, and will, get another 10 done this year, at least.

 

The most important thing I have learned is that life is mostly about experiences not things. Things are just stuff, whereas experiences stay in the memory for ever and are priceless.

So, don’t panic about turning 40. It’s easy. Just take a breath, jump right in and enjoy it 😉

 

 

 

 

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Why do women have an unhealthy interest in food?

Why do we beat ourselves up trying to look like those impossibly skinny stick insects that parade up and down the catwalks of Milan, Paris, London and New York?

Why do magazines berate anyone in celeb-dom that looks vaguely healthy because, goodness me, they have curves and maybe just a little bit of a tummy?

Why does anyone think that looking like a bag of bones covered in skin is vaguely attractive?

… because at some point in our lives we all do.

Take me.

I have never been overweight, but that has not stopped my life being ruled by food. In times of trouble and stress it has been the one thing I used to control my life.

My unhealthy obsession with food started in my formative years.

I did Ballet like most little girls, and was always being told to hold my ribs in. Now when I was little, I thought this was an indication that I was fat, it was only later when I started developing that I realised my ribs naturally stuck out.

When the bullying started at secondary school, that’s when the anorexic tendencies began. I say tendencies because I never did the full throwing up stuff.

I just stopped eating.

I literally lived on a sandwich a day for nearly 2 years, until my parents found out what was happening.

Once life started returning to semi-normality I put weight on. But then I hated what I saw in the mirror.

I saw a big ugly ball of fat.

So, I started to control my food again. I would exercise in secret, forgo meals, but pretend I had eaten, where I could.

At sixth form my confidence wasn’t helped by the other pupils. I was constantly being called ugly, stupid, and then when they saw me in a bathing costume that’s when the taunts about my rib-cage got worse. Obviously I was some deformed mutant as I had 4 boobs!

At 17, I went under the knife. I had excess costal cartilage removed – if I remember correctly I had about 4 inches shaved off one ribcage and 5 off the other. Some may call it vanity, for me it was more of a psychological barrier. With the object of taunting removed maybe I could regain some self-confidence.

But I still hated what I saw in the mirror!

When I was at university fending for myself for the first time I put weight on – to the extent my mum taunted me (not in a vile way, just jokingly) about it – so I did something about it.

This time I didn’t starve, but  lost weight carefully, although I did start obsessing about what I put in my mouth.

The one thing I couldn’t live without was biscuits. And if I got down about my studies I would have a cup of tea and happily munch through literally a packet of biscuits, without thinking anything, until afterwards.

I had some really good friends at uni – most of whom I have lost contact with – but I will never forget their concern at the beginning of our final year when I came back weighing pretty much the least I’ve ever weighed. I weighed just under 7 stone – and I stand 5’9″ tall. So I did look like a lollipop long before it became a popular look in Hollywood. If we went out for a meal, and I went to the bathroom someone would always tailgate me to make sure I wasn’t throwing up. Not that I ever did – seriously couldn’t do it. I tried it once, but who likes being sick?

For that I will be eternally grateful. They were true friends.

Throughout my twenties I didn’t starve myself, I just became obsessed that I didn’t eat too much. I would live on one meal a day. I didn’t have breakfast. I went to work and lived on water and then ate a small meal in the evenings. I did still binge on biscuits.

But I was in control, or so I thought.

Looking back, I was not in control rather my obsession was controlling me.

From the taunts that haunted me about being ugly and the one that has scarred me for most of my adult life that the only person who would go out with me would either be blind, drunk or mad the only thing I thought was that if I lost just a little bit more weight I would be prettier. I could not look in the mirror. I hated what I saw. I just saw the imperfections.

Through Mr Wong No. 1 until I got pregnant I would always use food as my coping mechanism.

If I was stressed I would stop eating, when I was depressed I binged. Simple.

Nowadays, I have thrown away the scales. I do not weigh myself. If I can fit comfortably into my jeans, great. If not, I cut down on the carbohydrates until I can. I am not obsessive any more. I have finally given up biscuits and now find I cannot actually eat them. But if I fancy a piece of cake I will have a piece of cake.

I try to eat healthily and ensure I get adequate exercise.

It’s taken me most of my life to realise that I am not an ugly ball of fat. I am what I am. Like everyone I have good bits and bad bits. I just focus on the good nowadays.

 

 

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