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.
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?
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.
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 😉