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120 | Your Body Changes After 40; TIPS to Stop the Middle Age Spread With Dr. Jennifer Singh

Updated: May 11

Dr. Jennifer Singh guest on Life Coach BFF Show
Dr. Jennifer Singh

Weight Gain Over 40 and How to Manage It with Dr. Jennifer Singh

In this episode, host Heather interviews

Dr. Jennifer Singh, an expert in lifestyle medicine, about the challenges of weight gain and body changes that women face after age 40. Dr. Singh shares her insights and practical tips for managing weight through diet and exercise.

### Key Takeaways

- After age 40, women naturally lose muscle mass (sarcopenia), which slows down metabolism and makes weight management more difficult[1].

- Focusing on building muscle through strength training is key for maintaining a healthy metabolism and body composition as we age.

- Dr. Singh recommends a minimum of 3 weight lifting sessions per week, each 30 minutes long, along with aiming for 10,000 steps daily.

- A diet rich in non-starchy vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins can help control weight gain and promote overall health during midlife.

- Curating a "visual diet" by following inspiring, body-positive women on social media can help shift mindset around aging.

Episode Notes

- Dr. Singh shares her background in internal medicine, pediatrics, and lifestyle medicine.

- She discusses the challenges she faced with weight gain and body changes during menopause, despite following a healthy lifestyle.

- The importance of building muscle mass (through strength training) for maintaining metabolism is emphasized.

- Dr. Singh's daily routine includes 3 weightlifting sessions per week at home and aiming for 10,000 daily steps.

- Her diet focuses on non-starchy veggies, fruits, lean proteins, and healthy fats like those found in her veggie-packed oatmeal breakfast.

- She stresses the need to curate one's "visual diet" on social media to combat unrealistic body image pressures.

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Hebrews 12:1    

Transcript (Auto Generated)

Y'all, I'm so excited. My guest today is Dr. Jennifer Singh. Welcome to the show, Jennifer. Hey, Heather. Thank you so much. I'm so excited. I am so excited. I've looked forward to this. This is going to be so much fun. And I want you to tell everyone all about yourself. Okay. Well, if you hear me going back to like age four, feel free to, you know, Right.

Maybe I should not have said that. Let's try to stick to the pertinent stuff. Okay. So, uh, I'm Jennifer. Thanks so much for having me, Heather. It's just been a pleasure knowing you since we met our energies just jived. So, um, great to get to be on your. Popular podcast. I am a doctor by training. I trained in internal medicine and pediatrics and then later got specialization in lifestyle medicine.

So that's a new, it's not really new to be honest. It's kind of old. It's basically the [00:01:00] intensive application of good food, Some movement, spiritual health, stress management, and sleep, and watching how amazing biology works when we figure out a way to work those things into our lives. The problem with modern life is that although medicine has had all these incredible advancements, It's led us further and further away from the lifestyles that we know from science really make healthy humans.

And that is foods that are kind of boring, that are like close to nature, an adequate amount of sleep, community connections, spiritual health, stress management, and moving your body. So the challenge of lifestyle medicine, it's not so much this deep mystical science about food, to be honest. The food and the movement's pretty easy.

The hard part is helping people actually do it on a day-to-day basis in modern life, right? So that is what I do for my jam and I absolutely love it. I left clinical [00:02:00] medicine and now I coach and consult privately online. I've got two. Uh, teenagers, one in college and one about to be out of the house. So my husband of 25 years and I are contemplating this weird new stage of being back to just the two of us of being empty nesters.

So that's another thing that I talk about a whole lot with women is this next stage of life, because a lot of us kind of feel lost, right? When I'm not full on anymore. So, so that's what I do, Heather. That's a lot, Jennifer. That's a lot. Well, today we want to talk about weight gain over 40 and how to manage our weight, which is very, yeah, I think is our nemesis, right?

We think is our nemesis. So yeah, as you may have noticed, if you're over 40, things just ain't the same as they used to was. In your skin, right? Um, and it's, can be such a mystery, [00:03:00] especially if you are someone who hasn't necessarily struggled in the past or had trouble with sort of making your body do what you wanted it to.

I remember 25 years ago thinking if I wanted to drop five pounds, I'd have to I mean, I won't say it was easy, but I sort of knew the formula, right? It was easy, Jennifer. It was easy. Yeah. I had, I seem to have a lot more bandwidth right before kids to clean up the diet, stop doing the drive thrus, uh, at the chicken strip factory or whatever.

And, um, things began to change after age 40. And my sensation was. I am doing the same things that I think I used to do, but everything's changing. And I began to feel sort of out of control. What became even more interesting was after I got certified in lifestyle medicine, I really dramatically changed my diet and my family's diet.

I had a few years of just really good health and things felt easy. Right? [00:04:00] Then I went through menopause. And here I am a nutrition specialist, I go talk to smart people about food, and I felt myself with a changing body gaining weight and had to go back to the drawing board of, okay, it's happening to me like I am doing the things that I used to do, and my body is still changing.

And thankfully, there is plenty of science for us for women over 40 on how to make the most of our brand spanking new over 40 metabolism. Transcribed I'm so sorry. This is happening to you, Jennifer. I just can't even imagine what you're going through. I'm just kidding because I know we're all in it together.

Yes. I mean, now I feel like I can eat a piece of lettuce and one green bean and gain weight. And now, now I'm dealing with menopause hair, which is real. That's a real thing. Yes, that is. Yeah. Just a little bit of background on the science of what does actually [00:05:00] happen to us after 40. So it is not completely our imagination, right?

Um, it is definitely changing hormones. And one of the more equally important things that begins to change, Heather, that a lot of us don't realize and don't know about, we all know about hormones. Right? Like we see it on social media constantly. How many ads have you seen that are like, it's your hormones.

You've got to regulate your hormones. You've got to get on hormones. I'm not saying they're not important, but they are not the only factor. And the other thing that happens after 40, which is critically important is we begin to naturally lose muscle mass on our body that has not been played up as much in the media and is actually easier to control than your hormones.

Um, hormones actually respond to exercises that build muscle and to certain dietary patterns that are honestly not complicated, expensive, or require a lot of supplements. But muscle mass, [00:06:00] I think of it as like your muscle mass is your flame and hot metabolism. And after 40, it starts melting off your bones just naturally.

Yes, I see that. That's why a lot of times, like what I was finding when I was approaching menopause and going through it was. The scale's the same, but my body doesn't look the same. Like the clothes don't fit. I'm thickening up around the middle. I have lumpies where I have never had lumpies in my life.

Like, but the scale is the same what's happening here. What's happening is our muscles are. Growing smaller with natural aging. It's called sarcopenia. And I just like to very oversimplify it to be honest, but think of it as like it's taking your metabolism with it, which is why I think many women in their 40s start finding a lot of success with body image and controlling their, the size and shape of their body, not necessarily their weight, because remember that muscle weighs more than fat.

Right. So I find that many of us [00:07:00] don't see a big change in the scale, but we love what we're seeing in the mirror when we start really dedicating time to building muscle. So tell me, okay, I want to know, because you are definitely the expert. What does your daily routine look like? Well, it's different now, you know, that's going to be different for everyone because of work schedules, but I consider like my bare minimum, honestly, Heather, I do better on a weekly checklist, like, because some days are unpredictable.

So if I tell myself no matter what Tuesday will not be a success, unless I get a 30 minute weightlifting session in and then life happens, I've backed myself into a corner, right? With my feelings about myself, because maybe I don't pull it off on Tuesday. I like to go weekly. So my weekly bare minimum is three weightlifting sessions per week.

And I work out at home. I have collected through, um, Walmart Sam's club and curbside trash [00:08:00] day pickup because people throw away fabulous weight when they get sick of their new year's resolution. I'm not kidding. I believe I've thrown away weights. Before that's why I'm laughing and jokes and says, you certainly have an eye for trash because I will slam on the brakes of the minivan and slam it into reverse.

And like, that's a 20 pound hex dumbbell back there. We got to go pick that thing up. So I work out at home. It doesn't have to be super complicated, but I put it as my priority. Um, three times a week, weightlifting. If I get in for, I feel like a complete. And if I can do that, chronically, I see a better results as do my clients who minimum to a week though, to weightlifting sessions, we, my other main movement is walking.

So I'm big on steps. I love my steps. I was a runner much, much earlier in my day. And I am telling you after I crossed 40 running, just made me hurt. Yes. Not everyone. That's not everyone. And that's great. I have [00:09:00] people that I work with who are avid runners and they absolutely adore it. And that's fantastic.

It became not my thing anymore. I shifted to walking and got myself a step counter several years ago and hit, try to hit my 10, 000 a day. I consider 7, 500 to be my bare minimum. That's my number that if I haven't, if it's nine o'clock and I haven't hit 7, 500, I'm downstairs in the kitchen and my socks making laughs.

Because I'm going to get that 7, 500 laps around the island. Yes. Laps around the island. Yeah. That's my beer. But 10 is exceptional. And there's a lot of evidence for 10, 000 steps a day. We know that not only is it our time that we schedule to exercise, that's important, right? Like that's the 30 minutes that I've set aside.

My brain says you are exercising now. We know that actually also the movements that we do during our non exercise time, which I call our piddling time. Piddling is fantastic for burning calories and that is what pacing [00:10:00] while you talk on the phone walking, you know, um, around taking an extra lap around the car when you walk back and forth from the car.

So, piddling is important and all of these things do add up. I think your question was what's my, what's my daily schedule. So it's 75, you're answering my question and three, three weight workouts a week at home. I have recently started going to the gym with my daughter, which has been fabulous because she wants to lift.

So I'm super excited about that. Oh, that's great. Well in two, I mean, just a trip to Costco. Go is a workout. I mean, I think about that. When I unload the basket into the car, get home trips back and forth. If you have steps to go up, wait, that's a workout. Yes, absolutely. And you know, even, um, weather permitting.

So, you know, I do hear a lot from some people. I don't have a place or what about the weather? Um, you know, if you can get to a mall, I used to see this little gentleman in target target was his indoor [00:11:00] walking space. Yeah. And he would just lap and lap and lap around target. So go target, get the steps that does count, but the weightlifting is magical.

And the focus on that really corrects so many things like it's magical for our insulin sensitivity and how our insulin works. It's magical for making us a body that burns more calories at rest. It's also magical for making sure that you remain an upright. Vertically sound and strong person as we cross through midlife and go on into our senior years.

One thing that we don't think about a lot is I wanna be a senior citizen who is incredibly independent. Mm-Hmm who can fall and not break a hip, which has a awful mortality rate breaking a hip in your, uh, senior years. And we're not just gonna wake up one day and be a strong senior. You have to start now.

We need to start now strengthening the bones, [00:12:00] strengthening the muscles. And, um, not only that it feels awesome. I like pulling on those pants, right. And going, you know, I'm not, I'm not 16 anymore. I don't need to look like a 16 year old. I have a saying that wise and strong is the new skinny. Oh my goodness.

I love it. Wise and strong is the new skinny. Yes. Fantastic. Okay. So how long are these weight lifting sessions that you're doing? 30 minutes minimum, but, um, I tend to get distracted and like dance or karaoke, my workouts, and so it's not uncommon for me to look up and realize that it's been 42 stars, what am I doing?

And so 30 is, is a good one. And, um, I help women construct starter workouts at home, um, that are incredibly safe, very slow to advance. Yeah. And make sure that they are doing more help than harm, but studies show that [00:13:00] body weight or low weight starter workouts at home are very safe. Okay. So we've talked about exercise.

How about diet? I want to know, what do you eat? On a daily basis, on a daily basis, I now, now, before you think about how weird I am or how many vegetables I eat, I've been doing this for about 15 years. So 15 years ago, I became acquainted with the power of nutrition as a form of medical therapy, like not in place of medications.

But as the ultimate help to medications and to make our system work well. So I got really involved in plant based nutrition and have really spent 15 years learning about that. When I first went plant based, I drug my little kids and my husband kicking and screaming into the world of being very strict vegan.

And so I learned a lot during that time. And then they've grown up and now it's become like, you know, individuals with cars and keys and credit cards. And so they're like, [00:14:00] whatever we're doing, they're headed to Sonic, like the rest of the time, because people always looked at my kids when they were younger and they would say things like, Oh, I bet your kids just eat so healthy.

And I'm like, are you kidding? If you saw them in the wild, you would think they were raised by wolves. Like they are out of my. Compound, right? They're doing whatever they want, but the truth is they have grown up now to be humans who make really good decisions about food in the general basis. All of that to say, okay, what I eat today, I always eat oats for the, for breakfast.

And as I have gotten older and gone through menopause, I have found that the more non starchy vegetables and fruit that I eat, the easier it is to control my body. And to be happy with the outcome. So I would tell you that 80 to 90 percent of the time I eat pretty boring and I really eat a ratio of whatever this meal is.

I am going for half of that [00:15:00] food to be non starchy veggies and fruit. So it's a pretty easy ratio. So for breakfast, you're going to freak out. But what it looks like for me is about half a cup of dry oatmeal, a huge handful of shredded carrots, and I usually grate some zucchini in my, in my oats. Now that sounds awful.

But when you throw all that in the microwave sounds awful. . So think about how mild of a flavor zucchini has though, right? It re Jennifer, I can listen. I cannot get past the dry oatmeal. I cannot get past that. Well, I don't eat it dry. Oh, okay. That changes everything. I'm not cook. Okay. Yeah. So sorry, lemme go back.

I'm telling you my recipe. Okay. So try oats. Some shredded carrots, some grated zucchini, a little water or nut milk, and I put all of that in the microwave. And so it comes out looking like a bowl of mush porridge. And then I season it up with [00:16:00] pumpkin pie spice, some turmeric for anti inflammatory effect, and some flax meal because that is incredibly healthy for breast health.

And it tastes like, uh, cinnamon. Oh!

It's not that bad. I will tell you this. It's not going to win a beauty contest. Okay. So like, You don't want to post that stuff up on Pinterest and tell everybody, look what I'm eating. Cause they'll be like, stay away from her. She's crazy. But. Here, you know what, Heather, you don't have to do the veggies.

If you, if you're not into that frozen fruit works completely fine. I usually don't get hungry at all until lunch. I don't really do a mid morning snack. My circadian rhythm is that I like to eat more in the afternoon. Have you ever heard of like the four o'clock witching hour? Absolutely. Like you start off in the morning and you're like, I'm a healthy girl.

And by four you're in the pantry, hand over fist munching, pushing aside cans. Like I know I hid some chocolate chips back here [00:17:00] somewhere. Right. So lunch also, Oh, by the way, one of the major antidotes to that afternoon munchie is eating. Eating a substantial amount and volume of food for breakfast and lunch.

That's why I love non starchy veggies and fruit because they don't have a ton of calories, they're loaded with fiber and nutrients and they feel physically fill you up. Right. So lunch is usually for me, some starch, I love a potato, a small to medium baked potato, or half of a big sweet potato. Guess what?

50 percent of my meal is non starchy veggies. That's frequently. Precut prepped veggies that I buy from the store where someone else has done the work for me and I just grab things out of the fridge and throw them in a bowl. I'm going to heat it all up in the microwave. Okay. And either a canned bean, like some chickpeas.

Or, I love cubed up, uh, tempeh or tofu or some other non meat protein, but bean is fine. It's very unglamorous. [00:18:00] Throw all that in a bowl and heat it up, and then have a few really healthy sauces that I just sauce the bowl up, and I usually just eat a bowl for lunch. Now, where are your, where are your greens?

I'm so shocked that I'm not hearing anything about a salad. I just didn't mention. So I do always keep a bin of prepped spring mix that I've purchased from the store. And so it's almost like my fridge is like a salad bar. Right. It's very open the fridge and there's a bag of shredded carrots. There's a bag of shredded cabbage.

There's a pack of baby peppers. There's, um, a bin of washed spring mix. So I'm just like, just grabbing, grabbing, grabbing, throw it all in a bowl, blast it in the microwave and sauce it up. I actually am pretty seasonal with my greens consumption. I do not dig a salad when the weather's cold. I don't know why.

You, yeah, no, I, I don't care for one when the weather is cold either. That's what, really what I'm [00:19:00] asking. I'm just curious when I, when I blast it, those greens wilt and it becomes like a super overpriced restaurant wilted warm salad. Right. Yeah. And, um, then late afternoon, I always have a snack. I'm a big afternoon snacker and I'm pretty boring.

I usually alternate between a couple it's either an apple and some, um, I love that de fatted peanut butter powder PBfit. Yes. I do too. I love it. If you're a peanut butter addict. Right. When I was younger, I ate a lot of peanut butter because I was burning the calories off. But now I can, no, I can't keep peanut butter in the house.

It's one of my kryptonite foods, but the PB fit is a life changer loaded with protein. It's actually loaded with fiber and much, much lower in calories. So I'll whip up a little cup of some PB fit and use that as an apple dip. Dip an apple in it. Okay. Do you add water to it? [00:20:00] Yes, because it's okay. So you have to shoot it.

Right. Reconstitute that, make a little dip. And then evening is honestly some other boring mixture of half of my plate is non starchy veggies. And I love simple things like steamed zucchini and onions in a big pot. Right. That I've put this time of year. I love a whole head of cabbage chopped up. Cooked with some potato and some onion, just like my mom used to cook it when I was growing up.

I do leave the fatty meat out of it and season it up just with tons of garlic. And, you know, we think that we're really going to miss some of the traditional flavors. There are ways to hack that. And. It's been shown over and over that your taste buds adjust, like just a couple of nights of eating it without something, you know, for instance, potatoes, potatoes have been poor potatoes have gotten such a bad rap.

Potatoes are actually extremely filling, full of fiber. They're a great part of a meal. It's what we've done to the [00:21:00] potato over the years, like loaded it with sour cream and butter and cheese and Friday. So a plain potato with non starchy veggies and a lean protein is a fantastic part of, um, fuel, which is another way to start thinking about food is I'm lifting weights.

I got to fuel these workouts. I got to fuel this muscle building. So. Anyway, well, I mean, it sounds delicious. The way you've presented it, it sounds delicious. Now what it looks like in person, especially the oatmeal bowl. I'm, I would have to see that Jennifer. No, I don't want you to see it because you will never eat it.

You just need to blind taste it. Yeah. Okay. Our culture tells us that growing older is a negative. I mean, everywhere we turn, media, society, everyone tells us that growing old is a negative. How can we feel good about our changing bodies and extra lines and wrinkles? I think that you, [00:22:00] Definitely. We've talked about weightlifting strength training that can help us to feel good.

But I mean, I'm looking at you, you are a beautiful woman. And so how, you know, how can we feel good about. We all look in the mirror and we go, do we, do I need my eyes done? You know, you hear about your friend who has just had a tummy tuck. I mean, how do we look at this changing time and embrace it? What a good question.

I do think it's multifactorial. Um, it's definitely a process. Um, and I think that there are some definite evidence based things though, and things that are really helpful. Number one is to. And I recommend this to all of my ladies that I work with curate your visual diet. Okay. So my Instagram, number one, I severely limit my time that I spend on social media.

And this is one main reason, because I don't want [00:23:00] all of these like super skinny, 25 year old third, even third, third girl, 25, 45 year old images coming in, right. You know, telling me, making me feel inadequate. I've actually specifically chosen Famous women who I really admire and I follow them on Instagram.

Um, and, you know, and a lot of it is because of how they have approached aging. So shout out too, I love to follow Brooke Shields. I love to follow Jamie Lee Curtis. I, um, I have some others. Forgive me, I can't think of 'em right now. But what I like about them is there incredible value that they are demonstrating with their strength and wisdom.

Which is the new skinning. So number one, curate your visual diet. Number two, surround yourself with women who are pursuing the deeper parts of this next stage of life. We are not done growing yet internally, spiritually and emotionally. Right. So it's fine. Some women find a [00:24:00] community who are. Studying growth and evolution and how do, what is my next purpose in life?

I've been full on momming right for 15 years. Maybe that's changing. My husband and I are about to become empty nesters. We've spent a lot of time on long walks with the dog talking about what the next stage of our life might look like on a deeper level. Right. Um, the third thing is. Do the things, control the things you can control, which is exactly what you just mentioned.

I can control if I come in here and pick up a dumbbell and do 10 curls, I can control that. I may not have complete control over my eyelids. Because a lot of that is genetics, a lot of it. And the other thing is don't be overly influenced by other people on what you should or shouldn't be doing to your face or your body.

If you want to Botox your forehead, do it. Like, don't let anybody talk you out [00:25:00] of it. Right. Um, but I do think that there's a lot of brain coaching that the reasons why we do those things is what's more important than whether or not we do them. Right. Right. I mean, like I color my hair. It's a funny discussion in my house.

So, you know, with my kids, I'm like, you think this is the year? Is this the month? Should I let it go? Okay. The same thing. Yeah. I do do the same thing too. Guess what? I'm working with several women right now. Who've got the most gorgeous silver mains you've ever seen. And they have influenced me. They have made me look at them and go, that's gorgeous.

Maybe it's time. Maybe it is. So I, again, can't. Stress enough surrounding yourself with images of women who are aging in a variety of different ways, but they're doing it for their own reasons. They're not, you know, they're not doing it out of fear out of what they might look like or what might happen.

And, um, making peace [00:26:00] with it for me largely has been other women. Yeah. Yeah. That's the word. That's the, that's the key word. Jennifer is making peace with it. That's the key. I think. Okay. So before we go, before we wrap this up, I want to know, we've talked about diet. We've talked about exercise and I want to know about skincare.

What is your favorite skincare product? The one thing you cannot live without. It's Retin A. Yeah. I'm serious. Prescription strength Retin A. Like I used to spend a lot more money on different products. And, um, in my earlier forties, got some good results. I did love something that had like a hydroxy acid that kind of gently chemically exfoliates every day.

Right. Um, I got so sick of doing like five or six steps of skincare. Are you kidding me? I don't have the energy for this anymore. So [00:27:00] I am now down to, um, CeraVe or Cetaphil, like drugstore brand, super pure cleanser. Same with moisturizer, same with my day sunscreen and retin A. Well, there you go. And plenty of water and, um, um, fruits and vegetables are phenomenal for your skin and the women who begin to eat more fruits and vegetables, one of the very first things they always notice is, wow, my skin.

Yeah, I can see that. I can see that. Okay. So I want to know about this big challenge too, before we go. Yeah. So one of the things we always hear is, you know, by the time you're in your forties, Heather, if you're like me and maybe you're not, I don't want to project this on you. I have been on or tried every wackadoo diet eating intervention, literally since I was 10 years old, I think is when I started.

Right. And what many women find by the time they get 40 is they're exhausted. With trying all this and so they're like, [00:28:00] I'm done. This is just it. My metabolism is messed up and I have beginners fatigue. They can't, they don't want to begin again on anything. I have developed a four habit. Rhythm that you can do in the morning by 9am to help you begin for the last time.

It's a free five day challenge. It starts February 13th and sign up is going on now. It's totally free. It's so valuable. It's unbelievable. And, um, it is a great opportunity to get some fantastic brainwashing about divorcing the scale, loving what your body can do. And doing simple, small baby steps so that you gain some momentum and feel like, okay, I'm on, I'm doing something.

I'm on the path now. Super simple. Four habits by 9 a. m. This sounds fantastic. So how can we sign up? So I will have a link in your, uh, materials, but my website is [00:29:00] jennifersingh. com. Couldn't be easier. Jennifer Singh, S I N G H. Md as in medical doctor. com and that's my website. There is a signup link right on the homepage.

Fantastic. Okay. I will have all of this in my show notes and I cannot thank you enough. This has been so much fun, Jennifer. I'm really thinking about, well, I'm thinking about going to the grocery store as soon as we get off this call, go get my zucchini and my oats. It's in my shredded carrots. So, okay. I cannot wait to hear how that goes.

Let me know if you, yes, please. Thank you so much. Thanks, Heather. Great to talk to you. 


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