Female Fat Loss Over 40 (Part 1)

by | Feb 20, 2024

Today, I have part one of a two part series Female Fat Loss for Women Over 40. This is going to be my best tips to help you reduce stress, reduce inflammation and reduce mind drama. So that you can lose weight without crazy restrictions and the all or nothing thinking that usually results in nothing with a capital N. All or nothing thinking, usually gets you nothing. 

I want to make sure it is very clear that I acknowledge and agree that there are many different ways to lose weight. There is not one way, one set of rules, my way or the highway at all. I really want to make sure that is out there. Otherwise, we’re always going to feel like we need to adhere or follow or live up to some set of standards that might not be our own. I’m just sharing my experience, what has worked for me and my clients. 

Then you can decide; 

  • What needs your attention? 
  • Or what would you like to try? 
  • Or what do you want to start doing or stop doing? 

That’s it. You don’t have to do all the things. 

This is not a test. This is not homework. This is not my demand for you. My goal is to help you live better, live freer, and have your weight loss journey not feel like a punishment. 

1) Stop drinking alcohol. 

I’m not anti alcohol. However, there’s nothing good that comes from drinking. I’m sure we could find some studies about resveratrol. Or we could find some studies about certain wines or things. I’m sure we could find anything that we want. 

Most studies show that women who drink more than one drink per night regularly are going to have an increased incidence of cancer. Obviously we have to acknowledge that alcohol is a toxin and our bodies have to work on excreting that from our system. Many people think that alcohol helps relax them and helps them sleep better. Actually studies say that sleep is disturbed by alcohol. I think a lot of us you know get the f*ck-its. We eat things and snack on things when we’re drinking. I just don’t think anything good comes from alcohol if I’m being true to myself. 

Now, if you were to say hey Bonnie, let’s go out to dinner or let’s try this new place, out of habit, I’m going to look at the wine list and I’ll probably order a glass of wine. I just probably won’t finish it. I have found for myself, and maybe this is a product of getting older and going into menopause, I don’t feel great drinking at all. It does not appeal to me in the same way. It doesn’t make me feel good. That could just be my personal experience. It doesn’t have to be yours. 

Sometimes just cutting back on drinking is a big help to your weight loss. What I noticed this year, and by this year I mean 2023. I drank more in 2022. I drank one or two glasses of wine on the weekends, because we usually go out and it was just habitual. Then in 2023, I had maybe 10 glasses of wine the whole year. The majority of them were on vacation. It was a game changer for me. It was better for my sleep, my health and my weight. 

If you’re struggling with drinking, that’s okay. We’re all struggling with something. I will also tell you this, I’m not a social person, I don’t make a lot of social plans. I don’t like going out. I really am a homebody. I’m busy at home, and I just can’t imagine drinking at home. For me, lifestyle wise, not drinking is easy. I recognize for some of you, it is harder, especially those of you who do have a lot of business dinners or business travel. You’re entertaining a business associate, or you like to entertain in your home, or you like to go out and people think not drinking is a weird thing. Like, what are you pregnant? Well, no. Are you sick? You feel like you have to make up a lie as to why you’re not drinking. 

Here’s where I would leave it for you. If you think that cutting back on drinking would help you, try it. If drinking alcohol doesn’t seem to be the big rock, the big lever, like something that would be a big change to your overall health and well being, then we don’t have to do anything with it. But if you are drinking or have been drinking a lot, you don’t have to go to zero. I look at alcohol, or drinking, having wine or beer or mixed drinks, just like I would think about snacking or desserts. I would just plan it out. 

Plan it ahead. How much are you going to drink? Put it in writing and see if that helps you stick to a specific amount. Then ultimately, you get to decide. People do lose weight and drink alcohol. They do. One of the benefits they’ve noticed for people who give up alcohol, is that weight loss is easier. It’s faster and they feel better overall.

2) Soda and juice.

Speaking of drinking, if you’re drinking juice and soda, and things that generally have more than 25-35 calories per 8 to 12 ounce serving, I would reassess that. Maybe just keep track of how much you’re drinking in terms of calories between juices, sodas, kombucha and energy drinks. All of those things will add up.

If during the course of the day, you’re noticing you’re taking in 100, 200, 300 calories in liquid, that is something, that if you eliminated, you probably would lose weight. Sometimes we think, oh 100 calories, 200 calories is not a big deal. But again, it’s over the course of time. There are many sugar free, zero calorie things that you could add to water or shelters and things like that. There’s a lot of different ways to get the kinds of beverages you like, without the calories you do not need. 

To me, that’s an easy one. Maybe you’re used to having that big glass of orange juice or you drink a lot of milk or chocolate milk. No judgement here. But if I wanted to lose weight, and not just do it by restricting, but I’m thinking about what would be easy. How can I reduce stress, inflammation and mind drama like that? That’s where my mind goes. What’s the easiest stuff I can do? 

For some people giving up alcohol sounds easier than that and others it could be giving up that juice or soda. There’s a lot of low calorie alternatives because calories matter. They do. 

3) Eat meals and stop snacking.

Snacking is an interesting thing. I call everything a meal. I’ve trained my brain in that way because, if I get into snacking, it’s usually I am grabbing something. A handful of something, a bag of something. It is often I’m in a hurry, I’m overly hungry, or I’m actually not hungry, and I just see it. Or I’m sitting down with a computer, or I’m stressed out about something, or out of habit. I’m just always having a snack at 3pm out of a habit. 

I got into the habit of having breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack between breakfast and lunch, and lunch and dinner. Then I also have a snack after dinner. Many of us get into eating 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 times a day, out of habit. That’s a lot of food. We want to figure out if we’re actually hungry. If we are constantly eating, grazing, snacking, even if it’s just the one lunch that we have but we eat it between 12pm and 4pm. Constantly eating and grabbing. Our bodies actually do not get to recover. We’re asking our body to produce insulin, and to digest food all day long. Like that’s going to keep you from actually having your body tap into fat stores and burn body fat because I keep adding gasoline to the gas tank. We never get to empty, where I need to tap into the other resources. 

When I talk about a meal versus a snack, it’s not because you can’t eat candy, or you can’t eat chips, or you can’t eat crackers, I will just make them part of a meal. If I did want crackers, or chips, or Craisins, or whatever it is that you want, 

  • Where’s the protein? 
  • Where’s the main course, even if the meal is smaller? 
  • Can I get a ready to drink protein shake? 
  • Can I have a protein bar? 

Then also eat XYZ? That’s where I think you can make a lot of ground and make weight loss easier is to not just be eating all day. 

So the first part is to really get a handle on what’s happening. A food journal works really well in this way so that you can actually document what’s going on. On your average day, what times are you eating? What foods are you eating? Are you hungry? I kind of start there and see what is what. 

I think most of us are busy, we’re running around, we’re grabbing food on the go, we’re eating off our kids plates, we just don’t put a lot of thought into it sometimes. We are hungry, or we go all day without eating. Then as soon as we get home, we’re snacking, and we’re cooking dinner, and then we’re eating dinner and eating off our kids plate and then snacking all night long. Then waking up and not being hungry, because I ate all night long. We’re kind of stuck in that pattern. 

For me, what has helped me with my weight loss and keeping weight off is that no matter what it is that I’m eating, I don’t have food rules. I will tell you, I eat a lot of sandwiches. I eat three times a day. It’s odd. If I eat more than three times a day, then I didn’t plan well. Something happened and now I’m eating a protein bar or I’m eating leftovers. Something’s happened where I am busy or mindless. Something is off schedule. 

For me, three meals a day works well. Now again, I’m not training to get on stage. I don’t do an hour of strength training five or six days a week and also walk five miles a day anymore. I don’t. I do move every day but I don’t need 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 meals. A lot of people really don’t either. 

Figure out what is going on with your particular brand of snacking. What is it all about? 

Is it just because;

  • You’re stuck in front of a computer all day? 
  • You’re bored?
  • You’re stressed? 
  • It is a habit? 
  • Are you actually hungry? 
  • Do your meals need to be bigger? 

If you have three meals, think about it. 

We’re not going to have three 300 calorie meals a day. That would only be 900 calories a day. Your meals probably have to be bigger. They’re probably going to be a minimum of 400 calories. Three meals for a big grown woman like myself, I can probably have a meal that is 700, 800 calories, and that’s reasonable. Just because I have three meals doesn’t mean they all have to be the same, they all have to be equal in amount of calories. I can have a smaller meal, and I can have a bigger meal. I don’t want to be eating all day because I want my body to not have to digest all day and have my entire digestive tract working all day. I would like my body to have to burn in a burn also body fat. 

4) Go to bed. 

Be sure you’re getting enough deep sleep. For anybody who’s known me in a past life, one of the things that I would just tell people would be go the f*ck to bed. Just go to bed. What are you doing? Why are you up at nine o’clock or 10 o’clock or 11 o’clock? It is time to go to bed, stop it, we’re not really as productive as we think. 

If we do feel more productive, it’s probably a hormone imbalance. Your cortisol should be lowering as the day goes on, as the sun sets, as it becomes night. Over time, we can push ourselves to be going around the clock. Well, I have to put my kids to bed and then it’s me time, right? Or I have to wait till my husband goes to sleep, then it’s me time. No, stop that. There’s nothing good happening at 10 o’clock at night. 

If you work overnight. That is a whole entirely different conversation and it is more complicated. For those of you who work nights and work overnight shifts, you’re going to have the natural cortisol curve not really cooperating in your favor. It’s harder to lose weight, lose body fat, and have that somewhat of a hormonal balance when you do work overnight. For those of you who do not work overnight, it’s time to go to bed. 

Do you get enough deep sleep? You might not even know. I don’t get any money from Oura. I wear an aura ring. I think it’s interesting data. I’m almost positive that Fitbit and Apple Watches probably do some of the same tracking. I don’t wear my Apple Watch to bed because I feel like it just doesn’t hold enough of a charge for me. I feel like I just charge my watch every night. 

The Oura ring has been really interesting for me to track the different sleep cycles. There’s, as you probably know, there’s light sleep, REM sleep, and deep sleep. It’s not one cycle, but we’re constantly cycling through. We do need a specific portion of our sleep to be that deep sleep, that’s our restful sleep. That’s the money in the sleep. The Oura ring has been interesting to track because I started to notice, I felt really not rested and kind of groggy, and when I checked my aura ring, my deep sleep was off. So I went back to the drawing table with some supplements and made some changes. 

I don’t like to make a lot of supplement recommendations because I’m not your doctor. I will say I do take supplements. I don’t take sleeping pills or anything prescription. There are a lot of very natural things out there, even beyond melatonin. I had to make some adjustments to get back into that deep sleep. 

If you’re not going to sleep, then we don’t have to worry about deep sleep yet. But if you want to lose weight, reduce stress, reduce inflammation, reduce all the mind drama and to make weight loss easier then have a regular set bedtime and regular set wakeup time. Try to keep it as much as you can, seven days a week. You will start to see that it gets easier to do that. 

There are things that you know can help you sleep. Lots of different studies about sleep hygiene. To have the temperature in your room set very cool. To make sure that your sheets are breathable, and you have the curtains or blinds that are completely color blocking. Don’t have a lot of lights and things like that. There are a lot of different things to set up your bedroom for ideal sleep, but it doesn’t matter if you’re not willing to go to bed. 

If you do have any type of tracking, really take a look at how much deep sleep you’re actually getting. Then you will feel like you’re actually rested. The thing with women and stress is that sometimes it’s hard to recognize that we are under stress because as human beings, not just women, we are built for stress. We have a lot of years built into the making of the human organism and our bodies can withstand a lot of stress. Working with women all of these years, I think it’s easy to not realize that we are stressed out. We are always on the go and  doing all the things, not getting enough sleep, not getting enough quality food, feeling a lot of things that we don’t know what to do with. We just assume this is the way it is. That we have to suck it up, and nothing’s wrong. I can handle this.

There are clues that our body will leave us when we don’t feel good and when we are not losing weight. You could also lose weight because you are overly stressed, you stop eating altogether. It’s okay for you to need help, or to feel stressed out. We want to figure out how to mitigate stress because a stressed body and inflamed body is definitely not going to prioritize the loss of body fat, which is what we want. 

Sometimes when we lose weight from being overly stressed, we’re actually losing muscle mass, we’re losing bone, we’re losing things that we don’t want to lose. We want to lose body fat and keep all of that muscle mass.

5) Prioritize protein, fiber, and as much real food as you can. 

You’ve heard me talk about this a lot. This goes back to meals versus snacking. I am not anti, whatever, fill in the blank. I don’t really think that’s most people’s problems unless they’re eating something that they are allergic to or have sensitivity to. If you have a gluten sensitivity, and you need to avoid gluten. Or any other food sensitivities or allergies, or you’re just noticing that certain things don’t make you feel good. Then obviously don’t include them, but by and large, it’s not what we’re eating. It’s what’s eating us, to be honest. 

Really, even if you’re eating gummy bears, can you pair it with a protein? Seriously, try it out. See if that helps you so that you’re not feeling like, I’m going to eat the salad with chicken but what I really want is gummy bears. But I’m not gonna eat the gummy bears. I’m not gonna eat the gummy bears. Then at eight o’clock tonight, you eat the whole bag. 

How can you incorporate some of the things that you do like or do want and plan it out ahead of time? Sometimes we think I really want those. I really want those and then we give ourselves permission to eat them. We eat them, and we realize they don’t even taste that good. 

Sometimes we just are overly hungry. We haven’t given ourselves enough nutrition and we are experiencing a lot of cravings. I don’t really buy into the fact that people are sugar addicts. I think it can sometimes feel like we have an insatiable urge for sugar. That’s because it tastes good. 

6) Make sure you’re eating enough calories overall. 

A really big thing when it comes to wanting to lose weight, attempting to lose weight, setting up calories or macros, trying to reduce too much. Like I said about eating three meals. I think a lot of people think a meal should be 300 or 400 calories, but that’s not very much if you’re eating three times a day. If you feel better with eating four or five times a day, that’s great. Think about how many calories per meal you would want for an average. Adult women, on the low end, should be about 1500-1600 calories. Of course it depends on your activity level, your age, your muscle mass, and what you’re doing. There is no one size fits all. 

A lot of diet books, diet mythology and folklore have women eating 1200 calories or less. Most women could still lose weight, eating 2500 calories a day. If you have been eating 1000 calories a day, you can’t necessarily go to 2500 calories. You have to be able to slowly introduce more food. I think that’s probably why a lot of people fall into that all or nothing thinking.It does take time to let your body get set up for more food and not feel like we’re going either all low calorie or all high calorie is trying to find that middle lane can feel very overwhelming and confusing. But that’s what coaches do too is help you figure that out. 

My goal for myself and my clients and for you is to be able to eat as much as you can and still lose weight. Rather than eat as little as you can and lose weight because that’s what kills metabolism. 

7) Try to leave two to three hours between your last meal and bedtime. 

Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t. You could just have one of those nights where the workday went long, you forgot your dinner, something happened and you have to come home and eat. Then it’s nine o’clock at night and you have to go to bed. That is okay. That is totally okay. Not every day needs to be ideal or perfect in order to be helpful, effective or work for your weight loss. 

On an average day, let’s say you eat dinner at 6pm. Getting ready and into bed around 9pm, kind of makes sense because that way you have already digested. You’re not going to go lay down with a full stomach, you will probably sleep better, and you will probably not be overly hungry. 

What happens sometimes when we try to lose weight is we try to go even longer. One of the things people do is they don’t eat enough at dinner, and then they go to bed and then they’re actually physically hungry. That’s kind of an issue. I think you will find you have better digestion and better sleep when you have that two to three hour gap. I have found personally, if my gap is four or five hours, if I’m still awake, I may be hungry. Then I have to rethink my dinner strategy.  

8) Focus on your gut health. 

What does that mean? I think this is one of those things, kind of like sleep or alcohol. Sometimes we just don’t recognize that it’s not normal to feel like we have not great digestion. We think it is normal to feel full, bloated, gassy, to be constipated, to not have bowel movements regularly. To go 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 14 days without a bowel movement is not normal. 

Normal for one person is not normal for another. For me, if I did not go to the bathroom every single day I would feel constipated. You have to start where you’re at but gut health is kind of an overall health. If I have a lot of things going on, I might just be used to it. I might think it’s normal to feel full and be constipated and bloated and feel gassy and feel like I have to unbutton my pants but that’s not really that normal.

There are a lot of things you could do, sometimes it is just a matter of figuring out. Is it because I drink a lot of carbonated beverages? I drank seltzer water all day, chewing a lot of gum. Sometimes I found this happened when I was doing a lot of protein shakes. I was using the blender and there was just a lot of air. I was feeling all that combination of a lot of seltzer water, a lot of gum, a lot of water in general, and a lot of blended protein shakes was making me feel not good and my digestion told me so. 

Taking care of your digestion also means listening to your body and figuring out if there is something that I’m eating that does not agree with me. Am I maybe drinking too much water while I’m eating? That sometimes happens too. Maybe you could drink the water before or after your meal. You could figure out, do I want to try digestive enzymes? Do I want to try probiotics? Do I want to add some fermented foods? I want to narrow down what is happening rather than rely on Pepto Bismol, or Tums every night or Prilosec or Zantac, to treat the symptoms. To treat something that maybe I could get ahead of because if my digestion is not really working I probably am not actually getting all of the nutrition from my food. In that state, my body’s not going to burn body fat. 

I want to focus on my gut health. It helps me sleep better, it helps me think better, it helps me stay healthier all year round. The amount of information that’s come out in the last 5 to 10 years about microbiome and our gut health is amazing. How much of our overall health is tied to our gut is just mind blowing. Listening to your body does take time. Sometimes we just assume what is happening is normal. Some of the stuff like feeling bloated, feeling full, constipated, gassy, that’s not normal. 

9) Move every day. 

I don’t mean that you have to go to the gym every day or you have to work out every day or you have to do something rigorous every day. Many of us sit a lot in front of a computer. It would be really helpful to schedule a time to get up, away from your desk, to walk around, to go for that walk, and to use your calendar to plan your gym time. Movement doesn’t necessarily have to be about an aggressive workout but getting more steps and getting more movement overall is good for you. 

They say that sitting at your desk is the new smoking. I don’t know if it is that traumatic. For me, walking is my go to. When the weather is not good or it’s dark out or too cold or too hot, I use my rebounder. I also schedule in strength training. I’ve been really good about twice a week. I think for 2024 I’m going back to three times a week. 

Moving everyday doesn’t mean I have to do a high intensity workout. I just want to make sure I get in my steps. That I get off my ass and I walk around. Set your alarm on your phone, if every hour on the hour, you can walk around for 5 or 10 minutes. That way, at the end of the day you got in maybe 15 minutes of walking.

10) Plan ahead 

For weekend social events, business travel, or anything that takes you out of your normal routine. I think what generally happens with weight loss is that we all do really well Monday through Friday, or when things are quiet. There’s no parties, there’s no holidays, there’s no vacations. There’s no one else in charge of the luncheon or the business presentation or what have you so we can stick to a plan only when things are calm or quiet or normal or routine. 

Life is full of unexpected events and obligations that for whatever reason, your job or your family, you have to go to these places. There are some things that you also do have control over. You don’t have to go out to every social occasion if you really don’t want to. But if you do enjoy parties and socializing and eating out, you absolutely can still lose weight, you just want to have a plan. 

The more you get into planning, the easier this gets. You do understand at the Italian restaurant there are the kinds of things I tend to order because it’s easy, I like them, and it doesn’t make me seem like a weirdo with 300 requests. These are the restaurants or the kinds of foods I do like to splurge on or these are the kinds of restaurants and foods I will not splurge on because I don’t like them. We start to become our future self where it doesn’t matter. 

If I have a party or a meeting or a vacation. 

  • It doesn’t mean that I just become a different person,
  • I have to eat all the things, 
  • Drink all the things,
  • Do something that actually goes against what my goals are, 
  • What I stand for, 
  • What my standards are, 
  • Where I’m going, 

It doesn’t have to all fall apart. 

I think a lot of women, whether they have these social events or business travel, sometimes feel like that on the weekend, right? Well, my kids have sporting events, then this one has ballet and then the art class. And then yeah, so what? What does that mean? Why can’t you eat how you want to eat? Or do we just get into this cycle of  I was good all week, or I deserve a break, or everybody else is eating it? We have to really be able to be honest with ourselves, and also plan for the things that you do really like. 

There’s nothing wrong with eating pizza. There’s nothing wrong with eating ice cream, just so long as you’re actually choosing it, you’re actually enjoying it, and you’re not letting it get in your head that, I’ve ruined everything. Then we just kind of Oh, on Monday, I have to restart, I have to get back on track. We want to break that cycle. 

You can absolutely do that by planning ahead. What does that mean? It means in writing, what things can I control? How do I want it to go? I sometimes use the example because I get it, you’re going to say well, I won’t know. How will I know what they’ll have? I won’t know what restaurant it is. Think about it this way. You know what babies eat or what your kids eat, and you were taking them to the business meeting or the vacation or the restaurant. Would you just say oh, whatever happens, happens, my baby only eats baby formula or eats peanut butter and jelly or what have you? Would you just say oh, well, they only have steak tartare, they only have vodka? So that’s what you’re gonna do? No, you would obviously figure out what it is that your baby or your child or you need or want. That’s all it really is, is just figuring out what it is that you need or want. It does not matter what other people need or want. You would figure it out. 

If you want to;

  • lose weight, 
  • reduce stress, 
  • reduce inflammation, 
  • reduce all this drama, 

part of that does have to be you advocating for yourself. 

We’re not going to get less stress, more health, less inflammation, less mind drama, just because we hope other people will figure it out for us. They won’t. They don’t care. Everybody just cares about themselves. Not because they’re not not caring or because they hate you. People don’t know what you want. That’s okay. Nobody has to know. You can plan for anything, you can. Then you can have a plan A, you can have a plan B, you can have a Plan C, because a lot of times our plans don’t go as planned.

I want you to be able to enjoy your weekends without feeling like you’re throwing it all away or that you have to get back on track every Monday. We want to break up that cycle so that we can actually enjoy foods without guilt, without shame, and figure out the things that we do want to include in the things that we don’t want to include. That is how you are going to lose weight. Not just in 2024 but beyond that weight loss journey where you lose it, and it’s easy to keep off.

I know you’ve probably lost weight before and the issue was we didn’t keep it off because we did something that was not sustainable. We went out and suffered through business dinners and vacations. We ate the salad and we drank the seltzer water. We were pissed, resentful, hungry and it doesn’t have to be that way. 


Bonnie Lefrak is a Life & Body Transformation Expert and Founder of Self Made, a program designed to help you tackle the physical aspects of health and weight loss as well as the beliefs and thoughts that drive our habits and behaviors. It is her goal to help women create certainty in their own lives, their own results, and their own abilities.

Weight loss is not about the one “right” diet – it is about MUCH more than that. Weight loss is not about the one “right” workout. Weight loss is not about being positive and putting a big smile on.

Weight loss is about FEELINGS. All of them. Not trying to bury them or hide from them but knowing and allowing the full human experience. Weight loss is not about grinding hustling and will powering your way to some end line. Transformation (when done well) is done from the inside out.

By addressing both the physical and mental aspects of dieting and weight loss, she has coached thousands of women ages 30-55+ from all over and helped them ditch the mindsets that are holding them back, achieve permanent weight loss, and get the bangin’ body of their dreams.

Bonnie is an expert at Demystifying weight loss. She helps you u****k your diet brain. She is on a mission to help women love themselves, to find PEACE in the process of losing weight, taking care of themselves, and leveraging the power they do have to become who and want they want right now.

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