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5 Pillars to Healthy Living After 40

Healthy living changes when you reach 40 and beyond.  What you could eat, do, & try in the past, doesn’t seem to work the same way.  As you go through perimenopause and enter menopause, your body changes and needs different support.  These five pillars of healthy living are where you start.

As you move into midlife, you are aware of how your life is changing.  Your kids are growing up and out. Your job is stable. You have achieved many of your goals. You are finding the crazies of your 20’s and 30’s are changing as your priorities and outlook on life change. You see that your life is ready for a little focus on you and on the meaning your life has, but your body and mind aren’t cooperating.

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Now is your time. You have given to your family and your job. Your kids are wanting and moving on toward freedom and their own lives. Now you can focus on you: enjoying life, learning for enjoyment, finding fulfillment, and glimpsing peace.  However, your body isn’t cooperating. You are waking with aches you didn’t have before.  You stay up a little later and you pay for it the next couple of days. You are more tired and need more sleep, yet you wake at 3:00 a.m., mind alert and ready to go until right before your alarm. The exercise you have been doing for years is feeling painful and boring.  Now that you can go and do on your own schedule, your get-up-and-go is nowhere in sight.

When this happens focusing on The 5 Pillars of Healthy Living can help you bring back your mojo and energy.  You can feel better than you did in your 30’s.  It doesn’t have to be hard.

The 5 Pillars of Healthy Living after 40

1. Support – Don’t Go It Alone

During your first 20+ years of adulthood you just ‘lived’.  You didn’t have to worry about healthy living, you just worked and lived.  However, a few pounds have crept on. How did your pant size get to be that! You have tried making changes, but nothing seems to work.

While working with my clients, I have discovered the key to making lasting changes – don’t go it alone.  Anytime you focus on a change, there are hurdles and bumps along the way. Life gets in the way.  It is easy to lose motivation and determination.  When you are going it alone, it is easy to let the priority of you, the priority of healthy living, go. This one bite. This one night. This one sleep. But don’t they just lead into two, three and more times?

You deserve to have support, a “BFF” if you will, helping you through the road mines of making little changes to your health.  You have accomplished and worked hard all of your life.  You still need to, but at least you can have that ear, guidance, and savvy of a healthy living guide, so you don’t have to research it and figure it all out on your own.

Aren’t you ready for a healthy living companion?  You deserve one.

2. Food – Nourish Your Changing Body

Remember when you could eat whatever you wanted, and your jeans fit anyway?  Now you look at dessert and your belly swells.  The bloating seems to come on no matter what passes your lips.  You have tried different diets, but they are all too hard. You are tired of depriving yourself, but your metabolism seems to have slowed.

Overweight is not the problem, it is a symptom of imbalances in your body. Starting with changing what you put in it is the key to food.  It is adding in the good, so you aren’t hungry for the junk. Controlling blood sugar swings can be easier than you think.

You start where you are and make small changes to what you eat, adding in nourishment for your body and mind in ways that become a part of your day instead of a chore.  Remember the lose 10 pounds in a week schemes rarely work especially when you are over 40. Even if they do, the weight comes right back on. It is critical to focus on small lasting changes from where you are right now.  Over time, the changes nourish your body and allow it do its job of balance and weighing what is right for you.

3. Sleep – Let Your Body Refresh and Restore While You Rest

You are a busy woman and sleep seems to be a luxury, but let me tell you it is not.  Sleep plays a critical function in your body.  Think about it, why would God create you to need 7-8.5 hours of sleep (1/3 of your day) if it wasn’t a critical part of healthy living?  He even rested on the 7th day.

Sleep is restorative to your body.  The body needs time to repair its cells and organs.  It does this during sleep.  Your brain, which is the largest energy user, needs a way to drain all of the toxins that build up during the day.  Think about it…when you don’t get enough sleep, what is the first thing that feels off? Your brain…you have brain fog, things seem heavier and harder, you want to eat junk carbs for energy.  Your brain has not had time to restore.

I have found when working with clients, if sleep is not addressed, the rest of the things you do for healthy living aren’t as beneficial.  You are fighting yourself.  Sleep, how much you need and when, needs to be determined and worked toward because sleep is one of the first things that gets messed up with hormonal imbalances of peri- and menopause.

4. Movement – Giving Your Body Natural Movement

Exercise is good but it is a stressor to your body. The constant, low-grade stress of living hard has built up in your body affecting your cortisol and adrenal functions.  Exercising too much can actually cause more problems for your body.  Spending time to figure out what movement is right for your body is critical to allowing your body to function optimally.

If you aren’t exercising, starting with small steps is how you begin. If you have been exercising hard, then trying to let some of that go to let your body relax may be the key.

Moving in natural ways throughout the day can be fun when you find little ways to incorporate it in your daily life.

5. Self-care – Treat Yourself Like a Queen

I could go on and on about this one. The women I know have put their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual care behind those they love for many years. When your children leave home, embrace this as the time to take care of you. No, that doesn’t mean plopping in front of the tv every night for mind numbing shows.  It means purposely figuring out what renews your mind, what refreshes your body, and what calms your spirit? Then making time for it and banishing guilt.

Self-care can be so much fun, but it isn’t just to baby yourself. The goal is to allow your body to relax and restore, so it can be healthy, allowing you, at this time in your life, to then move toward a new career, go out and volunteer to make the difference you always wanted, travel and see the world, or find a new, closer relationship with God. When you take care of yourself, you then can give and enjoy more for a fulfilling life.

How to Embrace the 5 Pillars?

It can seem overwhelming and daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.  Embracing the last four pillars can be easy when you have the support and encouragement of a confidante and companion on the journey.  Taking time to make changes allows you to embrace and enjoy your midlife. Move into your empty nest life with your mojo and vibrancy. The second half of your life can be a fulfilling and exciting time for your to grow mental and spiritually while not growing out of your jeans when you realize that what your body needs is different now than when you were in your 20s and 30s.

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  1. heidi says:

    Sounds like a great program. I have been going through the Hormonal issues myself for a few years now. How you approach eating and exercise does change for sure.

    • Karen says:

      I am really excited because I know that I can help make a difference in women’s lives just by helping them make small, easy changes to eating, sleeping, moving and self-care. Hope you are able to make great changes for your hormonal health.

  2. I’m big on self care as well and being intentional about it. It can be a struggle but we really have to be creative to make it happen. Number 4 is a big one that I hadn’t thought about. Finding an exercise routine that works with your body. I think I stumbled into it accidentally. I love Pilates and it’s one that just seems to work for me. Too much jumping an high intensity workouts don’t work as well for me. Great tips. Definitely some things I need to think about as I head to 40.

    • Karen says:

      Yes self-care is so important but creativity can make it happen and then you have more energy because of it. So glad you found pilates and that it works for you. It makes a big difference to do what your body wants. Keep on your journey of health.

  3. Cara says:

    Sleep is so important, no matter the age. I can always tell the difference even in my children on nights where they don’t get as much, so I know getting enough zzz’s is so crucial!

    • Karen says:

      We forget that we need support. It is hard enough fighting ourselves, as it feels and when no one is there for it, it makes it even harder. Who is your support, Samantha

  4. Ilka says:

    Banishing guilt about taking care of yourself is the one of the most important lessons we have to learn as women and as moms. I’m a true believer that if you take care of yourself and your well being you also take care of your family at the same time.
    Kids, young and even older ones need healthy parents!

    • Karen says:

      So true, Ilka. We need to be good role models for our kids. Don’t we want our kids to take care of themselves? If we don’t, what does that tell them. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. What great tips, Karen. One of the things that changed my life (literally) was to think in terms of nourishing my body (rather than depriving it). Funny thing, over time I lost any added weight, and have maintained my ideal weight for over a decade now. Easily and painlessly. Now, when I think of a snack, etc., my first thought is, what will give my body what it needs to go on? Which plays into that self care too.
    Love this!

    • Karen says:

      Susan, you are such and inspiration. It is true, deprivation never works, or if it does, only temporarily. I love how you treat your body part of my mission is to teach women this exact sentiment, nourish your body with food, sleep, movement and self-care.

  6. This year, I have made movement a priority in my life. I walk daily and try to do it multiple times a day. If it is too hot, I will actually just pace throughout the house. Also, I try and stand about ever 20 minutes.

  7. Oh yes, having just crossed over into my 40s, I can definitely tell that my body’s needs are changing. Just yesterday I decided to distance myself from some toxic personalities from a self-care perspective. As Danny Glover said in Lethal Weapon, “I’m getting too old for that ____.” 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Keep walking and doing yoga. Take a look at which area you are neglecting and add one small thing in when you can to keep moving forward on your health journey.

  8. Tamuria says:

    Wonderful tips, Karen. I could truly identify with the changes you mentioned. I resisted and tried to ignore the changes to my body when I first started noticing them. Now I’m trying to be a bit kinder to myself and I’m making gentle changes to enhance my physical and mental wellbeing.

  9. Sabrina Quairoli says:

    Great tips! I rediscovered my love of sleep. Apparently, I was dealing with lower back pain and could sleep past 6 hours for the past 8 months. I went to a chiropractor and my podiatrist and found out that I had an issue with my foot which was creating the lower back issues and, as a result, having issues sleeping long periods of time. Go figure. So happy I can sleep 7.5 hours now. My deep sleep has increased. Yay. It’s so great having a watch that monitors sleep. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Reba Linker says:

    I love your 5 pillars for healthy living after 40. It’s true about ‘looking at dessert’ makes me put on weight now when I could eat SO much as a teen and not gain an ounce – and lose weight if I wanted to so easily. Boy, what a difference a day – or a decade or two – makes! lol. Each o f your pillars was spot on.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks for your comment, Reba. Metabolic chaos starts happening after the years of not eating the best. Keep working on small changes to these pillars to keep yourself as healthy as possible.

  11. Having been extremely unhealthy in most of my 40’s, I can honestly say that I am healthier now than I have ever been. Age is not a reason to be unhealthy. All of your tips make sense for us to embrace at all ages, based on my experiences, Karen. The irony is that as I get older and crave sleep, it has become more of a challenge for me than when I was younger. There are many contributing factors and it’s important to remember not everything is happening only on a physical level. We go through biography cycles and many of the things that ‘happen’ on a physical level, are rooted in other areas of our life that are asking for us to examine them and to change. Oh to sleep effortlessly as a baby! Of all your tips that is the one I am constantly tweaking to find the magic formula that works for me. 🙂 All the best with your upcoming challenge too!

    • Karen says:

      You are so right Beverley, there is so much in play in our lives that affect us physically. I am so happy you are feeling better now that you used to. Keep tweaking your sleep. As you know, it isn’t a destination but a continual journey.

  12. Teresa Salhi says:

    Ooh la la…love the pillars and I have learned to practice these things for overall well -being at any age. And, I also believe in a woman being in a Queen, I even have success coaching for women modeled around this idea. Wonderful info here, thanks so much!

  13. I reached 77 years young using these pillars without actually describing them. I fall asleep with ease. Have energy all day long, live a varied life that I love. Health is good only I could focus on weight loss & body movement.
    Good luck with your program.

  14. Alene A Geed says:

    these are great tips for those of us who wish we could still get into those skinny jeans! I appreciate your comment about not going it alone. My husband and I started a healthy eating program and diet recently and it is SO nice that we both want the same things. Gone are the pastas and pizzas that used to be a regular part of our diet. I feel better and better every day

    • Karen says:

      Alene, that is awesome that you and your husband can support each other in your journey. I rarely miss pasta or pizza. My tastes buds have changed so much. I know you will continue to feel better with your changes and the support of each other.

  15. Hi Karen,
    What an excellent post! I was nodding my head as I was reading about these “pillars” and totally understanding how important it is, at this time in my life, to do what I need to do to feel as good as I can right now 😉 These are on point, thank you!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you for your support and words of encouragement. These are critical and many of know it but it is so hard to make sure all pillars are being given time in our busy schedules.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joan, thanks for your support and words of encouragement. Many of know these are the pillars but we find it so hard to incorporated them in our busy lives in a way that benefits us the most.

  16. Angela @marathonsandmotivation.com says:

    Great post! All very important reminders…I struggle with the “Rest” but I am working on trying to get more sleep. Thanks for sharing at Sunday Fitness & Food 🙂

  17. I absolutely love all of these. One of the things that made me sit up and take notice was a study that showed if you made no changes in your diet or activity levels, after the age of 30 you’d gain a pound a year. A pound a year doesn’t sound like much — until you’re 60 and suddenly you’re 30 pounds heavier. And you know as well as I do that a pound a year is mostly wishful thinking for the majority of us.

    • Karen says:

      Rachel, that is so true. Much easier to keep your health than to regain it. Keep doing the little things to live a healthy life and aging becomes so much more enjoyable. Thanks for commenting.

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