Strength exercise is absolutely imperative for women over 40, says Dr. Peeke. It’s at this time when muscle mass begins to decrease. “If you’re not paying attention, you’ll drop muscle incredibly fast,” she says. Forget going to the gym. She recommends popping in a workout DVD (like Fit After 40) that focuses on bodyweight resistance training, like squats, lunges, pushups, and burpees.
Drinking a daily cup of coffee or two alone isn’t going to magically make you drop a few sizes, but it might help a little. The caffeine in coffee increases your body’s energy use, even when you’re sitting on your butt, so you end up burning more calories after drinking it, the Mayo Clinic points out. The caffeine in coffee may also help you feel less hungry, lowering the odds you’ll overeat, the organization says.
Whether your reason for going vegetarian is ethical, environmental, or for health, one thing's for sure: weight loss can be a nice bonus. In fact, in that same study that evaluated vegan, vegetarian, and omnivorous diets, vegetarian diets were almost as effective as vegan—helping people lose 6.3 percent of their body weight compared to 7.5 percent in the vegan group in a half year. Bonus: perfection isn't necessary. Even if you fall off the wagon and break your diet (hey, it happens!) another study found that dieting vegetarians still lost more weight than dieting meat eaters.
Switch to Lighter Alternatives. Whenever you can, use the low-fat versions of salad dressings, mayonnaise, dairy products, and other products. "You can trim calories effortlessly if you use low-fat and lighter products, and if the product is mixed in with other ingredients, no one will ever notice," says Magee. More smart substitutions: Use salsa or hummus as a dip; spread sandwiches with mustard instead of mayo; eat plain roasted sweet potatoes instead of loaded white potatoes; use skim milk instead of cream in your coffee; hold the cheese on sandwiches; and use a little vinaigrette on your salad instead of piling on the creamy dressing.
I love this study because it examined a realistic lifestyle change rather than just a fad diet. Both groups, after all, were labeled as healthy diets, and they were, because study investigators encouraged eating high-quality, nutritious whole foods, unlimited vegetables, and avoiding flours, sugars, bad fats, and processed foods. Everyone was encouraged to be physically active at a level most Americans are not. And — this is a big one — everyone had access to basic behavioral counseling aimed at reducing emotional eating.
Take two high-powered diets—Mediterranean and DASH—and combine them for brain-boosting power. That's the idea behind MIND, a plan designed to help prevent Alzheimer's disease by focusing on foods like green leafy vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, and (hooray!) wine. That's why U.S. News & World Report just ranked MIND as the second best diet overall (tied with the TLC diet). They note that early research found MIND reduced Alzheimer's risk by as much as 53 percent.
"Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension" emphasizes fruits and veggies and slashes sodium, fat, and saturated fat. Cutting sodium can help minimize bloat, and eating more low-calorie, high-fiber foods is a bright idea for any woman who needs to fit into her skinny jeans. More than that, it's a heart-healthy way of eating that can keep blood pressure in check. So you'll feel good, too.