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Getting Fit After 40: Why is the Scale Not Moving?

You’re reducing calories and eating smarter. You’re getting some exercise every day. Why is the scale not moving? 

I get this question regularly in the Fit Found Me Weight Loss Challenges. What I have learned on my journey to getting in shape after 40 is to throw the scale out the window!

View of lower body standing on a scale.

The Scale Lies!

Did you know I was 140 lbs when I wore size 8-10 pants? Did you also know I am currently 140 lbs and wear size 2-4 pants? This is how I know the scale cannot be trusted!

Depending on your fitness level, weight, and body composition, you may see the scale move as you lose fat. But it’s also possible your target weight isn’t what you will end up with. 

I would love to be 130 again, but I don’t think that will ever happen. Why? Because I have much more lean muscle on my body than I did when I weighed 130. And muscle weighs more than fat.

A thin lady taking a dumbbell from a rack of weights.

Losing weight after 40 is different than it was in our 30s, and it can be a bit tricky. If you’re struggling with the scale not moving, let’s go through a few tips for getting fit at 40 (and beyond!) to make sure you are maximizing your weight loss efforts.

Getting Fit After 40: Understanding Macros

Before I got serious about getting fit after 40, I didn’t even know what a macro was. If you are also scratching your head right now, no worries, you are about to understand.

Macros give you a deeper level of detail when tracking the calories you are eating. All food can be categorized into one of three macros – protein, carbs or fats. If you aren’t using a calorie/macro tracker such as MyFitnessPal, it could be very difficult to get a clear picture of your daily intake. Not all calories are created equal.

There is a chance you are defeating yourself by not eating enough, or even eating the wrong calories. Eating the wrong calories is easily done if all you are doing is counting calories. 

Maybe you are eating 80% carbs. I love carbs and if I were only counting calories that could easily be me right now. But eating 80% carbs, even when you stay within your calorie goals, can hinder your weight loss and fitness progress.

Chicken burrito bowl with rice and veggies.

Macros are so important, you could be doing everything else right except macros and still not see the scale move. Keep in mind, eating the right calories is just as important as how many calories you eat.

A good ratio of macros is 40% protein, 40% carbs and 20% fats. Within those macros, you should also think about quality. Focus on lean protein, healthy fats and complex carbs.

Getting fit after 40 can require a lot of changes, which is why I try to walk you through them slowly in my 30 day weight loss challenge. It’s really not something you have to change overnight, but I do encourage you to make the changes within a few weeks.

Still not quite sure about the macros? Read more about calculating macros.

Exercise When the Scale is Not Moving

Have you been walking every day without seeing the scale move? It is absolutely awesome that you have been so dedicated and committed to losing weight by walking daily. You are not wasting your time, but there are some things you might want to do a little differently.

Our bodies are much like my teenagers – they look for an easy way out. Our muscles get used to the same movements and are stagnant. To tone muscles, we must break them down with challenging exercises and allow them to rebuild. Weight lifting over 40 is important to create strong, toned muscles. 

No, you won’t start looking like a bodybuilder, I promise.

I had that fear before I began lifting weights. But trust me, strength training for women over 40 is essential. You can read about my experience with strength training and my awesome results.

Strength training can be lifting 5 lbs weights, it doesn’t have to be 25 lbs to make a difference.

Here is a great beginner full-body strength training workout to do a couple of times a week:

So, while walking has its place in our program (give this 30-day walking plan a try!), you also should be doing regular strength training.

Try Not to Get Discouraged When the Scale Doesn’t Move

At some point in your getting in shape after 40 journey, you will get to your ideal weight – though it may not be the number you expected on the scale. You will feel happy, strong and healthy and your clothes will fit the way you want them to. 

Even after that happens, you may still see some changes in your clothing size and body composition. I have been at this weight for a few years and my body has continued to change shape as my muscle tone increases.

Sometimes you just have to forget about the scale not moving!

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