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Updated: Mar 23, 2022

Exercise and nutrition become REAL TOOLS when you reach your 40s and you think at a good quality of life ahead.

It is that age were menopause seems still far away, and it absolutely is on the reproductive point of view – we can get pregnant and have babies - but all the hormonal and mechanical changes that will hit us in a decade are already happening.

It is that age were a woman still feels energetic and able to do anything she wants, but she starts feeling that “it is not exactly as it was before”, in terms of energy levels, endurance, performance.

And in terms of BODY COMPOSITION.

The body starts feeling a bit “different” and reacting differently: “I’m eating as I always did but I can’t avoid to put weight on…” “ My belly is loosing tone, and my arms start looking more like bat wings…” “I can’t stay up to watch a complete movie without falling asleep…”

Does it sound familiar?...

Peri- menopause can start around 40 years and the body DOESN’T REACT in the same way it did before! “When I was 20 I could eat without putting weight, now I put weight just looking at a piece of cake..”

And that’ a TRUTH.

Starting from the decade 40-50 is the time were we should start exercising thinking at the FUTURE, at the rest of our life: what kind of woman I want to be for the rest of my life?

And what kind of woman I want to be when I am 85? Independent, painting my living room or doing my own groceries, or spending my day on a chair (or a wheel chair) waiting for someone else to do things for me?

Because EXERCISE, together with good NUTRITION habits that sustain our physical engagement, is what will make the difference.

And it doesn’t matter how old we are NOW: being aware and informed about what happens to our bodies is a TERRIFIC tool.

Said that, today I start focusing on WEIGHT MANAGEMENT.

First of all: what does "weight management" mean?

"Weight management includes the techniques and physiological processes that contribute to a person's ability to attain and maintain a certain weight. Most weight management techniques encompass long-term lifestyle strategies that promote healthy eating and daily physical activity. Moreover, weight management involves developing meaningful ways to track weight over time and to identify ideal body weights for different individuals.

Weight management doesn't NECESSARILY mean weight LOSS. Not everyone (at all!) needs or wants to loose weight, and this is a VERY important point to understand.

Each of us has HER OWN UNIQUE physique, based on genetics, culture, life style.

What is really important to understand is that the goal should be finding our UNIQUE body balance, what allows us to live a healthy, fulfilled life.

So, learning HOW TO EAT correctly according to our body needs helps us to keep the body at its own healthy balance, also in terms of weight.

What I like to talk about in this first Blog are BEHAVIOURAL CHANGES, in my opinion what is the actual key to start with the right foot and achieve long terms results.

When the goal is to improve your eating habits or to change your body composition the temptation is to keep searching for the perfect meal plan, often NOT following professional advices from a Nutritionist or a Dietist, and the truth is that the majority of diets fail.

The majority of people who go on diets (like meal plans) wind up gaining back the weight they lost, and sometimes even more.

The reason why this can happen is because meal plans, especially if restrictive, tend to ignore some of the most significant realities about what, when, and how much you eat.

There’s so much more about food than counting calories and tracking macronutrients, or what exactly you put on your plate.

When it comes to food, there are things to consider such as:

• personal preferences

• financial resources, and food availability

• daily schedule

• needs and demands of other family members

In addition, food is not just fuel, but it’s:

• social

• celebratory

• comforting

• pleasurable

• an important part of many cultures

For many people, meal plans can cause a lot more harm than good for four big reasons:

1) Meal plans don’t take into account the importance of satisfaction and of eating foods that you really love, which is key for sustainability.

2) Meal plans can cause some people to classify foods and their own behaviors toward them as good or bad.

These points can be particularly harmful if a person has a history of dieting, restriction, or struggles with a scarcity mindset around food.

Any behaviour “off plan” leads to guilt or shame, bringing feelings of failure and frustration. Trust me…I’ve been there myself.

3) Meal plans can cause food fears and fixation, bringing a person to completely avoid a certain food group, like carbs for example, and especially from peri-menopause on, this can bring to important nutritional deficits. Of course there are situations where certain food needs to be avoided, but this is not the general rule.

By now you might be wondering, “But how can I get great results if I’m not following a meal plan or a specific diet?”

As always: starting from the basis.

Learning AT FIRST how to listen your body signals.

The key is to develop two nutrition skills that can actually change how you eat:

1. Eating when you’re hungry.

2. Stopping when you’re satisfied.

Now, these might sound very simple - ohoh, it is just "it"?... - but it isn’t.

When I’ve acknowledged it myself I just stopped and start thinking at my relation with food.

Me, like the majority of women, eat according to a schedule, or comfort eat, or mindlessly snack, or eat out of habit without every paying attention to whether or not they’re hungry.

How many time you eat because you “know” it’s time to eat and not because you actually feel the need?

Additionally, many women find themselves constantly stuffed and feeling guilty after a meal because they either couldn’t recognize that they were full, or they had anxiety around a specific food and they didn’t want to stop eating because they were worried they wouldn’t get that food again for a while.

So let’s try to focus on:


2) Things you’re doing that are causing you to override your satiety signal

3) Specific things you can start doing right away to help you notice and eat according to your satiety signal.

=> The first nutrition skill is learning to eat when you’re hungry.

Now, you may think that you’re already eating when you’re hungry, but what most people don’t realize is that there’s a big difference between APPETITE and HUNGER, and the two of them are often misunderstood.

Hunger is a physiological need.

Hunger is the signal we get from our body that tells when we need sustenance in the near future. Hunger is a sensation usually experienced as rumbling in the belly or an empty and hollow feeling in the body. Some people feel low on energy or have trouble concentrating when they’re hungry.

Appetite, on the other hand, is a psychological want.

Appetite is a desire from the mind that can be brought on by seeing or smelling food or by seeing other people eating. Appetite is the little voice that convinces you to order dessert even though you’re stuffed from dinner. People often joke about their “dessert tank,” which is basically a way of saying that there is always room for sweets, regardless of how much they’ve eaten. That dessert tank is owned and operated by your appetite, not your hunger.

To be clear, we all eat based on appetite some of the time, there is nothing wrong with this and it is an important psychological need to be considered.

But understanding what you’re experiencing, being aware of it, can be helpful in determining the choice you’d like to make.

If you know that you’re experiencing appetite, you can acknowledge that and then determine whether or not it’s really worth it to have what your appetite wants at that time: in other words you are ABLE TO MAKE A CHOICE.

Simply shifting your focus to start eating when you’re hungry — as opposed to eating based on appetite — will make a huge difference.

Learning to distinguish between hunger and appetite can be tricky at first and can take some practice.

Here a tip I'm using myself: if you experience a sensation, and you aren’t sure if it’s hunger or appetite, you may consider asking yourself, “Am I hungry enough to eat some protein and veggies?”

If the answer is yes, it’s likely hunger. Go ahead and eat!

If the answer is no, it’s probably appetite.

Many times I found myself “hungry”, especially about one hour before dinner time and in the evening, after dinner. And I’ve learned to control what I eat actually using this very simple trick. It works!!

Did you recently see or smell a food that sounds appealing? Are you bored or procrastinating? Can you wait 15 minutes to decide if it’s really worth it?

Here’s another thing to watch for: see if you typically experience appetite at the same time every day, such as when you’re watching TV after dinner, or while you’re into a particular activity, such as studying or working.

If you notice a trend or a habit, you can work to disrupt this cycle.

For example, if you typically experience appetite while watching TV in the evening, even though you just finished dinner, can you make yourself a cup of tea instead? Or engage yourself for a short time into something that brings your mind somewhere else, like reading a book or the news for example? Or can you move your dinner so that you’re eating a bit later and don’t have such a large window between dinner and bedtime?

Your first nutrition skill to start practicing is to focus on eating when you are hungry, being more selective about when you choose to eat due to appetite.

Now let’s talk about your second nutrition skill, which is eating only until you are satisfied.

Your satiety signal is a precious signal that you receive from your body, telling you when you’ve had enough to eat. However, many people consistently override their satiety signal without realizing it until it’s too late.

We risk overriding our satiety signal by eating when we’re distracted by our phone, computer, or TV. When we are distracted it becomes easy to go on autopilot during a meal, regardless of how much food we actually needed.

Additionally, people rush through their meals, which can also lead to overriding that satiety signal.

It takes at least 15 minutes for the signal from the stomach to reach the brain and tell us that we’ve had enough to eat, and how many times our lunch is done after 6-7 min already?....And we start feeling that "crave" about "something more".

The bottom line here is that when we’re rushing and distracted, we aren’t being mindful of what we need. It’s really easy to ignore the signal that says, “Hey! I’ve had enough!”

And here I can tell you my experience.

My trigger time during the day, as said, is about one hour before dinner, the “aperitivo” time.

There are many factors influencing me: I start to feel tired, I’m into the last duties of the day – cooking dinner to my family, putting my toddler to bed … - I need to actually wind up a bit…And of course my stomach is getting empty after a few hours without eating.

Honestly, I was used to eat ONLY some chips and crisp bread at that time. Together with my half glass of red wine….

After acknowledge about the different signals between hunger and appetite and after getting some tips from one of my best friends who is a great Nutritionist, I simply shifted into eating some carrots and fennels (fresh vegetables that I like) and some Parmigiano cheese, full of good proteins, AT FIRST.

By the time I can grab something else, being in any case involved into the last activities of the day, usually 10 min at least pass…And I definitely feel myself NOT AS HUNGRY AND CRAVING ANYMORE.

I eat my vegetables and I think that I can have some chips too, but after some time. And I feel the craving going away because the stomach doesn’t feel so empty anymore.

Sometimes I still have some chips because I really love the taste of them, but I definitely have way LESS than I was used before.

It’s not magic and it’s not an incredible will power: it’s just listening to body signals.

You can do several things to start increasing your awareness of your satiety signal.

First, take some time to eat more slowly. We realize that everyone is busy, but can you take the time to sit down to eat your meals? Which meals can you commit to sitting down for? Perhaps start by committing to just two or three meals per week: and during those meals try to be more mindful, feeling any difference in your body.

How to eat slower? Once you take a bite, set your fork down and stay present with the food that’s in your mouth before preparing another bite.

Think about it: how often have you put a bite of food into your mouth only to tee up another one immediately after?

Last, consider taking a mid-meal pause. Halfway through your meal, set your fork down and take a few deep breaths. Check in and notice how you’re feeling. Are you still hungry? If so, great! If not, consider saving the leftovers.


1) Put on your dish smaller portions. Consider serving yourself a little less than usual, knowing that you can always have more. When you finish this first portion, take 2 or 3 big breath and try to understand if you are actually still hungry or not really.

2) Restaurants can be particularly tricky because the food is usually really good, and the portions are larger than normal. Consider asking your server to box up half of your meal before they serve it to you, so that you can take the rest home. This help you avoid overeating, and you’ll have leftovers the day after!

3) Remember you can always save the leftovers for later. It’s important to get in touch with your satiety signal and heed that signal, whether you have 10 bites left on your plate, or only two bites. Practice resisting the urge to finish something just because there’s a little bit left.

There are also other signals that tell you if you are used to over eat or you are not: when you eat just until you are satisfied—and not overfed—you should feel good and energized. Feeling sleepy, sluggish, or like you need to sit or lay down are good indicators that you may have eaten too much at this meal. This is a good feedback signal to notice, and I encourage you to ask yourself if you can slow down a bit more at your next meal.

Remember: we want to feel good after our meals, not sick or stuffed or weighed down.

Starting from these two fantastic tools can help you tune in to what your body really needs: eating when you’re experiencing hunger and stopping when you’re satisfied.

And even if you need to actually start a restrictive diet because your goal or need is to loose body fat, this is the right foot to start with.

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