“Lordy, Lordy, look who’s 40!” was the saying of my mother’s generation. There was this notion that life changed forever once you turned forty. That you had crossed over a particular threshold and were leaving your youth behind forever.
But then things changed…as one generation of women celebrating their fortieth year of life morphed into the next, something new happened. All of a sudden, magazines started telling us how to be “Fabulous after Forty” as if that change was still there but now there was the possibility of making it better, easier, more exciting even.
So, what does actually happen after forty? Yes, there are physical changes after forty that are undeniable, not to mention the psychological ones. However, turning forty is not the downhill battle that was once the horror of generations past. The reality is, that in this day and age it is possible to be fulfilled after forty which is even more fabulous than anything else!
Physical Changes After Forty
Okay, so we can’t deny it…there are physical changes that happen. There’s the weight that seems to glue itself to your body in a way that it never did before. For some reason, it becomes harder to get the results you were used to before the clock turned. Exercising and watching your nutrition becomes more even important because once you pack on those first few pounds too. Strangely, it doesn’t seem to want to leave often, no matter how hard we try.
In other ways though, it’s about listening to your body. As your body starts to slowly tell you what it can no longer tolerate. For many women, becoming lactose intolerant or developing allergies to gluten begin to occur. This is not a fad or a trend, it is actually a known fact that the body becomes less able to tolerate some of the things that it did before. This goes for spicy foods as well. Often, those spicy foods seem to want to make a second entrance long after your meal is done. This is why it’s important to listen when your body is speaking to you and respect it’s need for change if indeed that is what it is saying.
The same is true for exercise. It’s important to do workouts that you enjoy. If you are simply working out just for the exercise, you find that your motivation is lacking. Especially when it becomes harder to obtain the results that once seemed so easy. So, make sure to choose exercise options that you actually love doing just for the sake of being outside, getting your body moving or hanging out with friends.
All of the reasons make it so much more fun! Also, you may find that you need to stretch more than you did when you were younger in order to avoid injuries and general soreness. Again, not a bad thing just an adjustment.
One of the physical changes that seem to plague many women the most though, is the appearance of grey hair, age spots and fine lines. Forty seems to be the catalyst for showing you all the damage you have done to your body over the years. Stress shows up as grey hair, sun damage as wrinkles and age spots. All of a sudden, it takes you over an hour to get yourself looking good when it used to take only twenty.
I won’t deny that it can definitely take a toll on one’s self-esteem. However again, this is where we need to use our forty years of wisdom to make the right choice. Because, you really only have two choices when this begins to happen. Resist or work these changes into your life.
To resist, is a decision based in fear and if we have learned anything in our forty years, we all know that those are not our best decisions. What we need to do is learn to move with the current. To shift and adjust with the winds of change. Decide how you want to live the next few decades of your life. If it’s important to you, then color your hair and get the Botox. If it’s not, then embrace the evidence of wisdom in the lines of your face and in your body.
It doesn’t matter which direction you choose, just choose your path for the right reasons. These are incredibly personal decisions and not ones that we should ever judge each other for. As women, we are well aware of how we were as girls…not always as supportive as we could have been. So perhaps at forty, our biggest physical change should be in our choice of words. May we be open to each other’s choices and embrace all of our differences as we journey through this new era together.
Psychological Changes After Forty
We spend our whole lives trying to get to know ourselves. Aiming to find our passion and true path in life. Often when we are younger we believe with certainty that we know what this path is. But everything is black and white then and often we make mistakes without even realizing it.
Then, for many of us there is an awakening of sorts at forty. Sometimes, it begins a few years prior but only just faintly. Just an inkling of despair or unrest beneath a carefully crafted surface. These feelings grow and as any forty-year-old woman will tell you… if you have them, they do not go away.
It can be a challenge to find that missing link in your life. For some women they can become so caught up in their head that they begin to miss out on what’s happening right in front of them. If you find yourself in this group, know that once again it’s a time to stop the noise and listen. Listen to what your mind is telling you and take action to create change.
Some of us will need to change careers, others will need to end or begin new relationships or move to a new city. Take up a new hobby or one that you let go many years ago.
Forty is a time of psychological realization. A time when everything you have been searching for all these years (either consciously or unconsciously) is knocking at the door. It’s up to you to answer and feel your way through these emotions in order to feel at peace again.
One of the great things about turning forty is the sense of self that we begin to have. Often a feeling of certainty about who we are and how we will choose to continue our lives becomes very apparent.
Whether we no longer tolerate drama or toxic people in our lives or we simply choose to be ourselves with no apologies. Turning forty is the opportunity to release the things that no longer serve us and move forward into a time of confidence and true happiness.
Fulfilled After Forty
I truly believe that forty is about the beginning of fulfillment. Whether you feel fulfilled because you make changes in your life or because you finally learn to appreciate the little moments along the way, it doesn’t matter. Forty is a time of coming in to who you really are and living your best life. It’s about accepting that your best life is not anyone else’s. Not your family, your friends or anyone else who has given their advice or judgement so freely over the years.
Forty is an incredible time in a woman’s life because it’s when she has the wisdom to make better choices and the desire to make herself happy before anyone else. Yes, I said it. Before anyone else. Even her children. This is somewhat of a controversial statement but even for those of us who do “live for our children”, there is still great value in making yourself happy first.
Just by taking a little time for yourself and you will in turn, be a better mother, a better spouse, a better friend, daughter and sister. It is not wrong or shameful to be fulfilled but in fact, it is necessary.
Women take on so much throughout their lives that eventually the need for space and personal freedom is no longer able to wait. To be fulfilled after forty is to ensure that you are on the right path for you. The path that leads to your happiness. Because once you become the person you’ve always wanted to be, you will in turn become the best version of yourself for the people that you love.
So, what does fulfillment look like to you? Is it starting the non-profit that you’ve always dreamed of? Volunteering at a shelter? Doing yoga in the forest every weekend? Taking a cooking class or hosting a party? The fact is that it doesn’t really matter what fulfillment looks like to you because we are all different and our dreams are as unique as we are.
For some of us, we will make big choices like a career change or a move across the continent. Others might be happy with the simple joy of reading a book on a park bench or joining a running group every Sunday morning and working towards an eventual marathon.
The most important thing however, is to listen to yourself in the quiet moments. Listen to your heart and follow it. Your heart is wiser than it has been in all your forty years, so listen closely, she won’t lead you astray.
Fabulous After Forty
Fashion will tell you that being fabulous after forty is about wearing the right outfit and having the right makeup. And maybe on some days it is exactly that. But on most days, being fabulous is about celebrating the culmination of everything that has brought you to this point. It’s about knowing that you made the best decisions that you could have with the knowledge that you had at the time. And then honoring this notion because it is part of your story.
After that, you can move forward with this wisdom behind you and towards the second part of your life, with a renewed sense of purpose and joy. Life is beautiful and you are a part of it. That is what being fabulous is all about. Be it after forty or even before!
A très vite!