In my weight loss practice, I primarily see women who are over 40. And within this group, there are two types of clients I usually see:

1. Women who have been overweight most of their adult life and have tried many different diets without success.

2. Women who have been slim all their life and then suddenly in their 40s, 50s or even 60s they start to notice the weight creeping up. Sometimes it accumulates very quickly.

This article is about the second group.

What's the reason for sudden weight gain in your 40s and above?

Firstly, we should be sure to exclude medical causes. This means visiting your family doctor for a consultations and getting tested, especially for thyroid problems. This can be a cause if weight gain in a small minority of women.

But for most women (and even the women with medical reasons) the following causes will also be at work:

1. Slowing metabolism.

For all of us, as we get older, our metabolisms slow. This means that we require less food as we get older. In fact, a woman in her 50s may require 400 fewer calories than a woman in her 20s. This means over time, even if we are eating the same amounts, we might still gain weight.

2. Menopause

Despite popular opinion, menopause itself doesn't cause weight gain. But what does happen in menopause is that womens' body shape changes. Before menopause, most women carry their fat in their hips and thighs. After menopause the distribution of fat changes so that more is stored in the abdomen.

On a practical level, many women notice that their jeans or trousers feel tighter around the waist. This can be misinterpreted as because of increased weight.

3. Creeping bad habits

Over time, it's very easy for bad habits to creep in. The fact is, that even small changes in daily calorie intake can have a large effect over time. You might think nothing of that extra bar of chocolate you have in the afternoon, but over a year, it could add up to many pounds of extra weight.

These three factors can tip the balance in someone who was previously slim. But on the positive side, you don't need to be a victim. Recent changes can be easy to reverse if you take action now.

1. Your first weapon is awareness. Be aware of what you are eating. What habits have crept into your life and don't really contribute the enjoyment that justifies the calories?

2. Make small changes. Don't do anything drastic. It's very tempting to make big changes to try and get quick results, but these are usually very hard to maintain. It's much better to make changes that you know you can stick to.

3. Stay active. Increasing your levels of physical activity is more than just going to the gym. It can also include walking more, doing more things around the house and taking up hobbies like dancing and cycling. Anything that makes you more active is good.

Most of all, it's important to take a long term perspective and be patient. If you gained weight over a year, then don't expect to lose it all in a few weeks. Take your time. You are going to be maintaining your weight for the rest of your life, so treat it like a long term activity.

It can be very worrying to notice that your weight has suddenly gone up over a short period of time. But rest assured there are others who have been through this and have turned things around. You can too.

Author's Bio: 

Do you want to know how to lose weight without dieting? Get the free eBook at Doctor K Weight Loss

Dr. Khandee Ahnaimugan (Dr. K) is a medical doctor, weight loss expert and author of the book "Slim and Healthy without Dieting". He provides behavioral weight loss therapy programs to help women over 40 lose weight without dieting.