Guest Post: Why Women Need to Drop Their Mental Load After 40

By Jeannette Bessinger 

Women are more susceptible to the hormonal effects of stress than men. So if a man and a woman have to plan a vacation together or handle something challenging, like a problem with a child or an aging parent – even if they split the actual tasks down the middle, she will take on a higher “mental load” than he will, and produce more cortisol as a result.

We women produce cortisol at the drop of a hat, basically. Emotional overwhelm, fights, too much exercise, even traffic can send a cascade of it into our system  - with all its treacherous effects on everything from our sleep to our skin. No wonder so many of us reach for “expanding” foods like sweets, bread or wine to get some relief.

As long as our cortisol levels are chronically elevated, we can’t get our insulin down, and it gets really, really hard for the body to release any fat. When the onset of menopause hits the scene in our 40’s, our insulin levels increase even more AND our hormones start “hooking” the fat around the middle so we start developing the dreaded “menopot”.

So what do we do? Hit the scale every day and freak out? Reach for an even more punishing diet and pile on more exercise? If so, we just make the problem worse – by jacking our cortisol even more.

After 40 it becomes imperative for us to manage our stress better if we want to feel and look our best. But too many of us try to do this from the outside in – by tightening our grip on all those “stressors” even more. We firmly believe that if we can just manage the job, the partner, the kids – fill in the blank - we’ll finally be able to calm down.


Becoming a control freak has the same negative impact as dieting or hitting the gym harder: more cortisol, and more insulin – right at a time when our protective hormone estrogen is dwindling more and more every year.

Make no mistake, ladies, balancing your “stress system” is an inside job. 

If we want to feel great as we age, we’ve got to make some changes from the inside-out - in the ways we feed ourselves – not just what we eat, but when, and especially how. We’ve got to change the way we move our bodies, the way we handle our emotions, and especially the way we talk to ourselves.

The onset of middle age is a beautiful opportunity to begin to treat ourselves the way we’ve always longed to be treated – with gentleness, respect and tender care. If we can begin to make that change, guess what?

Our waistlines, our hair and our skin will respond. We can experience a second “bloom” of womanhood.

The MenoBoot – the Me Reboot is a program designed to help you get there, with a gentler approach to managing the shifting hormonal balance after 40:

In the meantime, try these tips to soothe a stressed-out system.

Slow Down When You Eat

  • Chew One Bite, Sip One Breath

Whatever it is you’re eating, just slow down. Try actually chewing one mouthful at a time and then pausing to take a full breath before your next bite. Repeat.

This little practice has remarkable health benefits, from improved digestion to a calmer mind.

Be Sweet with Yourself – for a change :)

  • Try walking at a gentle pace outside for at least 30 minutes a day. This lowers both cortisol and insulin levels, and being outside will help your mind settle. 
  • When you hear that voice in your head trash-talking the scale or the mirror – push back. That voice is like an evil twin who lives in your mind and you don’t have to listen to her. You can even say something like – “back off – I’m not gonna let you smack talk me. I deserve kinder treatment when I get upset…”


Are you ready for the reboot? In addition to the usual course, Jeannette will be hosting 2 live sessions at alayne white on October 10 and 17. Register today!


Jeannette Bessinger is a Board Certified Health Coach, an award-winning educator/speaker and author of multiple books featuring healthy eating. As the Clean Food Coach, her recipes and healthy lifestyle perspectives have been showcased in hundreds of speaking venues and media outlets, including Consumer Reports, the Washington Post, NPR, and NBC News. Designer of a long-running and successful, hospital-based, lifestyle change program and countless transformational workshops, Jeannette has helped thousands of people make lasting changes to deeply entrenched habits that no longer serve them.


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