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Fit Over 40 – My Health Journey

Ever feel like you are battling time? Maybe you feel like you just can’t keep up or maybe you have goals you keep putting off for when “you have more time”. My friend, if you’re like me in the latter part, you’re not alone. As a mother to 8 children (2 in heaven), I know what it feels like to be in search of a pause button so I can take a breath or savor the moments before they’re gone. It’s time for my Fit Over 40 makeover because this mama isn’t wasting any more time. Take a look at me 4 months ago…my starting point.

Skinny Fat Larissa at 44 years old - Mother of 8 | #prodigalpieces #fitover40 #menopause #perimenopause

First Side View of Visceral Fat | Larissa of Prodigal Pieces | #prodigalpieces #fitness #women

I’m here today to share my journey to inspire you at whatever age you are. My changing point is at age 44. This person above is not the Larissa I know. Let’s start with the backstory.


First, I will try to keep this brief and to the point. However, there are so many facets to my story. Obviously, my age is a factor and that hormones are always present no matter what age you are. I’ve always been an active soul, like no grass grows under my feet whatsoever. Also, I’ve always been skinny (mind you I’m 5’10”) and have always had to eat throughout the day. I know, some may eye-roll, but I believe I am learning so much about my youth and adult journey that my gut was severely damaged with leaky gut. I was eating, but I wasn’t being nourished.

Also, during my pregnancies, I used to get so miffed because I would tell people I was 6, 7, or 8 months pregnant and they would go on and on at how I didn’t look pregnant. That’s what a long torso affords you though you still feel every bit pregnant as anyone else. Oh, and BTW, if you scroll up, that’s what I looked like at 7-8 months pregnant. Not cool because I’m not pregnant. ugh.

I’ve even written about my baby stories and our family journey of health in this past post. I’ve studied for many years how your gut is your second brain and is key to optimal health. Our kitchen consists of unprocessed foods primarily and focuses on whole eating, nourishing foods, and alternatives to grains since modern day grains are not as they used to be.


So, you may be wondering what got me to my skinny-fat stage and my Fit Over 40 goal? Yes, you can be skinny and obese at the same time. It’s all about what your body consists of. I knew that and saw the change happen in me after my last child was born. You see, she came 6 weeks early which led to a 3 week-long stay where I didn’t leave that hospital for a minute. (READ MORE HERE).

After all of my previous pregnancies with home births, I could zip right back into former-sized self and made sure to eat right and exercise. This time around, I couldn’t breastfeed like I had previously done for my older children. To make it worse, I was alone for 3 weeks and eating in the hospital cafeteria. Stress was abundant, my hormones were all over the place, and I caved into eating more sweets than I usually do.

However, after I got home, I went back to my regular diet, picked up a strong breastfeeding relationship (which benefits hormones and weight loss), but my body was responding like it always did for the most part. Toss in that I’m a homeschooling mama to 5 other children, a sole proprietor of my business and blog, and have a preemie to take care of. In addition, my marriage has been suffering for several years as well. I’m sure it’s not news to you that stress, lack of sleep, and lack of overall rest can add up to a party packing mama of the fat kind.


Next, that brings us to present day and my Fit Over 40 self-challenge. My littlest isn’t so little any longer, we’ve nearly completed the entire remodel of our home, and my health scare of possible strokes. If you’d like the full update on that, view my video below with further update HERE.

Ask Prodigal Pieces | A Blogger Interview by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces |

Thankfully, some major changes have happened thanks to God seeing fit to lift my load for my Fit Over 40 process. Over these last few years, I’ve been pushing to finish our home even on our debt-free budget so we can move. More on that HERE. I’ve known I should be working more on me and letting go of stress, but time kept ticking by. Finally, I set a goal for myself that by the time I turned 45, I want to be back to ME. No more stress eating, focusing on getting fit, and letting go. I began my journey giving myself 4 months to reach my goal. *NOTE: I am not a dietician, a nutritionist, or a health coach by trade, so my story is just that…my story.


Let the games begin! Okay, so I am aware that I am not a young whippersnapper anymore. To start, I began by just being smart about food choices. When I say I was stress eating, that meant maybe eating more fruit, more nuts, and occasionally a handful of chips, both potato and dark chocolate kind. As I mention before, my marriage is one of the hardest trials that relates to all my stresses. Now I am focusing on me and my health. At the beginning of this year, I was waiting to get news on some fronts that would determine my coming year as far as my business goes.

Many of you know that a year ago I lost ALL of my 100K followers on my social media because I was allowed to be hacked. Talk about a sucker punch to the gut. After many months, attorneys, and trials, I have to start over. That’s fine with me because I asked God to take away my burdens and that is definitely one of them. He knew I was struggling with walking away from it all because of income. I truly can’t stand SM (though I love chats with you guys!) and am working at being free. That’s the beginning of my journey.


Now for the fitness part of begin Fit Over 40… If you scroll up and look at my belly, you can see it is held in my workout pants. I literally looked like I was 7 months pregnant to me. I couldn’t see my feet when I look down and I was embarrassed. Many didn’t know of my issues because being tall makes it spread out. Notice I’m not saying weight. That’s because muscle weighs more than fat, and I aim to gain muscle so I’m looking at inches rather than pounds. However, I did want to get to my goal weight which includes muscle.

Since my 44-year-old self was out of shape, I take it slow. First, I want to run again, but my body isn’t ready. I begin by walking fast so that my heart rate is up and I pay attention to my pace. I don’t want to send myself to the ER, but just get my heart stronger. For the first few weeks I had to pause at times to catch my breath. Thankfully, I live in an area full of small hills that make it challenging, and I can push myself as I feel ready.

Once I feel like I can handle the fast walk, I begin jogging in intervals. This allows my body to catch up safely, but still working towards the goal. I found that my legs would be literally dragging because of my poor circulation. Sooooo not good. I have varicose veins and need this exercise to help. Eventually, I now run 2-3 miles at a time up and down hills. yay!


Also, during this time I begin doing exercises using my body weight. Some of the exercises are wall-sits (to prepare my knees), leg lifts, and a few arm workouts using planks and the like. I have shoulder injury and want to prevent issues there as well. An added bonus is friends of mine knew my bike was giving me fits, so they gifted this cute pink lady on my birthday!

Pink Schwinn Ladies Bike | #prodigalpieces


Likewise, my diet is still keeping with whole foods, pure meats, but little to no sugar (our family doesn’t use white sugar, but cane sugar in bits, but primarily using honey and syrup). I even watch my fructose intake to keep it below 20 g. Fructose is hard on the liver.

At this point, I take two months to build progress and read and read and read. I learn that in my picture above you have the subcutaneous fat on the top, followed by stomach muscle, and then under that, visceral fat (otherwise known as the devil). This visceral fat is the dangerous fat. It packs in around your organs and can even make them not function properly. For instance, it can impede gall bladder function causing you to lose use of it altogether. Meanwhile, it also affects liver and kidneys.

Fit Over 40 Protein Breakfast by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces | #prodigalpieces #women #diet #aging #fitover40

Also, I believe I am dealing with fatty liver issues and hormones as mentioned previously. Regularly, I take apple cider vinegar with a mother culture to ward off sicknesses, but this time around I’m consuming it daily when I first wake in the morning. This allows my liver to be relieved and prepare me for the blood sugars before I eat my meal. Additionally, I take probiotics and eat fermented foods for naturally gut-boosting health. See my recipes HERE.

Not only the cider vinegar, but also lemon or lime water with meals. On alternating days, I also take a tablespoon of coconut oil before I drink or eat in the morning. This helps to clean your liver. Initially, you’ll feel nauseous when your liver is detoxing, but eventually the reaction will be less and less. Just know your liver is key to optimal health as it’s your filter…for cancer, for toxins.


Also, after studying about using weightlifting to build muscle which also burns fat faster, I learn that I need more protein. While our family eats more protein than most, I do the math and I need more. When building muscle to be Fit Over 40 you need to pretty much match your intake in grams to your ideal body weight. That means before and after workouts I eat plenty of healthy protein, including clean meats grown from our local farmer without hormones, antibiotics, etc. Skip the protein shakes, bars, and all the other JUNK out there. They are not REAL FOOD.

Plus, as an aging woman, osteoporosis is a real deal. In my homeschooling with the kids, we’ve learned that when you put good strain on your bones, your body knows to build them up in that area. Weightlifting is a great way to build bone density to avoid common aging issues. Not only that, but it feels so good!

Larissa of Prodigal Pieces Using Weight Machine | #prodigalpieces

A couple of years ago I purchase a set of neoprene dumbbells so I could workout with my kids. However, I was nervous to injure my shoulder worse and so I began to see a chiropractor. That’s when my “stroke” issues began so I put it off. I wholeheartedly believe my eye issues were from lack of knowledge of my neurodiverse marriage as well as being raised by a Christian covert narc parent.


If you know me, I’m all about DIY, so I grabbed an 80’s waterbed frame from the curb and built myself a weight rack. No more of the universal plates causing me to trip or hurt my toes! If you want to build one too, the free plans are HERE.

Prodigal Pieces Curbside Haul for DIY Weight Rack| #prodigalpieces

Cutting Wood for DIY Weight Rack | #prodigalpieces

Building DIY Weight Rack from Reclaimed Wood for Fit Over 40 | #prodigalpiecesDIY Weight Rack for Home Gym for Fit Over 40 by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces | #prodigalpieces #fitness

Already, I need bigger weights, but they can be so expensive, so I’m adding as I go. The rest of my family use the ones we have as well.


Furthermore, back to the good ol’ hormones in our Fit Over 40 quest. If you think you may have issues, be sure to get a saliva test and send to a reputable lab for analysis. And don’t jump on the bandwagon with hormone replacement or other medications. There are ways to naturally deal with hormones with diet, exercise, and herbs, etc. As blessed as women are with different set of requirements of their bodies as men, we get the benefit of having our excess estrogen stored in our liver which heightens when we reach perimenopause stage. Ugh.

While I try to eat foods that helps keep hormones in balance, I found a supplement, however, that has helped me in my process of estrogen dominance. In the first few months of my efforts, I dropped two inches around my hips (my primary measurement for my goal). For some reason, however, I wasn’t getting past that point. I began to take EstroBalance by Nature’s Way which is basically like consuming two pounds of broccoli. It helps your liver release the burden of extra estrogen – it is not a hormone supplement. I lost another inch within a week, found my skin clearing, and other benefits related to a woman’s cycle.

While I don’t suggest what I do suits everyone, I do suggest taking a good honest look at your hormones, your diet, your exercise regimen and go from there. Also, speak to a health professional with a whole foods/natural stance on possibilities.


I’m happy to say that after my efforts over the last 4 months, I’m feeling so much better and can see benefits all over my body. I won’t say I’ve reached my goal by my 45th birthday (last photo), but I am so stinkin’ close!

Health Transition Stages of Larissa of Prodigal Pieces for Fit Over 40 | #prodigalpieces #fitness #menopause #perimenopause #health

Fit Over 40 Health Transition Picture of Larissa of Prodigal Pieces | #prodigalpieces #diet #fitover40 #women #menopause

You can see the transition in the first photo of my arm fat traded for muscle, the shrinking love handles, and belly. Unseen is my thighs and leg toning. In this next picture, not only is my obvious belly reducing, but also my back fat and bum lifting, and even arm toning. I’ve lost 15 lbs, which isn’t as important to me as the loss of over 4″ on my hips.

Funny thing is, I used to tell how pregnant I was by whether or not I could see my feet. It’s great to see I’m shrinking where I should be!

4 Month Side View Update of Fit Over 40 | Prodigal Pieces | #prodigalpieces

4 Month Fit Over 40 Update by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces | #prodigalpieces #fitness #women #health

I have muscle tone, not just skinny, and I’m feeling better in my shoulder, neck, back, and even my hip. It’s all paying off in more ways than one.

In case you’re curious, my weekly schedule is lifting weights for an hour 3 times a week, running 2-3 miles 2 times a week, and biking once or twice. I’ve found that when I go to bed at 9pm, I sleep the night through and wake up so refreshed. Mind you, I wake up early, but I do know every hour of sleep you get before midnight is much more beneficial. Also, my panties are baggy, my legs and arms no longer flap in the wind when running, and my overall mental health is thriving. wahoo! You can also see how I’ve adopted a barefoot journey that has me feeling the best I’ve ever felt.


Are you ready for your own Fit Over 40 experience? Maybe you’ve not even hit the big 4-0 but need to start focusing on you. DON’T WAIT. We are never promised another day and who wouldn’t love to age gracefully? I’ve added a list of references to a list below. There are oodles of bloggers just like me that offer free workout plans for any stage.

I’d love to hear your own stories of working on your own self. Here are a few great reads Fit Over 40 from women at a similar stage of life:

In the meantime, I’m continuing on my journey and will update you as I go along. Being Fit Over 4o or at any age is possible, and it doesn’t mean long hours at the gym. Commit to YOU. After leaving some comment love, pin and share to inspire others to wellness too.

A homeschooling, entrepreneur mother of 8 commits to being Fit Over 40 without drugs or tricks. Full details at Prodigal Pieces | #prodigalpieces #fitover40 #fitness #diy #women #health

Stay up-to-date and see what’s coming next for Reduce, Reuse, REFASHION time by signing up for my newsletter. PLUS, you will get your FREE Furniture Buying Checklist and special discount to my shop. Until next time!
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Reduce, Reuse, REFASHION series hosted by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces | Come learn to create for you and your home | #prodigalpieces

Reference guide for Fit Over 40:
  1. 5 Ways Coconut Oil Promotes Liver Health
  2. Hormonal Weight Gain: How to Lose Fat from Your Belly & Around Your Body
  3. Liver Detoxification: Starve or Nourish?
  4. Natural Support for Hormone Balancing
  5. Nourishing Traditions
  6. GAPS Diet – Gut and Psychology Syndrome
  7. Weston A Price Foundation
  8. Trainer Josh

Also, more posts related to my fit over 40 story:

My story of determination and finding God in the hard times by Larissa Haynes of Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.comHow a Family of 8 Paid off over $11,000 in Debt in 18 Months. Debt Free is the way to be. |


  1. Lori says

    I’m proud of you ! I’ve always been thin 5’8 and 130lbs This past year I’ve gone up 3 pant sizes and it’s all hip and belly. Like you I have injuries and other health scares .I started 3 weeks ago on a get healthy journey. I do eat pretty healthy but need to learn about gut health. We can pray for each other for strength to continue on this journey!

    • Larissa says

      Good on ya, Lori! Yes, the burdens we carry cause us to carry so much more, especially us women. We do need each other. Praying for you too!

  2. Rebecca - NC says

    You look AMAZING!!!! Feeling great = looking great. You are so smart to take charge of this now. And knowing that it’s an “inside-out” process. You are such an inspiration!! I’m a firm believer that stress is at the root of most all health issues. While some can’t be controlled, the bulk of them can. And you are doing it!!!! Yay for you!! Thank you for showing that we have to take care of ourselves before we can take care of others. You are AWESOME!!!
    ? ??‍♀️? ?️‍♂️ ? ? ? ?? ? ☀️

    • Larissa says

      Thank you, Rebecca. It most certainly is. I have been asking God to remove my burdens of life so I can rest. It’s not been fun to see Him take things out, but He knew I trust Him and that it’s for the best. I’m so much happier with certain requirements gone and it’s all working out for the best. Thanks so much for the smiles and love!

  3. Patty says

    I have had 4 back surgeries and it is really hard to keep my weight in check.

  4. Niki says

    This is so great Larissa! You look wonderful. And God is so good!! I wanted some motivation and confirmation and this article has done it for me!!
    I’m starting over in July. I’m not a stalker but I would rather share my journey with you via email if you don’t mind, because it’s too much and it’s too painful right now to share in the open.

    • Larissa says

      Thank you so very much, Niki. I have more to my story as well, but feel like it was a load to dump for information’s sake right now God is good! Feel free to email me at larissa @

  5. Anissa says

    This is awesome and so inspiring Larissa. I’ve just begun my own journey to good health as the doctor says I’m pre-diabetic and have fatty liver. At 52 and 245lbs. I have some work to do. I thank you for the tips and websites you share in this article, I know it will help me get there.

    • Larissa says

      You are most welcome, Anissa. I have more to share I learned, but it’s so much at once. I get it! Feel free to reach out via email as I’d love to chat with you. Hugs!

  6. Stephanie Harris says

    Larissa, you are so precious and God has filled you with the Holy Spirit in all things that you do. I’m a bit older than you and struggling with getting /keeping in shape. I love riding my bike every day but I know I need to learn to love the other Exercises or I will never do them. So you gave me a good bit of Godly inspiration. As always blessings in all you do.

    • Larissa says

      Good on ya for using your bike! 😀 Yes, there are days I don’t want to workout, but I always feel 100% better when I do. It’s definitely therapy!

  7. Marietta says

    Impressive! You look fantastic!!! You go girl!

    • Larissa says

      Thank you, Marietta. I’m not as concerned with how I look as how I feel. And, I feel so much better.

  8. Mary Loveland says

    Wonderful journey Larissa; you are a wonderful, inspirational human being. Keep up the good work.

    • Larissa says

      Just hoping to inspire others with a similar battle. Thank you, Mary.

  9. Catherine ten Hertog says

    You look wonderful Larissa. I enjoyed reading about what you have researched about looking after your liver health. That is so important. I have Hashimoto’s which has affected my thyroid and as such am prone to fatty liver. Also to extra weight gain. I’ve had shortness of breath for the last 11 years and doctors I’ve consulted couldn’t seem to help. I’m 60 now and just recently discovered I’m likely mildly anemic and so started taking over the counter iron supplements. Almost immediately my shortness of breath abated. So at the beginning of February this year I had the energy to start some mild exercise. I was forty pounds overweight and so started easy with dancing to music. After one month I started jogging which has always been challenging for me as I dont consider myself built for running. However with daily attempts I now run five miles a day. I’m a plodder so it takes me an hour to do it. I have now lost 33 pounds and 13 inches. I had to buy new to me clothes as everything was now too big. But it has been so worth reclaiming my body. Next I will be looking into the product you use to combat estrogen dominance which I have and has caused five miserable years of hot flashes and a serious loss of sleep. Thankyou for sharing your inspiring health journey with us all. Continued blessings to you and your family.

    • Larissa says

      I’m so happy for you, Catherine! I’m amazed at your journey and how you are sticking to it. It definitely is a journey and you are well on your way. I’m adding you to my prayer list of those striving to be their best. Hugs!

  10. Mary says

    Oh my goodness, Larissa! Thank you SO much for sharing about your health struggles. I, too, was treated years ago with mega doses of antibiotics, then put on anti-yeast diet and antifungal med after that and then became the thinnest I ever was. But over the years, I developed Hashimoto’s as one of your readers explained she has battled and gained lots of weight. Just recently, I had been lead to read of Dr. Weston A Price’s work and had stumbled upon the GAPS diet information! SO! All of that to say now that I have read your story, I feel more confident that was God leading me to those resources. 🙂 Thank you, thank you. I always learn much when you share your health journey with us and it helps me a lot. I hope you will share again. You look Awesome and it is evident you are ore at peace in your spirit too. You inspire me to get my butt in gear, dear! 🙂 ?

    • Larissa says

      What a journey you’ve been on, Mary! I’m so glad you are finding the right information that will help you. There’s so much in God’s creation He has put there for us to heal, we just have to know how to use it. Thank you for lifting me up. Praying over you! {{hugs}}

  11. Kelsey says

    Your before-and-after is AMAZING for just 4 months! There is a big difference and I’d expect that to take a lot longer.

    I’d love to hear more on the research you’ve done on hormones and the supplements you take. I am 31 and I have had hormone issues since my teens, but doctors have been NO help. I was put on birth control for 10 years to control PCOS and I am pretty sure it did more harm than good. I’ve been off of it for a couple of years now and I’m just trying to live a healthy life, but I can still tell that something isn’t right. I’d love to treat it naturally but I don’t even know where to start!

    • Larissa says

      Thank you. I’ve been working hard, but the work feels so good. I’ve been reading on the relationship between gut and brain health and how it relates to everything in your body. I highly suggest going to Weston A. Price foundation website and do some reading. Each person is different and your hormone levels may be different than mine. Have you had a saliva test done? Starting there with a reputable company would be a great space to start. Praying for your journey! Feel free to email.

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