Losing weight and getting in shape can be hard enough when you are in your prime but what do you do when you wake up one morning and suddenly realise you are have hit your 40’s and you have let things go a bit?
By the time men and women reach their 40’s hormones that help regulate fat burning are well on their way down, while, quite unfairly it seems, hormones that help us gain and hold fat are running as strong as ever. Add to this the fact that chasing a carrier, raising children and all the stress that goes with building a home and a life and is it any wonder that we can tend to let things go a bit. The good news though is that it is not to late. It is never too late to change things up a bit and get your weight and your health back on track… it’s just that as we get older a few gym sessions and a few weeks of hard dieting are just not going to cut it any more. We need a more considered plan. A more long-term lifestyle plan.
So, here are my 8 steps to getting back on track and staying there for the long term.
Decide what it is you want to do and be as specific as you can about it. If the goal is to lose 10 kg then right it down… “I want to lose 10 kg.” Just thinking, “I want to lose a bit of weight,” is not going to cut it… vague goals lead to vague results.
Goals are great, but they need a reason. It’s all well and good deciding you want to lose 10 kg but why you do you want to lose 10 kg. You can have as many reasons as you like but know what they are and make sure they are important to you. Reading somewhere that people your height should be a specific weight is probably not going to be enough to fire you up to change your life! But realising that being overweight as we get older can seriously shorten your life might have a big impact. But your reasons do not always have to be so overwhelming either. Perhaps you have decided that you want to fit into smaller clothes or to re-invigorate you marriage or to engage with some long overdue plans to run a marathon. Perhaps you fancy the idea of going on a hiking holiday or maybe you are just fed up feeling tired all the time. Maybe you just want to turn a few heads when walking down the street. The important thing is that whatever your reasons are they need to be important to you. Write them down.
A greater purpose to change might just sound like just another reason but it is in fact much more. Purpose is a fundamental aspect of long term success in any field. Your greater purpose should encompass all of your reasons. If you have written down a reason and it does not fit with your greater purpose then scratch it out. It might be a desire, it might be a wish but if it does not fit with your purpose chances are you wont stick at it. Perhaps you are a partner in a large firm and you want to rise to the top. How do you see yourself there? Do you see yourself as one an overweight, washed out senior partner just waiting to retire if your health can hold out that long? Or do see yourself as a dynamic leader of the company, a man or woman who looks a lot younger than they are, a living effigy of happiness and success. If it is the latter, wright it down and give plenty of attention to this idea. If this is your purpose, then your reasons to lose the weight will be become far more solid in your mind and your goals will seem like must do’s rather than just vague, would like to do’s.
So, you have your goals, your reasons for reaching them and an overall purpose to drive you on… But how are you going to do it? What are the methods you can use to get you where you want to go? If this was your career you were talking about you wouldn’t just show up to work and go through the motions would you, you’d have a plan. Just showing up in the gym a few times a week and eating a little less is never going to get you far. Create a plan, a detailed one, a developing one. Add in food, exercise, fun activities, sports and hobbies. If you don’t like to train alone add in social aspects. Join clubs or groups. The same goes for your diet, there are plenty of informal diet groups that you can join for free on social networks that can supply all the support you will need. Remember, the only bad plan is not to have one. The more attention you put into what you want to achieve and the ways you can do it the better your chances are of success.
How do you know you are succeeding… or worse how do you know if you are not? If success is to be achieved it needs to be measured. The scales are a much-maligned instrument of prediction, but it can be a great help. The trick is to use it and not to let it control you. If you have a lot of weight to lose the scales can be your friend, but as you get closer to you goal it can be misleading. The solution; have more than one measurement of success. Your weight, your size (at the bellybutton), your energy levels, your mood, your clothes, the mirror, the texture and feel of your skin, your blood sugar levels, you’re A1C, your blood pressure, your ability to run up that hill, your ability to walk up that hill without stopping or falling over, your desire to get to the gym or the pool or the pitch… there are many ways to measure success, don’t get trapped by just one or two.
It’s great having a goal to lose weight or get healthy but be realistic. If you have a lot of weight to lose don’t expect it all to fall off just because you have decided to put on some sweat pants and head to the gym. Be patient. And starting a diet that you know you will never be able to stick with won’t get you were you want to go it will just keep you where you are. Work with what you can do. If you can only get to the gym once a week then work with that. It is better to go to the gym once a week than to never go. Look for places and ways to get what you want. You might well be only be able to get to the gym once a week but you may have time to walk 10 flights of stars between meetings at work. And you may not have time to cook a good meal every night but you might well have time to prepare 5 evening meals at the week end and store them in your fridge. Remember being realistic in not an excuse, it is about learning to work around your limitations, either physical, mental, emotional or lifestyle.
Make commitments to yourself. If you decide to start by eating right at breakfast, then do just that. Buy the food you need, prep when necessary. A committed person is a prepared person. If you join a gym, then go. If you plan to go walking, then buy some rain gear, so the weather wont stop you.
Don’t just start on a path and never check in on yourself to see that you are still going in the right direction. As we get fitter, stronger and better able to manage our food the plan will need to change, assuming we are working on it.
Every evening take, 5 or 10 minuets and look over your day to see if you have been doing things to move you to where you want to go. Every week or so check your gym diary to see if you are still pushing or have you slipped into just showing up. Every month or two change your gym program to keep you challenged. Every week or two examine your eating habits… are they still on plan or have you been letting things slip? Ever few months check if your eating patterns need to be changed. Cutting calories low is great at getting fat burning moving but cut to long and your metabolism can slow down. Low carb eating is fantastic at teaching your body to better use carbs but if your training has stepped up a few notches as you get stronger you may a little more carb fire to fuel your training sessions. Learn how your body responds to food and exercise and work with it.
If i was to add one more thing to this list of tips to help you lose weight and get healthy after 40 it would b this… reduce the amount of carbohydrate you are eating. If after 40 you notice your weight has been going up or you just can’t seem to get it to go down a big part of the problem has to do with how your body handles carbohydrate. Modern high carb diets are a bit like smoking, you might get away with it in your younger years but the longer you abuse these food do the more damage you are doing to your body and as you get older that damage starts to add up.
With time and a little care anyone can learn to take control of their body but it all starts with the decision to take action. Wishing, hoping and planning are all great but not one of them will move you even an inch. Only action will move you from hoping and wishing to doing. When you want to change do something. Pick up the phone, join a gym, talk to a professional. Take that first step and who knows where it will lead you.