Once you reach 40, managing weight can become a lot trickier. Even if your diet and exercise levels haven’t changed, you may find yourself getting a little heavier every year. These seven simple tips will help forty somethings lose weight without fuss or frustration.
Seven Weight Loss Tips for Over-40s
Losing weight is never easy and the older we get, the harder it becomes. Even though you may be eating the same things and exercising as much as you did in your twenties and thirties, you may find that your weight is creeping up. Hormonal and metabolic changes can lead to unwanted weight gain, while changes in your sleep cycle and energy levels can make it tough to shed those extra pounds. These simple tips will take some of the pain out of weight loss in your middle years.
Tips number one: see your doctor. Doctors are an underused resource for people looking to slim down. Most medical professionals, well aware of the health benefits of weight loss, are only too happy to help and support patients who come to them asking for advice on losing weight.
It’s also worth noting that diet and exercise programs can come with hidden risks. Damage to joints, nutritional insufficiency, and an overloaded cardiopulmonary system are just some of the potential issues. You can very easily overdo it in your eagerness for self-improvement. You doctor can assist you in determining a realistic goal and help you make safe, healthy diet and exercise plans to achieve it.
Sleep off Those Pounds
Tips number two: sleep off those pounds. Getting on top of your sleep debt can be the first step to addressing your weight gain. It may seem counterintuitive – after all, snoozing under the covers hardly seems like the way to burn excess calories.
Insufficient sleep, however, is one of the worst offenders when it comes to weight gain. It lowers energy levels, making you less able to enjoy a healthy and active lifestyle; raises stress, which can cause weight gain and may trigger “comfort eating”; and slows down your metabolism. The average person needs between seven and nine hours of sleep but most of us get far less. Cut down on late-night TV and internet use and try to get to bed a little earlier. Your waistline will thank you.
Tip number three: exercise creatively. If you can’t afford to join a gym – or of you have a gym membership but struggle to attend regularly – don’t despair. Instead, look for other ways you can get the workout you need.
You don’t need acres of space or dozens of fancy gadgets. There are plenty of exercises that you can do at home, using household items or no equipment at all. Find exercise programs tips online and videos and make these the basis of your workout. Make small changes to your daily routine: take the stairs instead of the elevator (even if you just get out a floor early, the extra calories you burn can add up), choose a parking space that’s further from the store or your building, or get off the bus or subway one stop early if you take public transport. Go for walks around your neighborhood and visit nearby parks. If the weather is bad or you don’t feel comfortable walking outdoors alone, try local shopping malls. If you visit at the right time, you can avoid the crowds and enjoy a morning or evening stroll, whatever the weather. It’s worth enquiring about the best time to visit – some malls offer special hours for people who simply want to walk around.
Goodbye to yo-yo Diets
Tips number four: say goodbye to yo-yo diets. While the cycle of crash weight loss and the inevitable rapid regain is more or less sustainable in your teens and twenties, the damage builds up over the years. By the time you reach your forties, your metabolism may be permanently affected by this kind of unhealthy practice. You’ll find yourself even heavier than you were when you started.
Instead, choose realistic goals and make sustainable changes to your diet. After you reach your goal weight, don’t just dive back into your old eating habits. Instead, plan to have a transition phase where you gradually increase the amount you eat while monitoring your weight to make sure you’re no just piling the pounds back on.
Tip number five: slow down with Oigong or Tai Chi. Energy levels can often decline as we get older; “feeling the burn” become less and less appealing. If leaping around in Lycra just isn’t your thing, these ancient Chinese systems may be the answer.
Avoid Sugar and Sugar Substitutes
Tip number six: avoid sugar and sugar substitutes. While we all know the havoc that refined sugars can wreak on our waistlines, recent research suggest that sugar substitutes are just as bad. People who choose diet sodas and low-calorie sweeteners for their tea and coffee have been found to carry just as much additional weight as their sugar-craving counterparts.
The reasons are complex – partly it seems that we unconsciously compensate for the lower calories in diet products by consuming more food, but there are other factors (such as the production of excess insulin and the disruption of blood sugar). The bottom line is that both sugar and lower-calorie substitutes are bad news for weight control. Try to wean yourself off sweet foods and drinks by eating naturally sweet fruit and vegetables, cutting down the sweetener in tea and coffee, and diluting sodas with water. Your tastes will quickly adjust, and you’ll find yourself craving sweet things less and less.
Go Full Fat
Tip number seven: go full fat. This is practically a heresy to those of us who grew up in the 70s, 80s and 90s. Everything we were taught about nutrition and weight loss held that fat was our mortal enemy. When selecting choose, yogurt, spreads and prepared foods like cakes or muffins, many of us have got used to looking for the low-fat version every time we shop. That’s the healthy choice, right?
Well, maybe not. Like so much received wisdom around food, the ideas that eating a low-fat diet is crucial to losing weight has been significantly debunked in recent years. Small amounts of fat are vital for good health; many vitamins and other nutrients are fat soluble, meaning that your body can’t absorb them properly without lipids. Fat is also satiating, making you feel full and curbing your appetite. In addition, low-fat foods are often made with extra sugar or other high-calorie ingredients to replace the missing fat, making them just as unhealthy and likely to contribute to weight gain as the full-fat versions. Go ahead and savour that creamy Greek yogurt or silver of sharp cheese – just in moderation.
Weight loss after 40 doesn’t have to be a distant dream or a grueling nightmare. With some creativity and a few smart lifestyle choices, you can stay trim and look forward to a happy, healthy, long life.