One of the challenges of aging is that it becomes more difficult to shed those extra pounds. This is because our muscle mass decreases by about three to five percent every 10 years after we turn 35. This can impact the way your body burns fat. Your joints and muscles may not be as flexible and resilient as they used to be, so you may feel some stiffness and soreness after years of physical activity or even just daily movement. Additionally, your metabolism slows down as you age.
Change Your Strategy
If you are over 40 and want to lose weight, you might need to change your strategy. The same tactics that worked in your younger years might not be as effective now. Here are some expert tips on how to shed the extra pounds and keep them off for good.
1. Talk to your doctor about a weight-loss plan. If you want to lose weight, do not do it alone. Talk to a healthcare provider first, especially if you have any health problems. Your provider can help you understand your health status and guide you on the best diet and exercise plan for you. You may also get a referral to a nutritionist, a physical therapist or a personal trainer who can help you reach your goals.
2. Get your hormones checked. If you are struggling to lose weight, you might want to check your hormone levels. Hormones like progesterone, testosterone, and others decline as we age, and this can make your body more prone to storing fat.
3. Set realistic goals. If you want to lose 20 pounds in one month, you may be setting yourself up for failure and consequent health problems. Instead, split big goals into smaller, more doable ones. Focusing on how you are feeling and the positive changes you are making to your lifestyle, instead of the number on the scale, will help you stay motivated to reach your goals.
4. Consult with a nutritionist/dietician. Talking to an expert can help you identify the right nutritional plan for you. Also consider an integrative medicine provider if you are exploring new diets, or simply adjusting your current one. They can break down the pros and cons of each diet and help you choose one that fits your nutritional needs and goals. They can also give ideas on how to resolve roadblocks that may get in the way of your weight-loss goals, like emotional/stress eating, food sensitivities, nutritional deficiencies, meal boredom, etc.
5. Follow a structured plan. Medically supervised programs have a high success rate for weight loss, and research has proven that individual support can encourage a meaningful change in behavior and reinforce long-term success. Weekly visits to your healthcare/wellness provider will keep you accountable and motivated to reach your goals. The best nutritional lifestyles should include the Mediterranean Diet, the DASH Diet, and the MIND diet. These diets not only support weight loss, but also improve your health and reduce your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s, among other health conditions.
6. Embrace low-impact exercises. Do you struggle to go to the gym regularly, especially when you see fit young people lifting heavy weights? You might feel discouraged, but do not worry, you can reverse this process with a proper exercise routine. Try activities that are good for your heart and body, such as walking, cycling, kayaking, and dancing. Want to build more muscle? One wonderful way to achieve it is by using your own bodyweight, so consider joining a yoga class. Also, choose activities that are easy on the joints such as water-aerobics; they are effective yet gentle with the body as we age. Most importantly, these exercises do not add unnecessary stress on the joints, which can cause pain and discourage you from exercising.
7. Make the most out of every workout. Consult your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen. Be consistent and remember to exercise separate groups of muscles every day. If your joints are a little achier than they used to be, do not give up. Focus on what you are doing and push yourself hard enough to break a sweat or at least complete the full range of motion of a certain exercise. If you are not sure how to move properly, ask the experts! It can make the difference between making the most of your exercise time and injuring yourself.
8. Change how and when you eat. It is not just what you eat, but how you eat that matters when striving for healthy weight loss and management. Focus on eating slowly and chewing your food until you feel two-thirds full. You will find yourself satisfied while still decreasing your overall calorie intake. Also, stay away from fad diets; excessive fasting, unsupervised cleanses, or cutting out important nutrients including fats, complex carbohydrates or proteins can lead to a myriad of health issues.
9. Get your stress in check. People in their 40s and 50s often are at the peak of their careers, which means more pressure at work. They may also have kids who are going to college or have elderly parents who they are taking care of. A lot of responsibilities that their younger counterparts may not have. This can lead to emotional eating and a lack of time for regular exercise. The solution: Treat your workouts like they are important meetings. Having a consistent routine can help you cope with stress and keep you on track with your diet.
10. Get your sleep. Getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night is key; in addition to feeling rested, it will help your body maintain hormonal balance, most importantly those that regulate stress and appetite.
11. Be mindful. It is important to practice mindfulness, especially when you are eating by simply taking a breath and treating your mealtime as a special one. It will allow you to really taste your food and notice its flavors, textures, and tastes. It also keeps anxiety at bay, so your body can absorb nutrients properly.
12. Practice self-care. Whether it is treating yourself by getting a massage or taking a walk in a botanical garden, the smallest gestures can make a significant difference. Reducing overall stress can make a substantial impact on your weight loss. Show yourself a little more love, by engaging in activities that support your goals, like eating healthy, exercising, and meditating.