Quit dieting thru the midlife years
Hello 2021! What does the new year mean to you? Is it a time for clean slates, fresh starts, and planning? Maybe you like to start something new, or focus on a new skill. However you like to begin your year, I think we can all agree that the knee-jerk reaction to the new year is to start a diet, or give up some kind of food or beverage that you love.
I get the impulse, it’s a natural time to want to make some changes and for many those changes are personal and physical in nature, and there’s nothing wrong with that! As long as your “why” matches your goal.
But I’m not going to talk about that here, instead I want to share a few pointers for losing weight without dieting. Seems cliché, I know but I want to give you some real strategies in the face of all the propaganda that you are going to come across over the next few weeks. For starters, let’s talk about why diets don’t work…
Diets don’t work
Diets are rooted in restriction, and restriction is hard. It’s easy to restrict something if it causes physical pain or real harm, but when the outcome is a little less tangible it’s harder to hang on to. I mean, my daughter is severely allergic to nuts, so she has no problem restricting peanut butter. That restriction is easier than say, restricting cookies to cut back on sugar. Sure sugar has the potential to cause inflammation, weight gain, and more wrinkles but the benefit of skipping the sugar outweighs the desire to eat a cookie now - especially when you can’t see the results. Inflammation isn't something you can touch, weight gain takes a few days or weeks to show up, and wrinkles could just be written off as a product of aging. See how that works? That’s why restriction is not a good way to reach your goals- especially weight loss, turns out you don't always want that weight loss as much as you think you do. So what does work?
Consistency works for weight loss
My number one tip for weight loss is to be consistent. Look for habits that are likely causing you to hold on to weight (or even keep gaining weight) and keep shifting them to your limit. Every shift away from bad habits leads to new habits for success.
You might have a habit of skipping lunch because you’re busy and besides, missing a meal is only going to help you lose weight- right?
Except when that skipped lunch leads to snacking all afternoon on twice the number of calories or a huge dinner because you're starving. In reality, skipping lunch is causing weight gain. So if you want to build in consistent habits that help you lose weight you could try adding a 15 minute walk on your lunch break. Eat a pre-planned lunch from home for the first 15 minutes of your break then spend the next 15 minutes walking around the offices. Stress managed, productivity increased, and hunger in check!
When you create habits that are small, manageable, and easy to do consistently you don’t feel deprived, there's no feeling of loss, and you have no guilt. Next up, let’s talk about 4 weight loss hacks you can implement right now without restriction...
Add in lots of nutrition
First up is nourishing with intention. If weight loss is your goal, you need a way to eat more without adding in a ton of calories. The answer to that is balance. Pairing the right foods together at the right time will help you to do more with fewer calories. Variety and balance are the foundation for higher nutrient absorption and the more efficient your body will become at burning calories instead of storing them.
Think about adding nutrition instead of restricting calories. You'll feel like it's too good to be true!
Since we are in the business of making life easier don’t over complicate things, you can build healthy and balanced meals if you remember "PFF"- protein, fiber, and (healthy) fat. Represent each category at as many meals as possible and you’ll be on the right track for success.
Balanced meal success:
Begin with lots of produce (for fiber!)- fresh when possible, frozen works too. Half your plate should have these fiber filled goodies.
Pick a lean protein- poultry, fish, lean beef, or plant based like beans, lentils, and so on. Don’t over think the portions, just try to represent some protein each time you eat.
Healthy fats- usually fats take care of themselves. Most foods are a combo of proteins, carbs, and fats- focus on the healthy fats more often. Fats in nuts, olive oil, and fish instead of pastries, fried foods, and full fat dairy. Less is more with fats, so keep these portions fairly small.
Everyone has a unique set of needs for these macros, and it’s worth it to get some guidance. You can schedule a free planning session with me to discuss your unique nutrition needs. Next up, let’s look at how to boost your metabolism.
Boosting metabolism after 40
It may feel like the world is against you, time isn’t your friend, and you don’t know your body anymore- but all is not lost! You have the ability to boost your metabolism, even as you age, but it pays to understand what is going on first.
Estrogen is what keeps the female body happy and humming along through your post-puberty years and if you’re lucky well into your 50’s. But as your estrogen levels decline so does your ability to maintain muscle, causing a decrease in metabolism as a result.
That doesn’t mean you have to throw in the towel on ever having sexy arms again, it just means you need to adjust to where you are now. Cardio isn’t going to serve you like it used to- it can cause inflammation and deplete your energy so that weight loss isn’t ever going to happen. A better way to boost your calorie burn is to do regular resistance training.
My top 3 forms of resistance that's friendly for achy joints:
Yoga (if you didn’t see that coming you must be new here)
I love yoga for daily fitness. You can check all the boxes with the many different varieties, and everything is modifiable since no 2 bodies are the same. Check out my new Morning Yoga Series for a daily yoga plan to get you on the mat daily. This series is right from my new program: The Perimenopause Society- each month members get a new yoga kit complete with printable PDF plan and on-demand classes.
You have to restore
Self-care is foundational in all of my programs because you need to rest to grow. Stress hormones like cortisol are causing your belly fat. I’m sorry, I said it. Eating at your desk at work, checking email or social 400 times a day, skipping lunch to squeeze in one more task- all of these things keep you in a low level (mostly) of stress that you don’t even notice anymore.
Until you accept that slowing down is actually speeding you towards your goals you're going to struggle.
Here are a few ways to tell if you are experiencing chronic stress:
1. Belly fat that won’t budge
2. Frequent headaches
3. Regular GI symptoms like nausea, heartburn, full feeling when hardly eating, lack of appetite or excessive appetite
4. Poor sleep
5. Increased hot flashes, brain fog, and/or forgetfulness
6. Anxiety, anger, or short fuse
7. Lack of energy to do things you enjoy
I could go on, but you get the point. If you feel that your stress is overwhelming it’s time to have that discussion with your medical provider, but you can also start making changes on your own- and the first change is to schedule down time. Turn off your phone at 7pm, take email off your phone, set aside meal time as a family, or just go for a damn walk.
Even taking the time to plan nourishing meals can help- grab my Good Mood Foods Meal Plan for a 5 day meal plan for a stress free way to eat healthy. Meal planning is an often overlooked self-care strategy that pays huge dividends in terms of wellness and weight loss. <