It is estimated women lose 5 percent of our muscle mass every 10 years after the age of 35. Unless we do something about it, that means as soon as 35 comes and goes, we’ll gradually get fatter every year.
Not a very appetizing thought is it?
But age doesn’t have to be a defining factor; you are not destined to be overweight and flabby as you move through your late 30’s, 40’s and beyond – as long as you know how to avoid it.
To make things even more difficult, as we get older life seems to get busier and more complicated. We’re time poor, stressed, sleep-deprived and constantly seem to be looking after others – leaving little time to look after ourselves. It’s easy to find ourselves in a rut, feeling unable to climb out.
If you’re unable to shed the fat like you used to in your 20’s and early 30’s, here are 7 easy ways to kick-start your weight loss over 35:
1) Lift Weights
This is number one on the list because that’s how important I rate it – especially as we get a bit older. If you’re not doing it already, then you need to start. Not only will it change your body shape and make you firmer, it will increase your metabolism and help prevent osteoporosis by increasing your bone density – making it the BEST anti-aging exercise going around.
Don’t be concerned lifting weights will ‘bulk you up’ if you’re a woman. It is virtually impossible for women to add a lot of muscle due to the minimal amount of testosterone we naturally produce. A small amount of muscle you build by training will add shape and curves to your body. That, combined with a drop in body fat can dramatically change your appearance for the better. I promise!
Resistance exercise can be done with weights or machines or even your own body weight. If you have never done it before, enlist some help and get started!
*If you are lifting weights already but still having problems shifting the extra weight, then there’s likely 1 or 2 other things happening. You aren’t training intensely enough to elicit the hormonal changes required, or your current diet isn’t suited to you (we’ll talk about these things further down).
This is what resistance training can do for you!
2. Enjoy What You Eat
After years of trying different fad diets and experiencing the resulting highs and extreme lows, I came to the conclusion that the most successful ‘diet’ is definitely one you can stick with long term.
That means you need to enjoy what you eat – all the time.
If you don’t like certain foods that your diet plan calls for, the novelty is going to wear off very quickly – and you’ll wind up making up for it by bingeing out on whatever junk food you can get your hands on.
Make no mistake – it’s no fun having to eat food you don’t like just to lose excess weight. And unless you’re going to keep eating the foods you don’t like, you’ll just gain it all back very quickly (and more).
Maybe you love pasta but have no idea how to incorporate this ‘fattening’ food into your weight loss program. Or you can’t stop eating chocolate, and can’t bear the thought of having to give it up forever (you don’t have to!). Perhaps you love socializing, and the odd glass of wine. But you’ve looked at all these diets and not one of them will allow you to eat or drink any of that. You quite possibly have given up before you’ve even started. It’s depressing – I know.
The secret is finding a diet plan that is sustainable, one that provides enjoyment, satiety and one that doesn’t make you feel deprived all the time. And of course one that gets results!
More on that later…but the first thing you need to do is find healthier alternatives for the foods you like to eat on a regular basis.
There are so many ways you can make unhealthy foods healthy – like chocolate for example…
The perfect substitute for chocolate is a quality chocolate flavoured *whey protein powder mixed with a little water, into a pudding. Then you can add fruit, nut butter, Greek yoghurt, or whatever takes your fancy.
I rarely feel the need to eat chocolate anymore – and that is because I can indulge in these amazing puddings every day, knowing I’m not getting a massive sugar hit, and it’s keeping me lean and healthy. You can also make various chocolate ‘balls’ that fit the lean and healthy mould.
A word on whey protein – some people have the crazy notion that it will make you bulky. It won’t. It’s simply another source of protein. Would you rather another chicken breast or a chocolate peanut butter pudding?
*You need a high quality great tasting protein powder (you can email me for recommendations).
This is just one example, but you can find healthy versions of most of your favourite meals. All it takes is a bit of knowledge on how to put your meals together and some creativity!
Like the sound of healthy Pad Thai, Chili Con Carne, Parmesan Chicken, Fish Pie, Zucchini Slice and Apple Crumble?
3. Workout Smarter
Gone are the days where we need to spend hours a day exercising. We’re a lot smarter these days. Given we are often very time poor, this is great news.
So we’ve already established you need to be doing some weight training in your workout regimen. What sort of weight training is best for weight loss? You get more bang for your buck doing compound (multi-joint) exercises like squats, lunges and push ups. Choose these over isolation (single joint) exercises like biceps curls and knee extensions. You’ll burn a lot more calories.
There are lots of options for adding intensity to your workouts – I like to use supersets and metabolic resistance workouts (that combine weights and cardio in one) to increase the challenge factor and calorie burn! Click here for fun but challenging fat loss workouts.
What about cardio, like running, and swimming and bike riding?
I’m not anti-cardio, but most women prioritize it over weight training and this is a big mistake if you’re trying to lose fat. You can definitely add some cardio to your weight training regime, but don’t go overboard (maybe 2-3 sessions of cardio).
And that leads me to an extra tip… never do cardio before resistance training.
If you choose to do two sessions in one, always do your resistance workout first. A 30 minute jog on the treadmill will wear you out so you can’t train with the intensity you need to give to your weight training.
Additionally by doing your weight training first, your body releases stored glycogen into your bloodstream, ready to be burned off with cardio – this is very beneficial for fat loss.
4. Eat More Protein
Aside from the important role that protein plays in building and maintaining lean muscle mass, protein when consumed alone or with other food groups helps to stabilize blood glucose levels by slowing down the absorption of glucose into the blood stream – which is very important in regulating blood sugar and preventing abnormal hunger, cravings, and weight gain. Protein also helps with satiety, leaving you feeling fuller and satisfied for longer by lowering your insulin levels to help prevent cravings and the need for other unhealthy foods.
One of the other cool things about protein is that is has a high thermic effect (the amount of energy burned through digestion).
Bottom line is your body burns more calories digesting protein than it does digesting carbohydrates or fat. A good rule of thumb is to include some protein with every meal.
Good sources of protein are eggs, chicken, beef, lamb, turkey, kangaroo, fish, cottage cheese, high protein Greek yoghurt, whey protein and so on.
Note: nuts don’t count as a protein – many people think they do, but they contain much more fat than protein. Yoghurt and milk also contain some protein, but are considered primarily carbohydrate foods.
Summing up, protein is important to help repair and build lean muscle tissue which in turn accelerates metabolism making it far easier to lose weight. Protein gets a big thumbs up from me.
Want some of my favourite high protein fat burning dinner recipes? Go Here.
5. Minimize Stress
In today’s busy world we often turn to alcohol, food or other substances to help manage the stress of day to day living. This can be a vicious cycle, and definitely one you want to refrain from if you’re having trouble with weight loss.
Too much stress increases a hormone in your body called cortisol. This has marked effects on the ability to lose weight, and in fact high levels of cortisol are known to cause excess fat, particularly around your tummy area.
It’s so important to have time out on a regular basis – and making workouts part of your time-out regime kills two birds with one stone. A hot bath, with scented candles, or a massage, or even some retail therapy would work.
A ‘brain dump’ in the evening before bed is something that works well for me. I write out tomorrow’s ‘to do’ list which allows me to remove the clutter from my mind and get a better night’s sleep.
As you may have heard, you can’t look after others to your best ability, if you don’t first look after yourself.
6. Don’t be afraid of Fat
Back in the 90’s when I started my dieting ‘career’ – fat was considered the scourge of the weight loss world. Do you remember the Pritikin Diet? It was a very high carbohydrate diet, with as little fat as possible – and it was a diet I tried many times, yet could NEVER control my hunger and cravings.
And now I know why.
Our bodies NEED fat to function optimally. Our hormones need fat. Our brain needs fat.
Contrary to popular belief (though a very old fashioned belief), fat is extraordinarily helpful in weight loss. It helps provide a long-term, even supply of energy to get you through the day without experiencing tiredness and fatigue.
Additionally, it is also broken down slowly and therefore helps prevent hunger and cravings between meals. You probably know that when hunger strikes, willpower often fails. All it takes is a small amount of fat in your meal to make a huge difference in satiety level.
Maybe you’ve heard that high fat diets increase your risk of developing heart disease and some forms of cancer.
High fats alone are generally not the culprit. High fats combined with highly processed food is where the real issue lies. Fast food, fried foods, packaged foods, margarines, creamy sauces, pastries and other baked goods are laden with the fat you MUST avoid (not to mention sugar and excessive calories as well) – trans-fat.
Trans-fats that are contained in the above types of foods ARE toxic to your body and promote disease. That is now a fact.
What about saturated fats – those that are contained in animal products and dairy?
There is new information coming out that saturated fat in moderation is not at all bad for you. In fact, there are no studies that have proven this type of fat causes disease or holds any risk at all! It’s the processed, packaged, man-made ‘foods’ that are the problem.
I love being able to eat a little butter, cheese and cream without any guilt (or fat gain!)
Coconut oil is quite trendy these days and promoted as a health food. I use it quite a lot in cooking. It can be heated to smoking point without damaging the fat (too high heat can cause some fats to become toxic, like olive oil),
Coconut oil is classed as a medium chain triglyceride (MCT). This type of fat can be broken down very easily and be used as an immediate fuel source, as opposed to circulating in the blood and being stored directly on your body as fat like other longer chain oils can.
And then there are the coveted Omega 3 oils. This type of fat contains the essential omega 3 fats and without an intake through supplements or from fatty fish, walnuts or flaxseed, they are often in short supply in our body.
Omega-3 fatty acids have numerous benefits. Most importantly, they can be beneficial in reducing inflammation which can help prevent and control a number of different diseases including arthritis, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and some forms of cancer, along with reducing bad cholesterol.
Omega 3 fats will also benefit your heart, brain, metabolism and immune system function, protect the internal organs, regulate reproductive hormones, maintain body temperature, and help with digestion – amongst MANY other things.
If you currently don’t eat much in the way of fatty fish like salmon and sardines, or flax oil, flax meal, and walnuts, and leafy greens, get started! Alternatively it would be considered good practice to supplement with fish oil.
So what’s considered a serving size of fat?
Depending on your activity level, try and include between two and four servings each day based on your own energy requirements.
60g (2oz) avocado
20g (.75oz) nuts
1 tbsp. natural nut butter
100g (3.25oz) salmon (which is also a significant source of protein)
1 tbsp. olive oil, flaxseed oil or coconut oil
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. full fat cream
30g (1oz) full fat cheese
In summary, fat keeps you healthy, provides energy, keeps you satisfied between meals, AND makes food taste better! So don’t fear fat any longer…
7. Give Up Fad Diets
As you probably know all too well, we women have a tendency to go on fad diets that promise rapid weight loss… only to gain it all back again… and again.
This rapid loss followed by even more rapid regain, contributes significantly to stubborn fat deposits because your body now begins to hoard fat – and next time around your body is even MORE reluctant to release this stored fat.
Repeated cycles of weight gain and weight loss also compromise skin elasticity which makes problems such as cellulite even more pronounced.
It’s unfortunate that a large percentage of women fit into this yo-yo dieting category.
But before you go gung-ho into any type of fad diet, let’s look at the reasons why many women fall for them, time and again – and why they will be left ruing that decision very quickly.
After attempting what I call a ‘starvation diet’, most people experience a significant rebound effect for two reasons. One, they have damaged their metabolism through severe calorie restriction, and two, they have no idea how to eat properly or ’normally’ after following such a restrictive diet.
Your metabolic rate essentially stands for how many calories your body burns off per day simply to stay alive. This includes keeping your heart beating, your lungs functioning, and your digestive system working properly.
The metabolism will slow down usually due to two reasons:
- A loss of lean muscle mass due to inactivity
- Prolonged periods of low calorie/low carb dieting where the metabolic rate adapts by becoming more efficient to preserve life
The human body is a very smart piece of machinery. The less you eat, the more efficient your metabolism becomes and the less energy (calories) you will burn. It is your body’s natural way of protecting itself when it’s starving. The only way to continue to lose weight then, is to eat less food.
But this becomes difficult because your appetite suppressing hormone, Leptin, drops significantly when dieting causing a myriad of other hormones in your body to react to force you to eat more food – so you’re ALWAYS fighting hunger. Not a fun way to live!
Because it becomes impossible to fight your hormones, the consequence of this constant hunger is an all-out binge fest. And because your metabolism has now slowed down, your body will HOARD all the calories from that binge and store them as unsightly body fat for protection against future starvation.
While it’s possible to lose a significant amount of initial weight on a very low calorie diet (VLCD), most of that weight loss is just water and valuable muscle and this will cause long term damage to your metabolism and make losing weight permanently a much more difficult and unpleasant process.
It’s not all bad news however! There IS a simple way to incorporate bouts of fast weight loss with more moderate weight loss, to avoid the all the negative side effects.
It’s done by dieting in ‘phases’ or blocks. By that I mean, reducing your carbs and calories for a short time and then increase them again. This diminishes cravings and hunger by keeping Leptin, your appetite regulator hormone high.
This way of eating will keep you satisfied, and your blood sugar levels stable and makes being fit and healthy a lot more fun!
So now that you know the 7 keys to easy weight loss you’re going to love the strategic fat loss program I created for you on the next page.