Losing weight over 40

10 years ago when I was 48 I set my mind to losing weight and regaining my shape. A challenge but something that needed to be done. I lost half a stone in the first week and within the coming months I'd lost 2 stone! The outcome was the best body that I'd ever had! I felt energised and completely transformed. Here's how it was done.

Step 1 - The mindset

From my point of view the most important aspect of this whole process is getting the right psychology. Firstly you really have to want to do this as,  initially at least, it  seems daunting. So make a pact with yourself. Commit to the process and believe in yourself. Involve  the people you live with. Get their support. Better still, if needs be, get them to join you. View it as an exciting journey of discovery not only about new ways of eating but discovering about yourself and what works for you. For me a good start is crucial. Aim to loose at least  2lbs a week in the first month. Loosing half a stone will feel great  and it will supercharge your psychology by  boosting your morale; providing  you with the staying power required to keep going.

Step 2 - The formula

So, how was it done? At the time I was embarking on this journey the Atkins, LA and other similar diets were around. I found the concepts interesting and then I discovered Lesley Kenton,  who was then writing about the benefits of a high protein low carbohydrate diet and the Glycaemic Index (GI).  I read her book -  The X Factor Diet - which provided me with an easy to understand knowledge of the science and more specifically about how the principle of the GI approach works. Also, being new to the issues, I found her food lists, recipes and diet plans really helpful. After that I never looked back. I lost half a stone in the first week! Very quickly my body systems were re-balanced and I never felt hungry. The basic diet plan that worked for me was 3 high protein meals a day with 2 high protein snacks eg whey powder shakes. So, the good news is that you need to eat to loose weight!

Essentially the basic principles of the diet plan are -
  • High protein:low carbohydrate
  • Reduce grains and avoid processed cereals as they are loaded with sugars
  • Omit sugar and sugar substitues other than stevia or agave nectar
  • Eat 3 basic high protein meals with 2 high protein snacks in between
  • Choose foods that are on the low/medium GI
  • Go for quality lean/low density  high protein foods eg fish, eggs and certain nuts. Team this up with a range of  non starchy carbohydrate vegetables such as cruciferous vegetables and  high water soluble vegetables eg courgettes, marrow, leeks and  mushrooms 
  • No calorie counting or convenience foods
  • Use only fresh fruit/vegetables and wholefoods/nuts
  • Low/No alcohol (no alcohol if you have in excess of 3 stone to loose)
  • Restrict/omit carton juice drinks as these can be surprisingly high in sugar carbohydrates
  • Invest in a juicer and make your own fruit and vegetable juices
  • If you have more than 3 stone to lose restrict fruit, other than the water soluble ones that are low in sugars eg kiwis, strawberries and blueberries
  • Introduce a quality micro filtered Whey powder to enhance the protein levels

Once you have discovered the benefits of a  low GI/high protein diet you'll never look back. For helpful recipes to get you kick started, in addition to Lesley Kenton, other writers on these issues are the nutritionists/chef Christine Bailey and the TV chef Anthony Worrell Thompson. I would recommend investing in a good cookbook as, when you're new to the subject, you will need some expert guidance and inspiration.

A word about fasting and beating cellulite. In the right hands fasting can be an effective approach but not one to start with and  I can't see how it could be a permanent lifestyle choice. Fasting correctly will  help address problems with cellulite if done over a short period. Essentially, the safe fasting approach is to have 2 well spaced high protein meals a day with no snacks. However, you could have home made vegetable juices/soup in between. Aim to have at least 4-6 hours between meals and at least  8 hours overnight. I personally would not advocate this approach without some expert guidance. Lesley Kenton has written extensively about this issue. So, if you plan to go down this route,  I would urge you to read up about it first.

Step 3 - The exercise plan

My own view is that, particularly over 40, significant weight loss can't be achieved without exercise. In my own case I  joined a  gym, got myself a trainer and used a combination of weights and pilates to help me get into shape. However, it's not necessary to go to those lengths as any exercise is good for you. Walking is fine but my experience is that, once you get to over 40 and certainly over 50, you probably do need to address certain areas of your body with more targeted exercise to tone and shape. Whatever you choose, however, make it something that you enjoy and look forward to. That way it  can be sustained. Otherwise it just won't work. See my exercise blog for further ideas.

Step 4 - The future

Looking good and feeling fit can be achieved at any age. All it takes it the right mindset and the knowledge of a few basic dietary principles. Commit to a new way of approaching food and fitness. Make it a lifestyle choice and  enjoy the process. My experience is that by keeping  to this you will be able to continue  looking good  and feeling  at your best at any age. Happy Days! Because life can so easily be .......

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