Making weight loss work when you’re over 50
Having worked for many years in the weight loss industry, I’ve heard all the myths that older dieters believe cause them not to lose weight. “My metabolism has slowed down”, “I’ve been on so many diets, my body is now immune to them”, “It’s too late to start eating healthily”. But it’s not true! And it’s not too late to lose weight.
In fact there is really very little you need to do differently to lose weight over the age of 50, compared to any other age group. The biggest challenge is that the older we get and the longer we live the more time we have to get comfortable with the bad habits that cause the weight to creep on. I know. I’ve been there more than once. By last Christmas my own weight had snook up to the same ‘tipping’ point of fat frumpiness that made me join Weight Watchers 16 years ago. If I felt fat and frumpy back then in a 38 year old body – you can imagine how much worse I felt this time around age 54. Old, fat and frumpy. And unfit too.
So at the start of this year I decided finally to do something about it. Of course I’ve started this effort many times over the years and soon given up . That’s because my head hasn’t really been in the right place. To be realistic you do need to find a personal trigger to get your mind-set right. Mine this time was the start of another year feeling rubbish about myself – and also a second year doing Dry January. Combined, these two things (one being how I felt about myself, the other about depriving myself of alcohol for a month) gave me the boot up my broadening backside to do the right thing for ME.
I got back on the weight loss wagon properly – and amazed myself by losing 1 stone in three months. What also helped was the marketing challenge from Weight Watchers at the start of this year: “Lose 10lb in your first 8 weeks and get your money back”. That sealed the deal.
Weight Loss over 50 made Simple
So having maintained my stone weight loss – and feeling fitter and healthier at 54 than I have in a long time – I want to share some straight-forward tips that I found really helpful.
Say ‘S’ to weight loss
1. SMART POINTS
I’ve always found it helpful to take a structured approach to weight loss. This time I chose Weight Watchers – again. It worked for me before when I lost 2 stone so many years ago – and it has helped me lose again – this time using their new Smart Points system to keep account of everything I eat and drink. The Weight Watchers app is great for checking out foods and drinks – there’s a barcode scanner function to make this even easier. And there’s a a great social side to it with a community section to get support for yourself and help others on their journey too. But to be honest, Slimming World or any other sensible plan will do. It’s whatever floats your boat.
I can’t be doing with lots of choices and lots of tracking when I’m trying to lose weight. I tend to stick to a few, simple and healthy go-to meals to get started. Knowing the calorific (or in my case SmartPoints) values of a set of meals that I enjoy really helps me. I can be confident I’m creating the calorie deficit I need to lose weight and then – if I’m tracking – there’s no having to work it all out from scratch everyday. I have one special breakfast that is my absolute favourite and that I eat most days. It really helps to start my morning off positively as every time I eat it, it feels like luxury not deprivation.
I’m clearly ahead of the game on this one. Only the other day I read in a magazine that ‘souping’ is the new ‘juicing’ .
I make my own soups for entirely selfish reasons when it comes to my weight loss. I get to fill my boots with lots of low-calorie (or low SmartPoint value) ingredients that I love so it never feels a chore to chose soup. It also helps me avoid feeling hungry between mealtimes.
I used to think making my own soup was hard work. But these days with so many ready-chopped veg available at most supermarkets, it’s actually very quick and easy to do. Asda do a great Spicy Butternut Squash Soup mix.
I find my weight loss is better when the foods I know I should eat are within reach – and plentiful. I can happily snack on fruit if there are crispy apples and pears in the fruit bowl. A soggy banana just won’t cut it though. So I have to make sure the healthy foods I know I will eat are there. Equally I try to get rid of tempting snacks that will sabotage my weight loss. I LOVE bread. But it’s so easy to scoff lots of it. So although John eats it, I never factor it into any meal at the moment – especially breakfast. You never know where one piece of hot, buttered toast will lead…..
Activity trackers come in all shapes and sizes. Some offer the added paraphernalia and complication of things like texts, tiles, voice activation, GPS and so on. As you’ll have realised by now I like things nice and easy. That’s why I love my Fitbit. I’ve been a convert from the early days of the Zip which literally monitored steps and nothing else. I’ve now moved up to the Fitbit Charge HR. This little beauty goes with me everywhere, everyday. It keeps track of my steps and my distance and it tells me the time (vital). It has added functions – monitoring my heart rate and sleep too.
All of the information my Fitbit band collects is served up really nicely on the app and added bonus, it communicates with the Weight Watchers app – and let’s it know how active I’ve been. I don’t need to be an expert in mobile tech or be a gym bunny to get the most out of this activity device. In fact it’s the only thing that really keeps me motivated to move more.
Now don’t get me wrong. I like a drink. Probably more than I should. But I find it much easier to lose weight when I’m not drinking. Which is why ‘Dry January’ helped me kick-start my efforts this year. My biggest learning however, was to find a really good ‘drink’ replacement for those moments (usually at the end of the working day) when I crave alcohol. Non-alcoholic lager does the trick for me. A bottle can fool me into thinking I have actually had a drink. Big brands like Becks, San Miguel and Cobra produce non-alcoholic varieties. They really are quite good. I always have a few Becks Blue chilling in the fridge. And you can often order them a the pub too. They usually come in at around 4 Smart Points a bottle.
I am a stone lighter than when I started. Woo hoo! Not too bad for an ‘old bird’ over 50. And I’m fitter too. Having an amazing personal trainer, learning to run a bit and using my sturdy ladies bike for local journeys has helped as well. I’ll tell you about those another time….
And – did I get my money back from Weight Watchers after the first 8 weeks on the plan as advertised? You bet I did. I lost 10lb in that time – and have dropped another 4lb since. Now I have to get to work on shifting down another few pounds, ready for the summer. I’ll keep you posted on my results. Weight loss over 50 is just as achievable as it is at any age – you’ve just got to believe it!
Do tell me about your favourite weight loss meals and other tips for weight loss over 50. I’m always keen to learn more!