If you’re trying to slim down a little, or perhaps a lot, and you feel like the whole process is harder than when you were younger, you’d be right. Not only does our metabolism slow as we age, but we also tend to have a lot more barriers to weight loss. And when those hurdles stack up, they can create more of a mental mountain for us to climb. From the everyday tasks that we have to juggle as grown ups through to lifelong eating habits and unrealistic expectations about the impact of exercise, it can be tricky to power through for weight loss success. For those who are committed to losing weight for health reasons, there are some things that really need to snap into focus and be taken seriously in order to lose weight.
Here are five you need to know about…
Even if you’d happily sleep for a full 12 hours, life has a nasty habit of getting in the way and stopping you from getting plenty of shut eye. The result? Not getting enough sleep at night makes it harder to lose weight. When your body feels like it is running on empty, you start to crave all the wrong foods and sugar and caffeine can become crutches you rely on to get you through the day. You might skip breakfast to save time then mid morning when you get another energy slump, you’ll be more tempted to reach for biscuits or chocolates to give you a boost. Scientists have proven that lack of sleep can be a factor in weight gain, so is it time you scheduled in a few more early nights?
We’re often given the impression that if we’d only eat a little less and move a little more, getting in shape wouldn’t be so much of an issue. So, when we embark on a new fitness regime it can be extremely disappointing when we don’t see the results in the form of dropping pounds and ounces. Unfortunately, it’s not all that simple. While creating a calorie deficit by using more energy than you take in should help you to steadily lose weight as well as improve your fitness levels, if you’re already significantly over eating and don’t adjust your diet enough, you won’t lose weight.
That doesn’t mean you won’t see any benefits at all though – along with feeling fitter and toning up you could drop a clothes size or two. You may well find that getting more active makes you feel like eating more as evidence suggests hunger hormones can increase when you up your exercise levels, so to lose weight you’ll need to make sensible food choices.
Don’t Crash Diet
Be honest, how many times have you started a crash diet to get in shape fast for a holiday or the party season only to give up your efforts once the event has passed and regain the weight, plus a little more? Crash dieting isn’t just a bad tactic for sustainable long term weight loss, it can have nasty side effects too. Cutting out whole food groups or dramatically lowering your intake of required nutrients can lead to deficiencies and could actually slow your metabolism down. Instead, take a balanced approach to eating a varied diet and reduce your intake of processed foods and you should find yourself losing weight steadily in a way that’s much more easily maintained.
Prioritise and Delegate
Another reason weight loss requires increased effort the older we get is because there tends to be so much more going on in our lives. It’s easy to just focus on getting your food right when you don’t have to keep a whole family organised, keep PE kits clean or attend an evening training course. Grabbing food on the go can be a real pitfall, so could you spare more time to meal prep and plan? Little things like writing a shopping list along with batch cooking and chopping so you’ve always got healthy food and snacks prepared can make a world of difference.
Where possible, take the time to sit down and eat proper meals and don’t eat in front of the TV as this can lead to unconscious over consumption. Be realistic about how you’re going to do this though, you may find you need to delegate some tasks to give yourself time to concentrate on you for a bit. Remember, this isn’t just about food it’s about your wellbeing and your health should be a priority. Once you get into the swing of things, planning, preparing and eating healthily can become a habit, with science showing it takes just 21 days to change your lifestyle.
Learn Your Triggers
So many of us rely on food to make us feel better when we’re tired or feeling low. Do you reach for ice cream or crisps for comfort? Recognising your triggers for comfort eating and concentrating seriously on changing those habits can really help with long term success. Food shouldn’t be stripped of all enjoyment, after all, sharing meals with family and friends can be a real pleasure. However, it’s important to realise that food is fuel and not a way to regulate your emotions. If you’re a really emotional eater you may benefit from chatting to a counsellor about your worries or trying out cognitive behavioural therapy.
If you’ve successfully lost weight and kept it off, what tips do you have to share with others and what were the biggest hurdles you had to overcome?