Losing weight and getting back in shape isn’t always easy after 50. But I learned something new a few years ago after packing on almost 15 (and counting) post-menopausal pounds: it’s far from impossible. What’s more, I found a three-part solution that works:
- establish an achievable goal
- eat less
- move more
A plan to lose weight or start a fitness program can be stymied before you even start if it seems too difficult to do. Like most of us, you’ll be tempted to just give up.
You’ll be much more successful if you break down goals into smaller pieces. And whatever you do, don’t make the huge mistake of deciding to begin your weight loss program as a New Year’s resolution. Studies show that people who do, have a less than 10% chance of sticking with it, because the goals are usually too big and unrealistic. No surprise that gym memberships and sales of diet books skyrocket on January 2nd.
It’s daunting to try to change your life — even if it’s something as seemingly simple as losing a few pounds or starting an exercise program, but the ‘50% Solution’ allows you to reach them successfully (and quickly) thereby giving you the motivation you need to keep going.
Here’s how it works: let’s say you want to lose 10 pounds in six weeks, which is reasonable since most experts suggest we should try to lose no more than 2 pounds a week. However, 10 pounds still sounds like a lot and we might be tempted to keep putting off getting started.
Instead, try the ‘50% Solution’ and change your goal. Aim to lose half the targeted pounds–in this case 5–in three to four weeks. Not only will the weight loss make you feel fabulous and svelte during the holiday season, but more importantly, will keep you motivated to stick to your plan as you work your way through all the treacherous (but fun!) holiday get-togethers (see tips below). After all, who wants to backpedal? Once you’ve hit your goal, you’ll just repeat. By New Year’s Day, when most people are just THINKING about their “New Year, New You” plans, you’ll be well on your way.
Here’s a quick overview of a sustainable eating and fitness plan to achieve your weight loss goals:
Eat! You don’t need to count calories. Just cut the amount of food you would normally consume by roughly half, eating small meals throughout the day — every two to three hours –to keep hunger at bay, and your blood sugar level steady. (Check out the healthy eating plan in The Best of Everything After 50). Steer clear of processed, high-caloric foods and sugary drinks, eat healthier (dark leafy greens, brown rice, lean meats, nuts, blueberries, olive oil) and eat less of everything. Going to a few holiday parties? Planning ahead is your best defense: eat some almonds and a wedge of cheese, or a bowl of soup or salad, before going. You won’t be as tempted to mozy over to the appetizer trays. And have a glass or two of bubbly or a wine spritzer, but remember this: we often eat more when we’re drinking.
Move your body! To help expedite the weight loss and build strength, stamina and fitness levels for the long term, simply move your body 50% more than you have been.
If you normally walk for 30 minutes a day, starting walking for 45 minutes, then eventually build up to an hour, and pick up the speed. Just strolling isn’t going to help you lose weight, but intentional walking will. If you’ve been doing 10 push-ups every day, do 15, eventually getting to 20. If you’re just starting a fitness program, begin with “baby steps” (i.e., walk for 15 minutes a day, then build up to 30 and so on). And remember this golden rule about exercise: Every step you take is one step closer to better health.
‘The 50% Solution’ can be applied to just about every aspect of life. It’s about setting realistic goals — not overly ambitious ones that can never be met. If you have any questions, or need a little push to get you started . . . leave your comment here. And lastly, have fun! It’s the holiday season!
For more tips on living your best life after 50 (or 60, or 70…) check out “The Best of Everything After 50: The Experts’ Guide to Style, Sex, Health, Money and More” and www.bestofeverythingafter50.com. Keep me posted on how you’re doing by subscribing to me on Facebook and “tweeting” me on Twitter at @BGrufferman.