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How to Lose Weight and Keep It Off for Good

Updated: Jun 4

Losing weight and keeping it off can be a challenge for anyone, but it can be especially difficult for women over 30. As we age, our metabolism slows down, and we may have less time to exercise. However, it is still possible to lose weight and keep it off for good if you follow a few simple tips.

First it is important to understand "energy balance". The equation is simple: to lose weight you will need to be in calorie deficit, and to maintain weight we need to create energy balance.

a fork and tape measure

NEAT stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. It is the energy expended for everything we do that does not include sleeping, eating, or exercise. This includes activities such as fidgeting, standing up, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. NEAT can make up a significant portion of our total daily calorie burn (much more than you burn at the gym), so it is important to factor it into our weight loss goals.

Calorie deficit is the difference between the number of calories we burn and the number of calories we consume. To lose weight, we need to create a calorie deficit. This means that we need to burn more calories than we consume. We can do this by increasing our NEAT, exercising, or eating fewer calories.

Here are some tips for increasing your NEAT:

  • Stand up and move around every 20-30 minutes.

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

  • Park further away from your destination.

  • Fidget more.

  • Get up and move around during commercials.

  • Do chores around the house instead of sitting down.

  • Take a daily walk

Be aware that if you cut your calories too much and create too much of a deficit your body "reacts" to protect your fat reserves and although you may not even notice it you will move less, whether it manifests as less fidgeting or you end up spending an extra hour in bed or watching tv on the sofa, you will move less because you feel more tired than normal. This increased inactivity offsets some of the calorie deficit - so you need to find a balance.

There are numerous ways to create a calorie deficit:

  • Tracking foods in a food diary such as MyFitnessPal or Nutracheck to build your knowledge and awareness of what you are eating and how calorie and nutrient dense each meal or snack you include in your diet is.

  • Eat smaller portions, obvious I know but simply using smaller plates to serve your food can ensure you don't mindlessly overload your plate as you fill the space that is available.

  • Choose healthier foods. In practice healthier foods are not only good for you, they are more fibrous and/or contain higher levels of protein and so they also tend to fill you up more than "junk food" - minimising hunger is key to ensuring your "diet" is easier to stick to.

  • Minimise sugary drinks and processed foods: These end to be low in nutrients and lack fibre or protein to fill you up. We can all have a treat now and again, but if you are having sweets and chocolate every day - it is not a treat.

  • Exercise regularly. The key here is to find something you enjoy and to keep it up. switch it up if you get bored but make sure that moving (keeping your NEAT high) is key.

By tracking your NEAT and calorie deficit, you can take control of your weight loss and reach your goals. The trick is then to ensure you create an energy balance to maintain your weight AND recognising that going back to your old eating habits and exercise habits (or lack of) will send you back to where you were.

1. Make gradual changes to your diet.

Don't try to overhaul your diet overnight. Instead, make small changes that you can stick with over time. For example, start by cutting out sugary drinks or processed foods. Then, gradually add more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to your diet.

2. Increase your physical activity.

Exercise is essential for weight loss and weight maintenance. Aim for at least 30 minutes of -intensity exercise most days of the week. Don't think you have to engage in intense cardio e.g. running or HIIT. Those types of exercises do have health benefits but in reality, gentler exercise like walking, swimming, biking, or dancing are all good for you too.

3. Get enough sleep.

When you're sleep-deprived, your body produces more of the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead to weight gain. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night.

4. Manage stress.

Stress can also lead to weight gain. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as yoga, meditation, or spending time in nature.

5. Strength training

strength training for women is essential to help to build and replace muscle mass that we naturally lose as we age, by taking steps to retain and build muscle we can help to boost our metabolism and retain/improve our daily physical function as we age.

6. Be patient and persistent.

Losing weight takes time and effort. Your weight fluctuates for all kinds of reasons, and your scales are not measuring fat they are measuring your total weight including food in transit, water retention, hormonal reasons. Your salt intake, how fibrous your food is all show up on the scales, meaning an occasional salty treat and/or the extra fruit and veg that you are introducing into your diet will show up on the scales - but remember ITS NOT FAT!

So don't get discouraged if you don't see results immediately and/or your results are not consistent. Just keep at it and focus on the overall trend of your weight over multiple weeks and months (not days!).

If you keep at it and are consistent you will eventually reach your goals.

Here are some additional tips that may help you lose weight and keep it off:

  • Set realistic goals. Don't try to lose too much weight too quickly. Aim to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

  • Find a support system. Having friends or family members who are also trying to lose weight can help you stay motivated.

  • Make it a lifestyle change. Behaviour change is critical to maintaining your weight loss. Never think of weight loss as a temporary diet. Instead, make changes to your diet and lifestyle that you can stick with for the long term.

Losing weight and keeping it off is a challenge, as it does require changes to how you live your life, but it is possible with hard work and dedication to finding a new way that works for you.

I hope you found this blog post helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I focus on supporting women in midlife start and maintain a fitness programme for the physical and mental health benefits and build new healthy habits that often get neglected as we progress through midlife.

You can DM me on Instagram @fitforapurposeuk and follow me on Instagram and Facebook for more help and guidance to reach your goals.

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