Have you been told that “someone your age” should just accept weight gain and the health risks that come with it?
Do you feel like it’s too late for you to make real changes?
You’re not alone. I thought those things too.
And then I got a little mad. Why not me? I changed my mindset and habits.
I changed my life in my late 40’s so I know it can be done.
Related: Read How to Start Lifting
Tip 1: Lose fat in phases.
Most people start a program thinking they will lose all the weight they need to lose in one phase.
Losing weight isn’t the problem – sustaining that weight loss is the problem.
Or – have you been on a diet for months and your body stopped responding before you were close to your goal?
Set a goal of losing 5-10% of your starting weight in one fat-loss phase.
If you weigh 200 pounds, that would be 10 to 20 pounds.
Lose weight slowly.
No more than 2 pounds a week.
Use “diet-breaks” strategically.
After that first phase, take a “diet-break” and maintain your new weight for a few months. Maybe longer.
Your body adapts to lower calories so this maintenance period with slightly higher calories will keep your metabolism from adapting to lower calories.
Repeat the cycle of fat-loss and maintenance as many times as needed to get to your goal weight.
Tip 2: Eat enough protein.
Protein will help you feel full when you’re eating less food.
Protein is “muscle-sparing”. That means if someone is dieting but eating enough protein, their body will tend to burn fat, not muscle.
Consume 0.8 to 1 gram of protein for each pound of lean body mass. A 200-pound person who’s bodyfat is around 40%, would eat 84 to 120 grams of protein each day.
For a simple example, that would be 4 egg whites and 8-12 ounces of skinless chicken breast spread out over the day.
Tip 3: Set a goal about something you want to DO, not just about how much you want weigh.
Instead of asking yourself what size you would like to be, ask yourself what would you like to be in shape to do?
- Keep up with your kids or grand kids?
- Run a 5K?
- Do an obstacle course race?
- Compete in a bodybuilding contest or a power lifting meet?
There is nothing wrong with a scale or size goal, but after several failed attempts to lose weight, I figured out that a different kind of goal worked better for me.
As I got older, I was more concerned about losing the ability to participate in things.
I realized that a goal of being a certain size didn’t help me get up early to go to the gym before work.
My first goal was a Race for the Cure 5k. After that, I started bodybuilding. Fell in love with everything about that sport and I love to train.
Tip 4: Set daily/weekly behavior goals.
You may want to lose 20 pounds and have set a goal to do a 5K race. But those things won’t happen until you change daily habits.
Identify the new habits you would like to establish that will make your big goals side-effects of what you do.
Keep it simple and make them specific. You should be able to check them off a daily “to do” list if you use one.
Resist the urge to be really aggressive with new habits right away.
Start where you are right now and make small changes with a plan to increase them over time.
Examples of behavior goals that are appropriate if you’re just getting started…
- Get 1000 more daily steps to what you’re doing now. (Add steps when you are reaching this daily goal consistently.)
- Go to gym 2 times this week. (Add visits up to 5 when going twice is consistent.)
- Eat vegetables at 3 meals this week. (Add servings when this is consistent).
- Drink 3 glasses of water each day this week. (Add a glass when this is consistent.)
Tip 5: Set up an accountability system.
What do you need to keep working on establishing those new habits?
Some might use a habit tracker.
Some might need to set appointments with a friend, a trainer, or an online coach.
Personally, I worked with a nutrition coach first, then a personal trainer, and then an online coach when I felt confident as a lifter.
Tip 6: Expect setbacks.
Something will happen that can knock you off course. There is a 100% chance of it happening – illness, family emergency, work, etc.
Have an idea in the back of your mind about how you can modify your program during a week when something comes up that requires your time and attention.
In the free training, How to Get Fit and Stay Fit After 40, I’ll teach you how to set up a fitness program that’s flexible enough to stay consistent during these inevitable weeks when life happens.
Tip 7: Use determination instead of motivation as fuel.
It’s easier to do the things when we’re motivated, right? But it doesn’t last. And it’s not consistent.
Motivation is an emotion – not a mindset.
You can’t rely on motivation to propel you everyday.
Be determined to keep up with those daily habit goals you set.
Make a vow to stick to this program this time. Your self-care isn’t just about you. Your loved ones rely on you, so it’s important enough to use a “vow” instead of another promise to yourself that you may not keep.
Create a playlist of videos that help you feel a little “fire in the belly”. Watch when you’re feeling a little doubtful about whether you can do this.
Save quotes that empower you. I put them on post-it notes in my bathroom.
Tip 8: Be consistent, not perfect.
Your program does not need to be done perfectly to work. It just needs to be done. Some weeks will go smoothly. Some won’t.
Two hypothetical, but common, scenarios with two different people, both sticking with their nutrition plan…
“I’ll Do it Perfectly” Patty
She does 5 workouts a week for 3 weeks in January, loses 5 pounds, then quits during the fourth week when something came up that disrupted her schedule.
She didn’t get back to the gym until April, but she did not gain back that 5 pounds.
Total: 15 workouts in 3 months and lost 5 pounds.
“I’ll Just Be Consistent” Connie
5 workouts for 3 weeks in January, also lost 5 pounds, setback happens, but she did not quit.
She changed her program to two workouts a week for February and March.
Her fat-loss progress slowed, but it didn’t stop. She lost another 5 pounds over those two months.
Total: 31 workouts in 3 months and lost 10 pounds.
Tip 9: Be a Student
Most people try to do a health transformation on their own. Many are successful. Many more are not. It’s a big life change that is hard to do without help.
Start by researching. Find online resources you can read or videos to watch.
Talk to your doctor. You need them to give you the green-light to start a program. Some doctors have stayed current on new research in nutrition and exercise. Sadly, many have not. However, it’s always recommended to check with them before you start a new fitness program.
Tip 10: Just start! And be patient!
You’ll get there. Trying to change several daily routines at once is tough. If you try to do everything all at once, you increase the likelihood that you won’t stick with your program.
This is very much like learning to juggle. Start with tossing one ball, then two, then three…eventually you’re juggling! It’s working!
And then you drop a ball. It happens to all of us. It happens to me. When it does, I take a day to regroup, pick up the balls, and start again.
When I say these tips are “proven”, I mean I LIVED it. Thousands of others have done it too. A science-based, practical approach works. Did any of these resonate with you? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you.
Hi! I’m Tammy! I was a busy, stressed, and unhealthy teacher until I decided to take control of my health. I did not become an athlete until I was in my 50’s.
I earned personal training and fitness nutrition certifications, then retired from teaching to dedicate my work life to fitness education for other busy women over 40.
My results are obviously not typical because most people don’t train to compete as a bodybuilder.
But I believe everyone can make positive changes with healthy habits! Each of us has a unique combination of strengths and challenges that need to be considered to customize a program that will work for us. Science-based principles, flexibility, and consistency make all the difference.