Okay, so I hear people telling me that it is hard to lose weight after 40. Yes I definitely agree that losing weight after 40 is not an easy task, but I did it and you can too. Here are some of the tips I've acquired over my years of experience of battling the bulge. I combined all the diets, all the literature on obesity into one. I came to the conclusion that I needed to change my eating pattern, as my environment was not going to change.
I want to tell you my story regarding obesity. I was a chubby, cute baby. I recall hearing my mother tell me how cute I was, with those chubby thighs, and that I was a good eater. She was very proud of me and I guess of herself as a mother. After all, she was showing the world that she was doing a great job as a parent. This probably didn't help me along my journey into adolescence and young adult life as I battled weight. I had learned an eating pattern which was not beneficial to me and was actually making me gain weight over the years. I learned that I needed to clean my plate as their where many starving children in Africa and that I should not leave any food on my plate.
The tips that I share are not in any specific order. They are just facts, and tips that I learned over the years, what worked and didn't work, and what the literature shows works. It will work for you, if you implement them.
The most important tip is discovering your reason for losing weight. I call it your WHY. Your WHY needs to be the most important reason you have for losing weight.
It can be looking good and sexy, it can be fitting into size 4 from a size 16 or avoiding diabetes. It can be fitting into a bathing suit, it can be fitting into a wedding dress.
Whatever your WHY is, it needs to be strong and powerful. It needs to be the utmost thought when you wake up in the morning, when you are at a party, when you are sitting in front of some cake, chocolate, or ice cream. The point is that it needs to be your WHY and no one else's. I find that when our WHY is powerful we can be strong to attack the many temptations of food that are all around us. It cannot be anyone else's WHY, it must be yours. Write it down, hang it on your mirror. Do whatever it takes to remind yourself WHY you are changing your eating pattern.
Do not think of losing weight as a diet. When we think of weight loss as a diet, our brains accept it as a temporary event. Something that we will do for just a short period of time and then stop. If we think of losing weight as a change of my eating pattern, then I'm more likely to succeed, because I am not fixed into a diet. My mindset shifts from diet to a eating pattern. Each one of us has a body structure, a metabolism, genetics, hormonal and environmental influences that affect our ability to lose and gain weight. The metabolism, hormones, environmental changes daily and so our eating pattern must evolve as well. No one would argue that what I ate at age 10, I metabolize differently at age 61. My pattern of eating needs to change as I age, it cannot remain the same.
Do not punish yourself for blowing your eating pattern today. I like to call it my eating pattern instead of a diet. If I think of it as a pattern, then it is not a diet, but a way of life. Sometimes I may get off my pattern, but eventually I will and should go back to it. If I am on a pattern to lose weight, I will eventually lose, if I am on a pattern to gain weight I will eventually gain, if this is what I want, of course. By thinking of diet as a food pattern I am able to change and compromise and incorporate my food preferences into my pattern and make it a way of life, instead of a diet. I can make my eating pattern fun. By changing my mindset I am more likely to succeed and maintain my weight loss. Preferably I should have a fun, variable and adaptable eating pattern that adapts to my environment. We all have different preferences to foods, different food triggers. Since we are all are built differently, our pattern of eating needs to change if we want to lose weight. So if I weigh 200lbs and I want to lose 60lbs, I need to understand that whatever pattern of eating I have now, which got me to 200 lbs. will need to change. I will need to ingest less calories per day to reach my goal. I will need to change my eating habits, and my pattern of eating to lose the weight.
Have a goal in mind.
I like to think in chunks of goals. So in my example of losing 60lbs, for instance, I will imagine myself 30 lbs. less in 6 months, that's 5lbs less per month, that's 1-2lbs less per week, which is doable. I can easily lose 1-2lbs per week, and so can you. If my goals are unrealistic I will get discouraged and never attain my goal. I will psychologically punish myself for not achieving my weight loss. But if my goals are realistic I can and will be able to attain my ultimate goal.
Set a deadline for your goal and be realistic about it. I set my goal of 40lbs by the end of the year. I nearly made it by 5 lbs, I had lost 35lbs, but I was happy nevertheless, I was able to fit into size 6 which was close enough. I was 35 lbs less than what I started in February 2018.
Find a support group. Minds that think alike will often work together for a common goal. Having a support group is akin to having an AA meeting (Alcoholic Anonymous), where people with a common problem come together to discuss and support one another.
Eat food with protein, fiber and low caloric index. Eating chicken breast with no skin, steamed salmon, fruits and vegetables instead of fried chicken, macaroni and cheese is essentially changing a pattern of eating. I can have macaroni and cheese, fried chicken but not every day and I certainly don't need to eat large quantities of it. I can easily find recipes of fried chicken or macaroni and cheese with a lot less calorie. We live in a great time, we have access to many recipes, ideas, apps, information on the internet on foods, calorie of foods, exercises, etc. We need to learn how to use all this information to our advantage.
Drink water. Many times we are not hungry, but actually thirsty.
The hypothalamus which is the area of the brain responsible for hunger does not know the difference between hunger and thirst.
So if I drink water before I eat, many times the hunger will go away. In addition to this I fill my stomach with water and end up eating much less.
Get an appetite suppressant if needed. Some of us need a jump start with an appetite suppressant. There are many on the market, ask your doctor.
Increase your metabolism. Either increase the metabolism by exercising, or add Taurine, which is found in Light’s On.
Take some prebiotic.
Top 10 Foods Containing Prebiotics
Raw, Dry Chicory Root
Raw, Dry Jerusalem Artichoke
Raw, Dry Dandelion Greens
Raw, Dry Garlic
Raw, Dry Leek
Raw, Dry Onion
Raw Wheat bran
Whole Wheat flour, Cooked
Never eat after 7PM. Eating late, usually means we will be in bed after and not burn as much calories as if we were moving about.
Limit alcohol. It's no wonder the restaurants offer alcohol as soon as you sit. They know that if customers drink, they will eat more and spend more.
Check your thyroid. Hypothyroidism which is a sluggish thyroid, can cause weight gain, or at least make it more difficult to lose weight. Many times as people age the thyroid may be less active and produce less hormone and therefore change the metabolism.
Check your medications. Some medications will actually make people gain weight, Many of the serotonin inhibitors for depression will actually make people gain weight. Before you decided to stop your antidepressant check with your doctor if they can switch you to an antidepressant that does not have weight gain as a side effect.
Eat your meals on a small plate. When we eat our food in a small plate, we visualize the food as being more than what is actually is. When we have our food in a big plate it looks less, and we tend to feel as if we didn't eat much.
Plan your meals, parties, events. Eat before you go to a party, this way you are not hungry when you get there.
Eat a piece of fruit before you go home from work, this way when you get home, you are not starving and ravenous.
Make a list of your grocery items and stick with your list. Avoid processed foods as they have more salt, sugar, fats and calories.
Reevaluate your WHY, GOALS. Every once in a while I reevaluate my WHY, my GOALS.Once I got to my goal weight, I needed to maintain the weight that I had accomplished. I got rid of all my large size clothes and bought size 4 and I certainly don't want to go back to size 14, so I need to evaluate my WHY and my GOALS.
Recognize when you eat because of boredom, stress, anxious. While practicing addiction medicine, I realized that I was not any different than the addicts to alcohol, opioids, and benzodiazepine. In order to empathize with my patients, I felt I needed to understand addiction from the standpoint of behaviour, environment, cravings, triggers, so that I could be in their skin, without actually using alcohol, and drugs. We all are humans and as such we have receptors in our brain that are responsible for pleasure. Those receptors are called dopamine and serotonin. When alcohol, or opioid binds to the dopamine receptor, there is a sense of pleasure.
When my brain sees chocolate there is the same stimulation of these receptors, my mouth salivates and all I want is a nice piece of milky chocolate.
Now, I can eat an entire bag of chocolate, just like the alcoholic can drink an entire bottle of alcohol. I can think of many reasons why I deserve to eat that chocolate just like an alcoholic or heroin addict can. So, recognizing why I am craving that chocolate is important to understand, and this is when mindful eating comes in.
Get plenty of sleep. There are more studies coming out regarding the importance of sleep in our well being. During sleep we produce cortisol which helps us in the fight and protection from stress. When we lack sleep we are tired, our minds are not as sharp and we crave sugar and foods to compensate for the lack of sleep and fatigue.
Do some form of exercise, Any type of exercise. Whatever you enjoy. Muscle does burn more calories than aerobic, and the effects of building muscle become more important as we age.
Limit the breads, sugar, salt, and saturated fats. Sugar, salt and saturated fats increase our appetite. Its no wonder that the food industry knows too well. They actually have panel of people trying their chips to find out which ones can be more addicting, by asking the panel to try the different ones.
Eat more foods in the natural form. By avoiding processed foods we actually end up eating less salt and sugar and eat more fiber, get more of the vitamins and minerals in the food.
Cook your meals. When we cook our meals, we know exactly what went into it. The type of oil, the quantity of sugar, the type of sugar. We also save money by cooking our meals. We eat less by cooking our meals and not eating in the restaurants
Bring food to work
I’m I big proponent of bringing my food to work. Not only do I save money, I know what I am eating, and I end up eating much less.
Eat slowly. Put your fork down, chew.
Cut out distractions. Cut out the TV, the videos, the computer.
Some friends mean well, but they can be a bit jealous when it comes to our success. They bring us cookies, cakes, and insist that we try their cooking. They believe that by feeding us they are showing their love for us.
Keep motivation alive. Keeping my motivation is the hardest of all tips. It is something I am constantly working on.
Being persistent in your goal. It's a slow process, quitting won't speed it up. Rome wasn't built in one day, and I certainly didn't get to this big in one year or two. It took years of bad eating patterns to get to this size and it will take at least one year or more to get to my goal. Being patient and persistent in my goals.
Commemorate your winnings. I commemorate my winnings by doing something I like, such as buying a dress, or blouse, dressing up, getting a massage, or painting my nails. Something that is rewarding without revolving around food.
As science evolves we are just beginning to understand that obesity is actually quite complicated, with hormones, like Cortisol, Leptin, Ghrelin, sleep deprivation, stress, and our minds playing an important role in how we eat and gain weight. These mechanism of self-preservation which were once so paramount during evolution of man, have remained with us at a time when food is abundant in the US. Understanding the reasons and the mechanisms will help us understand and accept that losing weight is not an easy task but can be achievable if we only focus on the tips above.
Lidia Oliveira, DO
Medical Director of Transformations
Medical Director of Golden Cove
Expert Consultant Abbason and Associates