Thanks to a slowing metabolism and decreasing muscle mass, the process of getting lean after 40 calls for a little extra oomph—especially if you’re trying to lose a significant amount of weight.
Sure, you probably know that you’ll have to cut back on the treats and move more. But it also takes some smart strategising to stay motivated and turn healthy habits into the kinds of lifestyle changes that will help you reach your goal weight and maintain it for years to come.
That’s where these tips come in. We talked with seven women over 40—all of whom have lost 15 or more kilos!—about the tools and methods that helped them make lasting healthy changes. And we've got to admit that they’re pretty darn genius! Try incorporating a few into your weight loss plan, and you just might find yourself on the fast track to getting into those skinny jeans. (Looking for even more slim-down secrets? Don’t miss these 6 things you must do to lose weight over 40.)
Photograph courtesy of Jamie Gold
Keep tempting treats out of the house.
“Don’t bring home foods you don’t want to snack on. If others in the house like treats, buy ones you dislike to avoid temptation. And keep your healthier foods—including veggies and high-protein snacks—front and center in the pantry, fridge and freezer. When it came to losing 45 kilos, this is one of the things that helped me the most.” —Jamie Gold, 56, kitchen designer
Photograph courtesy of Jennifer Carroll
Use old photos for motivation.
“Weighing myself every day helped me track my progress, but what helped the most was comparing myself to photos from before I lost the weight. It was like, 'Oh my goodness; I can't believe the difference from a 20 kilo weight loss!' The most memorable moment was when I was out to dinner with a good friend, and he took a selfie of us. When I saw the picture, I was like, ‘Damn! I have lost weight!’ I put that picture next to one from a few months earlier and was so proud of my progress. Looking at those photos daily definitely served as motivation and helped me stick to a healthy lifestyle.” —Jennifer Carroll, 41
Photograph by Kari Hammond
Keep a food journal.
“I started my 35 kilo weight-loss journey by tracking everything I ate with an app. I track right after I finish because if I wait until later, I don’t always remember. Sometimes I’ll even record before I eat, so I know if I have enough kilojoules for the day. That, paired with daily weigh-ins helps to keep me accountable.” —Kari Hammond, 42
Photograph courtesy of Deb Thompson
Say no to the stuff that zaps your energy.
“I lost 38 kilos between the ages of 39 1/2 and 41, and have kept it off for more than a decade. Part of how I did it was by saying ‘no’ to what I call No-Longer-Nourishing Commitments. I was working too many hours, which left me with little time or energy for working out or making healthy food. By saying no to some projects, I was able to devote more attention to preparing better food and moving my body. It also gave me more nourishing time with friends and family, which made junk food become less of a go-to comfort.” —Deb Thompson, 53
Photograph courtesy of Amanda Gibbon
Cook more from scratch.
“I learned how to cook from scratch and experiment with flavours. The biggest change my husband Mark and I made was planning our meals for the week on Sundays. We also rely on food optimising—using vegetables to bulk up our meals but still keep them low-kilojoule. It helped me lose 23 kilos and 8 dress sizes, while Mark lost 50 kilos.” —Amanda Gibbon, 46
Photograph courtesy of KJ Landis
Drink lots of water.
“In addition to eating a healthy diet, I lost 22 kilos by drinking 3.5 litres of water a day. I slowly increased my consumption and would add lemon or cucumbers for extra flavour. Drinking more water made it easier to tell if I was truly hungry, or just socially and emotionally hungry.” —KJ Landis, 52
Photograph courtesy of Mo Mindard
Tell friends and family about your desire to lose weight.
“Going public with my weight loss goals helped me lose 41 kilos. I joined a 61 Day Health Challenge program sponsored by my employer. Suddenly, I was accountable to all of my colleagues, not just myself. And the amount of support I was shown was enough motivation to propel me into a new world of healthy eating and healthy living.” —Mo Mindard, 43, nurse
First published: 8 Aug 2017