This is a sneak peek of the main post I’ll be writing about how I finally managed to shift the pounds this year. Weight loss over 40 is HARD.
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Recently I’ve mentioned that I’ve been able to fit into old clothes I couldn’t fit into a year ago – or even earlier this year, plus I FEEL so much better. It’s amazing the effect that getting fit has on both your physical and your mental health. I’ve still a little way to go, but for now, I feel healthier, happier and less stressed than I have done in a long time.
Getting fit again after a long period of not being fit and healthy is a challenge at any age, but the older you get, the harder it becomes. Anyone over the age of 40 – and especially those women who are peri, post or menopausal – would agree that it’s even harder once the M-word hits.
So I did promise a post before Christmas about all the things I did this year to shift the weight that I’ve been “trying” to shift for the past three years or so – but really, who’s going to take any notice of a post about fitness in November or December?
Instead, I thought I’d write a quick post about the three things that I think you can EASILY do in the run-up to Christmas that will get you into good habits. They won’t seem like you’re sacrificing anything at all (or even trying to lose weight). The main post about how I did it will be published in January, when I know people are more willing to read that sort of thing.
These tips are SO simple, but getting your head in the right place is the biggest hurdle to getting your fitness back. Do that and you’ll be on the right track in no time. It means that once the Christmas festivities are over, you’re already in the right frame of mind to get your weight loss programme started properly.
Please note: these things worked for me. They may not work for everyone, and I’m not a weight loss or fitness expert (always seek your doctor’s advice)! However, none of these tips are drastic – they’re just common sense – so I’m pretty confident that doing them will most likely help you like they helped me…
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The 3 W’s
I’m calling these three tips The 3 W’s as that makes them easier to remember! In fact, there are only two that you have to do on a regular basis, and they’re not difficult AT ALL. The third is a one-off thing to do before Christmas, and you’ll only have to revisit it once January rolls around.
(I just want to say that I don’t necessarily believe in the “I’ll start in January” thing. I firmly believe that if you can start any sort of regime RIGHT NOW, then that’s actually the best time to start. Procrastination is your worst enemy when it comes to shifting the pounds. But I’m also realistic, and I know that this time of year is difficult with the number of mince pies, Christmas drinks and pigs in blankets that are on offer! If you find the willpower to do The 3 W’s – or more – from today, you’ll be onto a winner even sooner.)
This will absolutely, always, forevermore be my no. 1 tip when it comes to fitness. Even if you do nothing else, WALK. Apart from shoes comfortable enough to do the job, it costs nothing. The longer you can walk for, and the faster you can go, the more your fitness levels will go up, and stay up. I find that even if I don’t do any other exercise, walking keeps my weight steady.
On the detox and fitness retreats that I go to, we do a vigorous two-hour group walk every morning, and we’re expected to do more walking in the afternoon (I regularly managed 25k – 30k steps a day). I know that’s an unrealistic amount to fit into a normal day at home, but it proves how much walking works (I’ve lost between 6 and 10lb a week on the retreats each time).
Try and fit walking into any sort of routine you have every single day, even if you can only fit in 15 minutes. Go as fast as you can for those 15 minutes.
Walking is excellent for so many reasons, not just fitness:
- It’ll save you money if you can ditch the car/bus/tube/train (even just part the way) and walk instead
- It’ll get you out the house/office and give your eyes a break from staring at a screen
- It’ll give you time to think and – if you’re lucky enough to live near any sort of green space – enjoy the sights and sounds of nature
I know people poo-poo and make fun of those of us that wear Fitbits – anyone would think that we’re obsessed [=ahem= guilty]! – but if you REALLY need to force yourself to move your arse and get walking, I can thoroughly recommend one.
I bought a FitBit Charge 3 which records steps, your heart rate, workouts, calories burned, etc. It tells the time, it’s a stopwatch, it does timed intervals for you, you can set vibrating reminders (great for waking you up in the morning). It can be set to vibrate every hour to tell you to move if you’ve sat still too long.
Bonus: it also shows you texts and reminders from your smartphone.
In my opinion, regular walking HAS to be part of any health regime if you want to lose weight and get your fitness back. It’s something you can do on the days you don’t feel like a main workout but it’ll still get your heart rate going.
Start walking now, today.
Boring, I know! But this is the one that everyone knows, but SO few people do it.
If you want any kind of weight loss or fitness programme to work, you HAVE to drink a lot of water. It’s as simple as that. The benefits FAR outweigh the (and let’s face it, it’s not exactly that much of a hardship) ‘difficulty’ in having to drink a lot of water.
If you already drink a lot of water, you’re doing one of the best things you can for your health, and it will – I promise you – make you feel better, help your skin, aid weight loss, stop headaches… the list goes on and on.
However be honest with yourself: are you like me and think, “Yes, I always drink a lot of water!”…? Are you REALLY, though? I’m one of those people that say they drink water (and I’m happy to do so), but quite often a whole day goes by and I realise I haven’t actually drunk any plain water at all. Lots of herbal teas, yes, and I don’t drink anything fizzy, but plain water… hmm, I forgot.
You’ve got to actually DO IT, not just say you’re the sort of person who does.
To help me to just damn well remember to hydrate myself, I got myself a sports motivational water bottle. It has “times to drink” printed on the front so you know how much you should be drinking at what times of the day – I’ve found it’s the absolute best thing to keep me hydrated and drinking enough. Look at the time, check the bottle – oops I’ve not kept up, drink to that line!
There’s no wondering about how much you’ve drunk and whether it was enough, and of course it stops you buying water in plastic bottles when you’re out and about.
I refuse to believe those that say they don’t like water – it’s the lamest excuse in the world to not treat your body with the respect it deserves. If you’re serious about getting fit and losing weight, you NEED water, full stop.
Bear with me on this one: I don’t want to put you off so soon! This is the third option that you only need to consider at the moment – and when I say “at the moment”, I mean in November, in the run-up to Christmas.
If I backtrack a few years:
My weight gain happened gradually over the course of 3-4 years, mostly due to the “injury” I suffered in 2015 (which was actually a misdiagnosis) and then the resulting operation I had at the beginning of last year. Each time during those years I got a bit better and was able to exercise, I tried – in vain – to get the weight off by doing lots of cardio.
I mean it when I say: Cardio will only get you so far.
Again, it’s one of those things that we know because we read it so often, but resistance training – in other words, using weights – is just as important (if not more so) than cardio.
When I was previously (and unsuccessfully) trying to lose weight, I would do the occasional weights in between lots of cardio during the week. But what actually changed the game for me was when I started doing weights every day (5-6 times a week) this summer. Only then did the weight start to shift. After doing 20-30 minutes of simple exercises at home with weights plus a vigorous walk of 30-60 minutes, I began to see results.
Walking was my main cardio, and I only added about two other cardio routines each week.
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO GO TO THE GYM. I’ve never stepped foot inside one. If you like going to the gym, that’s brilliant – do it! It’s just not for me.
All you have to do at this stage (i.e. before Christmas) is just get yourself some small dumbells. Or, put them on your Christmas wish list. Nothing fancy, just a set of two is enough to start you off. By all means, start exercising with them now – but it’s okay to start after Christmas. Just get them now, or make sure you definitely receive some as a gift.
Unless you’re already exceptionally strong, I’d say start with a 2kg (4.5lb) set – these neoprene dumbells are what I’d recommend. The material is slightly ‘rubbery’ and they have a flat edge so they won’t roll around, plus they’re exceptionally dense so are quite small.
Once I got stronger I moved up to a 3kg (6.5lb) set, and to be honest 3kg is heavy enough to give me a really good workout now and in the future. You don’t want them so heavy that you pull a muscle and then give up. Start small!
In terms of actual exercises, the dumbells come with a chart to give you lots of ways to create your own home weights workout. When I publish the long post in January about how I lost the weight I’ll include the actual exercises I do every day. Though again, these are catered specifically for me and the areas that I need to work on; I’ll talk about how to cater the exercises for YOU and what YOUR body needs.
I’m sorry if “doing weights” sounds boring – believe me, some days I really don’t fancy it! – but I promise you, doing it makes ALL the difference. I honestly think that this one thing changed the game big time for me. I’d read in the past about how resistance training boosts your metabolism, and I swear it did for me. Even during the summer, when drinking G&Ts, barbeques and summer puddings were happening quite frequently, I still managed to lose weight (much to my surprise).
I honestly attributed it to the weights workout. It’s a game-changer.
So, the 3 W’s in summary…
Get the WEIGHTS now. Start WALKING as much as you can. And drink WATER.
If you can get through Christmas with those three things in place, you’ll find that starting a new programme in January won’t be as much of a struggle. Your head should be in a good place. And you’ll be ready and raring to go.
Let me know if you intend to put the 3 W’s into practice – and how you get on – in the comments!
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