The weighty issue. It’s been great to have comments and emails since Midlife Chic launched and one question that people keep asking is about how to lose weight after 40. I hadn’t intended to blog about this but I think because I talked about how much better losing weight had made me feel, you are naturally wondering how I did it. Before I start I need to say that I can see the beauty in all body sizes, in fact Mr MC was 19 stone when I married him so although I think it’s good to be toned, I’m not saying you have to be thin. In fact skinny does you no favours at all after 40 because your face goes all wrinkly. It’s just a case of finding the balance you’re happy with. If you’re not happy with your weight, don’t spend your life being miserable and hating your body, commit to doing something about it – you can lose it – honestly.
My weighty story
Until I was in my early 20s (probably when I started living the good life in London), I was a skinny thing averaging less than 8 stone without ever thinking about it. In fact I never really thought about my weight until after I had my first baby at 29. However once I went back to work full time, the extra pounds fell off. With baby number 2 and peculiar cravings for Marmite spread on white chocolate (!) I didn’t put much on. I joined a gym for the first time after he was born and again the weight fell off. However after baby number 3, at the age of 36, everything changed, it just didn’t shift.
My Weight Watchers hell
In 2004 I joined Wight Watchers for the first time and used to cry on the scales every week after weighing, measuring and counting resulted in tiny weight losses of half a pound a week. Oh it was miserable. I lost weight miserably, gave up for a few months, went back to Weight Watchers, lost weight miserably, gave up and so it went for a few years.
Dukan, 5:2, Atkins etc
I also tried all these. 5:2 was the worst for me – I put weight on. I think if you’ve done restrictive plans like Weight Watchers and then you try this you just use it as an excuse to eat cake and chocolate for 5 days a week!
How I did it
This time last year I was back to the weight I’d been after my 3rd baby but with no baby as an excuse. We were on an Easter holiday in Wales when I realised and I spent the first couple of days beating myself up. After that though, it was good timing. We had terrible weather so we were all hunkered down in a cosy cottage with a lovely log burner. I spent days trawling through websites on my iPad looking for the answer. Of course like everyone I was looking for a miracle but there really wasn’t one. What I realised was that the most important thing is the right frame of mind. You have to decide that you will do it, you can do it and that this time you won’t go back. What I needed was an eating plan rather than a diet, something that I wouldn’t put an end date to. I needed to stop dieting for deadlines like holidays and Christmas so that I could then put it all back on again.
Anyway the formula I decided on was the obvious mix of achievable exercise and a regime that didn’t look like a diet. When we arrived back home there was a Slimming World postcard on the doormat. I decided it must be a sign and went along to my first session that week. I can honestly say I have never looked back. It took me 6 months to get to my target weight at the beginning of December (I lost 1 stone 10 lbs in total) and I have kept it off. Slimming World is great because you don’t weigh food or count calories, you eat loads and you have a syn allowance every day which I keep for a 9pm bar of chocolate – how good is that!
I also bought some Withings scales which are pretty pricey but they send a chart to my phone every day monitoring body mass, fat mass, weight, heart rate etc and it’s made me keep an eye on things daily which I’ve found I need to do.
The exercise bit
Sorry but I’m going to say that whether you diet or not, you do need to do this after 40 I’m afraid. Dog walking isn’t enough if you want to have good structure underneath your clothes. Otherwise you spend your time obsessing about whether you’ve disguised the lumpy bits which is so draining. Now I am NOT a naturally sporty person. In fact my PE teacher used to run behind me with a nettle when we did cross country (Miss Leach if you ever read this I still don’t forgive you). However I’ve found one thing that I seem to be able to keep doing consistently (and have even started to enjoy) and that is Kettlercise. I like it because the whole class is only 45 minutes, each exercise is only 1 minute and it tones your whole body and covers cardio at the same time. I have also just started a 6 week course of Pilates because of a back problem but I don’t know whether I’ll keep going with that.
The other reason for exercising consistently is because we’re heading towards 50 and friends who have passed that particular birthday tell me it’s like hitting a brick wall (literally). Apparently everything starts to hurt and droop and ache practically overnight. My thinking is that if you’re a bit fit and a bit supple it should stave that off for a bit.
One last thing
You might not like the idea of this but the other thing I did was stop the nightly wine habit of a glass or 2 with Mr MC once the boys were in bed. I bought a really good coffee maker instead and now have a decaf latte with my 9 o’clock chocolate which hits the same spot. I sleep better, have more energy, my headaches have gone and I can divert the £40 a month I used to pay into Virgin and Naked Wine banks to my clothes fund. I read Jason Vale’s book “Kick The Drink Easily” which is amazing because it hypnotises you as you read it – it really works and wine loses its hold. For a while we even didn’t drink when we went out with friends (Mr MC joined me on this when he saw how good I was feeling) but that didn’t work – they thought we were boring because we were sober and we thought they were boring because they were p***ed. So now we drink wine socially and in fact as I write this, I am regretting the 2 bottles of nice Syrah that we shared with my sister and bro-in-law last night!
Talk to your chimp
A final tip, I saw an interview with Zoe Ball and she recommended The Chimp Paradox by Dr Steve Peters who worked with the British cycling team for the 2012 Olympics. It’s a mind management book and it helps you to understand why you eat stuff you shouldn’t and don’t go to the gym – it’s all down to your inner chimp and you need to talk to him!!
Anyway that’s it – the blog post I wasn’t going to do has ended up being a long one. Do get in touch if you want to talk about this. I think it’s so important to feel good about the body that’s underneath your clothes but it really is a battle at the beginning when you want to change it. Good Luck x
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