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When I first plunged into my weight loss journey over 5 years ago I didn’t have a plan. I had no idea where to start and had nightmare thoughts of all my past diets on repeat play through my head. I didn’t have a “best tips to make menopause weight loss a success” blog post to read.
The Bread Diet, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, calorie deprivation to the point I was starving and a fridge stocked to brimming with cottage cheese and lettuce. I’d done it all, and hated it all, and failed miserably at it all.
This is what I knew:
- I needed to lose weight, that stubborn menopause belly fat that was hanging on around my middle was getting me down.
- As perimenopause moved into menopause I felt like hell
- I was tired and didn’t sleep
- I didn’t like my body
- I was determined
- I needed to make it work for me and my health
- The chances are that I would fail again
- To lose weight naturally after 50 is difficult
Then I went ahead and did exactly what so many who fail at menopause weight loss do. Barged on head first, with no plan, into cutting out all sugar and grains.
Five and a bit years later I have lost the weight and kept it off. I am one of the few that have made it menopause weight loss a success despite no planning or idea of how I was going to do it.
I think perhaps, I succeeded because I educated myself and moved forward with more knowledge of why we put on weight in midlife and the best things we can do to take it off.
Don’t do what I did.
What Makes Menopause Weight Loss A Failure?
For many of us, weight loss typally starts with extreme changes.
Cutting out whole food groups, shopping for truck loads of diet foods sugar free this and fat free that. Cottage cheese and lettuce usually made an appearance for me.
And, of course, getting up at mad o’clock to sweat it out with all the other mado’clockers at the gym.
Then by the end of the first week you give up and go back to snacking on the couch while binging the latest netflix series, because it was just all too hard.
And I won’t lie the first few weeks will be hard. There will be cravings and times when you want to give it all up. I know this because I went through it. The difference this time was I was mentally prepared and there was no way I was failing. I knew that this would probably be my last chance to finally have the health and body I wanted.
You will want to revert back to your old habits more than once because this is your place of comfort and ease. This is where preparing correctly will help.
So, if I don’t sweat my leopard print leggings off at the gym and throw out all the cheesecake and potato chips what should I do?
Here are the ten key differences between your potential success and those that fail.
Disclaimer: When I wrote this post I originally had 10 tips then changed my mind and added another and a bonus while forgetting to change the title. So although the post says there are 10 there are 11 plus a bonus. Surprise!
1. Sort your mindset
I’m super busy with (insert all the things most people get busy with here), I‘m big boned, I’ve tried to lose weight before and it doesn’t work for me, my genes dictate I’ll always be big. My whole family were big people, I love bread too much, I don’t want to give up sugar.
I’m super busy, I’m big boned, I’ve tried to lose weight before and failed and my whole family are big people but that has no bearing on this current challenge. I’ll struggle to give up bread and cut down on sugar but this time I refuse to accept anything other than success.
Take this time to plan. Get yourself ready. Put everything in place. This is not a chore. This is how to make sure your weight loss journey is fun and successful.
It’s time to add yourself to the small group of people who have successfully lost menopause weight and kept it off.
2. Know Your Why
Wanting to lose weight or your subborn belly fat and feel 10 years younger isn’t enough. You’re not fully attached to this. There needs to be an emotional attachment to the outcome.
Yes you want to lose weight but what will that get you?
How will your life change if you lose the weight?
How do you think your close friends and family will see you?
What will you feel?
What will you be able to do that you couldn’t do before?
Dig deep here.
Keep asking yourself the next question. You’ll know when you have found your WHY because it will make you feel emotional. Hold on to that feeling.
3. Set A Realistic Goal
I want to lose some weight by Christmas isn’t going to cut it.
I will lose 5 kilos by Christmas and I will do this by cutting out all refined sugar and wheat and I will exercise in some form for at least 30 minutes 6 days per week.
A goal like this will distract you from the outcome and you can place your focus on building your daily habits.
It’s important to make the goal you set realistic.
Losing 5 kilos in one week is not healthy.
Going from no exercise at all to exercising for 2 hours a day is not sustainable.
Deprivation will only see you fail.
Track your journey in a pretty journal.
Get on the scales. Ones like these will do everything except cook you dinner.
If you are a regular reader you’ll know I hate scales. I think we tend to fixate on the numbers. But for this goal it is good to have at least a start point.
I don’t recommend using the scales everyday but maybe jump on them once a week to see how you’re doing.
If you can take some pictures and measurements. Not something we enjoy doing but it’s important for the purpose of tracking your progress.
And while you’re at it say goodbye to those numbers because you don’t have to look at them again.
Get a My Fitness Pal account.
This is a great way to track what you eat which will make it obvious where any problems in your diet may be hiding and where you can make tweaks and adjustments.
4. Balance Your Hormones For Weight Loss
During perimenopause and menopause estrogen levels start to decline, but not necessarily in a straight line. Sometimes estrogen can be more dominant in perimenopause than in the past.
These fluctuations can cause us to put on weight especially around our middle.
Thyroid issues can also become more prevalent in menopause. Thyroid levels can be affected by the lower estrogen levels.
Keep your hormones balanced by eating healthy wholefoods, exercising, keeping stress levels down and getting good sleep.
And actually that’s exactly what you need to do to lose weight.
5. Healthy Eating Not Deprivation
Eating healthy is about what you get to eat not what you don’t get to eat. You get to eat healthy unprocessed wholefoods that are low in sugar.
Cut out as much sugar and processed carbs (such as bread and pasta) from your diet as you can.
Drink water, not fruit juice or soda.
Avoid low fat. When the fat is cut out they add sodium and/or sugar to keep it tasting good.
Most of your menu should be plant products with a little bit of animal protein and only if you wish.
6. Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is perfect for women in menopause who want to lose weight.
Essentially it is extending the time between one meal and the next. Maybe your last meal of the day and breakfast the next morning.
It is an easy way to manage weight.
Fasting reduces your body’s glucose stores which it uses as an energy source from food. Without glucose for energy your body switches over to burning fat for fuel.
Intermittent fasting carries all kinds of other benefits for women in menopause:
- Increases energy
- Promotes cellular repair
- Improves memory
- Reduces insulin resistance
There are different types of intermittent fasting but I recommend your eating window to be within a shortened period of between 8 and 10 hours.
Intermittent fasting can improve insulin sensitivity. Insulin sensitivity is an important factor in hormone balance. Perfect for women in midlife.
I’m not talking about hours of sweating it out amongst the testosterone at the gym. In fact heavy cardio can raise your cortisol which will make weight loss extra hard.
Truly, cardio can be as simple as a 30 minute walk.
I recommend mixing it up and doing some cardio one day and some resistance training such as weights or yoga the next. Wherever you are at start there. Then build on it.
- If you can only walk for 10 minutes do that. But walk for 11 the next day.
- If you can only lift light weights do that until it feels too easy to be doing any good. Then choose bigger ones.
- If you can only lift your weights 5 times, do that then lift them 6 times the next day, or the day after that.
- Push yourself as much as you can until it starts to feel uncomfortable and keep building on that.
Do you see what I am trying to get at? There is no hard and fast rule about what should be done and how. The only rule is that you do something.
And for goodness sake choose to do something that you enjoy. I don’t care if it’s mud wrestling. If it makes you move your body until you’re a little puffed then you’re doing good.
I quite fancy trying this Figure 8 thing that I see all over Facebook at the moment but that mightn’t be the bomb diggity for you. It’s just one idea for how you can fit movement into your life.
8.Treat this like a project
And go all in.
This is not just about losing some weight. It is an investment in your health.
You won’t be finished in a few weeks and be done with it. You are always building, layer upon layer of better healthier habits until you feel so friggin’ awesome you don’t know how you got through your 20’s and 30’s at all.
Good health, or lasting weight loss doesn’t happen in days, or with a few decisions. It takes months or longer of consistent effort.
Shit happens. Sometimes good shit. Sometimes bad shit.
Travel. Vacation. Kids. Work. Life.
So, focus on keeping going. Until your default is healthy because you can’t imagine any other way.
- Exercise regularly without fail. Yes, even on vacation. Yup, a swim up and down the pool, leg exercises in the spa.
- Go for a walk every single morning, even when it’s sleeting rain.
9.Write Menu Plan with grocery list
Menu planning can get overwhelming and become a bind so keep it simple. We’re not getting fancy here.
Use any healthy recipes you already know and maybe throw in a couple new ones you’ve found. The point is to get into the habit and then you can build up a library of healthy go to recipes that work for you and your family.
This first time menu planning may take some time so sit down with your coffee and a notebook and go for it . Once you get the hang of it, it’ll get quicker and easier.
If you really hate the thought of planning out meals then I recommend PLATE JOY. This is an easy to use app in which you can design your own healthy menu with grocery lists to help you save time and eat better. They have all sort of recipes that cater to keto, paleo, low carb. Whatever suits you best.
(Insert vision of dusting off hands)
Done and dusted!
10. Schedule your health
I don’t know about you, but if it is not in my calendar or to do app it may as well not exist.
Habits only become habits when you schedule them in.
Asana or Trello or just post it notes on a whiteboard.
Look at your calendar and physically enter your weight loss activities. It might sound silly to put exercise or grocery shopping into your calendar but with busy schedules if it’s not in there as a reminder then other things can easily take over and before you know it you’ve gone days without a walk.
This may not be forever. When you have been doing the same thing at the same time every day in forever it will become second nature.
Once it is in your calendar you can set reminders to help remember when something needs to get done. I check my calendar every week for upcoming appointments and then check each day for what I should be doing at what time.
11. Declutter the pantry, fridge and freezer
This is like clearing the decks for your new life.
It feels good to get rid of what doesn’t fit with your new way of eating and life.
This is not about completely cleaning out absolutely everything that looks remotely like a sugar or fat bomb.
Think of it as making room for the good stuff. Not just healthy foods but clearing out the bad energy that unhealthy foods add to your well being creates space in your mind for healthy thoughts.
It’s likely that you won’t get this all done in one go but keep a critical eye each time you open the pantry or fridge and toss the stuff that no longer serves you.
Some suggestions would be: sugar filled sauces, cereals, packet meals, chips, spreads, soft drinks and juices.
Deep belly breathing activates the detoxifying ability of our lungs.
When you do this you not only push out toxins but switch your nervous system from that of dealing with stress to what we call the rest and digest system.
You decrease stress which is better for weight loss and when you’re less stressed you are also better able to sleep which is also good for weight loss.
I want you to practice this type of breathing mid morning and evening. There is a description and video here.
One last thing – DON’T expect results in the first week…or the second. Focus instead on building new habits that will help you to feel (and look) amazing. Enjoy the process that will soon become your norm and know that this process shouldn’t feel like your walking down some dark tunnel into some sort of tasteless and foodless hell where everyone spends all day exercising and being hangry.
These are my top 10 plus one, tips to start your weight loss in the most successful way possible. If you have some tips of your own you think should be included here I would love to know them so add them in the comments.