I've not done a specific post on this question yet - although I have written in detail about my own journey to being leaner. Last week a friend texted me and asked for help on how to get started and how to get back in the gym. I will be meeting her for a cuppa and a good chat soon but I thought why not write down my recommendations to share with her but also my lovely followers too. That is why I started my blog - it is like chatting to friends and sharing ideas and knowledge - you don't have to listen but you might pick up a little gem of information that makes all the difference. A perfect pair of jeans or the start of a new leaner you!
This is a very simple introduction on where to start but is by no means comprehensive, I am not an expert, these are just some of the tips I have picked up along the way. It is common sense, simple advice ... if you want to change your lifestyle forever and learn how to do it in more detail then at the bottom of this post there are some really good suggestions for who to contact.
Firstly, forget the term 'weight loss' - what you really want is to look leaner, feel better in clothes, a bikini maybe, be stronger, fitter and healthier. The number on the scales is largely irrelevant - more later.
Forget all the 'diets' you've done in the past. We have moved on from traditional diet clubs and meal replacements. How I did it, what I still do and what I have learnt is far simpler and backed my science. Just ditch the word 'diet' or 'plan' ... it is a lifestyle choice.
Remember three key things - Nutrition, Mindset and Movement. Work on each one together. All three elements come together to give you the results you want. Never underestimate mindset! It is where it all starts - get the right mindset and you are off.
Calories are king. Yep macros are useful but we simply want to create a small (emphasis on small) calorie deficit, Worry about macros later when you get more experienced. Download My Fitness Pal and start logging everything you eat (update - I have found the NutraCheck app/website even better than MFP). Don't change your own diet yet, just log it, and adjust portion size. Don't let MFP calculate your calories for you though - more on how to do that later. Be accountable - if you eat cake and go over your calories one day then eat a bit less the next day.
Just a little note about clean eating here. Eating whole, nutritious foods is important and a good thing, definitely better than junk. But if you want to lose fat you still need to log what you eat and keep in a calorie deficit. For those that have lost fat due to 'just clean eating' it is simply because by changing your diet you naturally reduced calories. It is possible but not advisable - you can still eat too much whether it be 'clean' or 'junk'.
Don't weigh yourself. You need a starting point to calculate your calories but really stay off the scales - certainly do not weigh daily or even weekly - monthly if you must. Weight is not a good measure of success. Take photos every month (in a bikini or underwear) and measure - I prefer to measure in inches but it is entirely up to you. It is perfectly possible to look smaller and leaner but weigh more. Don't freak out.
Drink more water! Yep I am rubbish at this. There is a calculation for how much you need and it is not as much as you think - I feel some recommendations are way over the top. For me at 59 kg it is about 2 litres per day. But just checking your urine is a good enough indicator - google a chart to find out more!
Move more - walk. Forget 10k steps per day, that was just a marketing tool back in the sixties for the very first pedometer. Just get out in the fresh air and do some short walks - 6k steps per day is a good starting point, then increase it if you can - but you can take a weekly average so don't stress. Just 3 x 10 minute walks a day have been proven to be effective, you don't even need to track steps.
Forget hours of cardio - it is no better at 'fat burning' that any other exercise. I favour short HIIT's - approx 20 minutes. If you like running then run but there is no advantage to running over walking, it just takes a bit longer. I prefer to lift weights - as we get older having more muscle is really important and helps us burn fat - there is a load of sciency stuff about this but basically be strong! It is really good for hormones and menopause too.
If you can't exercise due to ill-health or injury then don't panic, walk if you can, it is just as effective. And remember calories are king!
Slow but steady wins the race - quick fat loss is more likely to go back on, You want to create a healthy long-term lifestyle you can sustain. So eat your favourite foods, don't cut out any food groups, carbs will not make you fat, sugar isn't the enemy - just eat within your calories! And make 80% of your diet nutritious whole foods, the other 20% can come from more convenient choices if that is what works for you.
And back to MINDSET - this is absolutely the biggest tool you will need for any of this. If you are prone to binge eating or emotional eating etc then here is where you start. I have made some suggestions below of who to follow on social media for the best mindset support. I have never been a binge eater - I feel naughty if I have three chocolate squares instead of two so I am no expert but I have seen some amazing success stories once you tackle your mindset.
The BEST educators to follow on Social Media ... I've linked to Instagram but they all have Facebook groups too.
My FAVOURITE support group ...
Fifty, Fit and Fabulous
And if you really want to learn and educate yourself for a long-term sustainable lifestyle change then look up these coaching or education options:
Dan Wheeler - 1:1 Coaching from Life Changing Fitness (or about to launch small group coaching) or join The 80/20 Lifestyle Plan and over 16 weeks learn everything there is to know about fat loss and getting healthier - unique in that they offer MINDSET education and him and his business partner have been obese so they really do understand.
Bev Thorogood at Floresco Fitness and Fat Loss Coaching (also runs Fifty, Fit and Fabulous on Facebook) - Bev has a seminar coming up in Milton Keynes on 22nd April and for £19.99 she will teach you the basics about Mind/Body Principles. I met Bev when we both did The Body Coach Plan and she has gone on to start her own coaching business based on the principles I talk about in this post.
James Smith - love him or hate him he does tell it like it is and he runs an online Coaching Academy that is full of videos on nutrition and weight training - fantastic one stop shop for sensible information. There is a monthly fee for this but you can join just for a month or longer or I think there is a free trial.
To learn how to calculate your calories for MFP then take a look at this article, or if you join James Smith he has an online calculator or Bev or Dan will do it for you as part of their coaching programmes.
You may notice that I have not included Joe Wicks, The Body Coach on these lists, I love Joe, he got me started and I have a huge respect for how he is bringing fitness and healthy eating to the attention of millions. I loved his plan and in fact I have his new, revitalised plan and am using many of his recipes at the moment. However, I feel that he doesn't offer the long term education that I think is needed - but it is a starting point and it worked for me. He has publicly said he doesn't believe in calories - and I feel very strongly that the other educators have pounced on this and misinterpreted his intention. Joe doesn't believe in 'counting calories' forever - his approach is to encourage you to find a balance and portion size that works for you, he thinks life is too short to never eat the dessert or log every morsel on MFP. I agree with him - once you get there you will slowly learn how to maintain and you do not need to log everything forever or be 'on a plan' forever.
For me a big key has been learning to love who I am now and embracing confidence. Accepting my body shape and that I am 50+ now not 20+ and my body has had two children and will never be the same shape but I am much happier at a size 8-10 not a 12 which for me felt huge. I am also well aware that I have never been obese or even really overweight. But I did feel uncomfortable and it is all relative. I have still learnt a lot and I hope that what I have learnt I can share with you and inspire you too.
Let me know if what I have said here proves to be helpful for you.
Feeling strong when I was skiing recently was a huge goal achievement for me, read more about it here. The weight lifting and all the squats and lunges paid off, I may moan at the time but it was worth it!
Just before I went away skiing I popped into Next and was quietly surprised by some of their new early Spring stock. I posted a few quick snaps on my Instagram stories but decided to do a longer post to share some of my finds with you.
How gorgeous is this pink blazer? And only £75, I absolutely loved the lining and the quality of Next Tailoring is very high. Perfect for a smarter casual look with denim when the weather warms up a bit more. Pink Check Pocket Blazer - order now for delivery in 2-3 weeks or check store stock.
Another with gorgeous lining, I can see this one with black jeans and a dusky rose scarf! Maybe this one from Sweet-Bea? Grey Texture Jacket - all sizes currently available.
The splashes of this lovely green everywhere really caught my eye too. I've just ordered a slogan jumper from Hush (grey with green writing) so this jacket on the left would look good with it. I love green and have not worn it so much recently - I've been favouring red or coral but it looks like green is going to be big again this season so I will be investing in a few pieces.
Packable Lightweight Jacket - £52
Ring detail shoulder bag - £32
This is the Hush jumper - Love Saves the Day Jumper £75, yes I am definitely seeing an outfit idea forming in my head!
And finally two khaki lightweight knits that I tried - I probably didn't need both of them but at £20 and £22 each I thought why not!? Both have a really soft, flattering drape to them, I will take outfit photos for Instagram soon - when it isn't as cold!
I started my journey to lean in April 2016 - we were skiing in St Anton, Austria and I felt fat and unfit. My skiing was suffering and I had lost my confidence. I signed up to The Body Coach while I was there and started when I got home.
I lost a stone and 17" but my ultimate goal was being able to ski confidently again, I also wanted to wear my favourite ski trousers and not the replacements I had to buy.
We didn't ski last year so this holiday was the test.
I felt so strong, I didn't ache, my legs coped with a day of skiing and I didn't need to keep stopping to 'rest', my arms and cardio fitness kept up with any poling that was needed on the flat part of the pistes. I was so proud of what I had achieved. In all the months of learning about nutrition and working on my mindset, I didn't really put it all to the test until I got on that bubble lift on the first morning to start my lesson. Basically - I did it! I hit my goal.
And I did manage to fit into the favourite ski trousers BUT I didn't wear them! Once I took into account tucking in all the layers to keep warm they would have been too uncomfortable and they are probably ten years old now - I was 40 then not 50 and the technical fabrics have moved on so I brought a new pair - same style, same colour, a bit bigger, elasticated waist, with space to feel comfortable. They looked good!
These two victories really gave me a new confidence - a confidence to know that what I am doing is working. That regular weight training in menopause is a good and positive thing to do. That we can be fifty and fit, fifty and fabulous - fifty and fab!
Onward to the next goal. In July we are going to Sri Lanka, it is not a beach holiday in the same way as we have had in recent years but I will want to feel comfortable in my bikini. Last year I was suffering with some health / menopause related problems and was feeling a bit bloated/with inflammation so I need to work on that.
At the moment I am using body coach recipes and some workouts from the new relaunched plan but maintaining the 80/20 Lifestyle Plan principles.
I do feel that a holiday should be a holiday - that you should go away and eat what you want without feeling like you are on a diet or plan. I did just that in France last week - I naturally choose wisely anyway, I am not a big eater, but I relaxed and of course I was doing a lot of exercise. This week I will be meal planning again and getting back to my usual routine.
And a final little tip - when you go on holiday you often coming back 'feeling enormous' and saying 'I have put on so much weight' yes you might weigh more but you will not have gained fat (especially if you eat well most of the time), you will be bloated, inflamed, dehydrated and out of routine, just get back into routine, eat well again, move and work on your mindset and you'll be fine! I never weigh myself after a holiday now, I just get back to my usual routine.
Technically my challenge was from pay day to pay day which wasn't quite all of February but as I started on 1st February it made sense to finish on 1st March but I did allow myself some flexibility during the last few days! Overall I did really well, I didn't buy anything until after pay day and I didn't buy anything whilst I was away skiing (I was tempted though).
I had two weak moments. The first one I told you about in Week 3 (see here) - a beautiful scarf/sarong from Sweet-Bea but I have only just opened it!
Thank you Kate for not telling!! This is going in my holiday box for Sri Lanka!
Then whilst packing for skiing I ended up in Next picking up a back order for a home item. Their new spring stock was arriving and I bought a few jumpers to take skiing (it was after pay day)! I am rubbish at packing and always enjoy buying a few new things to make up a capsule wardrobe and complete outfits. What I did find though was that I hardly wore any of it - over-packing again, I simply take too much. So in fact one of the jumpers is going back! I will share my finds in Next on another post as I was really quite impressed with some of their new stock.
It has been a really good learning curve for me. I have saved a reasonable amount of money and I really loved not having lots of parcels arrive and going back and forth to the Post Office or the Collect+ drop off.
I also do not intend to go mad in March (Mad March!!) and I will take my time over choosing a few spring items.
I loved having a No Spend February Pinterest board ...
The cream 'Chanel-inspired' jacket has just been ordered! Trim Tweed Jacket £49.99 from Mango. Lots of lovely things on the Mango website - another post!
I also took advantage of the last day of a 20% discount from Marks & Spencer and ordered a couple of bikini's to try and a stripe jumper!
All in all a good challenge and I am very happy with my bank balance, next post I will tell you about skiing!
Welcome to Fifty & Fab, a lifestyle blog celebrating women. I am a blogger with a passion for writing about style, beauty, health and fitness with a focus on the over 50's. I am based in Marlow but work across London and the South East.
Hi, I’m Michelle and my blog Fifty & Fab is all about my journey into and through my fifties. I share style tips, health and fitness inspiration, I talk about my holidays and days out and I tell you about my beauty regime and my lifestyle. I hope you might pick up a tip or two and get some inspiration!
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