How Losing Weight Changes in Your 20s, 30s, and 40s
By Kristen Dodd; Photography by Unsplash
Each decade brings its own set of roadblocks.
Late-night eats, pregnancy weight that won’t budge and a declining metabolism: No matter how old you are there’s always something that can keep you from your goal weight. But with the right strategy, you can handle any situation life throws at you.
To find out how you can tackle each decade’s biggest weight loss traps, we tapped nutrition expert Karen Ansel, co-author of The Calendar Diet: A Month by Month Guide to Losing Weight While Living Your Life, to develop a goof-proof navigation plan.
In Your 20s
There’s Always a Group Dinner
Without kids or a spouse, a lot of women in their twenties have the freedom to eat out with friends whenever the hell they want. That means you eat way more calories from that yummy Thai restaurant than you would if you actually used your stove, says Ansel. But you can still stay on track without sitting at home. Since most restaurants have at least one healthy option, make it your goal to order first, she says. “Research shows people follow the lead of the first person to order in a group,” says Ansel. And instead of revisiting the same old high-kilojoule spots, do your homework and suggest new (healthier) joints that your friends will like, too. Another option: Eat half of your meal, and box the rest for leftovers tomorrow night.
You Eat with Your Screens
Scarfing breakfast while checking email, working through lunch and scrolling through your phone during dinner: Sound familiar? “When we eat in front of a computer or any screen, we eat more and feel less satisfied than when we eat in a tech-free zone,” says Ansel. Breaking the habit isn’t easy (we get it, a girl’s got to multitask), but consuming fewer mindless calories is worth the struggle. If you can’t get out to eat lunch during the workday, visit the office break room for a few minutes to chow down. Then, attempt to eat dinner without the TV on or your phone in front of you. You might find that you actually like focusing on your food.
You’re Late Night Snacking
Meals can feel fluid in your twenties. For example, maybe you had a few bites at happy hour, so you’re not starving for dinner. Or maybe breakfast was an office cupcake, so you put off lunch. But those habits can lead to serious late-night munchies. Here’s why: Your body is smart, says Ansel. When you don’t give it enough food during the day, it will demand it late at night, she says. Break the cycle by keeping a journal to see when you’re eating. “If you’re perpetually skipping certain meals, set an alarm on your cellphone to eat something healthy and satisfying, even if it’s just Greek yoghurt.”
In Your 30s
You Have No Time to Work Out
For new moms, it’s a win just to slip in a shower and brush your teeth. And though it seems impossible, you can make working out work. Ansels says that finding a gym with child care or subscribing to online workouts that you can do during naps can be a big help. For an active recovery, take long walks with your baby in his or her stroller – and you might be surprised how quickly you can bounce back into shape, says Ansel.
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Your Fridge is Empty
Grocery trips become a lot harder (and infrequent) with a kid in tow. So it’s important to pack your pantry with healthy packaged foods that make quick meals. A bowl of oats with fruit, nuts or chia seeds and low-fat milk takes two minutes to make and can keep you full for hours. Same goes for scrambled eggs or whole-wheat French toast, says Ansel. Another idea: Stock up on low-sugar tomato sauce, whole-wheat pasta and canned white beans, and toss them together for a 15-minute meal. You can also take two minutes to combine canned tuna or salmon with salad greens and some Rosa tomatoes, she says.
In Your 40s
You’re Losing Muscle Mass
As your body gets older, muscle naturally starts to break down and your metabolism slows, which causes kilos to creep on. But by eating protein throughout the day and weight training, you can fight that process, says Ansel. Most of us eat enough protein, but we don’t eat it at the right times, she says. When you eat a majority of your protein at dinner, your body doesn’t have time to use it all as energy, so it has to store it as fat. By spreading out your protein intake, you give your body a steady stream that it can use. Aim to eat 20 to 30 grams with each meal and five to 10 grams with each snack.
You Fall for Frozen Food and Take Aways
If you’re shuttling little people around all afternoon and evening, it’s tough to get a healthy meal on the table before bedtime. “The key is to set aside 15 minutes every weekend to plan a quick healthy dinner for each weeknight,” says Ansel. And they don’t have to elaborate. A chicken sandwich or peanut butter and jam sarmie is better than ordering Chinese food or baking a frozen pizza, she says.
Looking for more? Here are six foods that fire up your metabolism and burn more fat.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com.