Last year,a research group asked a group of women to try Fat to Firm at 40+ Plan. In 8 weeks, they dropped pounds, inches, and dress sizes. A year later, that weight (and more!) is still long gone – defying the conventional wisdom that although you may lose weight, you’re bound to regain it. We’re going to boost your odds for success by sharing the simple strategies that these four women used to lose weight and keep it off — throughout vacations, cruises – even winter holidays!
“I’ve lost weight before, but I’d always just put it right back on,” says Sue Torpey, 46, who’s kept off 14 pounds for a year. “My friends keep asking for my secrets!”
Here they are: Six secrets that helped Sue — and the others — shed pounds for good! Start now, and you’ll see results before the end of summer.
Dumbbells and muscles are your metabolism’s best friends. Weight lifting builds muscles, which then rev up your metabolism. Each pound of muscle burns up to 20 times more calories than each pound of fat, even when you’re curled up with a book. And don’t worry about getting big and bulky – just take a look at these women. Some of them are lifting as much as 15 pounds. “After age 40, women start losing half a pound of muscle a year,” says Prevention advisor Wayne L. Westcott, PhD, fitness research director for the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA. “During menopause, that loss may jump to a pound a year. If you don’t do something to put that calorie-burning muscle back on, it’s very difficult to lose and maintain weight.”
“It’s amazing how many more calories I can eat now and still maintain my weight!” raves Sue, “I don’t even worry about what I eat during holidays or special occasions, because I know my metabolism will let me get away with some indulgences.”
With this plan, you don’t even have to set foot in a gym! You can work out at home with a pair of dumbbells. This is not only more convenient but may also work better for long-term weight loss, says Samuel Sears, Jr, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Florida in Gainesville. In a 15-month study of almost 50 women, researchers found that those who exercised at home kept off an average of 10 pounds more than those who had to go to a gym. “Home exercise just fits into your life better,” says Dr. Sears.
Secret #2: Don’t Sit Down
Thanks to modern conveniences such as drive-thrus and Internet shopping, we burn several hundred fewer calories every day now than we did just 25 years ago. That’s why, in addition to structured exercise, regular daily activity, such as walking to the store and playing kickball with your kids, is important.
“Research shows that 93% of women who lose weight and keep it off stay physically active,” says Ross Andersen, PhD, director of exercise science at Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center in Baltimore. In a recent study of 40 women, Dr. Andersen found that women who lost weight by increasing everyday activities such as gardening, taking the stairs, and walking the dog actually maintained their weight loss better than those who lost weight by only participating in structured aerobics classes (Jour. of the Amer. Med. Assoc., Jan 27, 1999).
“Life gets hectic, and I can’t always do my exercise routine, but by staying active in some way, I’ve kept my weight down,” says Rita Blanks, 55, who has lost 18 pounds. “My rule is that I don’t sit down for the evening until 8 p.m. I clean up, sort laundry, finish small projects, whatever it takes to keep me moving. It really works – and I get so much done!”
Secret #3: Catch Some Fish
Adding a serving of lean protein to your meals can help you feel satisfied longer, so you’ll eat less in the long run. By making fish your protein of choice, you may pack even more weight loss power into every bite.
In a study of almost 70 overweight people, those who added a daily serving of fish (rich in omega-3 fatty acids) to their weight loss program lost more weight and increased their good cholesterol (LDL) more than those who ate fish only once a week or less (Amer. Jour. of Clinical Nutrition, Nov 1999). Eating more fish instead of meat can reduce the amount of total fat and saturated fat that you eat, which can aid weight loss, says study researcher Trevor A. Mori, MD, of the University of Western Australia in Perth.
“By eating more fish, I automatically eat fewer unhealthy things such as burgers, without even thinking about it,” says Eileen Fehr, 47, who’s lost 15 pounds. “I not only keep my weight down, but I feel a lot healthier too.”
The best fish for omega-3s: Salmon, canned white (albacore) tuna, mackerel, and whitefish. Remember, of course, to go easy on fatty sauces such as butter, cream, and mayo. Try fruity salsas, herbs such as dill and peppercorn, or spicy curry flavoring instead.
Secret #4: Count Fiber Grams
You can’t expect to keep your weight in check if you’re walking around feeling famished. Eat more fiber, and watch those hunger pangs – and pounds – disappear!
“You can take in loads of calories, yet never feel full if many of the foods you eat are high in refined carbohydrates and sugar and low in fiber,” says Michelle Rodgers, RD, weight management coordinator at Hershey Medical Center in PA. “Fiber not only fills you up but also helps keep your blood sugar and energy levels even, and it’s great for lowering cholesterol and improving your overall health.”
“Eating more fiber has saved me,” Eileen says. “I hate counting calories, servings, and portions. With fiber I don’t have to. It fills me up, so I don’t overeat.”
Add these fiber-filled foods to your diet and start losing weight today:
- General Mills Fiber One (1/2 cup) 13 grams (g)
- Raspberries (1 cup) 8.4 g
- Kellogg’s Raisin Bran (1 cup) 8.2 g
- Kidney beans (1/2 cup) 8.2 g
- Whole wheat spaghetti (1 cup) 6.3 g
- Baked potato w/skin (1 medium) 4.8 g
- Peas (1/2 cup) 4.4 g
Secret #5: Strategize
Modern life seems designed to fatten us up. Around every corner, there’s a buffet table or Krispy Kreme threatening to waylay even the best weight loss plan. But with a little smart planning, you can avoid temptations.
“You need new strategies to deal with all the old situations that made you overweight to begin with,” says Howard J. Rankin, PhD, adjunct professor at University of South Carolina in Columbia, advisor to TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) and author of 7 Steps to Wellness (StepWise Press, 2009). “It’s not about staying on a ‘diet’ or constant denial; it’s about developing reasonable alternatives that you can live with.”
Secret #6: Keep Tabs on Yourself
Weight creeps up like it comes off – 1 pound at a time. Though you shouldn’t jump on the scale every morning, those who’ve slimmed down find that a little self-monitoring really helps keep the pounds off. Research from the National Weight Control Registry shows that 75% of successful weight loss maintainers weigh themselves at least once a week.
“Weighing myself regularly helps keep me on track,” says Eileen. “I don’t get upset about the natural fluctuations of a pound or so. But if I see the numbers going up, I know it’s time to get serious.”
Other good ways to monitor yourself:
Try your jeans. “I slide into my size 10 jeans regularly,” Sue says. “If they start getting tight, I know I’ve been indulging a little too much, and I eat more fruits and veggies.”
Use your mirror. “I can see how I’m doing by just looking in the mirror before I get dressed,” says Rita. “And it’s great motivation when I’m happy with what I see!”