I have been thinking about a conversation I had with a good friend, while walking. We were talking about belly fat, and nutrition, and exercise in general. She said Crystal, I just can’t seem to lose any weight at all, and the weight around my middle look at it, as she was pulling at her waistline, showing me the extra fat. I feel gross and bloated and I try to do everything right, and I have been so stressed out and busy, but I can just INCREASE my exercise.

 Increasing her exercise, was a red flag to me, I said you are here walking, that is awesome, if you want to do more of something just walk more, move more, relax, and have more play time. You love swimming, hiking, and playing tennis do more of those things.

Ok, she said, even though I could tell she was skeptical about not killing herself with more intense exercise, at the gym and longer long runs. I told her the workouts she was currently doing was enough for now.

So what about nutrition, she said how do you figure out what to do? every night on TV I hear that this is the best way to eat, or don’t eat that, and eat this. She was totally confused, and I can’t say that I blame her at all. We continually hear mixed messages on the news or from friends, and even different fitness, and nutrition professionals, as we all have our own views on what to eat and not to eat.

I thought about what I was thinking about nutrition when I was younger.

In my thirties I was very overweight and was eating a diet, with really lots of sweets and treats. There was all this fat free food, and I felt like these were free foods, and I would eat snack wells, and sleeves of ritz crackers, cookies, apple fritters, chips, etc…I was eating way more than one, a whole sleeve of the ritz crackers would be gone before you realize you ate the whole thing.

Who could just eat just one of those treats? They make them for you to want to eat more, and once you start eating them you crave more.

I had to figure out through trial and error what would work for me, as a lifestyle and not be on another diet. I had tried a diet of just yogurt one time, then some liquid diet, so many diets I can’t even remember them all. I would always just gain the weight back.

I too would listen to this diet expert, and that diet expert, an I was getting totally confused, who wouldn’t be confused.

When I hit 40, I was like you are getting older now, you better do something, you better change the way you look at food, and not be on another diet. The mind shift for me was, I wanted to be healthy when I was older, and try to make it a lifestyle that I loved and not binge on sweets, or hide what I was eating, anymore. Easy to say I know, but after losing weight slowly, the things I changed about my diet, became easier with time. I still found it hard to be around too many desserts, my weakness, I love desserts, and am a foodie at heart.

I began to try and educate myself on nutrition really after losing the weight, and I began long distance running, I knew I needed to eat right. I believe that Running really helped me to form better eating habits.

I just read a note in my old 1999 running log, I had written tired again, but foot is feeling better. I need to make sure I fuel at my race with Gatorade. Hello, wow! I still had a lot to learn on my journey.

I think we are on a lifelong journey and are forever the students, are bodies are changing daily and weekly and yearly. Every decade I find I need to adjust even more, I’m always trying too find a balance with my exercise, nutrition and lifestyle.

Here are a 11 Strategies, and tips and solutions I gave my friend, that I have found have worked for me, and now other women I have been coaching.

Eat Slowly: 

As it takes about 20 minutes for our bodies to give us the signal, that we are full. I’am a fast eater, so I practice eating 1-2 minutes slower at each meal. I try to increase the length of time slowly, from 1-2 minutes to 3-4 minutes and so on.

Eat Until Just Satisfied, Just Comfortable:

Try 3-4 bites less at each meal, if fat loss is your goal. It adds up, and we won’t miss just 3-4 bites. I hate when someone tells me to eat until 80% full, because I’m like what is that? I think we all know the feeling of being to full, eating until comfortable, we usually know what that means. If we are practicing eating slowly, we may get the signal that we are full, before we eat to much. I know for me 30 minutes later, I feel full. So I try and remember to eat just those few bites less and eat slowly. Try feeling hunger for 30 minutes
before you eat your meals. Some of us don’t really ever know how real hunger feels, we just eat by the clock. We won’t starve if we wait, and can dip into those fat stores for fuel.

Try Eating 3 Meals A Day With No Snacking:

Yes, I know we are all different, and for some of us, we may find we really do need to have a snack between breakfast and lunch or
between lunch and dinner. But having 3 meals a day gives your digestion a rest, and helps dip into our fat stores. This can take practice as when I was used to having a morning snack, I wasn’t really hungry, it was just a habit, and it took me a week or so to get out of the habit. I now have cocoa, or herb tea, my mother’s generation never snacked she told me.

Eat Protein At Each Meal:

Make sure you eat about 30 grams per meal, an easy way to measure, is to use the palm of your hand as a measure, 1 palm size of protein for women, that is about the size of a deck of cards. YOU may need more or less depending if you are having more meals, or  less meals a day, and of course going by how you feel. I have found for me, I eat a larger portion size of protein, about a palm and a half works for me. If in my
protein shakes, I have one and a quarter scoops. As I use Jay Robb brand Whey protein powder, which has 25 grams of protein per scoop serving, so that is about 37 grams.

Lift Heavy Weights:

Doing strength training raises your metabolism, keeps you strong and helps to give us that tight toned, and fit looking body. I would choose this over cardio, for the most bang for your money so to speak. If doing cardio keep it short, about 30-40 minutes. I do HIIT training 1-2 days, sprinting, or speed work on a bike, elliptical, and 2-3 days circuit based weight training,  all workouts are for 20 minutes, or less, short and sweet. Then I walk to lower my cortisol, and help me feel amazing, and burn off the fat that was just released in the workout. I walk everyday for 60 minutes minimum, but as always don’t let perfect be the enemy of good enough.

Track How Many TREATS You Eat A Week:

They can add up quickly. We may not be aware of how many we are really eating. This will give you an awareness about just how many you are actually eating. Go by the outcome, you may find to lose weight/fat that you may need to cut back on treats. Be the detective here, and try what keeps you satisfied and but gives you the RESULTS you are after.  NOTE, Wine is a treat, us ladies love our wine, and having some may keep us satisfied and sane. But finding the right amount for your body to give you the results you are after. I drink wine a couple of times a week, I don’t like it every night as I fall asleep fine but then wake up repeatedly during the night.

Movement:

Make movement a huge part of your day, I can’t say enough about this. Any kind counts, but leisure walking is one of the best in my opinion. For older women it helps to reduce stress, and to aid recovery from exercise to. Stress effects us more as we age, so this really is one of the best things you can do to help relieve stress, and lower your cortisol. Try to take at least a 30  minute walk in nature, I try to walk at least 1-2 hours every day, but fit in what you can. Doing some with consistency is what will get you in the habit, and the best results.

Sleep: along with movement is another big one, I have talked about the benefits of sleep for health, and weight loss in an older blog. But it bears repeating, when we do not get enough  sleep, it will effect how we feel the next day, and what you want to eat. It usually will make you crave more starchy and salty foods, or sugary foods or even all three. Every time I do not sleep well, I’m moody, and have a much harder time just eating my regular food. I want starch and sugar 🙂

Vegetables:

Wow! I almost forgot about them. I eat a ton of fibrous veggies at meals, at least two fists size, or at least half my dinner plate. (but you can start out with 1 fist size and adjust up as needed for you) They help to keep me full much longer especially, the really fibrous ones, like brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli. Those our just a few of my favorite vegetables to eat. All the other leafy greens like spinach, kale, collards, swiss chard are nutrient dense, and fill you up and not out. There are other vegetables that are great for you too.

Starchy Carbohydrates:

Some examples are, sweet potato, rice, gluten free oats, white potato, work really well for us as older women, with getting fat loss results and helping with sleep. There are long lists of starchy Carbs, but I try to stay away from things that come in a package, lots of the processed starches and breads, pasta’s, the serving sizes are so small, and filling up on more fibrous carbohydrates such as all the vegtables, are more weight loss friendly, you can eat a ton and be full. With less calories, I love volume, for me a tiny serving of pasta, is not going to fill me up, and I have found it makes it harder to lose the weight. Start out with about one cupped hand of starch, around a half a cup, or one small sweet potato. Always keep in mind we are all different, and you may have to adjust up or down, and to your preference to make it fun and sustainable and enjoyable.

A side note starches like, pumpkin and the winter squashes a serving is bigger, yah! 1 cup size. I love butternut squash, and turnips, and I’m glad to have a cup serving, love pumpkin shakes too.

Snacks:

If needed, a protein shake, a piece of protein and veggies, cucumber, an apple, a few nuts, quest bars. I try if I really need a snack to stick with protein and veggie. Try a piece of turkey wrapped around a Pepperoncini, I love that.

I gave my friend these tips and told her to really, concentrate on the walking, and doing deep breathing. All forms of relaxation, would be better than going on a too restrictive diet, and exercising more would probably backfire, and she would probably gain more weight, and belly fat.

I told her if doing all the strategies above is too much, you can start with eating slowly, or eating until just comfortable, and add another habit, when you feel ready and are confident about mastering the first one. Some people do better taking one step at a time, and some women want to take on more, steps at a time. I think one new step is a great starting place.
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