Up to this point, there have been few rules. Your body bounced back from a weekend of carb binging. You took up a new sport and didn’t think you were going to die the next day. You tried a new yoga position and were instantly more flexible.
New decade, new rules. That was your 20s. This is your 30s. Thankfully, there are still rules (some of them are exactly the same!), and if you follow them your body DOES respond. But it’s a different game. So let’s look at how we have to play differently:
- You drink a glass of water before every meal. Seriously, no exceptions, no whining, no adding gross sweeteners with artificial colors. Just drink a fricking glass of water (at least 12 ounces) before you eat. Period.
- If you must drink beer, drink one glass. You should not drink it at all. While people have long searched for the hidden health benefits in beer, they remain far outweighed by the negatives. Beer belly is a thing, and while your 22-year-old body could work it off, your 32-year-old body won’t. If you have to have a brewski, make it a dark micro-brew (higher antioxidants than light beer, with fewer damaging chemicals than mass-produced).
- You stay on your feet. Research is beginning to show that it’s not just working out that impacts your pudge; it’s the number of hours you spend standing and walking. Whenever possible, be on your feet. This is harder now that most of us have desk jobs, but find every opportunity you can to get off the chair. If you have any authority in your office, check into getting treadmill desks like these.
- Cardio workouts are not your key to fat loss. This may be one of the biggest myths that is slowly being debunked by trainers and scientists alike. It’s not that you should not have a cardio workout: you definitely need regular cardio for tons of reasons. BUT, fat loss actually happens with steady, moderate activity over prolonged periods. So staying active at a moderate activity level (brisk walking or yoga, for example) is actually more effective at burning fat than running.
- You have now or never. This is probably your last chance to lose weight. Your body has spent up until now learning your habits, being flexible, adjusting to new input. But, like you, it is getting set in its ways. It doesn’t want to keep changing. It wants to settle down, find a fat percentage that it can spend the rest of its life with, provide a stable home for your baby weight… If you are not happy where you are, change it NOW. Quit telling yourself after I get a promotion, or next year is when I really concentrate on my health.
- You have an appointment to work out. Put it on your calendar. Observe it. Show up for it like you would for any other appointment that impacts your health. You would not reschedule your doctor’s appointment if it was too cold outside, so don’t do it to your gym date.
- You stop eating when you’re not hungry. Pay very close attention to what I just said. I did not say: stop eating when you feel stuffed, and know you cannot go further. Stop when your body no longer needs food. Eating slowly helps to assess where this point is. Be connected to your body, and enjoy your food, and stop when your body says it’s satisfied.
- You eat protein and fat in every meal. Carbs are palate-pleasing and addictive, but they don’t satisfy you. Protein and fat do. I’ll have an article on this later, but ditch everything in your house that has the words “low-fat” or “fat-free” on it. Carbs that are protein heavy, such as beans, are ok.
- You don’t eat white rice. Seriously. You’re over 30, white rice has no nutritional value, and it will make you fat. You’re done with it. Whole grain rice, quinoa, or similar whole grains are fine.
- You eat out no more than twice a week. Restaurants have sneaky ways to make their food taste good, and it’s all bad for you. It’s so much healthier and cheaper to make your own food. Later articles will include some recipes and tips to help you enjoy cooking if you’re someone who doesn’t find it enjoyable.
- You eat breakfast. You are now mature enough to be in bed at a reasonable hour, and wake up in time for breakfast and a shower before work. Never, ever, skip this meal. It sets your metabolic rate for the entire day.
- You are mature enough to make good decisions. A lot of us spent our 20s with a devil-may-care attitude, and it was good for a while. We made mistakes we learned from. AND WE LEARNED FROM THEM. Relish the fact that you are old enough, disciplined enough, ADULT enough to handle saying no to second helpings, and that you can probably afford something better than a Jack-in-the-Box Sourdough Cheesesteak.