Losing weight after 30: Set personally appropriate goals
Ten years ago you could give up soda and pose for a modeling shoot the next day. Now you put an ounce of maple syrup on your steel cut oats at breakfast and can’t fit into your date dress that night. No matter what they tell you about 30 being the new 20, your body does change, and stuff just doesn’t work like it used to. Losing weight at this point is different than it has been before. Different, but far from impossible.
I know it’s far from impossible because I’m in the middle of it. Last year I gained around 25 pounds above my normal weight. More than I have weighed at any point in my life. I was sick every other month. I lost flexibility and energy. A lot of factors contributed to this: writing a thesis, health issues that prevented me from working out, major life transitions that threw off my regular diet and schedule…rarely is it just one thing. No big deal, right? I did a toxin cleanse at 24, and the weight dropped off like snow in a sauna. Just do it again. But it doesn’t work quite as magically this time. Sure, we can lose something. Feel a little better, a little trimmer, but we’re annoyed that there’s still a long way to go. I have news honey: you’re not 24 anymore. And neither am I.
This article is the first in a series I will be doing over the next several months, focusing on my efforts to lose weight at the age of 31. Full disclosure: I’m not starting from zero, and I have never been pregnant. I have struggled with my weight most of my life, but a lifestyle of exercise and a balanced vegetarian diet have helped me keep my body fat percentage in the mid-20s. Ideally women should be in the high teens to low 20s for body fat percentage. You can have a trainer or doctor find your body fat percentage if you are curious. Most people use BMI because it’s easier but I think BMIs are a load of hooey. (Read why I think BMIs are a load of hooey)
Hovering around 30% body fat, I finally got my life together, and I’ve lost 15 pounds. Also, I have not been sick in this calendar year. No, I’m not joking. When you are TRULY healthy, your body fights viruses and bacteria.
I’m still above what my body fat percentage should be (though I can wear my old clothes! Yay!), but now I get to share the process with you, so you can follow the honest struggles of a 31-year-old woman trying to get to a stable, healthy weight. My *personal* (very important that you find goals that are specific to you and your health and the lifestyle you want) is a
1. Body Fat Prcentage of 21% and
2. 26 inch waist.
This is a goal based on:
1. Height and body type (Short, hourglass)
a. What is your body type? Shoot for a low 20s body fat percentage, but weight, waist size, and any other measurement are entirely dependent on what your physical makeup is.
2. Intended diet and fitness level (I am an active yogi with a vegetarian diet)
a. How much do you love cheese? Can you live without it? These are questions to ask yourself as you look at your lifestyle in your 30s. Sure anybody can be skinny with no beer, no sugar, no bread, no quesadillas and no potatoes. But is that the life you want? Analyze what you can happily give up and what sacrifices will make you miserable.
b. How often do you want to go to the gym? Do you have a desk job? Then you need to go A LOT to maintain healthy activity. If you have kids, you can easily be active with them but you have to be intentional about it.
3. Known weight loss/gain patterns (based on familiarity with my body’s abilities and when I have felt the best in the past)
a. Don’t ask your body to do the impossible. I’ve always been curvy. I always will be. I will never be a super model (Too short, for starters!). Embrace your body’s needs, where it wants to be, and figure out how you can be both happy and healthy. Big booty AND a small waist may not be an option for you…it depends on what your momma gave you.
So take a minute to assess some goals for yourself. They may or may not have numbers. I got my goals by remembering a feeling. When I lived in Nepal (2010), I felt GOOD. I mean good. I walked probably 8 miles a day, ate as much as I wanted of unprocessed, low-sugar foods, and slept hard. By remembering that feeling, and knowing about what size and fitness level I was in at the time, I decided on the goal of being slightly more toned but about the same size as 2010.
Set your goals, subscribe to this column, and stick with me as I struggle to live the life of a healthy, professional American woman over 30.