Dieting in your 40s – Should You Bother?

It’s time for me to fess up, my name is Katie and I have been a serial dieter most of my adult life. I am not enormous yet I need to lose weight. According to my BMI chart I am teetering on the side of obesity. Shocking! I have tried most diets, succeeded on some and failed miserably on others. This puts me alongside half the rest of the British population who have set out to lose weight this January and probably every other January before. The question is, will I and the rest of them succeed?

Looking Back

For me, the whole dieting game is one I both love and loathe in equal measure. I’m not sure when I began to worry about my weight, probably in my teens because I was so incredibly self conscious. I once went to a prom wearing a tank top over my velvet dress because I couldn’t stand showing off my curves. I also remember getting ready to go out during Freshers week at University and my lovely housemate scratching her head at why I wouldn’t expose my upper arms when I only weighed just over 8st. I sat in the corner under a huge coat smoking fags all night. Oh to turn back the clock! I have now got to the stage where my largest weight as a young adult is my goal…don’t you just HATE that! I don’t really understand it, I was tiny as a child, I never had any weight trouble, in fact if anything, because I was so small I was actually underweight at one point in time. I would always have seconds and thirds and fourths at dinner and I hardly sat still. At some point my friendship with food changed into an angry struggle and and I now find it difficult to maintain a healthy weight.

Dieting Boredom

 

Yo Yo and Up and Down I Go!

In 2012 I left the hospital after having my one and only child in reasonable shape but, like many mums who have to give up breastfeeding, I was shocked a month later to find I had gained weight after the baby came out. WTAF? Yup. Difficult times. For four whole fat years I didn’t lose more than 1-2kg at a time and then shot up and down respectively. During this time, people continued to ask when I was due and some didn’t even recognise me at all. Eek.

In 2016, I was determined to head into my 40th year in good shape, and I did, thank you Slimming World and I reached and dipped under my pre pregnancy weight without too much trouble! There was a God after all, I had clearly just needed a bit of time?

Not true. As soon as September 22nd passed, I was on my way up again. Eating and drinking merrily – happy as a pig in the punchbowl. As all good dieters know, you can get away with this kind of deviance for a short time after a big diet, but not for long. I smugly told friends that I seemed to have just naturally found my good old weight again, after all these years being overweight – it seemed too good to be true. The following month, the scales told a very different story. I hadn’t actually followed the “diet” properly so I’d ended up hungry and missing something again. Disappointed, I just ate more and so the cycle began again. Even worse, the scales crept up and up and I ignored the weight subject for a whole new year again.

More than Half the Women in the UK are Overweight

Chin up, I’m not alone. More than half of all British women are overweight apparently: now that’s according to the NHS weight guide that states two thirds of the UK population as a whole, that’s men and women are currently overweight. That’s a lot of people struggling to find the right foods to eat. Here in France, the figure is similar, surprisingly. This news is reassuring yet depressing in one because apparently only about 5% of dieters will actually be able to maintain their new weight after reaching goal. So what is the answer? Can I actually be bothered? Where are we ALL going so catastrophically wrong?

Emotional Eating

God it’s boring reading about dieting – none of them give you the answers you want – that you can eat and drink what you want and still get thin.

A friend and I were discussing last night how and when food suddenly began to play a different role in our lives and we both agreed that at some point we must have both started eating for comfort. But what comfort? Just growing up? Having to fend for yourself? Feeling exhausted from never getting to the bottom of the wash basket? Feeling a bit like you are on a fast moving treadmill – in 18 years time we’ll be 60??? Quite possibly all of the above. FYI every single one of my friends is on some kind of regime this year.

BMI and Setting Goals

So where do you start when your teetering on the red line? I do understand that BMI is a good way of assessing weight but I do honestly feel it is a completely absurd concept at the same time. So, setting realistic goals and getting self image right in your head has to be a good starting point if your goal is to succeed. According to the BMI charts, with the amount of kgs it suggests I lose I would be back at a weight I was pre pregnancy before sitting my GCSEs. Harsh target. I’ve got some old photos out and decided in which ones I like myself best. Because I am a serial dieter I know what I weighed in each and I now have a goal – but it’s not just about the actual number on the scales – there’s the happiness factor too.

CHUCKING AWAY THE SCALES

I am not an advocate of this, simply because if left to my own devices, I would carry on eating until I just broke regular scales. I think a weekly or monthly weigh in is healthy to keep yourself in check if you are that way inclined – but no more. Clothes are a really great way to keep track on your happiness with the weight you are at too. We all know that skinny jeans can’t keep on giving! I split the arse of mine last year while serving some drinks and sent them back to the shop saying they were faulty. Don’t…I know, I am cringing too.

The Way Forward

So, where to begin. I don’t want to fail again. So, I’m not embarking on any fad diet. I am giving Slimming World a go again mostly because I am inspired by what other people can achieve against all odds on it. It has rules but they’re not unreasonable and you can drink. Perfect. It does worry me that I may get to my goal and then take backwards steps. But, for the 95% of people who statistically will fall off the wagon, there is still that hopeful, shiny and bright 5% who won’t.

Having the Chat with Yourself

This year I have thought long and hard about why I actually really do want to get in shape and all my answers lead me to the same place – well-being, self-peace and health. The goal posts have changed. I don’t actually give a monkeys about being thin, it’s just too much effort, but bad backs, aching knees and double chins do concern me – as does anxiety. I need to live long and well, long and strong. I’d like to stretch my arms out each morning and not feel so tense that I might break. I owe it to myself to achieve that small goal. I won’t chuck away my scales but I won’t try Raw Vegan either. Like the lovely Sophie Robinson I am going to fill my life and plate with colour in my own way.

Eat Better, Move More

I am viewing healthy eating as an opportunity to learn some new cookery skills and to feed my family better so that we can enjoy an active life in the sun rather than groan from bread overdose and indigestion. I don’t know whether I will ever lose the desire to slather butter all over my bread, or fall asleep eating toast under the covers or learn not to say yes to every glass of wine I’m offered. But, I am going to try. I am going to try to set an example about enjoying life to my son. Teach him about the small things that make you who you are. He loves eating great food, never over eats or stuffs his face with chocolate and I am determined to keep him that way. He stops when he’s full. I’ve just got to do the same.

Getting Moving – there’s so much to enjoy in life than going up and down all the time on the scales, like walking, getting a fresh new book or helping someone old. We had a huge family walk at the weekend and it was great to get outdoors. You need good fuel to do this successfully, not a petrol tank full of rubbish. These simple goals are ticking away in the back of my mind alongside the losing weight lark. Should you bother doing a new diet in your 40s? Well, I am, for my own peace of mind but I also keep on repeating to myself over and over – enjoy every day, 60 is just 18 years off. Here’s hoping I can achieve it.

Are you in?

 

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One thought on “Dieting in your 40s – Should You Bother?

  1. Mary

    I agree, BMI is kind of a silly way of deciding if you are in shape….a lot of people end up in the obese category based on BMI when they are actually in a pretty healthy weight range.

    Reply

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