From the Diary of a Weight Loss Professional

If you are a middle-aged woman, chances are you have quite a bit of experience with weight loss. You might not be a "professional," but I would bet you know a lot about losing weight. I'm not trying to be sexist here; lots of men also have weight loss experience, but most women begin dieting before they reach their teens. In my case, I was a teenager when I became obsessed with achieving the perfect body at any cost.

Now, after almost 40 years of practice, you'd think I'd have this weight loss thing down. But the only thing that seems to get easier is putting on the pounds. Not really a big surprise, as weight gain is extremely common in middle age.

Last week, I got on the scale for the first time in years. As I mentioned, the numbers were not a cause for celebration. My husband likes to try and convince me that these numbers are only information. You ladies know the truth: the scale can make or break your mood for the day. Maybe the week. This is why I used to avoid the dreaded weigh-in.

However, I am taking a new tack this year.

This past week, I reinstalled My Fitness Pal on my phone. (If you have never used a calorie-counting app, this one is free and highly recommended.) Tracking your calories can be an eye-opening experience. It doesn't matter if you follow Atkins or Whole 30 or Weight Watchers or South Beach, whatever plan you're on, you can track calories, protein, fat, carbs, sugar, and/or other vital nutrients with this app. This is a great way to see where you fall down--on nutrients, or excess sugar, or just consuming too much.

Studies show that simply by tracking food consumption, subjects automatically begin to lose weight. Maybe something subconscious changes when we watch our intake more carefully? Who knows, but it works. And it's as easy as starting a food journal in an old notebook. Or using your phone to snap photos of your meals and snacks. Or loading one of the many free apps onto your phone or I-pad. If you are only ready to take one tiny step toward losing weight, this is an easy one to take.

I continue to fast in the mornings, keeping my same feeding window from 12noon-8pm. Although I have strayed from this pattern on occasion, most days I am able to stick with it. However, this alone has not been enough to help me lose the excess poundage I've been carrying. (Fasting, however, is great for your overall health in many other ways and well worth practicing.)

My latest tactics include cutting back on wine, sugary treats, and bread. I'm allowing myself one glass of red wine on the nights when I don't have to teach the next day. All the sugary treats have been removed from our home. (Thanks to my daughter who looked like the Grinch returning to college with overflowing bags of everything, down to our last can of Who-Hash! It really helps to have absolutely NOTHING in the house made with sugar!) And instead of a sandwich for lunch every day, I've switched over to a salad. Back when I was looking super-cut, I never ate any bread at all... (Sad face.)

I'm also trying to keep in mind that any type of extreme dieting cannot possibly last. If I make my diet excessively stringent, I will end up miserable enough to chew off my own foot. Maybe with a cup of white sugar sprinkled over it. And peri-menopause can be stressful enough, without the loss of bodyparts.

Now for the good news: in the last 7 days, I've lost 1.5 pounds, .5% bodyfat, and .5 inches off my waist. This may not sound like a newspaper-headline-worthy announcement, but it is progress. Things are going in the right direction. And when it comes to weight loss, slow and steady wins the race. Weight loss of more than a couple of pounds per week will not be fat but water weight or even muscle. Better to lose slowly and make sure the loss comes out of your fat stores.

If you are searching for weight loss support, I am here for you. I'm happy to work with you one-on-one over the phone, through email, or face to face. Leave me a comment below. Losing weight is possible!