Lots of people are asking if you can lose weight after 40, and the answer is, of course, you can.
Now, I appreciate as you get older it can be a little more difficult, but it’s more than achievable believe me. Heck! at the age of 47, I decided to make a change and I ended up losing over 40lbs (18kg) in a little under 5 months.
I’m not a doctor, and I know we are all different. But I want to share my story with you today and show you how I lost the weight when I was well into my 40’s.
And more importantly, how I kept the weight off. I will even share with you how I became an Ultra Runner after the weight loss.
Before My Weight Loss Journey
Many years ago I was in the military and was very fit in my younger days. I played a lot of football (soccer) and enjoyed many sports in general.
However, I drank a lot of alcohol and smoked 20 cigarettes a day for many years. The drinking stopped as I approached my thirties (slowed down a lot anyway).
But I still continued to smoke 20 a day consistently. It got to the point my health was starting to deteriorate. Especially after giving up football to the point, I was struggling to breathe and do anything sort of activity with my kids.
I was a mess and it was getting worse. By now I was into my 40’s and at the age of 43, I decided once and for all that I needed to give up smoking.
I had tried many things to stop in the past, cold-turkey, nicotine patches, etc. but none worked.
My wife had actually threatened to divorce me when I was trying to give up because I was so aggressive without the nicotine fix. I then bought a book written by a guy called Allen Carr titled ‘The Easy Way To Stop Smoking‘ To cut a long story short, it cost me $4, I read it and stopped smoking in 3 days and 8 years later I have never touched a cigarette since. Powerful stuff!
Starting My Weight Loss After 40
Oh boy! I look at this photo from 2016 and can’t believe I had gotten myself into this state. After I stopped smoking I carried on with a poor diet and very little exercise which eventually tipped the scales at 212lb. I decided there and then to make the change and here is how I did it.
The Diet That Started It
It was May 2016, one week before my 48th birthday when the photo above was taken. It was actually my eldest daughter’s wedding, a proud day but I was so big.
I saw the photo’s a week later and this is when I decided to change.
What was I going to do? How was I going to change the way I was destroying myself.
Well, the diet was the first thing I decided to change as I knew I was eating so much ‘processed crap’ and unhealthy foods. After a little research, I decided that I would try the Paleo diet.
Another term for this diet is the Caveman Diet. The idea is that you eat like our ancestors prior to the agricultural revolution. The basics of the diet are as follows: Eat: Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, healthy fats, and oils Avoid: Processed foods, sugar, soft drinks, grains, most dairy products, legumes, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils, margarine, and trans fats.
At this point, I knew I wanted to cut out processed foods and dairy so the diet seemed perfect for me.
Over the next 5 months, I followed the diet, not religiously, but fairly strictly and lost a whopping 40lbs in weight. But I knew it wasn’t a diet I was going to sustain long-term for sure.
I had gotten to the point I was sick of meat and had been contemplating giving it up for a while. The dairy had stopped and made such a difference to how I felt, I was time to remove the meat from my life. Learn More About The Paleo Diet Here
It was actually December of 2016 that I decided to shift to the Wholefood Plant-Based diet.
My wife and I had decided that we were going to give it a go in January 2017.
But me being the type of person that really wants to test myself, I decided to do it before Christmas.
Everyone thought I was mad because Christmas was around the corner, but my thought process was ‘what better time to do it’.
If you plan to do something, don’t set a date and time in the future waiting to find an excuse not to do it.
If you plan to do something then ‘just do it’ right.
Once again, I felt like my decision was justified, the diet brought new energy in abundance. At this point, I had started running (more on that soon), and I felt I just had a little bit more energy.
The other positive was that I had started to add a bit more fiber and grains into the diet which had been missing for the past 5 months.
The Plant-Based Diet wasn’t planned so I could keep losing weight, it was more of a health decision which I’m glad I made.
To be honest, my weight stabilized once on the diet and as I said before, my energy levels seemed to improve. I wrote this Plant-Based Diet for Runners post that you can read for more info on the benefits of the diet.
Exercise for the Over 40’s
Everyone is different of course. I don’t know anything about you, but my advice would be to start slowly and build up from there. When I first started my weight loss journey I was basically going out for walks on the trails.
Anywhere from 2 to 10 miles with a few hills in between.
Believe it or not, walking is great for burning calories and getting fit especially if you get out into the countryside.
The other great advantage of this is that you are out in nature which is one of the things I love about anywhere I visit.
After a few weeks of walking, I started to add a bit of running into a routine. Nothing huge, maybe running for a couple of minutes every 10 or so.
You see, where most people fail, or get injured is that they think they are still 20. We are getting older, our bodies are different nowadays so we don’t want to overdo it too soon.
Although as you will read later, I did go a little extreme.
Top Tip If you are just getting back into fitness, leave your ego at home or run the risk of injury. Take your time. As I started to run a bit more I started to give myself something to aim for and keep motivated.
You see, keeping motivated is a big factor when trying to get healthy – don’t give up.
One of the first things I did was sign-up for a charity event where you had to run every day in November. What was the motivation here?
It was in aid of the local homeless in my town, in which collections of food, clothing, bedding, and other essentials were donated by the public in return for completing the challenge.
If you can find your personal motivation you will succeed.
I continued to sign-up for events and races over the next 12 months. Which was everything from 10k races, to Marathons to Obstacle Races. I just kept something to train for in front of me all the time. And then I did something I had never dreamed of doing before:
Running An Ultra Marathon
Oh boy! In January of 2018, I decided I would sign-up for an Ultra Marathon.
Not just any race, but the UK Trail Running Championships which was an 86 mile none stop end to end trail race. Had I gone a step too far? My wife thought so.
To this day people still tell me I was mad to even attempt it.
But as I said earlier, this is what I’m like and I have a solid mindset when it comes to proving I can do something.
The other part, of course, is that it was the ultimate motivation for me to try and train for this. And train I did, through one of the hottest UK summers on record.
In August 2018, just 2 short years after deciding to change my life, I completed the 86 mile trail race.
Probably the proudest sporting achievement in my life and one I look back on with fond memories.
For more information on Ultra Marathons please feel free to read my post ‘What is Ultra Running and Why You Should Try it’ You might just be surprised how great they are.
Of course, I would suggest just going out and running all day long as your body wouldn’t cope very well.
One of the key elements when trying to lose weight is to do some strength training as well. If you are new then start off with bodyweight exercises.
I see so many people going down to the local gym trying to lift dumbbells and barbells when they can barely do a press up or sit up. When it comes to any form of exercise like this, be sensible.
Like the running, ease into it and leave the ego behind. Bodyweight exercises are fantastic for both men and women.
You will be astounded by the results if you stick to a routine for a while. You will even notice a difference after a few weeks. Check out some beginner exercises in the video below and give them a try.
Well, there you have it. That way my weight loss journey so far and I’m still going strong.
I haven’t felt this good for years and it’s all down to the right diet and exercise program that works for me.
I just wanted to show that you can lose weight over 40 if you put your mind to it.
Age is a number, not a restriction on improving your life believe me.
Please drop a comment or question below as I would love to hear from you.
All the best, Mark.