Welcome to all my new subscribers! There has been a flurry of activity on my Instagram and here on the blog over the last week which to me can mean only one thing, people are starting to think about losing a few pounds!
In more predictable times it’s generally the beginning of January, with those New Year’s resolutions firmly pinned to the fridge, that we think about a health reset. But this year, the pattern has been different and for good reason. With the on-going covid chaos, varying degrees of lockdown and general existential angst out there, it’s all anyone can do to get through the day without throttling their nearest and dearest.
I detect, however, a subtle shift in mood. Perhaps it’s just a need to regain some sense of control in all the madness, and what better way to do that than to focus on your own health? After all, you can control what you put in your mouth right? so it might as well be nutritious and delicious.
So welcome to everyone who is perhaps a little later to the party this year, and that’s just fine, because as I say very clearly in the book there is absolutely zero point in trying to make changes unless you are well and truly motivated. It’s a bit like giving up smoking, when you are ready you’ll be surprised how easy it is, if you’re not then it’s impossible.
So what is the Midlife Method? Why is it different to other weight loss programmes and how does it cater specifically to midlifers? Very good questions!
The Midlife Method is just that, a method. It’s not a diet in the traditional sense, to be followed religiously to the letter for a few weeks and then abandoned, followed by a huge binge on all those things you’ve had to cut out! I mean, when you see that written down it’s just so ridiculous isn’t it? TMM (as I will refer to it for ease), unlike diets, is food-focused, meaning that it concentrates on what you can eat, not what you can’t. It was borne out of my own love of food (and wine, but we’ll come to that later!) and trying to square that with maintaining a healthy weight.
The idea of the plan is to gently guide you to a more positive relationship with food, one where you enjoy the planning, preparation and eating of good, nutritious food. Food that is delicious and naturally low in calories so that you can achieve the all important ‘energy deficit’ that you need for weight loss.
Also, unlike other diets, it’s holisitic. Of course, weight management is largely down to what you eat but it’s far more complex than that. Exercise has a role to play, as too does stress management, improved sleep quality and regulating our alcohol consumption. We need to make adjustments in all these areas to help support our weight loss efforts.
It's flexible too – the main concept of interchanging Light Days (where you calorie restrict) and Regular Days (when you don’t, but focus on eating with awareness) can be used as you wish. You can follow the more structured 4-week plan or you can just cherry-pick recipes depending on your preferences. As long as you are doing 3-4 Light Days a week you will see some results.
And most importantly, why is it so effective for midlifers? Well, to be honest, anyone following TMM will lose weight, so in that sense it is for everyone, but the way I have designed it is to cater specifically for the physiological changes we all face in midlife.
Our hormones are in decline and need support through good nutrition, simply cutting things out - like carbs for example - is just not good for you*. Perhaps we could get away with it when we were twenty, but losing weight when we are older has to be done healthily and sustainably. A good supply of complex carbs is really important for endocrine (hormone) balance and gut health.
Also, our metabolisms slow as we age and we can minimize the effects of this by what we eat and by exercising optimally – I talk about how to achieve this in the book too. We also need an adequate supply of protein to guard against sarcopenia or age-related loss of muscle mass (the reason why older people can end up with big bellies and skinny chicken legs).
And finally our guts. Sadly gut health also deteriorates as we get older and we become less efficient at extracting what we need from our food. So, it’s really important to support our microbiomes by eating a good variety of plant-based foods to ensure we don’t end up with any deficiencies.
In short, losing weight as we get older isn’t simply about dropping a few pounds, it’s about increasing the number of fit, active and healthy years we have ahead of us. But more importantly, it’s about eating well, enjoying our food and also having the wriggle room to include the things we love to eat and drink, I mean what is life without a glass of Champagne, some cheese and crackers or a slice of cake?
*Very low carb diets are sometimes recommended if someone is Type 2 diabetic or pre-diabetic but should be done under the supervision of a nutrition professional.