A good friend in her late 30s was recently telling me about her struggle to lose the five pounds she'd put on last winter. It wasn't unusual for her to gain a little weight during the holidays, she said, but in years past, it would melt off by spring. This year was different. She was exercising and watching her diet, but still the scale wouldn't budge.
I've heard this story from many women, and they all want to know why the slim-down strategies they've used in the past (like reducing calories and avoiding junk food) no longer work. The frustratingly simple explanation is that weight loss gets harder as we get older, in part because our metabolism slows with age. Research shows that in women, metabolism declines by an average of 2 percent per decade, starting at age 20. But here's the good news: There are simple ways you can tweak your daily routine to counterbalance this natural dip.
Metabolism describes the complex processes that regulate how we convert food into energy. I tell my patients to picture it as a flame fueled by calories. Cutting too many calories from your diet will cause the flame to die down (which explains why extreme dieting doesn't work over the long term). However, certain activities, supplements, foods, and beverages can stoke the flame; the faster it burns, the more calories you use, and the more fat you lose over time.
This plan is designed to fire up your metabolism around the clock. Some of the tips are challenging (lunges and planks) and some you'll actually love (evening glass of wine). Try to follow as many of them as you can every day to help your body find its healthy weight.