What do you think you need to do to lose weight?

Do you think that succeeding at weight loss involves sacrifice and suffering? You’re not alone. Most women over 40 think that weight loss involves some combination of:

One. Starving yourself (or at least drastically cutting back what you eat)

Two. Killing yourself at the gym.

The irony is that even though most women over 40 fail to lose weight and keep it off using this approach, they still think that deprivation and suffering is the key to weight loss. They rationalise that previous failures were due to insufficient commitment or willpower.

But here’s the truth:

“The more unpleasant you make losing weight, the less likely you will succeed.”

If your means of losing weight involve discomfort, it’s hard to muster up the willpower or the commitment to keep going. In other words, brutal diets or exercise regimes are not the way to lose weight. You are in fact sabotaging your chances of success when you do things that are unpleasant.

You might be able to force yourself to run three miles at 5am in the morning a few times, but will you still be doing it in five years time? Do you even want to?

You might be able to resist eating chocolate and cake and ice cream for a few weeks, but do you really want to live like this for the rest of your life?

Of course not. And that’s why most people fail to lose weight. They set themselves up to fail, by doing things that are too drastic and painful.

Instead of focussing on how much you need to starve yourself, your real focus should be on:

“How can I maximise my chances of sticking with this weight loss plan for life?”

In other words, only do things that you are happy doing for the rest of your life.

The reply to all of this is often: “But if I don’t deprive myself, then I won’t lose weight”.


It might sound heretical to suggest that you can lose weight without depriving yourself. But I have seen it happen enough times to know that it is possible. And there’s nothing magical about this. Here is the basis of sustainable weight loss:

One. A long-term perspective (don’t be in too much of a hurry)

Two. Small changes that are easy to fit in with your current lifestyle

Three. Ensuring that you’re still able to eat out, socialise, travel and generally enjoy life (Remember, unpleasantness and deprivation are the enemy of weight loss)

Four. A focus on refining and improving your approach, so that you find the best way that works for you.

Five. Persistence. Never giving up.

If you follow these five steps and stick to them, your chances of success are increased significantly.

So what are some examples of small changes that you can make?

One. Cut back portion sizes by 5-10%

Two. Remove some tempting foods from your workspace or home environment

Three. Stop or at least reduce second servings

Four. Reduce the amount of one particularly high calorie snack that you often eat.

As you adjust to these changes, make more of them. There are literally hundreds of different changes that you can make. And as you make more changes, the changes become easier to make.

This is much easier than trying to cut back everything at once.

You’ve been sold a lie that long-term weight loss requires pain and suffering. It doesn’t. What it requires is the opposite: continually asking yourself how you can make changes that are long-lasting and rejecting ones that aren’t.

When you combine this focus with a persistence to keep going no matter what, then success can be yours.

For more about a behavioural approach to weight loss click here.