The latest research is clear: There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to weight loss. Who you are is the greatest variable if you’re trying to shed pounds, and there are innumerable factors that will make it easier or harder for you — poor diet, lack of exercise, genetics, medications and other lifestyle and environmental factors can all play a role.
Specific physiological circumstances, however, inflate the importance of certain approaches to weight loss. For that reason, focusing your efforts on what will give you the most bang for your buck is key. As with most things, once you get some traction and the pounds begin to fall off, taking on additional strategies can lead to additional weight loss. Here’s a quick guide on weight-loss strategies to fit some common life challenges — perhaps at least one of these applies to you.
The Challenge: People gain weight for different reasons as they age. Chief among them is a decline in physical activity. When you move less, a greater number of calories get stored in the body as fat, instead of getting converted into energy to fuel activity. What’s more, we naturally lose muscle mass as we age — upwards of 3-5% after age 30 if you’re inactive — which, in turn, leads to a slower metabolism.
The Solution: Strength training can help put the brakes on the loss of muscle mass, as well as build new muscle. Since muscle cells are far more metabolically active than fat cells, they burn more calories. As you increase your muscle mass, you also boost your metabolism.
Be sure to warm up before training, and start slow to build strength without injuring yourself. Begin with two sessions a week of 10 reps of 8–10 different exercises for the upper and lower body and the core. Utilize your own body weight for things like pushups and pullups and 5- to 10-pound dumbbells for other exercises. You should feel like you can’t do more than an extra rep or two at the end of each exercise — if you can, it’s time to increase the weight.
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