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Face it: your days of carefree consumption are over. Where once you could eat practically anything you wanted and not gain a pound, these days it feels like just looking at a croissant can add a couple inches to your waist.

Welcome to your 30s!

By now you’ve probably noticed that you’re not losing weight as easily as you used to, and it’s not just because your body’s metabolism is slowing down. For most people, the 30s can be the most stressful stage of life, what with juggling the demands of both career and family. Who has time to spare for exercise, proper diet, and self-care?

But losing weight in your 30s is not a lost cause. Just follow these handy tips and remember that age is ultimately just a number where fitness and health are concerned.

Plan your meals — even your snacks.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail — cliche, but true. Don’t sabotage your weight loss by just eating whatever you can get your hands on during the busy workweek. Set aside one day per week (Sunday is good) to plan, shop, and cook all your meals and stick them in the fridge.

It may seem like a lot of effort, but meal prepping can work wonders to keep you on a healthy, balanced diet no matter how crazy the week gets. You can easily cut down on your usual fast food consumption when you’ve got delicious, home-made meals ready and waiting for you in the fridge.

It also helps to eliminate snacks that are high in sugar and saturated fat. Switch them out for healthier options like fruits and vegetables. Keep these snacks in your pantry, at work, and in your bag so you never have to hit up the vending machine again.

Stay active.

Avoid the sedentary life if you want to lose weight and lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Being active doesn’t always involve joining a gym. You could start out by walking up the stairs instead of taking the elevator at work, or running around the park every weekend. Stream a fitness video if you’d rather exercise at home, or join a fitness class if that’s more your thing. It helps to schedule your workouts ahead of time, so you’re not leaving anything to chance.

Learn to meditate.

Five minutes a day of quiet meditation can be beneficial if you’re trying to lose weight in your 30s. Clear your mind, do some breathing exercises, and focus on cultivating mindfulness. Meditation improves your mood and combats mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. It also reduces stress, which in turn lower your cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone that pushes your body to store excess calories as fat, which makes it difficult for you to lose weight despite all your other efforts at eating right and working out.

Schedule some “me” time.

When you’re in your 30s, it can be difficult to find time for yourself. You have so many responsibilities to juggle that even thinking about resting can be a challenge. This is a bad idea, though. Stress will only burn you out, physically and mentally.

Take time to practice self-care. Do something that relaxes you, be it soaking in an aromatic bath or crocheting. Make sure you also get enough sleep so that your body can repair itself and address cellular damage. Studies have shown that lack of sleep is tied to weight gain and slows down your metabolism, so if you want to lose weight you have to make sure to get your eight hours of snooze time.

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