40 and fat – what now?

One of the things about getting fat is that it happens gradually, almost unnoticeably. As we get older we’re constantly warned about the consequences of our poor lifestyle choices, and yet we pay scant regard. It’s always easier to say “I’ll get in shape for summer”, or “I’ll give up [bad habit] when I get married/ have kids/ turn 30”. So you waste your healthiest years eating junk, binge drinking, smoking, staying up late and lazing around on your keester.

It’s usually around the age of 30 that your metabolism starts to slow and you noticeably get flabbier and heavier. Your body isn’t able to handle what you put in it in the same way and it’s definitely past time you started eating healthier and taking care of your body. However, your habits are now ingrained and very difficult to change. Your social life probably revolves around the consumption of wine or beer and making poor decisions. You ask yourself “what’s the difference between 30 and 31 anyway? I’ll change my ways after one more year of fun.” 31 becomes 35, and once you hit 36, you may as well round it up to the big four-o.

By this time, you’ve possibly done irreversible damage to your essential organs and are looking decidedly worn out. You remind yourself of what you swore you’d never become when you were 18. A fat, middle-aged nobody who hasn’t grown up and looks ridiculous for it. If you’re lazy, you will give up on your promises of change and resign yourself to being a fat, unhealthy person from now on. You’ll say things like “I need real food, not rabbit food”, “Never trust anyone who doesn’t drink” and you’ll harbor a resentment against young people who remind you of when you were attractive. Most of all you’ll rail against anyone who makes the changes that you’re too lazy to do. You’ll convince yourself, as you wallow in your alcohol-fueled pity, that no matter what, you’re still better than them and it’s not your fault you were raised in the wrong way, have such a stressful job, have an uncaring/ no partner, etc. ad nauseam.

What you should do, if you want to have an enjoyable second half of your life, and not spend most of it in doctor’s waiting rooms, in bed or propping up a bar, is to value yourself above everything that holds you back from changing. If you are afraid of losing friends by stopping going to the bar, those guys are not friends. If you think people will laugh at you in the gym or when you’re out jogging, who cares if they do? Do you need to care about their opinion? You’re above that.

If you can’t face giving up smoking or drinking, you might need outside help. Sometimes people are able to overcome these addictions through sheer willpower. This is a risky strategy and prone to failure as the stress of daily activities is magnified and then compounded by cravings for the drug your body is missing. A great time to quit is when you have a couple weeks off work. This kind of self-discipline will be essential when it comes to getting fit and eating well, too. It will all get easier to the point of coming naturally, but at first you need to fight for it. Think of it as a penance you need to serve in order to save your life.

If you can’t face the idea of giving up alcohol, you drink every day, especially to sooth your nerves, or you suspect you might be an alcoholic, then don’t give up drinking without consulting your doctor. Many people don’t find out that they are alcoholics until they actually quit drinking. Severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms can come on quickly and unexpectedly and can result in death. You may need to be weaned off alcohol gradually to stop drinking safely.

Spend time creating and cooking your own nutritious meals. Make it a highlight of your evenings. If you’re feeling fed up and don’t want to go outside or to the gym to exercise, get yourself some home gym equipment, which can be even healthier than outdoor activities.

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