Losing weight at any age is difficult, but for people in midlife it can seem downright daunting. So many grapple with changing metabolisms, new medical conditions and life stressors, such as more work responsibilities, parenting and caregiving. This can make it tough for people to prioritize their own health. But these eight people lost a combined 822 pounds, showing that weight loss can happen at any age. They shared their tips for success with TODAY.
1. Weigh and measure your food.
At 65, Judy Wilson weighed 431 pounds, took two blood pressure medications and used a sleep apnea machine. When she realized she was at her highest weight in her life, she took steps to bolster her health and lost 200 pounds. One simple thing that helped her was measuring her food with a scale. She eats 3 ounces of fish, chicken or meat and dishes out vegetables by cups.
“Food is good for you, but anything in excess is going to mess you up,” the now 70-year-old told TODAY.
2. Find support.
When Darlene Sears went for her annual physical in 2019 she was stunned that her paperwork said she was “morbidly obese.” At the time, she weighed 269 pounds and took medications for high blood pressure and cholesterol. She and her daughter, Lauren Sears, 28, decided to adopt healthier habits to lose weight together. Having her daughter by her side made losing 55 pounds easier.
“We have down days or things that didn’t go so well,” Darlene Sears, 57, told TODAY. “But we pick up and say, ‘Tomorrow’s another day.’”
3. Use a smaller plate.
After Angelique Diggs saw a picture of herself from a graduation party, she realized she was heavier than she thought. A difficult marriage and some health problems contributed to her gaining 60 pounds and she experienced high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression, anxiety and joint pain. She joined Noom to help lose weight. Eating off smaller plates helped her control her serving sizes without too much measuring.
“I don’t weigh my food,” she said. “But I do work on portion size … A lot of times when you have a large plate, you put a lot of food on there. Generally, you’re going to eat what’s on there.”
That helped her lose 60 pounds and improve her blood pressure and cholesterol.
4. Take a walk.
At 60, Bridget Shinn’s weight kept her from enjoying life. She slept 12 to 15 hours a day and ate fast food and drank too many large sodas. After seeing her daughter Hilary Downey lose 100 pounds, Shinn decided to make some healthy changes in her life. The first thing she did was get off the couch and start walking.
“I told myself, “You have all the time in the world to sit on the couch and watch television,” the now 65-year-old told TODAY. “You can take a walk.”
Those walks helped Shinn lose 110 pounds.
5. Choose yourself.
As a nurse and mother, Valerie Moskowitz rarely put herself first and slowly gained weight. She weighed 270 pounds, had Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and had a mini stroke. Then she contracted COVID-19. She struggled to breathe and took more than a month of rest to recover. She worried that if she contracted it again, she would not survive.
That’s when she prioritized herself and underwent gastric bypass surgery. Choosing herself helped her lose 70 pounds.
“There is a choice,” she told TODAY. “I didn’t feel like I could do anything about it. I just said, ‘OK these are the cards I have been given’ … But I do have a choice now.”
6. Keep trying when it’s tough.
When Michelle Carvalho was six months shy of her 40th birthday, she realized her weight kept her from enjoying life and time with her family. That’s when she started lifting weights and changed her eating habits. In five years, she lost about 89 pounds, but hit plateaus on the way. Even when she felt frustrated, she kept trying.
“Just be patient and show up for yourself every day,” the now 44-year-old told TODAY. “You know you’re going to have days where you are going to fall, but it’s the people that get back up and try again that are going to succeed.”
7. Set goals that make sense for you.
After joining a work step challenge, Roxanne Mullenberg, 42, noticed that even though she walked three to four miles a day, she wasn’t losing any weight. At the time, she weighed 358 pounds and decided to examine her eating habits. She joined an eating program that starts with replacement shakes for meals and adds in lean proteins, vegetables then fruit and some starches. By combining that with walking she lost 149 pounds in a year. One of her keys to success? Setting goals that work for her.
“I said, ‘My goal is to drop a couple of sizes and just feel better about myself,’” she said. “That was 100% my goal and it still remains to this day. It was never going to be about the number on the scale. I just wanted to feel better about myself and drop those pant sizes.”
8. Be mindful.
Before losing weight, Moskowitz mindlessly ate. She never thought about how what she ate impacted her health. Since her surgery, she has become mindful of what she eats and how she moves her body.
“I might not eat all day and by the time four in the afternoon came around I was like, ‘I need carbs. I need carbs,’ and eating other things that I had no business eating,” she said. “Now, I no longer do this.”
9. ‘Take those bad days in stride.’
For years, Jenn Langerfeld didn’t have a scale. In 2019, she bought one and was surprised she weighed 203 pounds. She started following a low-glycemic diet and lifting weights, which helped her shed 89 pounds. She found that consistency even when it feels hard, leads to results.
“You’re going to have bad days and you’re going to have amazing days. But you have to take those bad days in stride and say, ‘You know what? Tomorrow is going to be better,’” Langerfeld, 42, told TODAY. “When you have those amazing days, you can really reflect on … the days that you felt lousy and didn’t want to get up.”