I have a personal trainer but cannot lose weight

Jane mugshot for JQAI’m a 72 year old woman and over­weight. Since January I’ve been doing a gym pro­gramme with a per­sonal, trainer, twice a week for an hour, But I’ve not lost any weight, and I’m dis­ap­poin­ted. What am I doing wrong?

Many factors affect our abil­ity to lose weight and I would need to know more detail to be able to say which ones are rel­ev­ant to you. But here are some pos­sible stum­bling blocks.

Many med­ic­a­tions have the side effect of weight gain, and it may be that one of these is sab­ot­aging your hard work in the gym. This is some­thing you’ll need to check out with your GP.

Is your workout doing as much as it could to help you lose weight? As you have a per­sonal trainer, the answer is prob­ably “yes”. But in gen­eral, you should be doing car­dio exer­cise (heart and lung work which raises your breath­ing level) for 20 to 30 minutes each ses­sion (the length of time depends on how hard you are work­ing); and weight train­ing, using the gym machines. The weight train­ing is par­tic­u­larly import­ant because it will help to boost your muscle mass, and the more muscle you have, the faster your body burns up cal­or­ies. Plus, the weight train­ing will “tone up” your body so it will look trim­mer and more defined.

Now for the hon­esty check. What are you doing when you are not at the gym? To make your exer­cise régime pay dividends, your daily life­style needs also to be increas­ingly act­ive. That means at least 30 minutes car­dio activ­ity (brisk walks, swim­ming, cyc­ling), on at least three more days every week. Get used to always walk­ing up stairs and steps rather than tak­ing lifts or escal­at­ors. Get off the bus a stop early and walk. Carry shop­ping bags. Go to dance classes. Join the Ramblers for long week­end walks. Play games in the garden with the grand­chil­dren… In short, keep on the move!

Have you got your eat­ing pat­tern right? It is com­mon, when people get into a new exer­cise routine, to uncon­sciously “allow” your­self to eat a bit more than you used to, because you are doing all the extra work in the gym. But if you want to lose weight you will need the dis­cip­line not to let this hap­pen, and also to change the pat­tern of your eat­ing away from fatty and sug­ary foods and more towards fruit and veg.

Finally, even if you never shed a single pound, you should not feel dis­ap­poin­ted that you have made such a big effort to get into an exer­cise habit. The workouts will be hav­ing very import­ant pos­it­ive health effects for you, includ­ing redu­cing your chances of get­ting dia­betes, heart dis­ease, stroke and cer­tain can­cers. With more energy, bet­ter muscle tone and a spring in your step, you should be feel­ing hap­pier, health­ier, and hope­fully proud of your­self for hav­ing made the effort.

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