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Diet & Nutrition

How I lost 30kg at age 56: The secret to losing weight and KEEPING it off

And yes, she still eats cake and chocolate!

By Rebecca Sullivan
Anyone who has tried to diet or seriously shift some kilos will be familiar with the viscous cycle Lynne Maidment used to find herself in.
"For years, I would say 'Well, I've had a piece of cake, there goes my entire diet, I might as well eat the whole thing'," the 56-year-old from South Australia told Now To Love.
"That's what used to be my downfall. I'd lose weight, but I'd put it back on. I'd lose five kilos, then put on 10 kilos, then I'd lose 10 kilos and put on 15 kilos," Lynne said.
For breakfast, Lynne would start the day with two pieces of toast and a coffee, but her diet would become unhealthier as the day progressed.
"I love my sweets, I really do," Lynne said.
"I would sit there and have cake and coffee every morning, then a big lunch and I would binge at night. I'd pig-out after dinner. If there was cake or chocolate I would eat that, or I would sit and have a cup of tea and a block of chocolate.
Lynne when she was at her heaviest. (Image: Supplied)
At age 50, with a weight well over 100kg, Lynne tried to find peace with her body.
"I got to 50 and thought 'This is me, I love me the way I am', because I was sick of dieting all the time," she said.
But after seeing a photo of herself at her son's engagement party, she realised how much weight she had gained over the years.
And it was after a weekend away in Melbourne, where she struggled to walk the streets and was "always gasping for air, living on antacids [medication to help neutralise stomach acid]", that Lynne decided to make a change.
Lynne weighed over 100kg and binged on treats at night. (Image: Supplied)
Lynne signed up to weight loss company Jenny Craig, joined a gym and got to work, going to the gym three times a week and walking regularly.
"I never thought I would go back to the gym at 54 years old, but a girlfriend reminded me, 'You're never too old'," she said.
"I have met such a lovely group of people, from young to old. I've got a friend who is 67 and then there's young ones that are about 20 and they call me their 'Gym Mum'. I've met some really good friends."
Now she's lost 30kg and says she's finally learned how to achieve balance in her diet.
So what's her secret? Portion control.
Lynne has a massive sweet tooth and loves to indulge, so she didn't want to completely cut out her favourite treats.
"I still say to everyone, 'You can eat whatever you want, but it's in moderation'. It's knowing your portion sizes.
"Don't deny yourself things that you like. When you have them, enjoy them and savour every mouthful but know that's enough and move on and get back on track.
"Now I say 'OK I've had a piece of cake, it's fine, I'll go back to eating healthily'."
Lynne after her 30kg weight loss. (Image: Supplied)
She goes to the gym three times a week and eats a balanced diet. (Image: Supplied)
Lynne now eats healthily most of the time and saves up her "unhealthy" foods for eating out with friends, or on the weekends.
"I hardly eat any bread and if I do it's on a weekend or if I go out and I'll have a bread roll or garlic bread."
And she has a great hack for ensuring you can always order dessert if you want!
"Because I don't have sweets at home anymore, I allow myself dessert when I go out. When eating out with my girlfriends, I would always go for the schnitzel and chips and now my friends think it's funny because now I always look at the dessert menu first.
"If there's a dessert I want, I'll have a salad or an entrée and then really enjoy it at the end of my meal. If there's no dessert I want, maybe I'll have a pasta or a steak."
Lynne says she doesn't deny herself treats, just eats them in small portions. (Image: Supplied)
Lynne's tips echo the advice from accredited practising dietitian Margaret Mielczare, who says cutting out entire food groups or foods that you love is a recipe for disaster.
"Cutting everything out all at once typically doesn't last and often leads to throwing in the towel on well-intended efforts and bingeing or overeating," Ms Mielczarek told Now To Love.
"Nutrition is very individual and dependant on your goals, exercise level, life stage, medical history and energy requirements. Before choosing any weight-loss approach, it's important to consider all of these factors and consult a doctor or dietitian - then you can decide what approach will work for you."
Lynne and her husband after her 30kg weight loss. (Image: Supplied)
According to new research from Jenny Craig, portion control is something many of us struggle with.
A survey of Australian women found the majority (64 per cent) have a second helping of dinner most nights and 67 per cent will "upsize" when buying food.
About 40 per cent finish eating in less than 10 minutes, almost one in two eat their dinner in front of the TV and one in three still finish the food on their plate even though they are full.
More than a third admit they don't know the recommended portion sizes of protein, vegetables and carbohydrates and only 15 per cent of Aussies refer to the serving recommendations on the back of the packet before consuming the packaged food.
WATCH BELOW: Five easy food swaps for diet success. Story continues after video.
The Dietitians' Association of Australia recommends we eat two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables a day, along with lean protein and wholegrain, complex carbohydrates at every meal.
One serve of fruit is about one cup of berries, a whole apple or two pieces of smaller fruit like apricots or kiwi fruit.
One cup of salad vegetables (like tomato, cucumber or baby spinach) equates to one serve, while a half cup of cooked vegetables (like broccoli or potato) is one serve.
Our portions of protein should be no bigger than our palms and two pieces of bread, a full cup of cooked rice, pasta or grains is how much we should be eating at each meal.
A guide to correct portion size. (Image: Supplied)
But aside from fitting into a smaller dress side, Lynne says the best thing about her 30kg weight loss was the change in her energy levels.
"I now wake up with a spring in my step," Lynne said.
"I don't lay in bed and say 'I can't be bothered'.
"I'm more active now and it's lovely to be able to take my grandkids to the park and run after them and go on the trampoline. I would never have done that before."

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