23/08/2011 06:29 BST | Updated 24/10/2011 06:12 BST

Why It's Easier To Maintain Weight Loss When You're Over 40

Could it possibly be easier for a woman to lose weight and keep it off after 40?

On the face of it, that sounds ridiculous. Even some of my most successful clients talk about how much easier it was to lose weight in their 20s.

"When I was 25, I could go on any diet and lose a stone (14 pounds) in a week or two"

So how can it be easier to lose weight and keep it off after 40?

In my experience, when it comes to their weight, women in their 20s are usually more preoccupied with quick results. Often this may be related to a particular event (like a holiday or a wedding). They are willing to go to extreme lengths as long as they get the results quickly.

And in your 20s, it is possible "starve" yourself down to a lower weight (if you can tolerate the deprivation) very quickly. Last week, a woman in her late 20s told me how she was trying a "slower" approach to weight loss. Despite apparently taking it slow, she had still managed to lose 4 pounds in the last week. This is the kind of weight loss a woman in her 50s can only dream about.

But the problem with this quick approach is that it is a recipe for yoyo dieting. You can do what it takes to get down to a lower weight, but as soon as you stop the diet, then what?

The best example of this is the young woman in her 20s or 30s trying to lose weight for her wedding day. She stops eating all the foods she loves, starves herself and goes through hell for the sake of looking good in a wedding dress. Of course, this approach to losing weight is guaranteed to be short term only, because once the wedding is over, she no longer has the strong motivation to tolerate such deprivation so she stops dieting and the weight comes back on.

In contrast, women over 40 have a much better approach to weight loss. In my experience:

1. They are more concerned with lasting results than the speed of their weight loss

2. They are willing to embrace the idea that you don't need to starve yourself to lose weight. 3. They understand that small, gradual changes are more effective than "showy" drastic ones

This makes them the ideal clients, because they have the most important prerequisite to losing weight and keeping it off: they have the right attitude.

You might think that attitude is a minor factor in weight loss. But in my experience, a woman who wants quick results no matter what will generally make the wrong decisions when losing weight. They will go for short term strategies that may get them fast results, but that are so unpleasant that no one in their right mind would ever be able to live that way.

Contrast this, with someone who makes small changes every week that they know they can live with for the rest of their life. Over several weeks, they add more small changes. The beauty of this gradual approach is that it is gentler and much easier. There is no deprivation or suffering. And the easier it is, the more likely you will stick with it for the long term.

The ironic result is that while women in their 20s might be able to lose weight easier, it is women in their 40s who are best equipped to lose weight and keep it off.