Small Tweaks, Big Impact: Simple Shifts for Sustainable Weight Loss

We all know the frustration of trying to shed those stubborn pounds, especially as we age. But what if I told you that you don’t have to overhaul your entire life to lose fat and reclaim your health? In this episode, I’m sharing five simple changes you can make to your daily routine that will help you hit your weight-loss goals more sustainably. From the power of post-meal walks to the surprising impact of sleep on your waistline, these little hinges can swing big doors when it comes to your health.

I’ll also dive into the importance of monitoring your progress with the right tools and reveal the one simple habit that can boost your fat-burning potential by up to 30%. Plus, I’ll share my top five exercises for maximizing fat loss, whether you’re working out at home or at the gym. Trust me, you won’t want to miss this episode packed with practical tips and game-changing insights. Tune in now and let’s start swinging those hinges towards a healthier, happier you!


00:01:32 – Surprising benefits of a simple post-meal habit for your health and waistline
00:04:56 – How to supercharge your walking routine for maximum results
00:07:14 – The unexpected connection between your sleep habits and weight loss
00:10:37 – A powerful tool to monitor stress and combat belly fat
00:13:03 – Exercises that can transform your health and fitness
00:15:49 – Find out why this daily habit could be the key to achieving your weight loss goals
00:19:22 – The essential tracking strategies that can boost your metabolism and support healthy weight loss

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Check out the Bluetooth scales and tape measures I recommend in my Amazon storefront

Use my Eat Protein First Calculator

Track your protein & macros with Cronometer App


Download my free Resistance Training Cheat Sheet

Download my FREE Best Rest Sleep Cheat Sheet

Tape Measure

TRX Resistance Training Equipment: Free Shipping on all orders $99+

Study: Effects of a 12-week walking intervention on circulating lipid profiles and adipokines in normal weight and abdominal obese female college students 

Study: Relationship Between Sleep Quality and Quantity and Weight Loss in Women Participating in a Weight-Loss Intervention Trial

Study: Effects of circuit-based exercise programs on the body composition of elderly obese women

Study: Weighing everyday matters: Daily weighing improves weight loss and adoption of weight control behaviors

Study: Increased Hydration Can Be Associated with Weight Loss

Click Here To Read Transcript

[00:00:00] JJ: I’m JJ Virgin, PhD dropout, sorry mom, turned four time New York Times bestselling author. Yes, I’m a certified nutrition specialist, fitness hall of famer, and I speak at health conferences and trainings around the globe, but I’m driven by my insatiable [00:00:20] curiosity and love of science to keep asking questions, digging for answers, and sharing the information I uncover with as many people as I can.

[00:00:27] JJ: And that’s why I created the Well Beyond 40 Podcast. To synthesize and simplify the science of health into actionable strategies to help you thrive. In each episode, we’ll talk about [00:00:40] what’s working in the world of wellness, from personalized nutrition and healing your metabolism, to healthy aging and prescriptive fitness.

[00:00:47] JJ: Join me on the journey to better health so you can love how you look and feel right now and have the energy to play full out at 100.[00:01:00]

[00:01:02] JJ: One of my favorite sayings is that little hinges swing big doors, meaning you don’t have to overhaul your entire life in order to lose fat or get your health back on track. Making simple changes to your daily routine over time will help you hit your goals sustainably so you can lose [00:01:20] fat and keep it off for good.

[00:01:22] JJ: The first one that I’d love you to incorporate is walking after your last meal. Now, I want you to get eight to twelve thousand steps in a day. The research is really clear on that. If you want to do more, great, do more. But I really want you to focus on getting some of those steps in after that [00:01:40] last meal.

[00:01:40] JJ: Because when you walk after that last meal, it’s going to lower the blood sugar response to the meal. And it is also going to help you with digestion, help you sleep better. Now I’m going to share a little study that showed two different approaches to increasing daily steps. So let’s talk about just walking more overall.

[00:01:59] JJ: [00:02:00] And this was two different groups and they wanted to see how these two different approaches to increasing your daily steps would impact body composition and metabolic health. And these were college students with obesity. So they had 32 participants and they divided them into three groups. They had the walking step goal group.[00:02:20]

[00:02:20] JJ: And they were told to, to walk 12, 000 steps every day. Then they had the walking exercise group. They were told to do 12, 000 steps a day, but three days a week they were told to walk at a faster pace. And then there was a control, a crawl group, and they were just told to keep going with what they were doing.

[00:02:37] JJ: No step goals. So they [00:02:40] tracked the number of steps each participant took daily for eight weeks. Now here’s what they found. The average daily steps didn’t differ significantly between the First and second groups, the regular group and the exercise group. However, the exercise group showed improvements in hip circumference, [00:03:00] visceral fat loss, high density lipoprotein cholesterol, HDLC, fasting glucose, and triglycerols.

[00:03:07] JJ: The other group only had improvements in HDLC, and of course, the control group, nothing happened, right? So what does this mean for us? That a walking exercise program with a daily step goals [00:03:20] is, is going to be more effective if you throw in some little bit of push into that walking program. I’m going to give you a couple of different ways to do that.

[00:03:31] JJ: If you do that, let’s add some intensity in a couple of those days a week, it’s going to be better for body composition and metabolic health than just saying, Hey, I’m going to walk [00:03:40] 12, 12, 000 steps a day. It can also help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. So while I say get eight to 12, 000 seps in a day, ideally get some of that after dinner.

[00:03:51] JJ: Now I’m going to also add in, let’s up the intensity a couple days a week. And how do we up the intensity? That can be just as simple as when you go out for a walk three times, [00:04:00] three of those times, just push it faster. Or you can do what I like to do, because I live in Florida and it’s flat, because you could also go, I’m going to go somewhere where it’s hilly, is you can increase the speed, you can add some hills, or you can add a rucking vest.

[00:04:16] JJ: A rucking vest is a weighted vest. And if you’re not using one, [00:04:20] start with five or ten pounds and then just try that, throw that on because that’s going to increase the intensity too. So that’s the first one that you can do. The second one is prioritizing sleep. Holy smokes. I actually don’t know how to get someone healthier if their sleep is not on track.

[00:04:39] JJ: Because [00:04:40] even one poor night of sleep, you are more insulin resistant and you are hungrier. So let me tell you about a study that analyzed relationships between sleep characteristics and weight loss in overweight or obese women who are participating in a weight loss program. So the research hypothesized that women with better sleep quality, And those who slept more than [00:05:00] seven hours per night would be more likely to achieve significant weight loss.

[00:05:04] JJ: They looked at 245 women with an average age of 45. 5 years and an average BMI of 33. 9. Now at the beginning of the study, over half of the participants, that’s 52. 7 percent, showed poor sleep quality. [00:05:20] The findings showed that better subjective sleep quality Increased the likelihood of weight loss success by 33%.

[00:05:28] JJ: And sleeping more than seven hours per night also positively impacted weight loss. And so what the study concluded was that both sleep quality and quantity may play a role in weight loss in [00:05:40] overweight or obese women who are participating in a weight loss program. Better sleep quality and longer sleep duration were associated with higher chances of successful weight loss during this period.

[00:05:50] JJ: Now, I think of this and I think of um, something Dr. Michael Bruce, the sleep doctor, told me. And he did this little program with Glamour [00:06:00] Magazine, where Glamour Magazine, all they did with women who were wanting to lose weight, they didn’t change anything except the instruction was that they needed to get Quality sleep each night.

[00:06:11] JJ: I think it was like you had to get seven to nine hours of quality sleep a night. That was the only thing they did and everyone in the group lost weight. [00:06:20] That’s crazy. Why is this such a big deal? Well again, one poor night of sleep, you’re more insulin resistant, and you’re hungrier. Your graylin is higher.

[00:06:29] JJ: So if you’re more insulin resistant, it makes it harder for you to burn fat. If you’re hungrier, well, all bets are off, right? So this is one of those things that you cannot overcome. So [00:06:40] when I talk about all of these little hinges, if sleep is, you know, The hinge is not there. This is the number one hinge to work on first.

[00:06:48] JJ: So what I’ve included is my best rest sleep sheet that gives you all the tools you need to get the best sleep every night. And you can download that one for free at jjvirgin. com forward slash best rest. [00:07:00] One thing I’ve been really focusing on this year is HRV and This is because I’m working on stress.

[00:07:09] JJ: Here’s the thing, especially for women 40 plus, if you’re heading into menopause or post menopausal, stress is a major thing for you because your adrenal glands are going to [00:07:20] be where you’re going to be producing your estrogen and your And some of your DHA and testosterone as well. So your adrenal glands become super duper important as you start to make that transition into menopause.

[00:07:31] JJ: And we start to rely a lot heavier on them. So one of the ways that you can find out how your stress is doing is by monitoring your stress. Your [00:07:40] HRV, that’s your heart rate variability. The more heart rate variability you have, the better you are at handling stress. The better your stress resistance is.

[00:07:50] JJ: In order to improve your HRV, you’re going to want to find the things that work for you. We know the things that totally trash your HRV. Their poor sleep, [00:08:00] their alcohol, it’s eating a high sugar diet. So these are things that really tend to destroy your HRV. Um, and the reason that this matters is a poor HRV, higher stress leads to more belly fat, leads to more visceral adipose tissue.

[00:08:17] JJ: So you’re gaining fat around your belly and [00:08:20] specifically around your organs. You tend to have higher cortisol. You tend to become more insulin resistant. It tends to impact your sleep. And of course, if you’re impacting your sleep, that’s impacting your insulin resistance in ghrelin as well. It also tends to deplete serotonin and dopamine, make you hungrier.

[00:08:38] JJ: It tends to make your gut more [00:08:40] permeable. So like stress has a whole bunch of challenging stuff. Plus it’s catabolic. It breaks down muscle and bone. So we really got to get a handle of this one. And here’s what’s interesting. You can also improve heart rate variability. By doing exercise. There was a study that looked at a 12 [00:09:00] week exercise program that had both cardio and resistance exercises to see if it could improve both heart rate variability and lung function.

[00:09:07] JJ: This was done in older obese women in South Korea and they had 20 participants who were older obese women. And I got to tell you, I just was in Korea last night. Last summer I never saw one obese person. I was there for a [00:09:20] week and so I’m wondering where they even found them. Um, very active, very healthy population.

[00:09:25] JJ: It was incredible. These women, the average age was 66 years old. They had a high body mass index and a high percentage of body fat. And they split these women into two groups. One group didn’t exercise, they were the control group, and the other group did cardio and resistance [00:09:40] exercises. And they measured heart rate variability, they measured cortisol they measured lung function.

[00:09:45] JJ: Here’s what they found. The group that did the exercise program lost weight, and they lowered their body fat after 12 weeks. Of course, the control group Did not. The control group had negative heart rate variability. That means it didn’t [00:10:00] improve. It went, it got worse. Poor cortisol levels and negative lung function changes.

[00:10:06] JJ: However, the exercise group improved their heart rate variability. They reduced their stress hormones. They lowered the cortisol levels and they improved their lung function. So one of the ways that you can improve Your stress [00:10:20] is through exercise. Yet another thing that exercise does. It’s amazing. And specifically getting in some cardio and some resistance training.

[00:10:29] JJ: So this is an important one because when we look at all the different things that can improve HRV, of course, doing regular consistent exercise is a major important [00:10:40] one. I know the scale comes with a lot of angst. Um, but I A huge advocate of weighing in every single day. And I think we really need to reframe the way we think of a scale.

[00:10:55] JJ: First of all, it’s not what you weigh. It’s what your weight’s made up of. So I believe in using a bio [00:11:00] impedance scale, not a regular scale. And this is a scale that looks at total body water and then says how much your body is fat, how much is, is lean tissue. How much is visceral adipose tissue? And then of course measuring once a week to measure your waist and hips, comparing your waist to your height and your waist to your hips.

[00:11:19] JJ: [00:11:20] And what we’re doing with all of this is we’re taking the trends over time. So I love the scales that And the tape measures that have a Bluetooth component where it goes to an app. You don’t even have to pay attention to it. Just at the end of the week, look at it and take the average. Okay? Don’t get obsessed with what’s going on every day because our weight naturally fluctuates every day.

[00:11:38] JJ: It can go up two pounds, [00:11:40] it can go down two pounds. You can make yourself crazy with that. So we are doing a pinky promise that you are going to look at the average over a week. I’ll put in the show notes the scales and tape measures I use with this Bluetooth component to an Easy app. I’m going to share a study that examined whether weighing yourself daily is better for weight loss than weighing yourself less often.

[00:11:59] JJ: And this was a [00:12:00] researcher, a research study done in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. on overweight men and women and they divided them into two groups. One group was asked to weigh themselves daily using a special scale that sent their weight to a website and they received weekly emails with weight loss tips.

[00:12:17] JJ: The other group weighed themselves less frequently. Now they [00:12:20] collected data on how often each group weighed themselves, their weight changes, and their weight control behaviors. Things like how they were eating and their exercise. And they looked at it over six months and here’s what they found. The group that weighed themselves daily lost more weight, about 13.

[00:12:34] JJ: 5 pounds on average, than the group that weighed themselves less often. The daily weighers [00:12:40] also adopted more weight control behaviors, showing they were more committed to changing their habits to lose weight. These include caloric restriction, Stopping snacking, getting rid of all that ultra processed food, moving more and adding in exercising and watching less TV and going out to restaurants less.

[00:12:58] JJ: What does this tell us? [00:13:00] This study suggests that weighing yourself daily can be a great tool for weight loss because it not only helps with losing more weight, but it helps you do the right habits. And that’s why I like to say what you measure and monitor you can improve because now you’ve got daily metrics to see.

[00:13:16] JJ: So, super important one, and again, remember, you are [00:13:20] looking at the scale as a biometric tool, not as a mean, judgy friend, okay? Next one, and this is where I start anyone I’m working with one on one. I start them with what I call a macro audit. If you’re guessing about how many calories you’re getting in a day, how much protein you’re getting in a day, you are probably underestimating the [00:13:40] calories you’re taking in.

[00:13:41] JJ: In fact, according to a study at Cornell, normal weight people underestimate what they eat by about 20 percent and overweight people underestimate what they eat by about 40%. And I’ve seen other sources that say it could be as much as 50%. This is crazy. So what [00:14:00] I like to do is just start first week and I use the chronometer app.

[00:14:04] JJ: If you go to jjvirgin. com forward slash chronometer, C R O N O M E T E R. We’ll put it in the show notes. That can get you started on the free app. I like to use this app and all I tell you to do the first week is just be [00:14:20] curious, not judgy. Just put everything into the app. Pay attention to when you’re eating.

[00:14:26] JJ: How much you’re eating, start to use a scale so you measure what you’re doing, so you get it all in correctly, and just be curious and see what you eat. The first thing I like to see is what’s your total daily energy expenditure? How many calories are you actually eating each [00:14:40] day? And how many calories do you need to maintain your weight?

[00:14:44] JJ: After we’ve got that dialed, then we can start to go, okay, let’s start to look at how much protein you’re getting in. Are you getting in enough? Let’s optimize your protein and make sure you eat it first. Once we get that nailed, then we can start to make sure you’re getting in enough non starchy vegetables.

[00:14:57] JJ: Are you getting in a little fruit? You get the idea. [00:15:00] But first starts with tracking, because again, what you measure and monitor, you can improve. And another thing I love to have people monitor is how much they are drinking. Because hydration is key here. In fact, I’ve got a review study that shows that drinking more water can help you lose weight by Helping you eat [00:15:20] less and burn more fat.

[00:15:22] JJ: Now, the evidence for this comes from studies done on animals, mainly rodents, where they manipulate specific systems in the body related to thirst, leading to the animals drinking more and losing weight. This theory comes from the fact that people, when people are consistently dehydrated, they tend to have [00:15:40] higher levels of a hormone called angiotensin 2.

[00:15:42] JJ: which is linked to various health problems like obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. The proposed explanation for why increased hydration helps with weight loss is that it boosts the metabolism by expanding the volume of our cells. These findings from these animal studies often apply to humans [00:16:00] as well.

[00:16:00] JJ: Human studies consistently support the idea that drinking more water can aid in weight loss. And reduce all the risk factors for developing obesity and type two diabetes. Couple things we know about drinking more water is that it boosts the metabolism. You can raise your metabolism by as much as 30% for about 20, 30 minutes after [00:16:20] drinking water, and that if you are dehydrated, even a little bit of dehydrated, you actually raise cortisol.

[00:16:26] JJ: And remember when you’re raising cortisol, you’re going to tend to store more fat around your belly. That’s where you have a lot of your cortisol receptors. But we also know that when you’re dehydrated, you actually take some of the glucose from the liver and turn it [00:16:40] into fructose. to store as fat. This was something I learned from Dr.

[00:16:44] JJ: Rick Johnson who showed this would happen so that we would then have that fat stored so that we could use that fat later to free it up to get water, just like a camel does. Now, you need water to burn [00:17:00] fat. You need water to detox. Water helps with satiety. Water helps with thermogenesis. So, Drink water.

[00:17:07] JJ: And what I like you to do is have, start with half your weight in ounces a day. That’s like your baseline. And then, add one half to one ounce for every minute of real exercise. That’s kind of where [00:17:20] I start. And I really like to get in a serving or two of electrolytes each day as well. So I use my Electro Replenish, and I generally do two servings a day.

[00:17:29] JJ: Since you’re watching this video, I know you’re also looking for easier ways to lose fat in your workouts too. So you’re going to want to watch this next one where I show you the top five exercises I recommend [00:17:40] that hit all the major muscle groups to maximize your fat loss efforts, whether you’re at home or at the gym.

[00:17:50] JJ: Be sure to join me next time for more tools, tips, and techniques you can incorporate into everyday life to ensure you look and feel great, and more importantly, that you’re built to last. [00:18:00] And check me out on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and my website, jjvirgin. com, and make sure to follow my podcast so you don’t miss a single episode at subscribetojj.

[00:18:11] JJ: com. See you next time![00:18:20]

[00:18:22] JJ: Hey, JJ here, and just a reminder that the Well Beyond 40 podcast offers health, wellness, fitness, and nutritional information that’s designed for educational and entertainment purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

[00:18:39] JJ: [00:18:40] If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health care professional. Make sure that you do not disregard, avoid, or delay obtaining medical or health related advice from your healthcare professional because of something you may have heard on the show or read in our show notes.

[00:18:56] JJ: The use of any information provided on the show is solely at your own [00:19:00] risk.
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