Have you noticed it’s become harder and harder to lose fat and keep it off as you’ve gotten older? Have you found that if you’re not being mindful of what you’re putting into your mouth, the number on the scale slowly creeps up?

Seems unfair, doesn’t it?

Despite doing some exercise, have you noticed your body is changing—but not in a good way? Maybe you’re one of the “lucky” ones who hasn’t gained weight…but have you noticed your body changing…like it’s “traded” some lean, toned muscle for unwanted body fat?

Maybe you have succeeded in dropping some weight and keeping it off…but you’re not so pleased with the results. Instead of that lean, toned picture you had in your head, are you just a smaller version of yourself?

If any of this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. The truth is that weight management gets harder as we get older—much harder. Not too long ago, you could cut back on some carbs, junk food, or booze and add in a little exercise (probably didn’t even matter what kind), and whammo! You were leaner, sexier, and more toned.

But not anymore. As you get older, it’s like you experience a metamorphosis, as the artist formerly known as your body transforms into what you might call the “new normal.” At times, it might even feel like your body is turning against you, and no one can blame you if you feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle.

Even though it may seem like it, the reality is your body hasn’t betrayed you overnight. Over the years, a number of factors—some lifestyle, and yes, some genetic—have teamed up to help you get to where you are today. Simply put, life happens.

We’re too busy, too tired, and too stressed with work, family, social activities, and more to make time to prepare and eat all the right foods in the right amounts day in and day out and consistently stick with a balanced workout routine andincorporate regular structured physical activity.

But the fact is that age-related weight gain, age-related changes in body composition (even without gaining weight), age-related metabolic decline, age-related loss in lean muscle, and age-related you name it are more lifestyle-related than age-related, which may be better described as age-compounded.

The good news is that it’s not too late to improve your health. It’s not too late to enjoy more energy and vitality. It’s not too late to improve your body composition.

It’s not too late to become that lean, toned picture you’ve had in your head. In fact, here are three keys to losing fat (including that extra fat you may have noticed around your midsection) and protecting (if not building) precious lean muscle—something we like to call quality weight loss:

  • Eat a higher-protein diet that emphasizes whole, minimally processed foods and provides an appropriate amount of energy and macronutrients based on your goals and body type. For example, a Mediterranean-style diet that provides about 0.5 – 0.75 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day and contains moderate amounts of healthy carbs and fats is a good starting point for many.
  • Exercise regularly. Each week, make sure to include at least 2 – 3 days of weight lifting, emphasizing movements that exercise the major muscle groups (such as squats, presses, and pulling movements). Also, for good cardiorespiratory fitness, include 2 – 3 days of aerobic exercise—either moderate-intensity “cardio” or high-intensity interval training.
  • Sit less and move more. The crazy thing is that regular exercise is rarely enough for most people, and the best mantra is to exercise, sit less, and move more. Plus, sitting for long, uninterrupted periods of time is downright dangerous for your health. Shoot for 7,000 – 10,000 steps per day, and set alarms during the day to remind you to break up periods of sitting with mini-movement sessions.