“I’m going to be blunt,” said Bridget Shinn’s gastroenterologist, looking at her latest scan. “Antibiotics aren’t working. We need to remove the section of colon with diverticulitis. And once you recover, you have to move more and eat better — or I’m not sure you’ll survive.”
Fear washed over the Arkansas grandmother. At 275 pounds and with a long list of health problems, she was used to doctors’ stern warnings. But this felt different. Suddenly, the faces of her children and grandchildren began to flash through her mind. Are you ready to leave your family? asked a voice in her head. She wasn’t. Bridget desperately wanted more time with them. She blinked back tears as she told the doctor: “I’ll do whatever it takes.”
Weeks later, after a successful procedure, Bridget lay in a hospital bed relieved but in misery. How had she ended up in such bad shape? After all, she’d spent most of her life on a diet. Or cheating on one, she realized. Then menopause hit hard. She was put on meds for cholesterol, blood sugar, and depression, all of which had fattening side effects. She’d given up on getting slim. Takeout and restaurant food is just about all I eat now, she thought with a sigh. Can I really change?
Just then, her daughter walked in with a cheery, “Hi, Mom!” Hilary, who had two kids of her own, had inherited Bridget’s love of fast food and sweets, yet she’d figured out how to lose 100 pounds. She swore by “counting macros.” I’m probably too old for that, whatever it is, Bridget thought. But maybe I should find out for sure…
What does “counting macros” mean?
As soon as the doctor cleared Bridget to eat normally, she went to Hilary for help. It turned out, the “macros” in “counting macros” is short for macronutrients. “There are three macronutrients: protein, carbs, and fat,” Hilary explained. “There’s a formula we’ll use to figure out how many grams of each macronutrient you need per day to burn lots of fat and get healthy. Then it’s kind of like a fun puzzle. You try to figure out how to fit in the foods you want to eat.”
Hilary saw doubt on her mom’s face. “It’s easy once you get the hang of it. There’s a free app called Lose It! that counts your macros for you. And I’m here for you too!” The next thing Bridget knew, Hilary was entering information like her gender, age and height into the computer. It calculated that her ideal macros were 130 grams of protein, 140 grams of carbs and 60 grams of fat per day.
Bridget built up a repertoire of favorite protein-rich recipes: yogurt bowls, Crock-Pot salsa chicken, stuffed peppers. If she filled up on them, she found she could join pals for brunch (complete with mimosas!) or eat pizza with her grandkids and still balance out her macros and lose steadily. “It’s like a dream diet!” Bridget said to Hilary after dropping 30 pounds.
Then one evening, Bridget was settling in for a typical night of dinner and television, when Hilary asked her to go for a walk. “I don’t know, honey…” she protested. But Hilary pressed: “You promised the doctor you’d be more active.” Reluctantly, Bridget got her shoes. “I only went a couple blocks and I was in pain. But I was so proud of myself,” she shares. “I walked every day after that. I kept going a little farther or faster. Two months later, I joined a gym and worked with a trainer to build strength.” Before she knew it, Bridget was down a whopping 110 pounds.
Fast-forward a few years: Hilary, 31, and Bridget, 65, work as weight loss coaches. All the health problems Bridget had and all the medication she needed? They’re long gone. “I’m proof it’s never too late,” she shares. “Just take that first step. I wish everyone could live in my body for one day to see how good it can feel!”
How does it work?
To get slim like Bridget and Hilary, you’ll be counting macros — a fancy term for protein, carbs, and fat in food. Free apps calculate how many grams of each “macro” you need per day for wow results. It works so well, women shed 10, 12, even 25 pounds a month! One big reason: “You don’t give up any food you love. Just count the macros and balance it out at other meals,” says Bridget. “It’s a game-changer! ” Study after study backs her up, showing that when a diet feels sustainable we lose far more weight. But that’s not all…
Macro counters typically get upwards of 120 grams of protein daily — an amount that helps send weight loss soaring at any age, says Fight Fat After 40 author Pamela Peeke, MD. Extra protein unleashes a flood of leucine and other metabolism-turbocharging amino acids. They’re so powerful, Duke University research shows a protein-rich diet doubles weight loss versus a ‘normal protein’ plan—even for women in their 60s and beyond. Experts add that since protein kills hunger and helps us heal and build muscle (especially when paired with exercise), macro counters end up feeling satisfied, strong, energized, and amazing!
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.