This may be difficult, but you really have to try a whole foods diet, meaning stay away from processed foods full of chemicals, refined carbs aka the white stuff and bad fats. Try keeping a journal of your exercise and what you eat. I'm reading a book by Dr. Mark Hyman, "Ultrametabolism". He says you have to think of the Food Pyramid upside down to get an idea of what you should mainly be eating. Foods with healthy fats including nuts, lots of veggies, some fruit, lean cuts of meat, whole grains and sugars sparingly. What is a typical day like for you and how old are you?
Try doing exercises leaning more towards cardiovascular type, ones that really get the heart rate going and the calories burning. If you not exercising correctly your heart rate will not increase to the correct BPM it should be, and you will not be getting any benefit out of it.
You need to incorporate more veggies and perhaps some nuts into your diet. Also cut down on the breads, unless it is whole grain and does not contain high fructose/corn syrup . Snacks are important throughout the day to keep the blood sugar stable. Here's a sample from my typical day:
Breakfast: bowl of ***** cereal with sliced strawberries, water, coffee with 1/2 n 1/2 (can't give that up!)
AM Snack: 1 piece of celery and about 6 baby carrots with a little natural peanut butter
Lunch: mixed greens salad loaded with fresh veggies(grape tomatoes, broccoli, red and orange peppers, cauliflower) with ff dressing or olive oil and balsamic vinegar) Sometimes I throw in some shredded chicken, almonds, walnuts, turkey, or feta for protein Seltzer to drink
Afternoon snack: ff yogurt or piece of fruit
Dinner: roasted turkey, sweet potato, steamed green beans, glass of wine
Try not to eat 2-3 hours before going to bed. And yes, you can have chocolate, just not a WHOLE box. The dark kind is actually good for you, in moderation!
Exercise is very important. Walking is great. I am going to be 38 and I already can see how my metabolism and body are changing. There are some great books out there. I think it's important to try to stay away from processed foods, only having them sparingly. Stay active, drink lots of water, and don't eat too close to bedtime. Also, too low-fat of a diet is NOT good for you. You WILL gain weight. Your body needs healthy fats to function properly.
Twanger, I want to recommend another good book. It's called"Outsmarting the Midlife Fat Cell", by Debra Waterhouse, MPH. RD.. It is an informative and enlightening book that offers practical and sound advice for women over 35 on proper nutrition and weight control and WHY it's so difficult to hang on to our youthful figures. This book will teach you how to eat well and exercise to maximize your health and fitness. There are no shortcuts, unfortunately, but if you do your homework you CAN learn how to tailor a plan that is realistic and will work for you. Good luck and keep us posted.