Having recently turned 38, I realized that if I wanted to create any serious changes in my habits towards a healthier lifestyle, it would have to happen soon. I think everyone knows that the older we get, the more difficult it is to change our behaviour. So I have now given myself a lofty goal of being in good shape by the time I turn 40 (and the clock is ticking).
For gaining strength and physical conditioning, I was already going to the gym and following the newbie-friendly "Starting Strength" program but I have had a couple of longer lapses, typically triggered by travel or illness - and the longer the break, the bigger the mental barrier was to start training again. In the end, the solution was simple: I allowed myself to deload a bit and focus more on good form rather than raw numbers. The other "trick" that worked well for me was to simply force myself to go to the gym, even if "just to read the magazines and not even touching the weights" - turns out, once I got to the gym in my gym clothes, the prospect of working out no longer seemed so daunting and I always got a good workout done.
The other side of the coin was my diet, which I knew I had let lapse into something unsustainable - I had already once lost a significant portion of weight by following the Paleo diet but since I was the only one in the family doing this, buying and making food for two completely different diets quickly became an issue and eventually I drifted back to my old habits. So, as part of my research in building new healthy habits, I discovered the work done by Lyle McDonald, who has written, among other things, the seminal book on the Ketogenic Diet. I looked into his newer paper "The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook" (a title that got my alarm bells ringing as a scam) and decided to implement it after seeing good reviews on it. The book made a lot of sense and had many of the psychological aspects also addressed when it comes to this type of "crash diet"; and it also addressed the eventual maintenance phase. I also re-read an older book from my library, "Protein Power", which nicely complemented what Lyle was talking about.
The diet also acted as kind of a soft proof for me that I can, when needed, cut down on the fat after a bulking phase as part of the overall strenght training. The results really speak for themselves:
I'm not too far from my target weight and once I obtain it, I will return to eating at a maintenance level for a while and then move on to a clean bulk (and hopefully get my lift numbers go up again).