News Flash: People who may have maintained their weight easily in their 20s and 30s, start to feel more challenged when they pass the big 4-0. Can I get an AMEN?! We shouldn’t be surprised since we know we’ve begun to lose lean muscle mass and experience far more hormone fluctuations at midlife and beyond. So we ask ourselves:
Am I doomed to that middle-age spare tire and growing bigger in all the wrong places?
The golden rule of weight loss — eat less than you your body burns — is more difficult as you age because your body changes metabolically. The internal furnace simply doesn’t burn as hot as when you were younger. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up – as so many mid-lifers do.
As with any healthy habit, the key to success is consistency and mindfulness. So maybe you’ll need to be more focused and dedicated to your goals than when you were younger. Read on for some tips:
1. CONSIDER YOUR EATING PATTERNS
The good news about getting older is you’ve had time to understand how nutritional changes affect your health. You’ve gained experience about the impact of certain food choices, and now it’s time to put that knowledge to use. As metabolism slows with age, you might not be able to get away with some of the indulgences that your body used to forgive you for.
That doesn’t mean you must starve yourself or jump on the latest fad diet. Rather, it should prompt you to be more conscious about your choices and patterns, including portion sizes, the timing of your meals and snacks, and the choices of the foods you eat.
You are smart enough to know your unhealthy habits regarding food, so this is the time to address them mindfully.
2. ADDRESS PORTION SIZES
It’s no secret our culture works against our plans to maintain a healthy weight. Processed foods and fast food options abound, and our frantic pace of life increases the temptation to shove anything into our mouth NOW. Cooking at home is de-emphasized in favor of convenience, and portion sizes have changed significantly from even a couple decades ago.
Packaged food “serving size” doesn’t necessarily mean that’s how much you should eat. Tracking portion size is super helpful. Consider using the popular Beachbody Portion Fix containers and nutrition guide* to help you see what you should be eating every day. You will be surprised at how full you will feel when you eat the right foods in the proper portions.
3. WATCH CARBS AND CALORIES
Carbs and calories are not all evil. It’s the QUALITY of the carbs and calories that counts. Processed foods are often “empty calories” that offer the double whammy of little sustained energy, and only short term hunger satiation. Resist the temptation to choose pre-packed, processed foods with long ingredients lists on the label. At the same time, you need to eat, so resist the temptation to starve yourself to lose weight. Whole, real food is best.
When you’re older, keep in mind that your metabolism is already slowing down, and starving yourself will only reduce your metabolism. The ‘starvation effect’ means that your body holds onto fat when you don’t eat enough, so your suffering completely backfires.
4. LIFT HEAVY STUFF
Science: As you age, your muscle mass loss causes your resting metabolic rate to decrease, changing your calorie-burning mechanism. In other words, your internal furnace does not run as hot as it used to. That can be even more pronounced by a poor diet, smoking, alcohol use, sedentary behavior and genetics.
Further, as muscle tends to turn to fat when not used, you may also lose balance, coordination and strength. This is why it’s so important to keep active as you age. Don’t be one who retires to the lazy-boy because you are too weak to walk, pedal, travel, play with your grandkids, etc. But the good news is you can increase strength starting today, regardless of your starting point.
Resistance training performed a few times per week can not only help you regain what was lost, but can also increase bone mass, and studies have suggested it might improve sleep, help cardiovascular health, boost your mood and a list of other benefits.
It can be more challenging to lose or maintain weight as you get older. But getting more conscious about what, when and why you’re eating — and adding strength training* to your routine can help you age better.
*For more information about nutrition plans, exercise plans, building healthy habits, etc., reach out to me for personalized advice and resources.