Weight Loss at Any Age

By on April 21, 2011, in Beauty Knowledge Center, Well Being

It’s no secret that most people pack on a few pounds as they age. Our metabolism slows, we lose muscle mass and bone density, we adopt more sedentary lifestyles. Starting in our early 40’s, our bodies undergo hormonal changes that slow the growth rate of our cells, making it harder to shed the extra pounds. While genetics play a part in how we gain as we age, many of the contributing factors are within our control. Here are a few tips to staying slim as the years go by.

Rule out Medical Concerns

There are some medical metabolic conditions that can contribute to weight gain, so it’s important to see your doctor and rule them out before you undergo any weight loss plan. Almost 20% of adults over 40 have some thyroid problems, most commonly hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid), which is a huge contributor to weight gain—the thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate the metabolism, so when it is underperforming, so is your metabolism. Symptoms include feeling cold, poor circulation in the hands or feet, fatigue, hair loss and weight gain. If you experience any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor about getting a thyroid test.

Reversing Muscle Loss

One of the main reasons we gain weight later in life is that we are less active—whether it’s sitting at a desk all day or lounging by the pool or in front of the TV, exercise often takes a back seat to other activities. The more we sit, the more muscles begin to atrophy, which not only makes us weaker but slows down the metabolism (muscle burns more calories than fat, so the more muscle you maintain, the more your metabolism works). This loss of muscle also makes us more prone to injury, which then leads to even less activity.

One of the best ways to preserve muscle mass is to lift weights two to three days per week. Not only does it build muscle and boost your metabolism, but it can help improve balance, stability and flexibility, all things that tend to decline as we age. Adding a cardiovascular activity like walking, biking or water aerobics will also increase your metabolism and help burn extra calories.

Tips:

  • Take the stairs when you can, park farther from the door at the grocery store or even turn up the intensity a bit when you vacuum—little things can add up to lots of extra burned calories.
  • You don’t need a gym membership or fancy equipment to exercise. Do jumping jacks during every commercial break. Put soup cans in a plastic grocery bag and do bicep curls. Do squats as you stand doing dishes at the sink.

Diet—a Four-Letter Word

Experts agree that “dieting” is much less effective than permanently changing your eating habits in terms of losing weight and keeping it off. It’s more about the mindset—“I’m on a diet” is much easier to ignore than “I now eat only healthy foods.” One of the keys to healthy eating is to have a fiber- and protein-rich breakfast, which not only helps you feel full longer (staving off those mid-morning binges) but it establishes more level blood sugar for the day, keeping you from crashing later in the day.

Also changing the frequency and size of meals can have a dramatic effect on weight loss. Most doctors recommend eating five to six smaller meals throughout the day, never going more than three to four hours without eating. This helps “trick” your body into feeling satisfied and full at all times while consuming fewer calories overall, as opposed to starving it (the usual diet model).

Tips:

  • Add a few fat-fighting foods to your diet. Spicy foods like curry and peppers help rev your metabolism.
  • Add a few dashes of cinnamon to your coffee, oatmeal, cereal, chicken or pasta sauce, as it’s been shown to help stabilize blood sugar levels.
  • Instead of adding fat and calories to give your food flavor, add spices and herbs to your cooking.
  • Look for low-fat versions of your favorite recipes on sites like www.eatingwell.com, where you can find a great fettuccine alfredo recipe that uses condensed milk rather than cream and butter for the sauce, for example.
  • Alcohol slows your metabolism (and packs tons of empty calories), so save the sipping for special occasions.

Increase Your ZZZs

Extra sleep is another way to boost weight loss, which can be more difficult as we age. Not only are we busier and more stressed, but sleep often eludes us thanks to physical ailments, night sweats, snoring or insomnia. When you’re sleep deprived, the hormones leptin and ghrelin (which control hunger and feeling full) are off balance, resulting in more cravings and fewer feelings of fullness. There are also new studies that suggest metabolism rates are most active while we sleep, so the more you snooze, the more you lose!

Tips:

  • Don’t watch TV in bed. Engaging in non-restful activities in bed can make it more difficult to fall asleep.
  • Create an environment conducive to sleeping. Make sure you have dark curtains or shades to block the sun. Use a soothing noise machine to drown out outside disruptions. Spray lavender scented room spray to infuse the air with calming scents. All of these things can help your body prepare for rest.
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  • Soft Surroundings

    June

    First our apologies for the long response in replying back – your post was inadvertently missed by our blog editor. Congratulations on your weight loss and the great success with Weight Watchers! We hope it continues to go well. We are glad you are enjoying our fragrance, Enchante. We have a new fragrance coming out in mid-Fall 2011 . . .you’ll have to come back to our website, http://www.softsurroundings.com, after Sept. 28, 2011 to check it out! We would love to continue to receive your comments, feel free to keep us updated on your new journey.

    Soft Surroundings

  • Soft Surroundings

    June,

    Thank you for sharing your story. Congratulations on the improved lab results and feeling better! We are glad this post gave you some good information you can use. We wish you all the best with your health and fitness goals, and would love to hear updates if you are so inclined. Continue to keep us posted!”

    Soft Surroundings

  • June

    I was diagnosed a diabetic 22 years ago and have been on insulin for 8 years. Now 72, I started water aerobics 3x a week at age 70. A sedentary person most of my life, this has been a life change. I also have problems with arthitis, so the water aerobic classes have made me much more mobile, and my lab results show that my A1C is the lowest it has been in years: 6.0 and 6.1 last time. I am still on lots of medication, but I feel much better than I used to. After reading your article I plan on using the weight room to increase my muscle mass. I have made changes in my diet, needless to say, but your article also informed me of other changes I can make. I started my water aerobics classes with the intention of helping my mobility and did not obsess on weight loss as much, but now I realize that I should also start working on more weight loss. Thanks!

  • June

    I am 74 years old. I started Weight Watchers in January . I have lost a total of 17.8 pounds since I started , I still have 33 more pounds to drop. Feels so good to be a loser . My clothes are too big , hear that too big !, and I love it ! Weight Watchers Point Plus is great , it is a way to eat for life, it is not a diet.Love going to the weight watchers Over 60’s message board .It is made up of women over sixty mostly , a few men . We are there to cheer when one post a loss for the week and to comfort if there is a gain and we just have fun! Love my perfume ,Enchante June

  • aoyoky

    Greetings from Chinese friends

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