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HORIZON BLOG

Weight Gain and Aging

Question

        I am in my 50s and it seems that my weight is no longer in my control. Try as I might my weight just creeps upward. 

Granted many things in my life have changed over time. I am in a 30-year marriage with two children.  The children are college age now and we have less daily chasing, laundry, and cooking.  I am still very busy with my job though, maybe even more so now that I can attend to it fully.

I worry that excessive weight is going to be a health issue and that my husband is going to find me less attractive if I do not keep my weight under control, but it feels harder now than it did when I was younger. 

We also have more disposable income now and eat out more. I have noticed that my husband’s weight is also creeping up, though I am not willing to say anything. 

What is the secret to maintaining my weight as I age? So, few people seem to be able to manage it.


Answer

        Weight gain as people age is not uncommon as you have pointed out, particularly in our society.  That is not true everywhere though, so it is not necessarily normal. 

Body weight reflects lifestyle and eating habits. Habits is the operative word here. Our bodies reflect back how we take care of them. What happens as we age for many is a decrease in activity and an increase in food consumption. What is needed is an alteration of your daily habits.

I always suggest starting small and seeing if you notice a difference. Here are the steps I would consider to bring your weight in line:

  • Set a weight goal for six months out. This goal should be realistic.

  • Weigh yourself each morning before breakfast.

  • If your weight is down a pound, do not ease up because your new plan is working. Feel smug that you are successful instead.

  • We are creatures of habit, bad and good. Add one activity that requires full body motion that you do each day, that you did not do before, examples could be – climb twice as many stairs as you usually do, walk to the local grocery store instead of driving, do 15 minutes of exercise.  Whatever this new activity is, make it a priority.

  • Pack your lunch for work. Only lunch out if you must and then plan to skip or have a very light dinner.

  • Eat out sparingly, say once a week or less. Always, always, take a to-go box. Plan on eating only half of what you order. Never chow down because it tastes so good. Think about what makes restaurant food taste so good, it is fat, sugar, and salt. When eating out be aware that alcohol has a lot of calories and will loosen your self-management of what you select and eat.

  • If you eat after your evening meal, stop doing that permanently. No good comes from snacking in front of the television.

  • If you eat dessert eat half the amount you did before. Dropping dessert completely is a great idea but will only make you feel deprived and more likely to abandon your plan.

  • Eliminate all in between meal eating. Three meals are all you should be eating.

  • Lastly avoid processed foods. Make your meals from scratch. Buy whole food items such as produce from the produce department, meat from the meat department, etc. Human bodies do best with whole food items that need to be processed by the body not machines. Avoid the inner isles of the store when food shopping.

I hope these ideas will get you started on living a healthy weight managed second half.  Having weight issues is not a forgone conclusion as we age.  It does appear to require a certain activity level and moderation in eating to maintain a normal weight.  It can be done.  Just look around you and study the people your age that are trim.  You will see that they have the formula.  You can borrow it and use it for yourself.

I wish you all the best as you alter your course.

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