Are you over the age of 50 and struggling to lose weight? Have you tried countless diets to no avail? Do diet methods you used in the past no longer work? If so, I’m here to help. My new book, Ten Secrets to Losing Weight After 50, is available on Amazon now – just in time for those New Year’s Resolutions .
It’s not your imagination. As you age, you tend to gain weight and it’s harder to lose than when you were younger.
A year ago, I weighed 174 pounds – more than I’ve ever weighed before. For the first time, I was at the top of the “overweight” category and creeping ever closer to the “obese” level.
Widening hips, a Buddha belly, and other parts of my body that rolled, jiggled, and sagged added to my dismay. Let’s just say, I wasn’t happy. Not only was I getting fat, but my muscles were noticeably weakening. I could no longer stand up from a squatting position. Painting my toenails was almost impossible as I lost flexibility.
In a panic, I started dieting and exercising. But as an older, post-menopausal woman, methods that succeeded in the past no longer worked. On top of that, I had developed the bad habit of stress eating while caring for my mother and consoled myself with comfort food after her death. Needless to say, my attempts at losing weight failed dismally.
I felt frustrated, hopeless, and ready to give up. Does any of this sound familiar?
Through extensive research and trial and error, I finally unlocked the secret of losing weight after the mid-century mark. I’m ready to spill my secrets. No dangerous surgeries, diet pills, expensive weight loss programs, pricey supplements, crazy fad diets, expensive gym membership fees, or personal trainers involved.
After explaining why it’s so hard to lose weight after 50, I share 10 things I was doing wrong and what I changed to finally succeed. Want a sneak peak? To show my appreciation for readers of my blog, I’m providing an excerpt of the first chapter of my new book below. Enjoy!
EXCERPT FROM TEN SECRETS TO LOSING WEIGHT AFTER 50
SECRET ONE: CHANGE YOUR ATTITUDE
What I Was Doing Wrong: Thinking life wasn’t fair and I’d never lose weight after 50.
What I Changed: Accepted the facts of life and changed my outlook.
Oh, I had a million reasons why I couldn’t lose weight. In fact, if making excuses were an Olympic event, I could have won a medal. I used the standard excuses. I’m too busy. I’m too stressed. I’m too tired. For good measure, I also added some justifications related to my age. Maybe you’ve used some of these reasons:
- Losing weight is SO hard as you get older – impossible – in fact.
- I’m eating the same way I did when I was younger and somehow packing on the pounds.
- When I dieted before, I’d drop four pounds the first week and two to three pounds a week after that. Now? Forget it! I’m lucky to lose half to one pound a week – if anything at all. Sometimes I even gain weight for no reason at all.
- The methods I used to lose weight when I was younger don’t work anymore.
- I’m never going to have that flat belly or small waistline again, so why bother? Isn’t it natural to be shaped like an apple as you age? I give up. It’s not fair!
Notice a recurring theme? Losing weight was just too hard and life wasn’t fair, so I was throwing in the towel and accepting my fatter self. Sound familiar? If you’ve been singing this same song, you need a serious attitude adjustment – just like I did.
Let’s face it. Losing weight is mostly a mental struggle. What you think about your ability to lose weight is crucial to your success. So, don’t get stuck in a negative state of mind convinced that it’s impossible to lose weight after 50. If you allow yourself to think this way, you’re doomed before you start.
So, let’s look at those complaints again:
- Yes, your metabolism slows down and you lose muscle mass as you age, making it more difficult to lose weight and keep it off. That just means losing weight is more challenging and will likely take more time. But, trust me, it’s by no means impossible. And well worth the extra effort!
- True, you can’t eat the same way you did when you were younger without gaining weight. As a result, you’ll need to change the way you eat and exercise – permanently. The good news is that you’ll feel much better by doing so. Drinking tons of soda and eating tubs of ice cream just makes you feel sick anyway.
- You aren’t going to drop weight the way you used to. You’ll need to lower your expectations and practice patience. Be happy with losing a pound or two a week. You’re headed in the right direction and more likely to keep the weight off if pounds drop off slowly. What if you go weeks without losing anything? Later, I’ll share a few ways to get past those stubborn plateaus.
- Your body has changed. You’ll need to change your dieting and exercising strategies to lose weight and keep it off. I’ll share some tips to help you do just that.
- And no, it isn’t natural to be shaped like an apple at any age! Perhaps you won’t have the perfect perky butt, tiny waist, and a six-pack after you lose weight. So, change your objective. You’re older and wiser now. Losing weight should be about staying healthy so you can travel, chase your grandchildren, and live a longer and happier life. Exercising should be about maintaining muscle mass to stay strong and increase flexibility, balance, and endurance.
So, no pouting allowed. Don’t use aging as an excuse to eat whatever you want or become a couch potato. If you give up now and sit around feeling sorry for yourself, you’ll just keep gaining weight and suffer the accompanying health risks.
Now that you’ve accepted the fact that losing weight is more challenging as you age – but not impossible – here are some encouraging facts to live by:
- By eating healthy and making a commitment to becoming more active, experts assure that you can be healthier at 65 than you were at 45. Isn’t that a worthwhile goal?
- Food choices and fitness strategies really do work – even in your 50s, 60s, and beyond.
- Every day you make choices about what you eat and how active you will be that day. Those decisions make a difference. It’s never too late to adopt new lifestyle habits and make a big difference in your health.
How Many Calories Do You Need?
As I’ve mentioned before, it’s time to accept facts. You burn fewer calories as you age. So, just how many calories should you eat to lose weight?
You can use a complicated math formula to figure it out or try an online calculator. Since math gives me a headache, I’m going to keep things simple and look at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines to give you a general idea of how many calories you should eat each day.
As mentioned earlier, according to the guideline, sedentary women over 50 burn about 1,600 calories a day. Sedentary men over 50 burn between 2,000 to 2,200 calories a day.
These calorie breakdowns are just to maintain – not lose – weight. If you’re reading this book, most likely you want to drop some pounds. Experts say that to lose one pound a week, you’ll need about a 500-calorie deficit each day.
Let’s crunch some numbers. As a rule of thumb, that means if you’re a sedentary man over 50, you’ll want to shoot for about 1,600 to 1,800 calories a day and burn at least 100 calories a day with exercise. If you’re a sedentary woman over 50, aim for 1,200 calories a day and burn an extra 100 calories. Keep in mind, these numbers are just an estimate.
Maybe you’re thinking “sedentary” doesn’t describe you. In fact, I considered myself an active person. However, if you sit most the day at work or home – even if you perform normal daily activities like cooking, cleaning, shopping, and taking your dog for an evening walk – you are considered “sedentary.” Since, as a writer, this described me, I had to reluctantly accept that I was in this category.
A moderately active lifestyle refers to working a job that requires you to be on your feet like a nurse, teacher, waitress, or surveyor plus daily physical activity equivalent to walking about 1.5 to 3 miles per day at 3-4 miles per hour. That leisurely evening stroll around the block doesn’t count. I’m talking about a form of exercise that makes you breathe harder and break a sweat for about 30 minutes each day. If that describes your lifestyle, you can adjust your caloric intake accordingly by adding about 200 calories (or more if you are extremely active) to your diet each day.
Since these numbers can vary, a little experimentation will help you determine the exact number of calories you can consume and still lose weight.
Most experts caution against eating less than 1,200 calories a day for a woman and 1,600 calories for a man. Doing so can decrease muscle mass and lower your metabolic rate as well as cause malnutrition.
Small Changes Can Reduce Calories
Before you get discouraged, eliminating 500 calories a day isn’t as hard as it sounds. The right diet, which I’ll address in the next chapter, can help you do so. However, even making a few small changes in your diet and lifestyle alone can make a big difference.
Here are just a few examples:
- Drink an iced tea instead of a 12-ounce can of soda and switch a large serving of French fries for a side salad and you’ll save more than 500 calories.
- Ask your waiter to box up half your meal before it gets to the table and you’ll save 750 calories on average, according to a new study. Or simply share an entrée when eating out. Researchers found that a typical meal at an American, Italian, or Chinese restaurant contains about 1,500 calories—far more than anyone needs at one meal.
- Switch a large popcorn without butter at the movie theater concession, which packs a whopping 1,030 calories, for a small popcorn without butter for 225 calories and you’ll save 805 calories.
Burning Calories in Record Time
Later, I’ll discuss which type of exercises are most beneficial if you’re 50-plus. I want you to keep in mind, however, that you can burn 100 calories painlessly and, in most cases, in under a half-hour.
Of course, always consult with your physician before starting any activity, but running for just five to seven minutes will do the trick. If you hate running or your lower back and knees can’t take it, walk briskly or cycle for 20 minutes. Try a cardio dance class for just 15 minutes, use an elliptical for 15 minutes, walk up and down stairs for 10 minutes, lift weights for 15 minutes, or do some Pilates for about 20 minutes.
Not happy losing only one pound a week?
Work up to it and burn 500 calories each day for a two-pound-per-week sustainable weight loss. Perform an hour of Zumba, garden for an hour and a half, play an hour of basketball, go horseback riding for an hour and 45 minutes, spring clean your house for three hours, or my favorite – play an hour of competitive racquetball.
There you go. Not so bad. By the way, the more you weigh, the more calories you’ll burn during these activities.
Stay Tuned for More Tips
So, what other tricks do I have up my sleeve? Which diet should you choose? What can you do to avoid feeling hungry? How can you control stress eating? Which kind of exercises produce the best results? How can you get past those stubborn plateaus?
I’ll share all my secrets with you. But remember, the first step is to change your mindset and you too can succeed. You can lose weight and be healthy after 50. I’m living proof it’s possible. Make a lifelong commitment to eat better, exercise more, and live the second half of your life to the fullest.
You Can Do It!
So, there you go. Like many people, my 50s were a time to take stock and I was not going to surrender to middle-age spread and cross the line into obesity without a fight. If I – someone who battled with weight most of my life – can win the weight war, you can too!
Food choices and fitness strategies really do work – even in your 50s, 60s, and beyond. It’s never too late to adopt new healthy lifestyle habits and make a big difference in your health.