A lovely client/friend of mine (and definite hot mama!) asked me the tough question the other day – why, even though I’ve been working out for years and keeping the diet in check, is it harder and harder to keep the weight off?
Mind you, this is a fit, healthy-weight woman with good muscle tone and great cardiovascular endurance. She does not have to worry about her weight, however, she found in the past that it was easy to lose 5 or 10 pounds here or there simply by amping up the workouts and/or cutting down the carbs – and nowadays, not so much.
Especially for us ladies, the metabolic reality of aging is grim. Our insulin-resisting (read: skinny-keeping) hormones decrease after 30, our muscle mass (read: natural fat-burning stuff) decreases at a rate of about 3-5% per decade, and even our calorie needs decrease (bummer).
Men, you’re not immune either – after 30, your testosterone starts to drop (meaning no more “I worked out once this week but I’m still swole” delusions) and your DHEA (the hormone that makes you feel like a beast in the gym…and in bed, tee hee) drops right beside it.
Le sigh. So what DO we do?
Listen up, and listen well: to stay fit well into older age, you must be open to change. I can’t tell you how many clients tell me they had “no problem staying fit” when they were 20 years old, or “used to have so much more energy,” or “could eat anything in college and not gain an ounce.”
But guys, let’s face it: you’re not 20 years old anymore, you lack energy because you don’t work out enough or eat right, and yes we ALL could get face-deep in a pizza at age 18 with relatively zero consequences. #realtalk
The crucial point of aging healthfully is that you must adapt to your body’s changing activity, fuel, and sleep needs and adjust your wellness program accordingly. Make small changes incrementally so that it doesn’t feel like everything’s crashing down on you all at once – growing up is still supposed to be fun, remember? Consider these 5 starting points:
- taking advantage of the fact that you need less sleep as you get older by establishing a morning workout routine
- making sure you incorporate actual weight-bearing and resistance exercise in the majority of your workouts (and it goes without saying – you gotta WORK OUT!)
- starting to decrease the number of hours in the day in which you eat (yep, it’s intermittent fasting talk again) and cut down the number of carbs you consume
- incorporating stretching, yoga, and/or meditation into your program to help you maintain flexibility and manage stress (a major contributor to weight gain)
- realizing that yes, things will be different as you age, and instead of looking backward to how you used to be, look ahead to your own potential now
The only thing we all have in common is that none of us are getting any younger, so the sooner you come to terms with the fact that you are aging – and the fact that you CAN take control of your health at any age – the happier you’ll be.
What strategies do you use to stay healthy as you age? What’s your best tip?
Great post, Amanda. Facts are facts. Older bodies are different than younger bodies. I’m 60, and in pretty good shape for my age, but it does get harder.
Eating less is probably the key to keeping weight in check. We’ve more or less eliminated starches such as potatoes, rice, and bread from our dinners (just protein and veggies). For lunch, if I need to cut back a bit, I’ll switch to one piece of bread with my peanut butter sandwich, and I’ve almost totally given up jelly. If I’ve gained 5 pounds while traveling or during the holidays, I might switch to late breakfast, no lunch, a light snack mid afternoon, and dinner, so in effect go from three meals to two. I might do this for a week or so, or until I get back to my comfort zone.
For exercise, I just have to do more aerobics than ever before. It’s that simple. What helps me endure mindless hours on the elliptical trainer is to download a good audio book onto my MP3 player.
What might not get mentioned so much about keeping in good physical health is to also keep in good mental health. Be active with social groups, volunteering, work if that motivates you in your 60s, 70s or later, read, do crosswords, whatever gives you some joy and purpose in life. Or be like me and write a novel! 🙂 Certainly engages my mind.