So you want to lose some weight but, despite your best efforts, the scale just doesn’t budge. First thing you should know: yes, you truly can lose weight in middle age. Second thing you should know: yes, it is harder. But many people don’t realize there are several fairly simple truths about middle age that make or break your long-term success.
As you well know, reaching middle age (however you define it) brings on lifestyle, family, financial, time, leisure and physiological changes that are easy to overlook in regard to caloric impact. 100 calories here. 427 calories there. Not burning those same 179 calories everyday. Here are ten practical reasons that make it more difficult to lose weight during middle age. These reasons may seem so slight, unavoidable or frankly not a big deal. But OHW challenges you to really take a look and see how these changes could add up in your life.
10. You Choose Rich Tasting Foods
Everyone is born with around 9,000 taste buds but over time that number decreases and remaining taste buds shrink in size. Your mouth also produces less saliva as you age, which can affect your sense of taste.
Butter, higher salt foods, fine wines, beautiful charcuterie platters, expensive cuts of meat. Not only does it take more flavor to make your tongue happy but you have the pocket book to buy the richer, more expensive foods.
Action: Take a cooking class, experiment with spices, try new cooking methods or figure out a way to portion size your delicacies to get the flavor you want with less energy impact.
9. Still Mourning the Loss of Your Activity instead of Finding a New One
Ok, take a deep breath. I’m not questioning what an amazingly athletic specimen you were 30 years ago. I’m gently suggesting your old glory days just need to be revived in a whole new universe. There are many sports and activities that just can’t happen anymore in middle age. You can’t find enough 50 year olds willing to field a team for full pad tackle football. Your cantaloupe sized knee just doesn’t like you running anymore. Customized skates to fit your orthotics and ice time are just so dang expensive.
Consider the mental shift from what you can’t do anymore to what you can still do and learn to do. Don’t let your identity as a (insert your past sport here) player limit you from discovering what new sports and activities you can enjoy and get quite good at.
Action: Take some time to explore the activities available in your area, organized classes or sports at your community center, the offerings of parks and trails near you, and what your friends are doing. Golly, just google fun exercise activities for middle aged adults.
8. Longer Meals and Larger Portions
Gone are the days when you hardly have time to eat the crust left from your kids sandwich. Leisurely lunching with girl friends on the same day as dinner at a nice restaurant. Lingering brunches on weekends. Appetizers, drinks, dinner and dessert with friends several nights a week. Not only are you around food for longer periods of time socially but restaurant portions begin to look normal to you.
Action: Set one goal for each meal dined out. Determine how much you want/plan to eat ahead of time. Slyly move the bread basket or appetizers farther down the table. Enjoy a four course meal only one time a week instead of two. Shaving off a few hundred calories every time you eat out really does add up. Do the math yourself by tracking your food intake with an app like myfitnesspal or loseit.
7. Burn Less While Working Out
Unfortunately, your body just doesn’t burn as many calories walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes at age 55 compared to age 35. Blame a bunch of scientific mumbo jumbo around metabolic efficiency but you have to figure out how to work out smarter and at least a teeny bit harder.
Action: Meet with our team of athletic trainer/personal trainer and physical therapists. Seriously, these guys and gals know how to keep you engaged and having fun while working smarter and harder to get the calorie burn and body composition change you want.
6. Fewer Family Meals Lead to Processed and Calorie Dense Food Choices
Your kids are not home for dinner every night and the demand for healthy, home-cooking eases up a bit. The creeping alternatives are quick convenience meals for two, nearby take-out more often, snacking for meals, whatever is in the pantry.
Action: Find your quick go-to meals for one, two or three people. Omelets for dinner; “kitchen sink” salads with your favorite dressing; frozen veggies, leftover chicken, brown rice and avocado all mixed together. There really are so many quick options with a little thinking and looking in your fridge.
5. Hormone Changes
This topic deserves its own newsletter of course. Suffice it to say hormones are changing (for both men and women), you feel the difference and your body is showing the difference.
Action: Take a team approach. Observe yourself and jot down any signs, symptoms or complaints you aren’t sure about. Talk with your primary doctor or Dr. Odom. Meet with Maggie, Eaton, RDN, LD, our dietitian for a full workup on how lifestyle and food might be affecting your hormones.
4. Metabolic Changes
Research tells us that we lose tissue (bone density, muscle, etc) as we age. These changes contribute to a reduction in your resting metabolic rate (RMR)-basically the number of calories your body needs to exist. A reduction in RMR in turn triggers changes in body composition: more fatty tissue and less lean muscle mass. Uh oh.
Action: Meet with our team of physical therapists, personal trainer and dietitian to customize a plan to maintain or increase your muscle, boost your calorie burn and address many other metabolic concerns PT, exercise and nutrition macros can.
As we age, we get more susceptible to injury due to weakened muscles, less flexibility, postural issues, and lower capacity in general. Once you are hurt or injured, it then takes longer and is harder to come back because the body heals at a slower rate. Twinged muscles, aches, stiff necks, injuries, etc inhibit exercise and other daily activities contributing to potential slow and steady weight gain.
Action: Learn how to prevent injury, or better yet, if you are at risk for some type of injury. Don’t hesitate to seek medical attention and physical therapy if you have any aches, pains or injuries.
2. More Sedentary Lifestyle
If we’re honest, it is harder to get up and moving. Whether it is lack of energy, retiring to a slower pace of life, not having kids to chase after, occupational “hazard” or any other reason, sitting the majority of the day not only makes losing weight quite difficult, sitting can affect your overall health. A ton of new research has connected a generally sedentary lifestyle with several health risks.
Action: I could easily say, don’t sit, but that is hard to accomplish in many situations. The good news is that if you have to sit most of the day (getting up as frequently as possible to stretch, drink water, take a 2 minute walk), you can negate the negative impact by exercising (truly exercising) more than 4 hours a week. That’s reasonable.
1. Less Muscle and No Focus on Muscle Gain
Starting at age 30, we all start to lose about 1/2 pound of muscle mass per year. By the time you are 50, that is a lot of lost muscle and potentially gained fat that replaced the muscle. But do not lose hope. It is very true that you can not only prevent losing 1/2 pound of muscle per year but you can gain more muscle mass each year. I wish more people really understood the metabolic benefits of muscle. Muscle burns about 3x more calories than fat does making losing weight much more realistic. Take gaining muscle seriously. The benefits are tenfold.
Action: Working out to gain muscle is easy to say but does require at least a little time each week and a good amount of effort. But finding the right exercises, routine length and motivation can be easy with our personal trainer.
So, it appears a good action item for several of these issues is to meet with Team Odom. Call us at 952.224.1919 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. A good place to start is a free, 60-minute assessment meeting with our dietitian, Bobbi Horner, RDN, LD. OHW works from a team approach so you benefit from the expertise of all our providers.