Here’s the problem with losing weight over 50. Your body doesn’t lose weight as it used to, yet your desire to be thin and fit is as strong as ever.
Turning 50 changes the game. (Okay, I’ll admit that I have one more year before I turn the page and enter this new decade of life, but I’m hoping I will be accepted into the 5-0 club as a junior member.)
Anyway, if you would rather throw your bathroom scale out the window than read what it says, this guide is for you.
If you think the days of tucking in your shirt have passed you by, this guide is for you.
If you’re tired of having to choose between enjoying life or a thin waist, this guide is for you.
In fact, I’m here to tell you losing weight over 50 is not only possible, but it can be fast and permanent.
Once you get a few big, yet doable tricks up your sleeve, you’ll reestablish your relationship with your bathroom scale. It will become a friend you want to visit every morning.
Are you ready to rekindle your relationship with your scale and your body?
Losing Weight Over 50 – Unique Challenges
Reaching the age of 50 brings some challenges that did not exist in the prior decade or two.
Your mantra of youth…
“Go-go-go, push harder, go farther.”
Gets replaced with…
“Life is short, enjoy the time you have.”
Under 50, “I have to take care of everyone else’s needs, and then I will take care of my needs.”
Over 50, “The kids have gained their independence, uh-oh, now what do I do?”
Under 50, “I must look great on the beach, regardless of the cost to my health.”
Over 50, “I want to be thin, but not if it means sacrificing my health.”
*Habits have been established:
Turn on the TV at 6:30 pm…fall asleep in front of the TV by 9:30 pm.
*Rituals have been established:
The holidays wouldn’t be the same without your famous cookies,
“Aunt Sally, your chocolate chip cookies are the world’s best!”
You can’t write an article on losing weight over 50 without touching on hormones. Women, in particular, feel the effects of hormonal changes with the onset of menopause.
“These hot flashes feel like a furnace just lit up inside my belly, so why can’t they burn off my belly fat!”
In her article Fighting Menopausal Spread, Beverly Burmeier does a great job explaining two common causes of menopausal weight gain: insulin resistance and estrogen production.
Insulin resistance, fueled, in part, by hormonal changes, can cause weight gain, even if your caloric intake has not changed.
Insulin is a hormone that moves blood sugar into cells so that the sugar can be used as energy. When cells are resistant to insulin, energy is not managed, which spikes fat storage and appetite.
Estrogen production from the ovaries declines with menopause. Fat cells can produce estrogen, so after menopause, a woman’s body encourages the buildup of fat to increase estrogen levels.
Over 50 – Throw Away The “Tried-and-Failed” Strategies Of Yesterday
Bad Idea #1: Relying on Willpower.
There may have been a time when you could muscle out a few hard-core weeks of diet and exercise, but that same level of willpower may not be as easy to come by anymore.
Research shows that willpower is fragile.
It’s wiped out by low blood sugar, as I wrote about in – Why willpower Will Not Work For Long-Term Weight Loss.
Willpower also flies out the window when you’re stressed, which if you are like 98% of the population happens at least once a day.
In lesson #3 of The Science of Willpower, Vanessa Van Edwards spells out why willpower is a finite resource.
She explains that we should think of willpower as a muscle that gets fatigued as we use it.
Every temptation that we resist stresses our willpower muscle. It gets a bit weaker each time we resist telling our coworker what we really think of his crude jokes, avoid sticking our hand in the office candy dish, and say, “no thank you” to dessert.
If your willpower muscle takes too many hits during the day, you find yourself with a box of rocky road ice cream in one hand and a spoon in the other.
Bad Idea #2: 90 Minute Workouts 6 Days a Week (Only 60 Minutes on Sunday)
If you have a goal of running a marathon or participating in an Ironman triathlon, then long workouts are part of the commitment. But, if losing weight over 50 is your top priority, then overexercising could defeat your purpose.
As I wrote in This Exercise Accelerates Aging in Your Body, many endurance exercises, such as long treadmill workouts, accelerate the aging process by increasing free radicals. Free radicals are scavengers that prey on your body’s essential nutrients and tissues and lead to premature aging.
If you jump into intense exercise too quickly, you could encourage weight gain. Ben Greenfield (a.k.a. Get-Fit Guy) points to two reasons why exercise can lead to weight gain: stress and compensatory eating.
Stress, whether it’s emotional or physical, causes your adrenal glands to release fight-or-flight hormones, including cortisol.
When you first change your daily routine to include long-duration exercise, it throws off your daily flow adding to your baseline stress level and cortisol output. The chronically high cortisol levels add to fluid retention and weight gain.
Hard workouts, especially if you haven’t worked up to them will spike your appetite. They can also fill your mind with a sense of entitlement, “I worked out hard, I’ve earned the right to eat what I want.”
Bad Idea #3 Diets That Take Over Your Life
Research into diet compliance (i.e. what makes people stick with their diet until their goal is met) shows that the more complicated a plan is, the less likely it will succeed.
For some of us, a complicated plan seems like the only path. We think that the only way to keep our focus is to measure and weigh everything we eat, buy expensive products and make time-consuming meals. Not true.
Unless you’ve been invited to the Biggest Loser ranch, there are always going to be things that steal your focus away from weight loss. Keep your plan sane and simple.
What You Need For Losing Weight Over 50
To make weight loss work for you, you need to…
(1) Eat and move in a way that brings joy into your life
(2) Take steps that are big enough to create change
(3) Design and easy-to-follow plan
Fortunately, I have a magic pill that you can take that will whisk away the pounds!
Don’t you wish that was true? Well, a magic pill doesn’t exist – you should’ve learned that fact by the age of 50 – but, you will find losing weight over 50 works when you follow the three rules above.
Making Healthy Living Enjoyable
You have earned the right to have some fun in your life. It’s fun to cook with the grandkids, go out to a new restaurant with friends, and eat a piece of bread every once in a while.
A healthy life can include some indulgence. I have maintained a 50-pound weight loss for 15+ years. I eat birthday cake. Honestly, that feels like a confession, but it shouldn’t.
Now granted, when I was 50 pounds overweight, I would find a reason to have cake every day. So, treats have to be managed.
I like to set short-term goals. I look at my month and think about times I want to be a bit looser with my eating (i.e. parties). Having some leniency built-in keeps me on track on the other days.
You can also exercise better for a more enjoyable experience.
A study conducted at Boston Sports Clubs found that men and women who exercised for just 20-30 minutes did so more consistently than those trying longer, 45-60 minute workout sessions. Short-duration exercisers also achieved results faster because their plan was more time-friendly.
Healthy habits are enjoyable when you find a bigger reason to live a healthy life. Sarah Williams wrote on finding the line between health and vanity. If faith is a part of your life, it’s a great perspective.
Making Your Weight Loss Plan Easy-to-Follow
Life was easier when phones had cords and nutrition involved only three things: carbs, fats, and protein.
Today, our phones are mini-computers that we carry in our pockets, and healthy eating requires a new vocabulary with hard-to-remember words like phytochemicals, cytokines, and lycopene.
It’s great to educate yourself about nutrition; after all, I teach nutrition to college students, so I’m all for gaining knowledge. But, don’t let big, new nutrition words trip you up. Keep it sane and simple.
In my free video series, I teach 4 daily habits that eliminate 80% of the typical dieter’s problems. The best thing is, to get the results you only need to remember four things.
Making Your Weight Loss Plan Effective
You can take small steps that move you toward your weight loss goal, but the results will be the same…small.
Two-thirds of the American population is on a perpetual diet. Step off the hamster wheel and make your efforts worthwhile.
The biggest diet destroyer is sugar. Cut it out and your body will shed pounds. It’s a toughie, no doubt. Sugar is addictive, so you want to set short-term goals to break free from it.
Just for today, make it a goal to avoid soda and any packaged food that has sugar listed as one of the top ingredients. Tomorrow set the same goal until you’ve strung together, at least, seven days.
The biggest diet helper is fiber. For the next seven days aim to eat at least 30 grams of fiber a day. Here’s how:
- Start your day with some fruit.
- Make a large lunch salad with 4 cups of leafy greens, topped with assorted vegetables, nuts, seed, and a half cup of black beans.
- At dinner, add 2 cups of mixed vegetables to your plate.
Concluding Thoughts On Losing Weight Over 50: Rinse and Repeat
It is possible to lose weight after you reach 50 and your diet can be enjoyable, effective and easy-to-follow. The 4 daily habits that I outline in my free video series have these three essential elements built-in.
Take action. Just for today, follow the recommendations from this guide (or do the four habits from the video series). Then, wake up tomorrow and do the same thing. String together enough days, and your body will have no choice but to lose weight.
I want you to think about the actions you’ve picked up from this article. If you follow them, you’ll cut out the biggest fat producer, which is sugar and boost your intake of the biggest fat remover, which is fiber.
Do you know what that means?
- It means you can still go out to dinner with friends
- It means you can still have a piece of bread (as long as there’s no sugar in the top three ingredients).
- It means you can throw some meat and veggies on the grill, and enjoy it with a glass of wine
- It means you can still live life
…and, because you are removing the biggest diet destroyer (i.e. sugar) and filling up on ultra-healthy fiber (i.e. plant-foods), your body will be satisfied. You are giving it what it needs to release fat.
Think of these habits like a snowball. You start rolling them through your day, and soon your body and mind start to feel good. The snowball grows, and you naturally find more ways to feel good.
Sugar cravings that used to hold you captive lose their power. Before long you begin to notice that your belly doesn’t feel good when you eat sugar, so you naturally move away from it.
As your body heals, you find that you don’t have to work so hard, the food choices come easy and hunger and cravings are under control.
Do you want to give it a try? I hope so! I live by the 4 daily habits in my free video series. Many people who read my blog live by them as well.
Wouldn’t it be great to be hooked on these 4 daily habits? I can help; I map out exactly what to do, what to eat, what to avoid and why this strategy works. If you losing weight over 50 is important to you, watch the free video series here.
About the Author
Dr. Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991.