Weight Loss and Menopause

Expert’s Name: Lisa Enslow

Older and Bigger, but not Better!

It’s widely reported that Americans are getting bigger and bigger. This “supersizing” may lead you to think that a dozen or more extra pounds at middle age are to be expected and accepted. While it may seem natural and inevitable to gain weight as you get older, there are many reasons why it’s wise for your health to revise your diet and exercise plan to keep the numbers on the scale stable! Getting down to and maintaining a healthy weight protects you from an array of diseases: high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, sleep disorders and some types of cancers. If you are overweight, losing even a few pounds will help you raise your HDL (healthy cholesterol), lower your LDL (bad cholesterol).

What Used to Work May Not Work Now
There is a common perception that our metabolism slows down as we age. While there are many theories, often this is because of a more sedentary lifestyle. We are not as active as we were, perhaps, when we were chasing young children! Another factor is the challenge of ever changing hormone levels. This can cause weight gain in mid-life to settle in the belly when it never did before. In addition, our ability to tolerate alcohol and caffeine declines as we get older. Tuning in to these changes is the critical first step to making positive changes in your health.
The bottom line is that we need to examine and modify our diet and lifestyle a bit to accommodate the changes in our bodies that accompany getting older. That grapefruit diet that always guaranteed quick weight loss is not going to work. And incidentally, any type of crash diet is destructive to your health and your metabolism! It’s time to lock in a set of healthy new guidelines to help you live a long and active life. (See related article on Weight Control: Guidelines for Food) Establishing a routine of health promoting habits will enable you to thrive, not just survive.
“Move it” in New Ways
One way to combat that sense of metabolic slowdown is to get your body moving. Any activity helps as long as it’s something you enjoy and can do regularly. Building muscle is particularly good for keeping the metabolic fires burning, as muscle burns more energy than fat. And “older” people are just as good at building muscle as young ones, contrary to popular belief! Find ways to incorporate movement into your day. You do not need to have a two hour block of time in your schedule for exercise…a ten minute walk, a few minutes stretching on the floor, routinely using the stairs instead of an elevator…all of activities count towards your cumulative activity for the day! Of course if you do have a block of time, there are amazing new activities being offered at local gyms: yoga, spinning, Zumba, Pilates and more. Trying something new can lend some excitement to your day, and get you out of any fitness rut you may be in.

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