If there’s one topic my Baby Boomer clients love to discuss, it’s losing weight.
From high-protein diets to juicing, everybody has an opinion–and several pounds to lose! In some areas of the country, 70% of Boomers are overweight or obese, with an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
There are several reasons why losing weight is more difficult as we age:
- Due to changes in body size, body composition, and activity levels, we simply require less calories each day (200 – 400).
- Lean body mass/muscle decreases with age. Compared to fatty tissue, muscles burn more calories. Therefore, having proportionately more fat means we’re more likely to gain weight.
- Many women gain weight during menopause. Hormonal changes may play a role, and most likely favor weight gain around the abdomen, a known health risk.
- As you lose weight, your body needs less energy. For example, a 180 lb., 60-year old lightly active woman burns about 1,929 calories per day to maintain her weight. After losing 30 lb., she’d need only 1,742 to maintain the lower weight—almost 200 calories less per day!
Weight gain for Baby Boomers is common, but not inevitable.
Here are 5 ways to control extra pounds in mid-life:
1) Have realistic goals.
- If you’ve been gaining several pounds each year, a reasonable goal might be just to maintain your current weight.
- If you need to lose weight for health reasons, set a realistic target of 1 – 2 lb. per week until you lose 10% of your current weight. Then re-evaluate your goals with your healthcare provider.
2) Be honest with yourself.
- Most people underestimate their caloric intake. For a week, record everything you eat, and enter the data into a free calorie-tracking program you can find online. The results may surprise you, and point to easy ways you can cut back.
- Many people overestimate their caloric loss during physical activity. Depending on your current weight, most moderate exercise burns 150 calories per hour. Again, record all activity for a week.
3) Watch portion sizes.
- Portion sizes have grown exponentially over the years!
- Encourage portion control with smaller serving utensils and plates.
- Half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables, one quarter whole grains, one quarter protein.
- When dining out, order off the appetizer menu, split entrees, or ask for a doggie bag with your meal and use it to stash half your food before you start eating!
4) Drink as few calories as possible.
- Sports drinks have 130 calories per serving, a cup of apple juice has 117, and a 20-ounce soda has 375. For a real eye-opener, check out the calorie count in your favorite coffee drink!
- When it comes to your fluid intake, concentrate on 1% or nonfat milk, and good ol’ water.
5) Get (more) active!
- Most health organizations recommend moderate exercise for at least 150 minutes a week, and strength training at least twice a week.
- These guidelines are a good starting place, but you need to ramp it up for weight loss.
- If walking, increase the number of minutes and days you go out, then start using quicker steps to increase the intensity.
- Use a pedometer; increase your steps daily until you reach 10,000.
- With strength training, progressively increase the amount of weight you’re lifting and add a variety of exercises to your routine.
- Consult your physician before beginning any new exercise regimen.
For more information to promote fitness after 50, feel free to send for my free ebook, 7 Top Fitness Myths Debunked