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8 Common Weight Loss Mistakes Women Over 60 Make

By Shari Broder August 08, 2022 Health and Fitness

I’m not going to lie. Losing weight over 60 is harder and takes longer than it was when we were younger. Our metabolism slows down, and even if you’ve kept in shape, you may not be able to move your body in all the ways you used to.

But permanent weight loss is possible. I’ve helped many women in their 60s and older lose weight.

To succeed, you need to forget the model you’ve used for your whole life. The one the diet industry has spent billions of dollars trying to convince you is the way to lose weight. What they don’t tell you is that research shows that you have a 3-5% chance of succeeding at losing weight and keeping it off by dieting.

Here are 8 things to look out for that may be tripping you up:

You Restrict Entire Food Groups or Forbid Yourself from Eating Your Favorite Foods

Food restrictions go to the very core of diets, especially the biggest fads nowadays. As if diets like Keto weren’t bad enough, all you need to do is spend a few minutes on Pinterest to see some even crazier ideas, like the miraculous 14-day boiled egg diet or the coffee diet.

It’s unhealthy to eat tons of fat and no carbs or eat hard-boiled eggs all day. When you don’t allow yourself certain foods, you want them even more. You even think you like them more than you do.  

This restrictive approach to eating also creates one of the biggest barriers to weight loss – the scarcity mindset. That’s the totally false notion that food is scarce in your life. But you create that scarcity when you don’t allow yourself to eat what you love, and you set yourself up for a binge.

You Really Don’t Know Why You Want to Lose Weight 

Usually, you want to lose weight because we live in a world that discriminates against and shuns people who are overweight. Or so you can wear certain clothes, or look and feel sexier, or meet someone special.

But you really need a clear vision of why you want to lose weight to keep you going through a process that takes perseverance. 

That means you need to set goals you feel really good about. Ones that generate positive emotions, like, “I want to be healthy so I can play with my grandchildren and live to see them graduate from high school.”

You Expect to Do It Perfectly

Another unproductive mindset you learn from dieting is the need to do it perfectly. Diets have lots of rules, and people like rules because it means they don’t have to think. They can just do what someone else tells them to do.

But humans are meant to think and question, and most of us get pretty sick of not being able to decide what to eat after a while. 

Strict diet rules don’t allow you to live a normal life, attend parties, and socialize. What’s the point of that? With rule-laden diets, we actually look for an excuse to quit because we’re so miserable. 

But when you give up dieting and change your habits, quitting is the only way you can fail. 

The thing is that no one who succeeds at permanent weight loss does this perfectly. You’re learning new skills, new habits, and that always takes practice.

The important thing is to do your best, learn from your mistakes so you don’t make the same ones repeatedly, and get back on track. Because everyone gets off track a little. Everyone. So, give up the idea that you can set out to lose weight and do it perfectly.

You Eat to Avoid Dealing with Negative or Difficult Feelings

It doesn’t matter how you try to lose weight, or whether you even reach your goal – if you don’t learn how to stop eating for emotional reasons, you’re going to gain the weight back.

Eating to avoid feeling your emotions – whether you’re sad, angry, frustrated, bored, or stressed out – is what causes overweight in most people.

When you eat for emotional reasons and you aren’t hungry, your body stores the energy as fat. Those few people who manage to lose the weight but don’t stop emotional eating gain the weight back. Every time.

Learning how to feel your emotions and use healthy strategies to deal with them is essential for permanent weight loss. Check out my 30 Days to End Emotional Eating Forever course for the tools to break the habitual cycle of emotional eating. 

You Believe You Can’t Lose Weight

If you’ve been dieting for a while, you’ve had more than your share of failures. This is another horrible thing about diets – we think we’re the failure because we didn’t lose weight on the diet. But it is really the diet that is the failure. The whole diet method of weight loss sets you up for failure.

The problem is that, because of confirmation bias, we try to prove that we’re right! So, we believe we can’t lose weight, and when we mess up, we think, “I knew it!” Do you really want to prove to yourself that you can’t lose weight? Wouldn’t you rather prove yourself wrong?

To shed your extra pounds, you need to start believing that you are capable of doing this. Stop blaming yourself for the past. You failed because you didn’t have the right tools.

Now that you know diets aren’t the way to go, and that you need to change your eating habits and stop emotional eating, believe that you can learn these new skills and succeed. Seriously, you need to change your beliefs to change your body. 

You Think You Can Hate Yourself Thin

You can’t heal a body you hate. So many people think that if they are willing to love or even just accept the body they have, they’ll have no motivation to improve.

But think about this – when was the last time that hate-motivated anyone to do anything good? Are you really going to want to treat your body better if you hate it? Unlikely.

Start appreciating all your body does for you. Be grateful for it. It may not be the way you want it to be, but it has served you for many years and is the only one you’ve got.

It’s time to stop treating it badly by either starving it, depriving it of things it needs (like carbs, beans, whole grains, fruits and vegetables), and to stop giving it more food than it needs to function optimally and for you to feel great.

Exercise it daily, but not as punishment for what you ate. Exercise as a celebration of all your body can do. Thank it and treat it with the respect it deserves. 

You Expect Weight Loss to Be Fast and Easy 

There are so many fast weight loss schemes online that I understand why people think it should be easy to do. But if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

There is no coffee drink that’s going to help you lose 15 pounds in 2 weeks. Losing 15 pounds in two weeks is a really bad idea anyway – if you aren’t morbidly obese.

Don’t get on the scale every day expecting the number to go down. If you choose to weigh yourself, which I think is a great way to see whether what you’re doing is working, then do it once a week.

Don’t expect to drop more than a pound a week, although some people will lose more. Some weeks, you may do everything perfectly and lose no weight. 

Think of where you’ll be a year from now if you stop overeating and emotional eating. The time will pass anyway, and slow, healthy weight lost is much more likely to stay off, especially since doing it this way fixes what caused you to be overweight.

You Make Losing Weight the Ultimate Goal

The process of changing your habits and becoming healthier is so much more important than the weight loss itself.

Since tuning your eating habits to your body’s signals and avoiding emotional eating is what will allow you to lose weight, you should focus on your progress in making these changes.

When you go to a restaurant and order what you really want, then leave half the French fries because you’re honoring your body’s fullness signals, celebrate that. Every time you don’t eat the candy in the candy bowl or the free food just because it’s there, celebrate that.

Every time you notice when you want to eat because you’re bored, and decide to do something else, celebrate! You did it! Enjoy the process. Notice your progress towards establishing your good eating habits.

When you celebrate your little wins, your brain associates doing your new habit with feeling good, and that makes it more likely that you’ll repeat the behavior. 

To get started on the right road, grab my free 8 Secrets for Permanent Weight Loss.

How many diets have you tried thus far? Have you made any of these 8 mistakes? Which ones are you ready to ditch? Please share with the community and let’s have a conversation.

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Lynn Whitman

In October of last year I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I am 68. After conversations with surgeons, oncologists and more, I learned that some of the treatment I would be facing causes bone loss….and that being overweight is an aggravating factor for recurrence. I decided to take matters into my own hands. Combating bone loss is about weight-bearing exercise. Losing weight is all of the things you mention plus burning more calories than you eat. I embarked on a mission to lose the weight that I had been carrying around for 30 years. I joined a gym, hired a trainer and changed the way we eat…..forever. We aren’t on a diet…we pay more attention to healthy eating. Nothing is “taboo” although our intake of processed carbs has dramatically reduced. Although I love “good” bread, I had been eating plain bread several times a day as a platform for something else. Pasta was a go-to easy quick meal…now it still is occasionally…but with healthier sauces and whole wheat or chickpea pasta. We don’t keep track of calories, but we do keep track of protein and make sure that we have enough veggies and fruit. Since October, I have lost 50 pounds and gained real muscles (my husband has lost that much too). I am stronger and healthier and the cancer that spurred this action is gone…and less likely to recur. All of my blood work…previously borderline for cholesterol and glucose is well in line with normal. I feel better mentally and physically than I have since my daughter was born…34 years ago. I can hike without innumerable rest stops. I can swim easily and strongly. I can keep up with my 11 year old athletic grandson. Losing the weight was not difficult, but took concentration and dedication. I applaud you for spreading this word to women like me…who need to reset!

The Author

Shari Broder retired from being a health coach. She recorded a whole lot of podcast episodes on her Weight Loss for Foodies podcast before she unplugged from work and decided to travel the world instead. She has extensive experience working with foodies who want to be a healthy weight. She's taught women how to ditch diets, stop emotional eating, and enjoy the foods they love while losing their desire to overeat along with their excess weight. All resources on her website are free.

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