Let me say right off the bat that there’s nothing special about me (my grandma wasn’t a Rockette and my people never brought home the gold).
True to my genetics, I was “well-insulated” for three-plus decades of life. Never reedy, I always looked like I’d been double-dipping on school lunches and chowing ice cream at night (because I was).
By my mid-30s, I hit bottom. My health problems and the “nothing fits” thing wore me down. I was done eating poorly. I said buh-bye to Hostess, Ben & Jerry’s and Olive Gardeny restaurants.
I began the trek of losing 55lbs. and lost the final weight by the time my boys turned two and I, 42.
But that’s not the cool part. Learning how to maintain the loss after age 50 was my true eureka moment. I’ve kept all 55 pounds off now for 16 years. I’m 57 today (way past meno).
Let me repeat: there’s nothing unusual about me; plus I’m not a dietician, a nutritionist or a doctor.
But I took notes on my trek and know exactly how I lost and maintain the 55.
Sure, it took a gazillion micro-shifts and embedding new habits, but it’s been totally worth it. It’s very hard, but doable.
I want to share with you one of my favorite micro-shifts: how using my lazy gene keeps me on the straight and narrow.
Your lazy gene only works if she’s set up for success. We begin with knowing the enemy territory: the grocery store.
Do not cross into this perilous world without first eating a small meal in your car. Eating at home doesn’t count. The magic lies in eating from our cold-tote – packed in smart foods like petite carrots, a tiny carton of yogurt, cut-up apple and so forth – again, in our adversary’s parking lot so that we don’t enter the terrain hungry and/or tired.
Our mission inside the store is to maintain a “clean cart” as we shop (i.e., ice cream, cookies, candy and the like stay on the shelf where they can nab some other poor soul).
Remember, Kroger doesn’t care if you lose weight or not. They’re in business to make money.
Second, don’t bring junk food into your home in the first place. Instead, work to make your kitchen a wonderful, safe place packed in smart food items. (This includes ridding the pantry of cake mixes and chocolate chip bags.)
What if you live with a foodie partner, and simply can’t keep a “safe” kitchen? I hear you. Learning to coexist with a scarfer – my husband loves his nickname – is a learn-able skill. I’ve been doing it for decades.
When your foodie partner brings junk food into the kitchen, ask him or her to put all treats on the very top shelf that you can’t possibly reach even when using a step-stool and spatula.
Also, one great benefit to aging is that my memory isn’t so hot, so I often forget about my husband’s stash. Keeping junk food out-of-sight results in out-of-mind, works wonders.
What if your partner won’t hide the loot? Here’s the strategy: crinkle wrappers like you’re opening a Hostess cupcake or tortilla chips and exclaim how thrilled you are to have found the “good stuff.” (Watch your foodie come running. Most freak out that you’re about to eat their junk food and will put their “treasure” out-of-reach).
I also know a woman who asks her husband to keep his calories at work. He can go Cookie Monster on his stash at the office, but he’s never to bring it home.
My point: we’re taking full advantage of our lazy gene when we make it extremely annoying to access junk food. Ice cream might sound heavenly, but if there’s none at home – no way will I change out of PJs and drive to the store for rocky road.
One more example. The hardest time of day for many of us to ignore our sweet tooth is in the evenings. So, after dinner, I brush my teeth and get into jammies and so forth. If I take a good book to bed with me, I’m way too lazy to walk downstairs to eat fake-food (that I can’t reach anyhow).
My foodie husband actually loves to grocery shop. Conversely, I’ve never been a fan. So about seven years ago, my scarfer became the grocery shopper in the family.
At the same time, we can make it super easy to access smart food. For example, my fridge is stocked in hardboiled eggs, salad fixings, sweet potatoes and broccoli all kept in full view (not hidden in a drawer). Fruit sits in a pretty bowl on my counter.
On Sundays I prepare various smart foods like brown rice, so I have one less thing to do during the week. Brown rice, frozen veggies, and lite soy sauce. Easy and tasty.
Also, I’ve eaten the same meal every day for decades: my oatmeal, blueberry, apple, and yogurt bowl. It’s so helpful to have one meal of my day be a no-brainer.
But staying moderately full is one of my strongest tools that I use to this day. For example, I never run errands without car-banana or my lunch tote riding shotgun. Getting hungry while out in our food-porn world is the quickest way to careen right off the smart eating path.
For decades our diet culture has pushed the notion that “it’s easy to lose!” But it was never just your imagination. If losing after 50 seems really hard, next to impossible: that’s because it is.
Once you and I fully understand what’s before us – that losing weight after 50 is akin to trekking up the Matterhorn – the right tools (like micro-shifts and awesome habits) can make such a difference that losing and maintaining after 50 can be ours.
Prepare for take-off.
Has weight loss always been a challenge for you? Have you lost weight to bounce back again? What maintenance strategies and tools are you using?