By the time we get to be 60-years-old, most of us have a good idea of how our diet and lifestyle affects us. We know how we react to certain foods and many of us have adopted better eating habits.
There is, however, one aspect of our lives that remains a mystery. If we are eating better and even exercising, why do we have so much trouble losing weight after 60?
This phenomenon is often referred to as the “middle age spread,” which develops around our hips and waist. Whether you call it “extra weight,” “love handles,” or a “muffin top,” this extra weight is so frustrating! It’s not that we care what other people think about our bodies – although there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look attractive.
Instead, most of us want to have more energy, flexibility and strength to explore the world. Our extra weight is, quite literally, holding us down.
To help understand this issue, I set up an interview with Julie Dargan, a registered nurse and expert on women’s health after 50. Here are a few highlights from our discussion. I hope that you enjoy the video!
In our interview, Julie explains that our bodies work in wonderfully practical ways. Throughout our lives, as women, our uterus produces the hormone estrogen. Its main job is to facilitate pregnancy. As we age and, eventually, go through menopause, our estrogen production falls. This slows down our metabolisms, which, combined with the stress hormone, cortisol, cause fat to build up in our bodies.
Julie explains that this trend is worsened by the fact that our lifestyles tend to become more sedentary as we age. We may think that we are eating and exercising enough, but, in truth, we may not be eating the right things or doing the right kind of physical activity for our age.
One of Julie’s key points is that most older women are not eating in a way that is appropriate for their age. Specifically, they are not getting enough fruit, green vegetables, protein and calcium.
In the interview, we also discuss why older women usually need more fiber in their diet. The simple reason is that, as we get older, we need to compensate for a decrease in bile production. I encourage you to watch the video to get Julie’s full explanation.
Julie suggests some simple, and extremely practical, food tricks to help you get rid of those extra pounds. For example, she says that you should consider poaching your fish instead of frying them. She also recommends decreasing the amount of potatoes and rice that you consume.
If you want to fry your food, Julie suggests using coconut oil, which does not change its healthy properties at a high temperature. She shares many other specific ideas in the video – far too many to list here, unfortunately!
One of Julie’s comments about alcohol is especially important. We hear a lot these days about how having the occasional glass of wine may be good for your health. This may be true, but, Julie reminds us that, as we get a little older, our bodies can’t metabolize alcohol as well as they used to. This is definitely something to keep in mind and discuss with your doctor as you are making healthy aging decisions.
So, you’ve thrown out all the milk chocolate and cookies. That’s it, right? Not even close. Julie says that losing weight after 60 requires a commitment to exercise that few of us have. We’re not talking about gentle walking, either – although walking is good for you in other ways. If you want to lose weight after 60, you need to build plenty of high-energy “pavement pounding” exercise into your routine.
If you are nervous about the impact on your body, talk to your doctor or exercise with a professional trainer. But, whatever you do, get moving!
Finally, we talk about the “S” word. Stress. In this part of the interview, Julie confirms what you probably already know – if you want to lose weight after 50, you need to deal with your stress. If you don’t, your body will continue to produce excess cortisol, sabotaging your efforts to get the body you deserve.
If you are looking for a place to start, consider our own gentle yoga videos. They were designed just for older women, like us. I use them every day and they have made a huge difference in my life.
Are you trying to lose weight? What steps are you taking in terms of diet, exercise and stress reduction? What tips would you offer the other ladies in our community who may just be starting their weight-loss journey? Please join the conversation.