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Losing Weight After 60: Knowing What to Do Is Different from Doing It

By Karen Donaldson October 04, 2022 Health and Fitness

Sometimes a client would confess to me, “I know what I’m supposed to do, but I just can’t do it!” and I would feel like screaming “ME TOO!”

As a registered dietitian and personal trainer, I had the education and skills to provide my clients with the best nutrition and exercise advice on the planet for health and weight loss. I gave them personalized menus, helped them organize and plan their days, and even got them motivated to exercise.

But time after time I would see the same pattern emerge. These beautiful souls would be “good” (their words) for a few days, or even a few weeks, but inevitably, they would fall back into their old habits. The weight loss would stop, or the weight they had lost would find its way back.

True Confessions from a Dietitian

Sadly, this wasn’t just happening with my clients. Nearly everyone I knew, no matter what program they signed up for or who was their trainer, was seriously struggling with keeping the weight off. They had tried every pill, potion and gimmick under the sun – even weight loss surgery – to no avail.

They spent thousands of dollars and invested countless hours and days, even years, looking for the answers. It was frustrating and heart breaking, and it was creating a sense of hopelessness for everyone involved.

What they were doing wasn’t working for them, and it wasn’t working for me either. Truth be told, I was struggling with my own eating and weight issues.

I still remember teaching seminars on weight loss, then coming home and “unwinding” with a big bowl of buttered popcorn, followed by some chocolate. And that was after dinner! My nightly binges had nothing to do with physical hunger.

Are You an Emotional Eater?

Finally, it dawned on me that I was eating emotionally, just like my clients were. As the owner of a weight loss clinic, this was not an easy thing for me to admit, even to myself. My weight was “fine,” and I thought I carried it well. Sure, I could stand to lose a couple of pounds, but who couldn’t, I rationalized.

Besides, popcorn is healthy because it has fiber, right? And chocolate has antioxidants, especially the dark variety. And what’s a little raw cookie dough going to hurt now and again – especially if you make it with pasteurized eggs so you don’t get food poisoning?

For years I preached the standard advice to my clients and to my self – keep healthy snacks around, get rid of the junk foods, call a friend, take a bath, go on a walk – but none of that helped.

If you’re eating for emotional reasons, it doesn’t matter how many veggies are in the fridge. If you’re having a craving for chocolate, you’ll find the stash – hidden behind the chia seeds, on the highest shelf in the pantry.

I needed a tool that would really help deal with the issues that were causing the overeating in the first place. But what could that tool be? Nutrition and exercise play a vital role in weight loss, but what I kept hearing from my clients were statements like the ones below. Do any of them sound familiar to you?

“I know I’m an emotional eater.”

“I just want this war with food to be over.”

“The stress is killing me.”

“I’m good at taking care of everyone except myself.”

“It’s a constant battle. I’m ‘good’ for a few days, and then I’m ‘bad’ again.”

“I eat when I’m happy, sad, bored, mad, ________ (fill in the blank).”

“I can’t stop the cravings.”

“Being hungry has nothing to do with my eating.”

It was becoming evident that extra weight was showing up as a symptom of people’s real life cares. And NO diet can fix that.

My struggles with weight and emotional eating turned out be one of those infamous blessings in disguise. Fueled by the frustration, guilt, shame and sense of failure that so many people experience on their weight loss programs, I was determined to find the answer.

My journey took me down a path of remarkable discoveries which eventually led to a complete redesign of my weight loss practice.

The Psychology of Food

The first thing I learned was that the psychology of food is very complex. We have strong emotional attachments to food, which may even lead to food addictions.

“Everything in moderation” doesn’t work for lots of people. Chronic stress directly contributes to belly fat. Childhood traumas increase our risk of obesity as adults. Food can be our best friend and our worst enemy.

We know that we shouldn’t be eating or drinking tons of non-nutritive carbs like white bread, cereal, pasta, cookies, and soda – but here’s the deal: Sugar can hijack your brain chemistry and make you feel calm and happy.

It can also tranquilize emotions you’d rather not feel. No wonder these treats are called comfort foods!

Overeating and Extra Weight Are the Symptoms

Cravings, emotional eating and weight issues are very often symptoms of what is going on at a deeper, more emotional level. In order to lose weight and keep it off, we first need to address – and start healing – the issues and stressors that are triggering our cravings and emotional eating.

Ignoring the connection between the food that we eat and our emotions will only keep us stuck in a sadly viscous cycle. When I finally understood the connection between food, stress, emotions and brain chemistry I personally lost over 30 pounds.

I’ve kept the weight off for over six years, and I don’t worry about it coming back. I seldom have cravings, but if I do, I handle them with ease.

These days I can actually eat a few handfuls of popcorn if I’m hungry… and throw the rest in the garbage! Not bad for a former popcorn-aholic! The techniques I now use have also helped me heal many of the issues that contributed to my emotional eating in the first place.

As a result, I have a much more peaceful relationship with food. I’m no longer compelled to tranquilize my anxieties or stuff my emotions with carbohydrate-laden comfort foods.

And, as a side benefit of my healing work, my relationships are improving, my health is great, and my career is blossoming. Not every day is perfect, of course, but I’m handling life with much more ease and joy than ever before.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Are you dealing with food cravings, emotional eating and weight issues in your 60s? Please share your experiences below!

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This is a like a teaser article for a business. You found the solution, but you’re not telling us what the solution is – unless we go to your website. Unfortunately, the link doesn’t work.

Karen Donaldson

Hi Terry. The intention of the article was to let people know there is more to the story of weight loss than just a diet. I have found that many are not aware of the emotional aspect of weight loss and the role that big role that stress plays. Because of these they often feel like they failed because they weren’t able to lose weight through dieting. Some people are relieved to know this and some want to know more. That’s why I created my free training. The link is working on my end so I’m not sure why it’s not on your end. Please feel free to email if you have more questions. Here is the link to my webinar that explains so much more.


OK, the link worked. Even so. “The techniques I now use have also helped me heal many of the issues that contributed to my emotional eating in the first place.” Needs a follow up sentence, something like, “I had to use a variety of techniques to specifically address emotional eating. If you would like to learn more about how to stop emotional eating so you can be in control here is the link to watch my free training.“. This last bit of info is only available if you happen to return the comments.

Karen Donaldson

Glad the link is working for you Terry. And thanks for the feedback. Karen


Totally agree! “The techniques I now use have also helped me heal many of the issues that contributed to my emotional eating in the first place.”
Tease! And now a link to her website and mentioning EFT. Let us go down another rabbit hole. Grrrrr

Maxine Hillary

I’ve never been an emotional eater. I’m the opposite. I can barely drink water when I’m stressed and I rarely eat processed foods or junk food and I mostly eat protein and produce but the 10 lbs won’t go. What can I do? I also walk 3 mikes a day and/or do full workouts at the gym.

Karen Donaldson

Hi Maxine. Stress affects people in different ways. Many turn to food, but some people don’t or can’t each much when stressed. Regardless, stress can put us into what is called the fight-flight-or-freeze mode. Stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol increase making it very challenging to release weight. And sometimes the added “stress” of exercise and not eating much makes this worse. Stress plays a huge role when it comes to weight loss.

If you have any questions please feel free to email me at

Karen Donaldson, MS, RD, LD

Vivian Hilder

So how did you deal with your emotional issues that sabotaged your eating? A psychologist? A psychiatrist? Hypnosis?

Karen Donaldson

Hi Vivian. Thank you for asking! I used energy psychology techniques such as EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) and others as well.


My problem is portion control! I’ve eliminated sugar, breads pasta etc. I eat mostly proteins n veggies. I eat 2 meals a day but when I serve n eat I eat too much! I layer my plate n large quantities. UGH, NO CONTROL

Karen Donaldson

Jan…thanks for reading my article and for commenting. Feeling out of control when it comes to food is a very real problem for so many women. And then of course it sabotages your efforts of trying to eat just protein and veggies.

If you would like to learn more about how to stop emotional eating so you can be in control here is the link to watch my free training.

And if you have any questions please feel free to email me at

Thanks so much,
Karen Donaldson


The link doesn’t work.

Karen Donaldson

Hi Terry. I’m sorry you are not able to get the link to work. I checked it and it appears to be fine on my end.


Great article! I am left wondering what your techniques are?? :)

Karen Donaldson

Thank you! Lots of energy psychology tools including Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT).

The Author

Karen Donaldson helps women stop their cravings and emotional eating so they can lose the weight and keep it off. She is a Registered Dietitian, EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Certified Weight Loss Coach, Emotion Code Certified Practitioner and a Weight Loss Mindset Expert. Learn more at

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