If life was fair, losing weight after menopause would be just as easy as at any other stage in our lives. Unfortunately, life isn’t fair. When I was in my 20s, I could look at a pair of walking shoes and drop 5 pounds. Now, in my 60s, it feels like I could run a marathon and gain weight from the water that they served along the way.
Of course, I’m exaggerating here. But, doesn’t it feel like this at times?
When I talk with the other women in our community, almost all of them say that they eat better now than at any other point in their lives. My kids joke that I “eat like a bird.” Personally, I’m pretty sure that salads and protein shakes don’t count as bird food. I probably eat more carefully than most birds, thank you very much!
So, if most of us are eating better, why is it that we struggle with losing weight after menopause? The simple answer, of course, is our aging bodies.
After menopause, our hormones shift dramatically. This is especially true of estrogen, which influences so many aspects of how our bodies work.
For an excellent overview of what happens to our bodies before and during menopause, watch my interview with registered nurse, Julie Dargan. Then, let’s return to the discussion of how we can fight back and get in shape after menopause.
Everyone’s body is different, so, you should definitely talk to your doctor about how much exercise you need. That said, based on hundreds of conversations with women over 60 and numerous interviews with health experts, I have come to the conclusion that most of us aren’t getting nearly enough exercise.
For example, many older adults say that they get their exercise by walking. While walking is a great activity at any age, it is unlikely to help you lose weight by itself. Losing weight after menopause requires a commitment to take exercise super seriously.
Here are a few ideas to help you get started.
Almost all of us could benefit from walking more and at a greater intensity. If you have an iPhone or Android phone, you probably already have a health tracker in your pocket.
One of the easiest places to get started on your journey to fitness after 60 is to start tracking your steps. To get started, track how many steps you take over the course of 3 days. Take the average and start increasing your steps by 100 per day. For example, if your average number of steps was 3,000 per day, increase it to 3,100… then 3,200… until you reach 10,000 steps per day.
In addition to walking more, most of us could benefit from walking with more intensity. When you go out for your morning walk, pick up the pace.
Walk with intention. See if you can beat your best time. Your body and brain will thank you.
Walking 10,000 steps a day is a great start, but, it is only that – a start. If you really want to lose weight after menopause, you need to include 2-3 high intensity workouts into your routine every week. This should include cardio and weight lifting.
Many women I know are nervous about starting weight lifting in their 60s. They tell me that they are afraid that they might hurt themselves. In reality, as long as take the time to have a professional show you how to use the equipment properly, the opposite is true. Avoiding strength exercises can leave you with a body that is more susceptible to injury in every-day life.
Intense exercise is important, but, don’t do everything at once. Start slow. For example, on day 1, you could do a 5 minute workout and leave. A few days later, add one minute to your exercise plan. A qualified instructor can help you to work out all the details.
Gentle yoga is not a substitute for intense exercise, but, it is still important for losing weight after menopause. This is because yoga helps you to get the most out of all of your other physical activities. When you are feeling stiff and sore, the last thing you want to go is go to the gym. Likewise, if you are suffering from a lack of flexibility, lifting weights may be uncomfortable.
At the end of the day, losing weight after 50 requires a comprehensive plan. Walking is important, but, it is not enough by itself. We need to be willing to pick up the pace. We also need to embrace intense workouts that really get our hearts pumping. Finally, we need to find ways to stay flexible. This could include stretching or gentle yoga.
Losing weight after menopause isn’t fair. As a result, we can no longer rely on dieting and walking to get in shape. We need to take exercising seriously. When we do, there is nothing to stop us from being in the best shape of our lives after 60.
Looking for even more tips on how to get in shape after the dreaded “middle age spread?” This video will help!
What do you do to stay in shape? Have you found it difficult to lose weight after menopause? Do you agree that losing weight after 60 requires us to take more extreme measures? Why or why not? Please join the conversation.