Keeping off extra pounds is a constant battle for most post-menopausal women. No matter what type of diet we follow – vegetarian, vegan, paleo, gluten-free – the challenge of warding off those unwanted pounds remains. The secret to overcoming this challenge lies in our daily habits and behaviors.
Although I have never been overweight, I don’t attribute that to luck or genetics as some people suggest. I have the same body type as my mother, who is petite – barely 5’2″ – but who ended up putting on 30-40 pounds in her 50s and 60s and has kept it on well into her older age. The same probably would have happened to me if I’d let it.
What most people don’t know is that I have intentionally worked at maintaining my weight since my college days. I would love to indulge in big fat pieces of apple pie, chow down on piles of potato chips with sour cream, and order Eggs Benedict at a Sunday brunch with friends. But, I know that going down that path on a regular basis would result in weight gain, poor health, and, most likely, depression.
There are several strategies that have helped me, and my guess is that if you adhere to them most of the time, they will work for you, too! Here are my tips for maintaining your weight.
Though there are no hard and fast rules for how often you should weigh yourself, some experts suggest hopping on the scale only once a week or once a month to avoid getting caught up in daily fluctuations. I find it helps to micro-manage your weight. Weigh yourself every day or two. This way, as soon as you see that you’re up by a couple of pounds, you can eat clean for a day or two and avoid tipping the scale.
Maintaining weight doesn’t mean eating less or going hungry. In fact, you may need to add to your daily consumption greater quantities of nutritious foods. Load up on lean protein, vitamin-rich super foods, good carbs, healthy fats and tasty herbs. This will help you to fend off hunger, keep your weight in check and enjoy higher levels of energy.
Have you noticed that when you run out of nutrient-rich foods – perishables, such as fresh vegetables, berries, avocados and leafy greens – you start reaching for more grains and prepared foods? Keeping fresh produce and proteins in the house requires going to the grocery store more often. Plan to do this, and before each trip make a list of the nutritious items and stick to it!
When cruising the aisles of the supermarket, note that fresh produce and proteins are typically located along the perimeter of the store. The sugary cereals, packaged foods, sodas and candy are generally on the inside aisles. A sensible grocery list should steer your cart to the outer perimeter, directing you to the interior only for essentials, such as paper goods, toiletries, olive oil and green tea.
Hunger and grocery shopping are a dangerous combination. Making a trip to the supermarket on an empty stomach can lead to whimsical purchases, a cupboard full of unnecessary sweets and snacks and a good deal of regret.
To be safe, do your grocery shopping when you’re not hungry and stick to the items on your list. Before checking out, scan your shopping cart and remove any items that would be better off left off in the store. You’ll thank yourself later!
Mid-morning, late-afternoon and late-night hours are danger zones for grazing and snitching. Suppress your urge to dig into a bag of chips or to reach for some leftover birthday cake by brushing your teeth, gargling with mouthwash or chewing mint flavored gum at these risky times of day. The taste of mint will clean your palate, crush your appetite, and buy you some time until your next nutritious meal.
That said, feel free to have plenty of natural foods on hand for between-meal energy boosters. As the saying goes, if you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, you’re not hungry; you’re bored!
The best way to resist temptation is to eliminate it. While raising our kids, we had to have kid-friendly foods and treats on hand. But, now we are free to surround ourselves with just those foods that keep our weight-management goals on track. If you can’t resist candy or cookies, don’t keep them in the house. If you tend to eat your ice cream by the pint, don’t allow it in your freezer. If you know that processed foods are not part of a healthy meal plan, don’t buy them. Out of sight, out of mind!
If you’ve got the gumption, try portion control. Allow yourself to indulge in a small morsel of something sweet, salty or fatty for the sheer pleasure of it. Portion control can be a powerful strategy, but it is not for the faint of heart. You need to have enough self-discipline to have just a taste and be satisfied.
If you’re at a party, help yourself to only a sliver of cake, and no more. If you’re at the movies, order just a kid-size bag of popcorn and share it with your friend or hubby. You’ll save some money! If you’re dying for some French fries, eat just a few and be grateful. With portion control, you can savor yummy treats without feeling guilty, gaining weight or ruining your weight-management efforts.
In our society, we glorify sweets and snacks as well-deserved indulgences, emotional rewards. I’ve done so in this article. But, I challenge you to consider these indulgences as counterproductive, as brief detours from our best intentions. The idea here is not to instill guilt but to bring to awareness that when we indulge, we are moving away from, not towards, what will really make us happy. It’s a subtle mind shift that could help to keep us on track and enjoy more consistent success.
Do you struggle with keeping your weight within a certain range? What strategies do you use to keep off extra pounds? What have you found works best for you? Please share in the comments.