Why Oh, Why?
Why is it so Hard to Lose Weight after 50?
When I turned 50 I noticed that I started gaining weight, becoming fluffier…quickly. The pounds kept sneaking on and on until my muffin top became a bakery shelf! I “tried” to lose weight but no success. At 55 I was in a panic, depressed, scared, felt awful, and helpless… Until I found the 21 Day Fix and began exercising and eating healthy.
So why is it so much easier to gain weight after 50 and so much harder to lose weight?
There are a few reasons why so many of us experience the dreaded “no matter what I do I gain weight” phenomena. Why does menopause and weight gain seem to go hand in hand?
Those pesky hormone changes….
Without going into a lot of scientific data, estrogen seems to help control body weight. As we enter menopause it is thought that reduced estrogen levels impact our desire to eat more as well as lowers the metabolic rate at which the body converts stored energy into working energy. In addition the lack of estrogen is also blamed for decreasing the body’s ability to use starches and blood sugar effectively. As a result gaining weight is almost effortless as many of us can testify.
We all like to blame menopause for our weight gain, it makes us seem faultless. I was famous for saying “I can’t lose weight, it must be because of menopause, there is nothing I can do”. However there are other reasons related to aging that impact our efforts to lose weight. Fortunately we can take control and make a positive difference in our own lives.
As we get older we tend to exercise less…
When I was younger I exercised more. However over time I got busy with family, work life…. There never seemed enough time and I began to ignore me… As people age they are less likely to exercise. At 50 the most strenuous exercise I did was a walk around the block. By increasing our exercise and making time for ourselves we can decrease those pounds.
Health and physical issues can impact our ability to exercise…
As we age we are often faced with increased health and physical issues (illnesses, arthritis, back problems, joint issues….) that make exercising difficult. Squats and even running may be impossible. However as long as you can move you can exercise. Sometimes minor modifications will be all you need while other times a replacement exercise may be in order. Conversations with your physician and physical therapist regarding exercise may be helpful in tailoring an exercise program to safely meet your needs. You should always check with your physician before beginning an exercise program especially if you have health or physical challenges. As you exercise consistently you will see improvements. As hard as it is don’t compare yourself to others. Get a baseline and use that to see improvements. Celebrate each accomplishment no matter how little (not with food but something special for you… maybe a pedicure!).
As we age we lose muscle mass which in turn lowers our metabolism…
How often have you heard someone say of said yourself “I can’t lose weight because my metabolism has slowed down”? Well you are right! As your metabolism slows it makes it easier to gain weight and harder to lose. However by working at increasing our muscle mass we can increase our metabolism and yes, we can lose weight! There is hope!
During exercise our bodies have a more difficult time using up energy…
In the past I could run or workout and the pound or two I gained would disappear. I remember saying, as I ate an extra doughnut or slice of cake, “I will just run a little farther tomorrow to make up for eating that doughnut”. As you age you may have to do more than run “a little farther”. You likely have to increase the amount of time and intensity you exercise to achieve and maintain weight loss. It may take more effort but it is worth it and you can do it!
So what is a menopausal woman to do?
Find an exercise and nutrition plan that work for you! Exercise and good nutrition are key to weight loss and good health. For me it was the 21 Day Fix Program that worked. It encompasses portion control, clean eating, and exercise. I also found that private online challenge groups provide the support and motivation I needed to be successful. At age 55 I lost 45 pounds and went from a size 16 to a size 8 (I couldn’t even wear a size 8 in high school!). I am healthier, happier and more fit. I am continuing my fitness journey working on increasing muscle and over all body tone. If a few more pounds come off, that’s okay too! Explore your options! Find the right fit for you, it is out there! You can be fit after 50!