I’ve been in a reflective, philosophical mood lately. The kind where you want to curl up on a cozy chair with a mug of cocoa and stare out the window pondering life.
I’d like to blame the change of seasons, but it’s hard to justify a mind shift just because the temperature dipped from 80 to 75 degrees.
Yes, I know I’m spoiled living in Southern California. But keep in mind I spent most of my life in the frozen tundra known as Connecticut.
So I know of the things called “snow” and “wind chill.” After 14 years living here, though, my cold tolerance has dropped to zero.
(It’s 70 degrees outside and I am literally wearing a sweater as I write this.)
Back to philosophy.
I feel every town should have a local guru sitting high up on a mountaintop to help the townspeople out with all their problems.
The guru’s only responsibility is to dole out life advice for any and all situations.
No charge, no appointment necessary and no waiting – just answers, the secret of life, and a piece of chocolate mousse cake to snack on while it’s all explained to you.
I don’t think it’s too much to ask, really.
Of course, the guru’s answers are always spot on.
Whatever your question, the guru has the answer.
In reality, we are left to fend for ourselves, aimlessly wandering the earth with a headful of unanswered questions.
At least we have Google, right? Because that can’t go too wrong.
For example, I just typed in “Why is…” and observed Google’s automatic fill-ins for this question.
It churned out these top three, most frequently Googled questions:
Why is… the sky blue?
Why is… it so hot?
Why is… my poop green?
So apparently weather phenomena and bowel movement colors top the list of greatest questions posed by humankind in recent times.
And I thought I had problems.
Along these lines, I get a lot of similar questions. (Thankfully not a lot of poop questions, but I’m sure it’s a matter of time.)
Typically, the email states, “I do [this, this and this] and still can’t lose weight/get rid of this belly/firm up!”
So I thought I’d play guru for a few minutes here and answer some of your most burning, “Why can’t I get results/lose weight?” questions.
The operative phrase here is “watch what I eat.” This means different things to different people. Questions to ask yourself:
Are you being truthful with how much you’re really eating?
Now I’m not calling anyone a liar, so please don’t show up at my house with pitchforks. Again.
No, it’s a matter of writing down or otherwise recording every morsel of food or drink you take in throughout the day.
Because here’s the thing: After 50 there’s no such thing as wiggle room when it comes to calorie intake and, unfortunately, in our waistbands.
You need to find exactly where you can make changes that will get the scale moving in the right direction again.
HINT: Typically, it’s the little bites, sips and nibbles you take in throughout the day that you don’t count that make up those 100 or 200 calorie overloads.
Consider this: 100 extra calories a day adds up to a weight gain of 10 pounds in a year!
This means an extra pat of butter, tablespoon of oil (olive or not, calories are calories), or an extra glass of wine each night is all it takes.
A couple of things. First, if you’re ONLY doing cardio you’re neglecting the most important exercise modality: resistance training.
If you only do cardio (walking, biking, swimming, etc.) you lose muscle, a natural occurrence that starts around 35. When you lose muscle your metabolism drops, since it takes considerably more calories to maintain muscle than it does to maintain fat.
The only way to slow down this process is to lift weights, be it dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, tubing, gallons of milk or cans of pureed pumpkin.
In other words: You burn more calories at rest when you work out with weights.
Not sure how to get started? Then sign up for my brand new, FREE, 7-Day Ageless Body Challenge by filling out the box at the bottom of this page! You’ll learn all you need to know about resistance training and then some.
Plus, it may be time to change up your cardio program. After a few months of doing the same routine your body adjusts and becomes more efficient at burning calories.
Usually efficiency is a good thing, but not if you’re trying to lose weight.
Adjusting to a new routine and using muscles in different ways helps you burn more calories as your body tries to figure it all out.
Aside from adding weight training, here are a couple of suggestions:
Try a different route if you walk outdoors. Or add a day or two of interval training, where you increase the speed and/or intensity for 30 to 60 seconds, then resume your normal pace for the same amount of time. Repeat for 10 (beginner) or 20 to 30 minutes and cool down.
Intervals boost metabolism far more than a steady state workout, and it keeps burning additional calories (called EPOC, for excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) hours after you’re finished exercising.
As someone who starved herself for many years in an effort to achieve an unrealistic body weight, let me ask you a question:
Are you striving for an “ideal” weight or your happy weight?
Your ideal weight is one that you think you should be, whether it’s what you weighed in your 30s or one that you’ve inflicted upon yourself.
Your happy weight, on the other hand, enables you to eat healthy 80% of the time and splurge a little here and there while maintaining or losing weight.
Problem is, your happy weight may be a little more than what you’d like to weigh, although it’s fairly easy to maintain it and still allows you to enjoy a night out at a restaurant without subjecting the chef to waterboarding when you taste a bite of butter on your fish.
It why we have Spanx.
My motto: Do everything to the honest-to-goodness, best of your ability and let the pounds fall where they may.
Plus, add these to your checklist of possibilities:
Are you getting enough sleep?
Less than 7 to 7-1/2 hours a night can disrupt hunger cues and lead to weight gain.
Are you on meds?
Anti-depressants can contribute to weight gain. Ask your doctor if you have other options if you think this may be your issue.
Have you had your thyroid checked?
Thyroid issues are more common after 50, especially among women. An underactive thyroid can make you extremely tired and slow your metabolism.
What is your biggest, most challenging issue you’re facing right now? Let me know in the comments below… and please forward this to your friends on Facebook, Twitter and otherwise. I’ll be forever grateful ♥.
And don’t forget to join my Ageless After 50 Facebook group! It’s private and open only to women (sorry, guys!) over 50 or close to it. We share trials, tribulations and triumphs of being Ageless After 50. Join us HERE.
Your Ageless Body Coach,
Linda Melone is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, certified trainer and award-winning health and fitness writer. She specializes in helping women over 50 get in shape and lose weight.