Linda Melone
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3 Reasons why you gain weight after 50 no one talks about

Our TV has started popping on by itself at random times of the day when no one’s near it.

Let me clarify that we do not live in an old Victorian manor restored from the 1800s, our house was not built on an ancient Indian burial ground, and the prior owner was not a serial killer.

So let’s get those theories off the bargaining table.

When I told a friend I was at a loss, he asked, “So you’re looking for a logical explanation?” with an expression of why start now?

Actually, yes, I am hoping to rule out aliens as well, although I’ve been advised it’s too early to tell for sure.

At first we thought it was the cats. Since I’ve yet to figure out which power button of our five remotes actually turns it on, it was disturbing to think one of them has that figured out.

Then it happened in the middle of the night when both cats were nowhere near the remote.

The other morning it happened at 4:30 a.m. while I was STANDING RIGHT NEXT TO IT waiting for my coffee to brew.

We’ve ruled out timers, remote access by neighbors, cats, our own forgetfulness and just about everything else.

So this leaves us with — you guessed it — ghosts.

Ghosts who apparently enjoy home improvement shows, since that’s what turns on each time.

So my only hope is it’s a handy spirit who can figure out how to give me more closet space without sacrificing square footage in the master bath.

You may be wondering, what the heck does weight gain after 50 have to do with Fixer Upper ghostly entities?

Here’s the thing: Weight gain after 50 can be just as mysterious as electronic devices with a mind of their own.

At least it certainly sounds like it, judging from the emails I receive each week.

Words such as, “One day I was at a healthy weight and suddenly I have this roll!” Or, “I’ve never had a weight problem, I eat the same way, and I keep gaining!” plus, “I am clueless as to why I can’t lose this flab!” are a few of the most popular sentiments.

A number of issues could contribute to this alarming shift, but here I present three of the ones you hear about least often, especially #2…

1.Muscle tone has left the building

Muscle? Who needs muscle except for bodybuilders, right? If you’re an avid reader of this blog, you’ll know better than that.

Muscle is not likely to make you a contender in an an Olympic strongman contest, but it’s your friend for many reasons.

Here’s why:

Muscle burns many more calories at rest than fat and is a big part of your “resting metabolism.” This term refers to the calories you need to keep you alive, otherwise known as your Netflix Burning Calories or NBC (my term) — outside of any additional exercise or activity.

The kicker (caution! science-y terms ahead): 60 to 75% of the calories your burn each day are due to your resting metabolism, a.k.a. BMR, basal metabolic rate.

So let’s connect the dots.

Muscle is part of your BMR, which accounts for a huge chunk of the calories you burn each day.

You lose muscle starting in your 20s and 30s at the rate of 1 to 2% each decade.

That equals… YES! The winner is FAT by a long shot! Fat and weight gain, to be specific… as much as 30+ lbs by the time you reach 50. 

Can we reverse this process? Totally. With strength training. Yep, that again.

Because, my dear friend, you can’t escape it. Lift weights, build muscle and fat will go screaming into the darkness like teenagers running into a chainsaw wielding villain.

Two to three days a week of a total body workout is the ticket.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You can’t firm fat. If you do nothing, flab will reign supreme. It’s called being “skinny fat,” and is why you can be at a “healthy” weight and still be loose and jiggly.

You need to restore that muscle if you want tone and firmness. Period.

Speaking of…

2. Aunt Flo no longer visits

Looking back at all the times you worried about whether or not to wear white pants on what may be one of those five dreaded days a month, those days were actually more of a “friend” than you thought.

Here’s why: You burn more calories the week or so leading up to your period during your actively reproductive years, up to between 5 and 10% more.

This accounts for those premenstrual cravings: chocolate, sugar, salty snacks, etc. Whether or not you caved in to those cravings is one thing, but the fact remains that you cranked out between 100 and 200 calories more per day during that time.

Clearly, once you enter the merry land of menopause, the cravings stop (a good thing) but along with them also go the additional calorie burn.

The bottom line: If you change nothing after you begin going through menopause, you can gain anywhere from six to eight pounds as easily as falling off a log.

So what can you do?

The answer is so simple I’m almost (but not really) embarrassed to take you through this whole journey only to offer this one solution…

Eat 200 fewer calories a day to make up for it.

Thank you, and good night!

Seriously, it’s simple logic. You need to eliminate a couple hundred calories for about half a month each day to MAINTAIN your weight during menopause, let alone lose weight.

But if you do that, you’ll be ahead of the game.

3. You accept sleepless nights as a normal part of aging

Lack of sleep links to weight gain, high blood pressure and a host of other health issues. And as we get older, we often accept the stereotype of getting up at 3 a.m. as a normal waking hour.

Not so. We still need seven to nine hours a night, the same as we did in our mid 20s, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Aches and pain, certain medications, getting up to use the restroom and issues such as restless leg syndrome can make it hard to get and stay asleep. But accepting this as “the way it is” can sabotage weight loss along with a whole host of other health benefits gleaned from a solid night’s sleep.

The sleep people (talk about a dream job — “I’m not napping at my desk, I’m doing research!”) offer tons of ways to up your snooze game. Check them out HERE.

Still tossing and turning? See a doctor of your Zs aren’t up to par.

What about YOU? What do you think is the cause of your weight gain? Let me know in the comments section below….

Other posts you may like:

10 Ways to burn 350 more calories every day — without exercise (and lose 30 lbs!)

5 Ways to de-stess anywhere (so you can lose belly fat)

3 ways to burn more fat walking (and survey results!)

Looking for additional info on fitness and health for women over 50? Go to my Facebook page, where I post and broadcast regularly.

Your Ageless Body Coach,

About the Author Linda Melone

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.

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Leave a Comment:

Ava Owens says

I would love to know why my testosterone levels stay through the roof, after menopause and I am told to live with the consequences of facial hair!!!

Reply
    Linda Melone says

    That’s a great question for your doctor. Did you ask?

    Reply
Colleen Bracken says

Finally someone who is talking science and common sense! Thank you for reminding me of the FACT that you cannot “firm up flab”. There is so much @$#!# of there that sometimes I begin to believe it. This is super-helpful!

Reply
    Linda Melone says

    Thanks so much, Colleen! There will always be controversy about fitness approaches, but I do my best to present the science-backed info as much as possible. And the flab issue is a fact! 🙂

    Reply
Mary Collette Rogers says

Great info on how the end of menstrual periods “frees up” 100 to 200 calories for fat production. Hadn’t heard about that factor before. Also, when you look at standard calorie requirement charts, they always go down after age 55 or so. Can even that “natural” slide be reverse or at least held steady with strength training?

Reply
YourFriendPablo says

Great, I really like it! Youre awesome

Reply
Helen says

I have been wondering about the flab that has appeared under my arms when I raise them. I swear it wasn’t there a year ago! Yep, you can’t firm flab just have to work it out. Even though I hate it I will pick up the weights and start using them. My daughter is getting married in the Fall and I need to pick out a dress. I hate to mark several styles off the list just because of flabby arms.

Reply
    Linda Melone says

    The good news is you have plenty of time, Helen! Get started today and be consistent and you’ll see results. 🙂

    Reply
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