Linda Melone
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3 ways you (unknowingly) stop weight loss in its tracks

My parents visited with me last week from New York.    

First, let me clarify, when I say New York I’m not referring to NYC, with its subways, mobsters, and bagels-from-heaven New York.

I’m talking rural New York. Think farmland, chickens, and bears in the backyard helping themselves to the bird feeder.

THAT New York.

Not that it matters for this story, but if I don’t differentiate, people think my parents are hip street artists living in a loft, creating sidewalk chalk paintings and buying hotdogs from street vendors.

They are anything but. They live a quiet life in a town so remote it doesn’t have a mall, which pretty much says it all.

It had a mall but all the stores have closed, so now it’s just sad and depressing, a retail ghost town.

At her request, I took my mom to one of my favorite malls and let her run wild. Dad came along and immediately honed in on Wetzel’s Pretzels. I never buy these soft pretzels, but if you wave one under my nose my willpower leaves me faster than the popularity of an 80s one-hit wonder.

This leads me to the topic of this post… and how I’d end up on “My 600-lb Life” if my parents lived with me.

                  Mom and Dad

First, a quick back story: My parents are both 81.

They’ve always been active up until about 10 years ago. My mom had a hysterectomy and immediately gained a bunch of weight around her middle. In addition she has a host of health issues I won’t get into, but some are serious and chronic.

When I talk with my mom on the phone, she repeatedly tells me she cooks healthy and “doesn’t know what to do” to lose weight.

I make suggestions but have no idea what she does once we get off the phone. She could be eating fried butter every night, for all I know, but that’s pretty gross so probably not.

Her week-long visit gave me the opportunity to see first hand just how healthy she really cooks. (She loves to cook, so who am I to stop her, right?)

What I found gave me incentive for this post. Because some of what she does and says I also hear from clients, so it’s not just her. 

And also because, if she lived with me I’d gain 10 pounds within a couple of weeks, guaranteed.

She made me realize that things said in passing can be major red flags to areas you need to fix if you want to reach your goals.

Here’s one she said more than once:

“I just use a little olive oil to… saute veggies, cook fish, etc.”

Yes, olive oil is a good fat in that it’s not saturated and linked to heart disease and plaque buildup in arteries. HOWEVER, it’s very calorically dense.

A tablespoon of olive oil (and nearly all oils, for that matter) clocks in at around 100 calories — all fat calories.

Although my mom did, indeed, use only a “small amount” of oil, I estimate she easily cooked with a couple of tablespoons in each dish. That translates to 200 additional calories she’s not “counting,” thinking it’s not a problem. 

In reality, an additional 200 calories a day adds up to 20 pounds gained within a year — and you won’t even know it until it’s sitting around your waistline.

“We have only a glass or two of wine each night with dinner.”

Actually, this one is not something my mom would say, since she doesn’t drink, but I hear it often from clients.

A 5-oz glass of wine is about 125 calories, two glasses would obviously be double that at 250 (note above calculation). That adds up fast. Not only that, but alcohol slows your metabolism, making it a serious weight-loss saboteur.

AND, it lower inhibitions so you end up dancing on the bar with a lampshade on your head eating more than you would normally.

“I make sure to fuel my workouts by taking in plenty of protein.”

You absolutely want to be sure you have energy to get through a tough workout. In fact, research shows women who eat before a workout tend to lose more weight overall.

The caveat? Ask yourself, how hard are you working, really? Are you biking for hours on end or strolling with a friend, catching up on neighborhood gossip? 

Both burn calories but the former uses considerably more than finding out Mrs. Landry ran off with the pool boy.

Consider that a moderate 30-minute walk burns about 125 calories, and a brisk (4.0 mph) walk burns about 179 calories in the same time.

So if you get home from your walk and “refuel” with a protein smoothie that includes fruit juice, a banana, chocolate ice cream and vanilla syrup, you’ll start gaining weight faster than you can say, “Did you hear Joan’s son is going to be a proctologist?” 

Unless you’re working out hard for 1-½ hours or longer, it’s not necessary to add extra calories to your regular routine. Otherwise, get in line for bigger pants.

NOW YOUDo YOU have something you say that may be a key to unlocking some mystery pounds? Let me know in the comments section below… and be sure to tell your friends to subscribe to this blog and send it out through social networks. I’ll be forever grateful.

Other posts you may enjoy:

How to cope when weight loss isn’t happening

#1 Thing you must do to keep weight off for good (and 5 ways to do it)

3 Unseen, self-sabotaging, forces that keep you stuck   

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:

Sandy says

Oh dear….I sound just like your mom! I would say those same things(and do). But now you got me to thinking; am I doing it wrong or not going to see the benefits if I eat after I workout? For instance, this morning I had a cup of coffee and then I did a 30 min. DVD for cardio and strength followed by an outdoor walk of 3.50 miles at 4.0 pace then came back and had breakfast of overnight oats( oatmeal, unsweetened almond milk, chia seeds, raw almonds, 5 oz. greek plain yogurt and a fresh peach. This is all mixed together and I usually have this five out of seven mornings but always after I exercise. I am 60 and postmenopausal so everything has shifted to my mid section…ugh….and I can’t seem to get rid of that little basketball that I carry in front :(. Just found you a couple weeks ago so am just starting to follow along :).

Reply
    Linda Melone says

    Welcome, Sandy! It doesn’t sound like you’re overcompensating with calories, but it’s tough to know for sure with only one meal as an example. If you find you’re gaining weight, try cutting out 100 calories from your post-exercise breakfast. The good news is you can lose weight the same way you gain it: by cutting out a couple hundred calories a day. It’s not fast weight loss but have patience and it will happen. It’s how I lost nearly 20 lbs after menopause :).

    Reply
      Sandy says

      Thank you Linda and I could eliminate the walnuts or almonds to save on some calories. Menopause…it’s hard to be patient with the “shift” that takes place after menopause so congrats on your 20lb. wt. loss.

      Reply
        Linda Melone says

        Keep in mind it took me a year. That’s only about 1-1/2 lb. a month. I wasn’t tracking my weight at that time, so it was a pleasant surprise when I went to the doctor. But I work now at keeping it off! 🙂

        Reply
Julia says

Hi Linda,
Lucky you having Mom and Dad to visit! Being over 60 I have been all over the food chain trying to find the “mystery foods” which give me strength and energy with little fat storage. I work out everyday, some days I push more than others, but as far as foods, I too eat healthy. Still, I have had to cut down to 2 meals per day with fruit to start and fruit to end my day. Overall I try and stay between 1000 and 1200 calories which seems to work for me. I can lose if I stay nearer 1000 and maintain at 1200 and that really helps to know the boundaries. Because, some days I want pasta and other days I want to enjoy a glass of wine. So, its all about balance and not cutting out foods forever. I think you did a post on calories and with simple math how to achieve results. Sure, its not always easy, but knowing the numbers helps me. Enjoy the visit!

Reply
    Linda Melone says

    Thanks, Julia! You seem to have found a plan that works for you :).

    Reply
Jina says

I’ve kept a food journal in the past but not lately so I will try it to see if I can start pinpointing the areas I need to tweak.

Reply
    Linda Melone says

    It definitely helps, Jina!

    Reply
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