I sometimes wish I lived back in the days of the wild west.
I usually think like this on days when the Internet goes out, my phone battery dies, or a number of any other modern day malfunctions causes life as we know it to come to a complete standstill.
In the wild west they were too busy worrying about getting out of Dodge before the bad guys rode into town.
No time to Tweet, Facebook Live post or create a Best Clothes for an Ambush board on Pinterest.
But sure, they had other problems.
You could die as a result of a poker game gone awry, catch a number of weird diseases we’ve since abolished through modern medicine, or get run over by your neighbor’s runaway horse.
And, worse yet? Starbucks, Sephora and Macy’s did not yet exist. Imagine never paying for overpriced coffee, being able to purchase gold metallic eyeshadow, or fighting over a bin of 50% off underwear.
Okay, maybe that’s another upside.
But seriously, no Amazon?
If you were in need of barbed wire and horse feed you’d have to place an order six months in advance unless you wanted to pay for Pony Express Prime, which could get it to you in half the time.
The biggest upside? No bathroom scales. At least you never hear about them. I can’t ever recall a scene in The Wild Wild West where a woman complained about having to wear her “fat” petticoat because she gained three pounds.
To make matter worse, Spanx did not yet exist.
If you’re looking for someone to blame for the start of our obsession with body weight, you can turn to a British balance maker in 1770 named Richard Salter, who invented the spring scale, which eventually morphed into our modern day bathroom version.
Apparently, Mr. Salter felt Mrs. Salter could stand to lose some weight and created this instrument as a way to make sure she stayed slim and fit.
I’m kidding. I have no idea about his motivation but I’m guessing it was not anything noble.
Since then, women have used the scale to measure a lot more than weight. For many, those numbers represent self-worth/self-loathing, self-esteem and determines whether or not they’re going to have a good day.
As a former scale-obsessive anorexic, I was one of those women.
I’ve talked about this numerous times before, so I’ll provide links below if you’d like to hear all the gory details of my anorexic descent to 89 lbs. Spoiler alert: It wasn’t pretty.
What I haven’t talked about so much is the “rebound” effect many people like me experience after they stop starving themselves. You not only gain weight once you start eating normally again, but you often become overweight, sometimes very much so.
I did not gain weight to an extreme, but I did land in the “overweight” category, something I never ever thought I’d see.
I remember one trainer at a gym telling me I qualified as “obese” according to her chart. I nearly clocked her.
That went on for quite a while. It bothered me, and I wanted to lose the weight, but I was so exhausted from years of obsessive weighing and starving and yes, using laxatives during a period of purging, that I had no energy left to give to this goal.
Then things leveled off, although the process took many years. Decades, in fact.
I worked on other aspects of myself, mainly everything else: my career, my relationships and my mental state and self-worth.
Finally, I made some changes and lost close to 20 lbs. and have kept it off for seven years.
But that didn’t happen until after 50.
I’m telling you all this for one reason, so you know what I’m about to say comes from learning the hard way.
Plus, a question in my Ageless After 50 Facebook Women group triggered the need for this info.
The question seemed simple enough: “What should I weigh?”
You’d think a basic height-weight chart would be all you need, right? Au contraire.
The truth? No one has a clue, apparently.
Yes, you can look at charts on insurance sites, which tell you someone of your height can weigh between 150 and 200 lbs. and be deemed “healthy.”
To which I say: Not buyin’ it.
At least I’m not on board with whether or not this number signifies whether or not this person is healthy. You have no way or knowing.
It not only tells you nothing about your health, but also leaves you hanging on how much fat versus muscle (lean tissue) you possess.
Ditto for BMI, which doesn’t make sense if you’re very short, exceptionally tall or muscular, as are many fit people.
You can eat nothing but Ben & Jerry’s and Twizzlers and stay within a “healthy” weight range. In the meantime, you’re vitamin deficient, clocking in at more than 50% body fat, and spiking blood sugar levels that make your doctor sign you up for a case study to see how you’ve survived this long without croaking.
I’m not suggesting throwing your scale out the window if it keeps you in line as one measure of progress.
But your “ideal weight,” the one you’re striving for but can never seem to achieve, may be distorting your focus, taking it away from other, more important issues you should address first.
Plus, often when you take your eye off the scale and on to healthier habits, your weight ends up at your original goal. Who knew doing all the right things could reap benefits?
Here’s how to find it:
Cut out the junk food, sugary soda, fast food and stick with real food 80 to 90% of the time. This eliminates a ton of hidden calories and bumps up fiber, vitamins and antioxidants. And it does not require you cook everything yourself or that you prepare elaborate meals. Salads, grilled and baked fish and lean chicken and meats are simple and quick to prepare – and delish.
Sitting without a break for hours on end wreaks havoc with your body in many ways, including weight gain. Sitting decreases the activity of a fat-burning enzyme called lipoprotein lipase, which makes it easier for you to gain weight. Set an alarm or simply get up and move at least every hour or more.
Before you show up at my house with flaming pitchforks, hear me out. You don’t have to do a structured cardio workout for 30 minutes, but you can break it down throughout the day. If you can’t carve out a solid half hour, plan on three, 10-minute mini workouts such as walking 10 minutes at lunch, parking 10 minutes from work and walking in, etc.
I would like to tell you you can do this on the run, too, but it’s not the case if you really want results. And I assume you do or you wouldn’t waste time reading this. I have tons of info on how to strength train on my site, or you can take my 7-Day Ageless Body Challenge to help you get started. You need to push yourself beyond your comfort zone in order to see firm arms and legs. The good news? You can do it at home in about 15 to 20 minutes a day.
Learn the difference between eating for emotional reasons versus eating because you’re genuinely hungry. I talk about this at length HERE. This, alone, can be a huge eye opener but is one of the hardest rules to follow.
Lastly, you must be consistent with all these tips in order to see results.
It won’t happen overnight, or in a week or even in two weeks, no matter what the infomercials tell you. You must do the work and make these habits a permanent part of your lifestyle.
Once you’ve incorporated these rules to your life, see where the scale lands.
That, my Ageless friend, is your ideal weight, the weight where you can live your life and not obsess about the scale every time it registers a pound or two more than you’d like because you know you’re doing the best you can.
Which of these tips do YOU do and which one(s) do you find challenging? Let me know in the comments section below… and PLEASE share this on Facebook and with your other cool friends. They will thank you for it, and so will I ♥.
Other posts you may like:
Your Ageless Body Coach,
P. S. Stay tuned for the launch of my brand new, 90-Day Ageless Body Plan, a complete nutrition, fitness and motivational package designed to get you in your best shape EVER!
Details coming soon…
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.