When I was on the Dr. Oz show several years ago, I had the opportunity to talk to an attractive older woman. She told me she was 78 years old and had lost more than 125 pounds and kept it off for six years. I was amazed and asked her why she thought she was successful when so many older women seem to struggle with their weight. Her formula to success turned out to be practical and one that anyone can emulate. It also happens to be what I recommend to my over-50 clients. Here’s how you too can lose weight after 50.
Know the hormonal challenges.
Before you try to lose weight or get depressed because you are struggling to lose weight after 50, know that there are real challenges to weight loss as you get older. Many women over 50 are dealing with hormonal changes due to menopause. These hormonal changes make it more difficult to lose weight, but not impossible. Always talk to your doctor about your health, including asking her to run a hormone panel and assess your overall health and weight issues. In some cases, your doctor may be able to adjust your current medications in a way that facilitates weight loss.
Assess your diet.
Once you acknowledge you’ve got a tougher time ahead of you because of your age and hormonal challenges, it’s time to thoroughly assess your diet. Make a list of all the foods you have eaten over the past several days, what’s in your pantry and refrigerator right now, and the restaurant meals you regularly order. Look for common foods you eat. Are you eating a lot of carbohydrates, junky processed foods, high-calorie restaurant entrees, or drinking calorie-filled beverages? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then you know you’ve got to make some major adjustments to your diet in order to lose weight. If you are eating relatively healthfully, then you likely need to adjust the amount rather than make drastic changes to the content of your diet.
Commit to clean eating.
Clean eating is always a good idea, particularly as you age. The last thing you need to eat is foods laden with chemicals that may negatively affect your hormone levels and slow your weight loss. Get rid of processed foods in your pantry, commit to making most of your meals from scratch, and drink water instead of sugary drinks or diet sodas. Many over-50 women benefit from limiting simple carbohydrates and eating a diet slightly higher in protein. That means giving up starchy vegetables, most processed foods, and foods made with white flour.
Many experts (including those at the Mayo Clinic website) recommend that older women exercise vigorously to lose weight. What worked for you in the past may not be enough now. You need to exercise at least 30 minutes a day and possibly more. You don’t need to become a marathon runner, however. A brisk walk or gentle jog, 30 minutes on the elliptical machine at the gym, or a fast bike ride will do the trick. Put strength training on your calendar along with your cardiovascular workout. You naturally lose muscle mass as you age, and building muscle will help you look better and burn calories more efficiently.
Track every bite you eat.
Track every bite you put in your mouth to make sure you are sticking with a low-calorie diet. Don’t go below 1,200 calories unless your doctor is monitoring you. Most older women I work with do well with losing weight at the 1,200 to 1,400 calorie range. Track your food using an app or website. Some of my favorites are Lose It!, MyFitnessPal, and SparkPeople.
Put aside excuses.
You can make excuses about how hard it is to lose weight after 50 or you can just work hard. I know it is more difficult to lose weight after 50 but it’s not impossible. When you get discouraged and want to make excuses, remember the 78-year-old woman from the Dr. Oz show. She not only lost over 100 pounds but kept it off for years.