Weight loss: does getting older mean I’m doomed?

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Weight loss: does getting older mean I'm doomed?
Weight loss: does getting older mean I'm doomed?

No magic formula, but there are some things you can do.

A friend came to me recently, frustrated with his inability to shed the excess pounds he was carrying.  He told me that in the past he had been able to regain “fighting trim” with just a little effort, but with his advancing age he wondered if he was doomed to just keep putting on pounds and inches.  He was also concerned that with the holiday season ahead, he would put on and retain even more unwanted weight.

I’ve written about weight control for Silver Lifers in the past and just to reiterate, there are three factors that contribute to our weight.

First is the amount of calories we ingest, second is the amount of calories we expend.  It should be clear that when we ingest more calories than we expend, the excess tends to be stored as fat, but expending more calories than we ingest results in burning off that excess fat.  The third factor in weight control is metabolism or the rate at which we use energy.

Let’s deal with our metabolic rate and the factors that can slow down that rate and make it more difficult to lose excess weight.

As we age our bodies tend to metabolize more slowly.  In part this can be attributed to the fact that we have less muscle mass than we had when we were younger, which reduces our metabolism.  To counter-act this we need to include both aerobic and anaerobic (strength) exercises as part of our daily routine.  I find it is best to alternate aerobic and anaerobic daily aerobic on day and anaerobic the next with a rest day or two in each week.

Our eating habits greatly influence our metabolic rate.  While most of us are tempted to either go on a severe diet of skip meals a together, the result of that is to slow down our metabolic rate and defeat the purpose of such steps.  It is much better to eat small meals throughout the day and keep your metabolism working for you.

As we age, we seem to acquire various prescription drugs and over the counter medications to combat the effects of aging.  You should check with your pharmacist or health care provider about the possible metabolic effects of each supplement and prescription that you are taking.  There may also be an adverse effect cause by some combinations of drugs and supplements and alternatives may be available.

There are some illnesses that can greatly inhibit our ability to lose weight.  Probably the most well-known is hypothyroidism which causes our bodies to slow down and gain weight.  In men, low testosterone levels can do the same thing.  The good news is that there are treatments available that ameliorate these and other conditions when your healthcare provider identifies the problem.

Stress is a great source of weight gain.  Stress causes the release of a hormone that id directly linked to weight gain.  Try looking at your routine and identifying the people, places, and circumstances that cause you to become tense.  Having identified these, think of ways to avoid them or reduce them in your daily and weekly routine. Including the exercise program briefly described above will go a long way to reducing stress as will getting help from a counselor.

Along with stress, lack of sleep also disrupts and slows your metabolism. Ideally, we should get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night.  Lack of sleep has even been linked to diabetes and obesity.

These are just a few of the reasons that weight control becomes harder as we age, so get a checkup, then start to exercise, reduce your stress, eat properly and get enough sleep and look for those pounds to start to go away.

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