We’re going to chat about how to lose weight in your middle aged years and beyond . . .
. . . (subtitle) . . . even when NOTHING seems to work.
The continuing quest to lose weight in middle age
I know it can be a delicate issue, but we’re going to chat about how to lose weight in your middle years and beyond today. So if you’re rail thin, or even nicely rounded and fine with it (no shame) then you may want to click on over to something more interesting, like a good root soup recipe or a really delightful roasted turnip recipe (’tis the season!).
But if you’re a middle-aged(ish) lady or man, or even beyond, and you’ve decided that you want to lose a bit of weight this year–finally and at last, baby!–you might want to continue. It’s a New Year! Time for grand goals and new beginnings! Time to shed off the detritus of the past year or two, the discouragements, the limitations, the confused states that we’ve all been in, the extra pounds, and to go on to healthier habits and healthier lives.
Strategies that might work! Strategies that didn’t work.
I’ve employed so many strategies to lose weight over the past few years, without success. But I’m determined enough, and fond enough of well-fitting jeans (not overly tight ones) that I kept trying strategy after strategy, and finally . . . after years of despairing that it would ever happen, I finally started losing weight. I’ve finally stumbled upon a weight loss method that is working very well for me; it isn’t too difficult, and it’s improving my health. What more could I ask for?
Curious what made the difference? It may just work for you too, gentle reader.
Before I spill the proverbial beans on what worked, however, I’ll briefly share my odyssey with weight-loss methods that didn’t work.
I will admit that the ten to fifteen pounds I carry around my middle wouldn’t bother me overmuch (after all, baggy tops are de rigueur for ladies in my age group and I stopped wearing bare midriffs years ago, harhar) except that I know that visceral fat* is extremely hard on your body, at every age and weight. This I found on the Endocrine Society website:
Visceral fat is associated with a constellation of metabolic abnormalities, including insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia, glucose intolerance, type 2 diabetes, high triglycerides, dyslipidemia, inflammation, and altered cytokine profile.
My Doctor’s Reaction (if you were wondering)
YIKES. I do NOT like the sounds of that. That’s why a woman who is obese but carries her weight in her backside and thighs might actually have healthy levels of lipids and sugars, but a second woman (who happens to be quite active indeed, as a matter of fact) who carries extra weight around her belly but is a “healthy weight” might confound her doctor (say) with high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
He may stare at her time and time again and mutter “It doesn’t make sense,” and she may be inclined to agree with him. But anyway. *sigh*
I do NOT want the ill effects of carrying visceral (*belly fat that cushions the organs and interferes with normal functioning) fat on my person, especially when it’s such a snap to lose 10-15 pounds when you are a middle-aged lady.
*cue soft sobbing*
Except it’s not. There are days when I eat almost nothing, gentle reader, and then at the end of the day I’ll break down and eat a couple saltine crackers and suck on the lemon slice in my glass of water and the scale will show a weight gain of three pounds the next day! I AM NOT KIDDING!
Oh-kay, yes, I am, but I’m not exaggerating much.
But anyway. *drying my tears* Let’s move on. That’s all in the past, anyway. I hope that what I’ve learned about weight loss will benefit you, dear reader. I wouldn’t want to think that you are confounding your doctor as well, with your “constellations of metabolic abnormalities” . . . (brother!)
A few years ago, when I realized that my wildly effective teenage weight-loss strategy no longer worked for me (i.e., replace a meal with an apple or two and lose 3#!) I did what I always do when I have a problem that I need to solve: I went to the library and checked out a pile of books.
First, I read:
French Women Don’t Get Fat
by Mireille Guiliano
I immediately saw the wisdom and beauty of the habits of French women, from the lovely picture the author painted in this book. Apparently they eat tiny exquisite meals, snack on tiny shards of dark chocolate and are mindful of every single bite they consume: savoring, taking breaks to gaze out into the distance and refining their elegant posture, adjusting their fashionable scarves more attractively around their delicate frames, and whatnot.
I thought this all sounded very healthy indeed, and I experimented with the novelty of having a (very small!) glass of red wine with dinner, and parking in the farthest parking spot when I went to the store, because that’s how French women get in a few more steps! It was working, I was sure of it! I was quite happy as I kept up this regimen for a few weeks, learning to be more mindful about my food choices, and savoring every–blessed–bite. And yes, I worked a little harder to make my food exquisite.
And I gained three pounds.
Hmmph. Well, maybe the French don’t know everything, after all. I kept looking, and read–
Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat
by Naomi Moriyama
This certainly made sense to me. I’ve never been to Japan, but the Japanese people seem, in general, serene, hospitable, and to inhabit much smaller frames than average Americans. I also have a fairly small frame that resists being padded around the middle (apparently). Maybe this would be a better fit, diet-wise?
I experimented with starting the day with a clear, tasty soup instead of eggs and toast, and learned to eat meat as more of a garnish than the key part of the meal, which actually seemed prudent. And cheaper on the food budget! Japanese food suited me so much, though the menfolk in the household seemed to spend more time than usual digging through the ‘fridge for meat scraps!
For the most part, though we enjoyed it! Rice and vegetables, delicate soups, lots of fresh greens, ginger, onions, garlic, yum! I cooked my way through the recipes in the back of the book, and to my surprise . . . I gained three more pounds.
Shoot. Well, that wasn’t supposed to happen. So much for the Japanese way. *grumps*
I got a little sidetracked when I picked up this book and and read it:
Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive While Protecting Your Brain for Life
by Max Lugavere
I recommend this book highly, though it’s not about weight loss. However, if you are in the age group (cough) inwhich you are beginning to be more concerned about protecting your brain, and keeping it as healthy as possible for the next few (last few, ha!) decades, you may learn a lot from it too.
The author, Max Lugavere, lived through the trauma of watching his lovely mother succumb to early onset Alzheimer’s disease. He then spent years researching and experimenting with eating a diet rich in nutrients that would nourish and protect the brain. It’s a great read and will have you chugging olive oil and eating avocados with absolutely zero guilt. As it should.
Enlightened and energized by this book, and determined to worry more about my brain and less about my constellation, I upped my consumption of healthy fats, meats, handfuls of nuts, huge satisfying salads (lots of virgin olive oil, ooh lala, is so good for your brain!) and especially a food that I’ve always want to eat more of than I allow myself: ripe avocados. (Why the previous reticence? Because: calories. Oodles of them. But I deemed my brain in need of those healthy fats.
To the calories, for the moment, I just said: poo.
To All the Avocados, I said: Come to mama, you lovely, silky, tasty, healthy-brain-fats-filled fruit.
Avocados for breakfast, avocado toasts for lunch, avocados heavily salted and piled up like small green hillocks on top of my enormous dinner salads . . because the healthy fats in avocados are so good, so good, you see, for your brain!
I was never more happy with my diet.
And I gained several more pounds in a very short time indeed. (My brain was clicking, though!)
Bother. Bother–bother–bother!! Back to the drawing board, I slurped down my last ripe avocado, and set to more pondering. Dang.
THEN. Something a friend said about intermittent fasting being the fountain of youth piqued my interest (wouldn’t it yours?) and I started reading everything I could get my hands on about intermittent fasting, or IF.
Before we get to that, here are my best tips for losing weight at any age, but especially when you’re *cough* gettin’ up there.
How to lose weight in middle age and beyond
- Try Intermittent Fasting; it works!
- Limit anything made with sugar, flour, artificial ingredients, and seed oils.
- Drink lots of water and no-cal beverages.
- Do some sort of exercise daily for at least 30 minutes; something that you enjoy.
- Weigh yourself at least twice a week and write down your weight in your planner or calendar.
- Focus on filling your diet with as many whole foods as possible, and limit processed foods.
- Find a buddy or a group to join for encouragement.
The best book I read on the subject was this one by Jason Fung, M.D.
The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended Fasting
. . . and. Gentle Reader. At last, by following some of the guidelines from this book, the weight started to budge. I finally had some momentum and lost a few pounds. Then a few more.
One thing I learned that was particularly helpful in this book was that research has proved that Alternative Day fasting can reduce your cholesterol numbers by 25%! High cholesterol is part of that constellation, as you probably would guess.
When I hit the inevitable plateau, I combined the information from this book with the encouraging messages and strategy developed by a lady named Amanda Rose. She has a compelling story. Amanda one day realized in dismay that she was too fat and unhealthy to go hiking with her young son.
She had a huge goal–to lose 100 pounds–so she could do active things with her young son. (She didn’t want to die early and miserably with a constellation of metabolic abnormalities, either . . . . )
You probably ought to just click over here and listen to her story, if you’re interested. She is an animated story-teller with infectious energy. I combined her super simple eating method with the intermittent fasting, and that’s finally what clicked for my body.
She has written some books, and the best place to buy them are from her website. (They are ridiculously expensive from other outlets; I don’t know why.)
I’m well on my way to my goal weight, thanks to Intermittent fasting and Amanda’s Eat Like a Bear practice. You’ll probably hear me whooping and hollering when I get there!
And hopefully that constellation of metabolic abnormalities will be in the rear view mirror.
One more thing:
Happy New Year, gentle reader! If this post resonates with you in any way, I’d ask you two quick favors, to wit:
- Please type your email address into the little box above, underneath the picture of me & Tommy, our little squirrel. I’ll never spam you (pinky promise) but you’ll be notified every time I publish a new blog post.
- Share this post with a friend or relation who might benefit from it!
- Hit the social media share buttons above. It’s easy. It’s fun!
- Add a comment to the conversation below. I love to hear your thoughts!
Okay, that was four.
And thanks. I appreciate you!
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