Losing weight is never easy, but it gets a lot harder after 50.
“When women go through menopause, our metabolism slows down and we have lower estrogen levels. Estrogen promotes muscle mass and your ability to burn calories depends on muscle mass, ”says Reshmi Srinath, MD, director of the Weight Management and Metabolism Program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. “Men also see a drop in testosterone after their fourth decade, so hormonal changes occur for both sexes, and that’s the main reason it’s harder to losing weight in getting older. “
But it is not impossible.
Mom on the road and Jenny Craig
Loralee Coulter, a pharmaceutical sales representative and mother of two in Omaha, NE, began to notice that she was gaining weight in her late forties. “I wasn’t eating enough fresh food,” says Coulter, who at 5’10 “usually weighed no more than about 170.“ I had a sub-sandwich and would be hungry again soon after. Or I just wouldn’t eat all day and then eat way too much at dinner.
To make matters worse, a foot injury in 2016 made it difficult for him to exercise. “By the time I turned 50 in 2017, I weighed up to 228 pounds,” Coulter says. “We took a family trip to Disney World, and when I saw the photos, I knew I had to do something. So I decided to join Jenny Craig.
Coulter said that what she needed a weight loss plan was a better sense of portion control and how much she was really eating. “As I started to follow their plan, I realized, ‘Oh my God, I was eating a lot more than I thought I would,’” she said. She also downloaded a calorie tracker app called My Net Diary and started logging her food, so she can gradually wean herself off meals Jenny Craig bought and plan her own daily intake. “You can’t go on a diet indefinitely,” she says.
By the end of 2017 Coulter had lost over 50 pounds and was on target weight of 176, where it has remained ever since. “The key is to learn to eat in a balanced and more nutritious way for your long-term health,” she says.
Losing 100 pounds despite the disability
Living with rheumatoid arthritis for many years, Lynn Burgess had always struggled with her weight. But when her RA became so severe that she was forced to become disabled in her mid-40s, she was less and less active. “Being at home all the time, I ate a lot more and didn’t cook healthy meals like I should,” says Burgess, now 60, who lives in the Chicago area. In 2017, Burgess realized she weighed well over 200 pounds and, at just 4 feet 11 inches, had around 100 pounds to lose. “It was very intimidating, but I had to try.”
She re-enrolled with Weight Watchers, which had helped her lose smaller amounts of weight in the past. “I decided that I wouldn’t give up if I didn’t lose or even win sometimes, because it’s inevitable,” she says. “Weight Watchers has worked for me, but I don’t think it’s the plan you use as much as the commitment to follow it.”
It took Burgess about a year and a half to lose 100 pounds, and she’s kept it off for the past 2 years. “After about 20 or 30 pounds, once I started to feel it in my clothes and see it when I looked at myself in the mirror, it made me feel good,” she says. “It helped me keep going.
Abandon Dad Bod
Todd Bentsen, a Washington, DC-based communications professional and father of two, had never had much of a problem with his weight. Just under 6 feet tall, he maintained a weight of around 175 pounds for most of his adult life.
Then came COVID. Bentsen, now 60, was often at his house. “I ate whatever my teenage son ate and I drank whatever was in front of me. In 3 months, I was just under 200 pounds, ”he says. “My clothes didn’t fit anymore. And it’s no joke that your metabolism slows down with age. “
In July 2020, he signed up for the weight loss plan based on the Noom app. While he enjoyed and followed Noom’s behavior-focused lessons, Bentsen says what really helped him was keeping up with his eating habits. “Based on your weight loss goals, they tell you how many calories you are consuming each day. Mine was 1,400, ”he says.
Soon he saw how much he had absorbed without even realizing it. “I knew some things were caloric, but I don’t know if I realized how much,” he says. “I love the baguette sandwiches from my neighborhood French bakery, but the baguettes are out of this world with calories. I am more conscious and intentional about my diet. “
In December 2020, he hit his weight goal of 177. “I probably could have hit it a lot faster if I had been more strict with myself, but I wanted an approach I could handle myself with. hold on, ”he said.
Work with a weight loss doctor
In her late forties, Connecticut business owner Jamie Cohen was feeling very good about her health. “I had followed an elimination diet in which I discovered a lot of foods to which I had sensitivities,” says the mother of two high school students. “If I stayed away from these foods, I was doing fine. I had lost weight, slept well and felt great.
Then, when she was 50 years old, Cohen was struck by a number of stressors at once: family health problems, school difficulties for one of her children and the onset of menopause. Soon, she found that her weight had climbed to 225 pounds. “I was going through all the symptoms of menopause, and I had a lot of digestive issues as well,” says the 5’6 ”Cohen. “I’ve been to gastroenterologist who sent me on a medical weight loss program.
The program doctor recommended a specific number of calories per day or week for Cohen’s weight and activity level. “I thought I wasn’t eating a lot, but I soon realized that I was leaving a lot more refined carbohydrates and sugar sneak back into my diet, ”she says. “It was a lot of little things, like putting more milk and sugar in my tea. Then as I gained weight, I looked at myself in the mirror without recognizing myself, felt bad, and had another cup of tea with lots of milk and sugar.
Cohen has started using Lose It! app to track your diet and exercise. “I find that I don’t snack anymore. I eat when I am hungry. I listen to my body’s signals, ”she says. So far she has lost 47 pounds and at least three heights, using the virtual bar and Pilates Classes. “I always weigh more than I would like, but my shape is so different and I’m stronger because I’m working on turning everything into muscle,” she says.
How can you get results like these people? Srinath has some advice.
“Weight loss is all about getting calories in, getting calories out,” she says. “To lose a pound a week, you have to create a daily deficit of 500 calories, which is difficult to do with food or exercise alone. You need both.
- Watch your meals. One thing our four weight loss success stories have in common is that they just didn’t realize how much they were eating. “I recommend mapping your food intake with an app like Lose It! or MyFitnessPal to start, ”Srinath says.
- Think long term, not fashionable. “You don’t want to follow a diet that restricts your food choices,” she advises. “Instead, make healthy food choices that you can support. Moderate your carbs and moderate your intake of things like sugar and alcohol. “
- Focus on health protein sources. “Protein keeps you full longer and helps you avoid the spikes in blood sugar that come from full carbohydrate meals,” Srinath explains. “For example, if you like groats for breakfast, add nuts or peanut butter to get protein. “
- look when you eat. “Try to finish eating by 8 pm,” she says. “Ideally, there should be at least 3 hours between your last meal of the day and bedtime.”
- Move your body. “Do some physical activity that elevates your heartbeat every day, ideally for at least 30 minutes, ”Srinath says. “It can be whatever you like: walking, running, cycling, swimming or exercising on YouTube videos.”
- Build, or at least keep, muscle. We tend to lose muscle mass as we age, and muscle burns more calories at rest than fat. “At least 2 days a week, you should incorporate strengthening exercises into your routine,” Srinath says.
If you’ve been trying to lose weight for at least 6 months with no success, it might be time to seek help from a weight loss professional, Srinath says.