by Ruth Griffiths
When I put on my Capri pants for the first time this season I got that “thickening” feeling. The pants seemed a lot tighter than I remembered them being last summer. I might be able to fool the bathroom scales, but waistbands don’t lie. There is definitely more to me than there used to be.
Losing weight appears to be a self-defeating process. When you eat fewer calories than you consume, your body must use up some of your stored fat and you lose weight. But it doesn’t end there. The body now thinks you are entering a period of famine and starts to conserve energy by slowing your metabolism. Your body becomes more efficient and it takes even fewer calories to accomplish everyday living. That’s why it seems you can eat less than you did years ago, but still gain weight.
We also tend to become more sedentary as we age. We’re content to sit and enjoy life, rather than jumping up every five minutes to rush around and do something as we did when we were much younger. And of course, while you’re sitting there you need a little tea and toast!
Exercise can actually reduce your appetite. You might feel so tired that you don’t want to eat. (Unfortunately this rarely happens to me. I’m always ready to eat.) Exercise also speeds up your metabolism so that you are burning more calories, even while you sleep.
What’s the best exercise for the over 55 crowd? It’s the exercise that you DO. In order to maintain a fitness program month after month, you need to enjoy what you are doing. Life’s too short; if it’s not fun, don’t do it.
The same goes for dieting. Any changes you make to your meal plans need to become a part of your lifestyle for the rest of your life. So don’t do anything drastic. Don’t cut out whole groups of food unless you have some medical condition requiring you to do so.
Whatever you choose to do to lose your weight, you need to keep doing to keep it off. Choosing a diet you don’t enjoy is just a recipe for putting the weight back on. If you are going to keep it off you’ve got to like how you’ve lost it enough to keep doing it.
Ruth Griffiths is the former editor of Rural Roots.