Losing Weight as we get older

Are you sabotaging yourself without even knowing it? Here’s how to find out—and start getting results.

It’s rare to hear anyone, at any age, brag about how easy it is to maintain their ideal size. But as you get older, it might seem like the struggle to stay slim is even greater than it used to be. You’re not imagining it.
Many older adults find that moving around becomes more difficult, so you end up burning fewer calories throughout the day. Meanwhile, muscle mass typically declines with age. The result is weight gain, which can raise your risk of conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
Losing excess pounds can make you feel better and protect your health—but what if you’ve already tried and nothing seems to work? You could be sabotaging yourself without even knowing it. Here are seven common obstacles on the path to weight loss success—and how to jump right over them.

Weight Loss Mistake #1: It Hurts to Move, So You Don’t

Maybe you have arthritis in your knee, a bad back, or are recovering from some sort of surgery. While you definitely need to get clearance from your doctor first, there’s a pretty good chance that you can and should still be exercising. While no one is suggesting you run a marathon, there are lots of low impact activities that are probably safe for you, like walking, water aerobics, yoga, and tai chi. Maintaining strength and flexibility is key to staying mobile—and feeling better and younger.
Exercise is considered the most effective non-drug treatment for reducing pain and improving movement. A combo of flexibility, aerobic, and strength training moves is best. Aerobic or cardio exercise helps you burn calories, and strength or resistance training builds muscle mass, which kicks up your metabolism (more on this later). Major bonus: As the weight starts to come off, it will take pressure off aching joints.
When pain is a problem, you’ll also want to pay attention to your diet and eat anti-inflammatory foods. Aim to eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies, fatty fish like salmon, beans, and whole grains. Limit processed foods and added sugar, which have empty calories—meaning they are high in calories but low in nutrients.
If you’re concerned about inflammation, you may want to cut back on vegetable oils since they’re high in omega-6 fats, which can produce inflammatory chemicals.

Weight Loss Mistake #2: Your Diet Is Stuck in 1985

The science on what to eat to lose weight in a healthy, sustainable way has shifted a lot over the years. “A lot of people in older generations still think coffee and OJ for breakfast means you’re on a good diet,” says Cris Dobrosielski, a spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise and author of Going the Distance: The Three Essential Elements of Optimal Lifelong Fitness and Injury Prevention. “But it’s just sugar, and you need protein and fiber.”
If you’re not sure what to eat, it’s time to do a little homework.
Hint: Aim to fill half your plate at every meal with fruits and veggies, then add some whole grains, lean protein, and a little dairy to keep your bones strong. Controlling portions is also crucial. The correct serving size of protein is about a deck of cards, but many people will eat several decks of cards.

Weight Loss Mistake #3: You Focus on Cutting, Not Adding

Sure, you can lose weight by eating nothing but toast and tea, but the goal is to become fit and strong—not weak and frail. You need good nutrients to preserve muscle and bone mass.
Most older adults don’t get nearly enough fiber or potassium, an important mineral found in potatoes, spinach, and bananas.
Think about what you might be lacking in your diet, you should naturally have less room for the not-so-healthy foods—like refined carbs, which have less fiber than whole grains—that might be contributing to weight gain. In other words, be choosy. It’s not just about reducing your intake.

Weight Loss Mistake #4: You Never Snack

It might seem counterintuitive, but eating more frequently usually translates to eating less overall, Dobrosielski says. “I often ask clients who are older adults to tell me about the snacks they eat, and they say ‘I don’t eat any snacks!’ Well, I’m going to advocate that you do!”
The problem, he explains, is that people who avoid eating between meals often end up overdoing it when they finally chow down. Ideally, you shouldn’t be going more than three to four hours without food. The goal is to keep your blood sugar stable and your appetite in check.
That said, you’re not going to lose weight if you’re snacking on chips and candy all day. Stock up on a few healthy nibbles to keep you fueled. Dobrosielski suggests an apple, some low-fat Greek yogurt with berries, or a few lean slices of deli meat wrapped in lettuce.

Weight Loss Mistake #5: You’re Tormented by Your Scale

You probably wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t want to lose weight. But should you even lose weight? About 41 percent of the 60+ crowd are considered obese, so the answer may very well be yes. But it’s still a topic that’s worth discussing with your doctor.
Another issue is that some people think they ought to be “skinny,” but being too thin—especially as you get older—is also potentially dangerous. While you may very well have pounds of fat to lose, in some cases it’s better to keep the scale steady or even put on a little weight if it means adding lean muscle mass with strength training, Dobrosielski says. Strong, not skeletal, should be your goal.
If you’re managing diabetes, heart disease, or another chronic condition, talk to your doctor about your healthiest weight. A healthy weight can reduce symptoms and lower your risk of health complications.

Weight Loss Mistake #6: You Rely on “Health Foods” and Your Own Willpower

Being on a retiree’s budget shouldn’t constrain your weight loss efforts in any way, Dobrosielski says. “You don’t need to buy expensive powders or shop at specialty stores,” he says. “You can go to the local supermarket and do delightfully well on a relatively low budget—as long as you do a good job of reading labels.” Look for options with less fat, sodium, and sugar. Choose options with more fiber, protein, and other nutrients.
The most important thing you can do is actually free but not necessarily easy: It’s breaking some long-ingrained bad habits and replacing them with better ones. “Establishing good habits is far more powerful than relying on willpower,” Dobrosielski says.
Start small. Try preparing the same healthy breakfast every morning or taking a walk at the same time every day until it starts to feel almost automatic. Then build from there

Leave a comment