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It seemed a lot easier to manage the vagaries of weight control in our 20s and 30s but as we moved into our 40s things changed – yep it’s got just a bit tougher.
You make up for that night out with a good session on the treadmill and eat tiny, tiny portions of cheesecake all week but every day you weigh yourself and ‘the scales that never lie’ don’t budge and some days even continue on upwards.
So what’s happening?
It’s time to change the pattern, to turn the tide – it’s time to break the rules
Change these 7 common held beliefs for ones that can work for you today and into the future.
1. Monitor your weight every day – don’t bother
Although studies show stepping on the scale every day helps some people keep their weight under control, daily weigh-ins can be frustrating after 40. “Hormonal fluctuations in your 40s can add to fluid shifts, which could alter weight on a daily basis,” says Amy Goodson, MS, RD, a board-certified specialist in sports dietetics and the Dallas Cowboys’ sports dietitian.
“In reality, it takes a 3,500 calorie deficit to lose a pound, which is nearly impossible to do overnight.” Weigh in once a week, ideally around the same time of day on the same day of the week, for a more accurate number.
2. Exercise harder to eliminate that moment of temptation
Erasing that extra slice of cake with a half hour on the elliptical doesn’t work so easily after 40. “We need fewer calories since metabolism decreases approximately 2 to 3% each decade,” says Goodson.
“You have to work harder to maintain or lose weight as you age, so it’s not so easy to make up for those extra calories.” To burn off an average doughnut of 250 calories, you’d need to walk for nearly an hour or do a 30 minutes aerobics class just to equal it out. Instead, allow yourself small treats in moderation and avoid major calorie splurges.
3. Miss a day’s meal or two to get immediate slimming satisfaction – doesn’t work
Skipping a meal was never wise, but you used to get away with it in your 30s. Not so much anymore. “Skipping meals sets you up to overeat more than if you ate small meals or snacks,” says Goodson. And after 40, you’re also more likely to crave sweets and sugars if you haven’t eaten enough during the day.”
A better approach: eat more during the morning and daytime when you’re moving, exercising, and working, and eat less at night when you are burning fewer calories. (Check out these tips to eat for all-day energy.)
4. In a hurry, grab some fast food for now – not
This is one time when living in the moment will totally backfire. While it may be easier to run through a drive-thru than to prepare something yourself, fast food’s gobs of excess calories, fat, and sodium can come back to haunt you, says Zied.
Hormonal shifts after 40 and the tendency to add weight to the midsection/belly area—plus eating high sodium foods—makes water retention a big issue.
“It’s also a bad idea since sodium and excess fat can also harm the heart, contribute to high blood pressure and stroke risk, lower bone mineral density, and lead to bone loss,” says Zied.
Grab a whole-grain granola bar or other healthy portable snack in place of fast food. (Try these 25 tasty snacks that won’t leave you hungry.)
5. A glass or two of wine every day is good for you – mmm not, darn
An additional 100 to 200 calories from a couple glasses of wine can easily contribute to weight gain over time—a fact that applies to anyone. But when you get older, it gets more complicated:
Aside from calories, as we age our bodies also do not metabolize alcohol as easily, making its effects more toxic, Zied says. Opt for a lower calorie option like seltzer or club soda with a splash of 100% fruit juice, and do not exceed 7 drinks a week, says Zied.
6. Be mindful when you eat – planning is key
While it’s a good idea to be mindful (focus only on eating without any distractions) of what you eat, it’s not always practical.
“The 40s are a time when you should cut yourself slack—and not put so much pressure on yourself to always do the right thing,” says Zied.
When you don’t have time to sit down to a healthy meal, planning becomes key, she says. Keep non-perishable snacks or easy-to-transport perishable items packed on ice when you’re out and about.
7. Avoid all white foods – not all
Choosing whole-grain foods over “white” foods made from refined sugar and grains ensures you’re getting the most nutritional bang for your buck. But not all white foods are unhealthy, says Zied.
Take popcorn, for example. “It’s 100% whole grain and packs in complex carbohydrates, fiber, and some protein. It also provides manganese and 12 other nutrients.”
Potatoes also deserve a spot on the menu, as they’re low in fat and sodium, and contain complex carbs and fiber (from the skin). “Potatoes are also a source of resistant starch, a fiber-like complex carbohydrate that helps regulate blood sugar and boosts fullness to promote weight management,” says Zied.
Keep portion control in mind, of course, when eating other white foods such as rice or pasta.
By Linda Melone
1: Forget Low-Fat Diets Step
2: Stop Running in Circles Step
3: Stop Blaming Everything On How Old You Are Step
4: Avoid Chronic Dehydration Step
5: Work Out LESS (Yes, Less)