Food & Fitness After 50: Yes, Weight Loss is Possible after 50

I hear it all the time, weight loss isn’t possible after the age of 50. To be fair, it is harder to lose weight as we age. Biology conspires against us. Declining hormone levels, for both men and women, mean more fat is stored in the abdomen (the dreaded belly fat). For women, a pear-shape might get transformed into an apple shape. But, for Debra, now in her early sixties, losing 60 pounds wasn’t hard, but keeping it off was the challenge.

Sound familiar? Debra was at her highest weight when she was age 50 and she managed to lose 60 pounds with a commercial weight loss plan, but she regained half the weight.

It is not uncommon to regain some weight after a big loss, and even if she regained some weight, she was still 30 pounds down from her highest weight. Debra was doing some exercise, but not enough to lose weight. A friend gave her a special gift; a golf lesson and Debra took to golf like a regular Annika Sorenstam. Another friend gave her an even more special gift; the gift of social support. Her friend suggested they diet together though a Spartan regiment of no sugar, grains, nuts, dairy, or potatoes. Their diet consisted of lean meat, green vegetables, apples, and oranges. (I should insert my opinion here as a registered dietitian; I don’t advocate for restrictive diets because key nutrients, such as calcium, vitamin D, and B-vitamins, can be short supply when grains and dairy foods are eliminated. So, if anyone is thinking about this type of plan, make sure to take a multivitamin-mineral supplement and additional calcium to meet the recommended 1300 milligrams of calcium that women over 50 need each day. Using food tracking apps are great, but they only count calories, carbohydrate, protein, and fat; not vitamins and minerals.) But, this plan worked for her and her friend and they lost weight and motivated each other through the 3-month journey. Debra lost the 30 pounds she had regained, and lost another 20 pounds for a 50-pound total weight loss. She no longer follows the diet as strictly as she did when losing the weight, but she does monitor her weight every day to make sure she doesn’t regain it.

An added benefit of the weight loss was a renewed commitment to exercise. Reducing calories is critical for weight loss, but exercise is important to keep it off. She exercises at the YMCA twice a week, takes a strength training class another two times a week, plays pickleball, and of course, she is an avid golfer. Here is Debra, third from the left, holding the trophy for her club’s team match play event, The Miss Betty Cup.

Debra Dooley

Debra says the keys for her successful weight maintenance are vigilance: daily exercise, monitoring her weight, logging her food intake every day into an app on her phone, drinking lots of water, and making wise choices when she eats out. “I can always find lean meat and substitute green veggies for potatoes.” Her other advice? “Don’t keep the food you don’t want to eat in the house!” That, and have a good friend for social support.

You can find more tips on weight loss after 50 in Food & Fitness After 50 by Chris Rosenbloom and Bob Murray. Available now on Amazon.

 

 

Food & Fitness After 50: In my element with 12,000 dietitians

Greetings from Chicago, where I’m attending the annual meeting of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. I’m with my peeps…. all 12,000 of them!

I’m often asked how I got interested in nutrition and why I became a dietitian. Like for many of us, parental influence was paramount.

I first became aware of the power of nutrition when I was a teenager. My father had kidney disease and was on dialysis for many years. Since I was the one kid (one of seven!) who liked to bake, I learned to make low protein bread for my dad, as protein was a nutrient that had to be controlled in his diet. My father died when I was a senior in high school and then my mother’s influence kicked in.

Chris HS 1969She was insistent that her daughters get a college education so we could always take care of ourselves. There was one catch; we had to have a useful college degree that would lead to real job. It was logical for me to choose nutrition and dietetics for my career path. In fact, my senior picture in the North Olmsted, Ohio yearbooks, says “future dietician.” (We prefer the spelling dietitian, but I didn’t know that in 1969 when I graduated from high school!).

So, I went to Kent State University to major in nutrition and it was the best choice for me because: (1) got a great foundation in nutrition science, and (2) I met my husband, Rob, at Kent State. After graduation I went to the University of Minnesota to complete a 12-month dietetic internship. I loved Minneapolis, but after growing up in Michigan, going to school in Ohio and spending a year in freezing Minnesota I was ready for a warmer climate. Georgia was it and has been for over 40 years.

Now that I am older and “retired” after 30 years university teaching, I am glad I became a dietitian and excited to put all the years of education, work experience, and personal insights into my new book Food & Fitness After 50. I still enjoy writing about nutrition, giving presentations, planning food influencer conferences, and talking to athletes, so that is why I say I am retired in quotes. I hope you get on a path to eat well, move well, and be well whatever your age.

Chris Rosenbloom and Bob Murray’s book Food & Fitness After 50 is available on Amazon

 

Food & Fitness After 50: It’s Never Too Late to Get Strong

This guest blog post was written by Dr. Bob Murray

A few year’s back, Patti’s college-aged daughter came home from a stint as a volunteer at the local hospital emergency room and declared, “Mom, you and dad have aged pretty well.”  It’s easy to understand how pleased Patti was to hear her daughter’s compliment, a small affirmation that things might not be as bad as she thought, at least in comparison to hospital patients!

Patti, now 60, mother of three adult children, and the wife of a university professor has long appreciated the value of diet and exercise, as one might expect from a physical education major.  That lifelong commitment has been recently put to the test because in October 2016, Patti volunteered as a subject in a research project that required measurement of her body composition.  The results were upsetting: her body fat was higher than she had hoped and the decrease in her muscle mass with age was evident.  Those results sparked a renewed commitment to changing things for the better.

For the past 24 years, Patti and a close friend have run at 6 am three days each week, usually covering 3.5 to 4.5 miles each morning.  For the past 7 years, Patti has gone to three yoga classes each week, something she wishes she had started 30 years ago.  After learning how her body composition had changed with age, Patti started taking strength training classes, usually completing 3-4 classes each week.

“There’s so much I like about being active,” said Patti, “and that includes the social aspect of being with friends and others around my age, but also working out with younger people.  I like that mix because it challenges me physically, gives me a strong sense of accomplishment, and an emotional high that’s good for my mental health.”  Patti explained that her long-term goal is to be able to continue all the things she enjoys doing with exercise, gardening, family activities, and travel.  “I don’t want to be one of those people who struggle to get their carry-on bag into the overhead luggage bin.  And I know I’m going to be an older grandmother, so playing with my grandkids—including getting up and down from the floor many times each day—is really important to me.”

Patti K.     In the short-term, Patti knows that her diet and exercise play a major role in leading a happy, healthy life, and minimizing aches and pains are part of that.  She has been very pleased with the results of her strength training because her nagging aches and pains have subsided, she’s amazed at how everyday activities have become easier, and her walking gait has improved.  Patti noted that she’s always had a lot of energy, but now she feels her physical strength and endurance match her energy.  A recent body composition test confirmed that she has lost fat and gained muscle, so she knows she’s on the right track.

Patti has been a vegetarian since 1991, but has recently added fish to her diet because she was concerned that she hasn’t been eating enough protein.  She knows that adequate daily protein intake is critical to maintaining muscle mass and strength and is looking for other protein sources.  She’d love to eventually develop fit and toned shoulders, abdominals, and legs, but knows that won’t happen overnight and she recognizes that the most important outcome is to maintain strength and muscle mass as she ages.

“I realize how fortunate I am now to have the flexibility to fit exercise into my daily schedule,” Patti said, “and having raised three kids, I know there are many times when that’s very tough to accomplish.  Looking back, I think one saving grace is that I stayed committed to those 6 am runs, even when the last thing I felt like doing was to get out of bed.  Doing so made me realize that I can make time to stay active, rather than just sit around lamenting that I’m too busy. My advice to those whose lives are jam-packed is to make one small, manageable commitment to a change in diet or exercise and find a way to stick with it.”

Chris Rosenbloom and Bob Murray’s book, Food & Fitness After 50 is available on Amazon

 

Food & Fitness After 50: Joys of Adventure

I love to travel. Inevitably, someone always asks, “What’s your favorite place?” My answer is “the last place I visited,” so that means South Africa and Zimbabwe are at the top of the list. Travel brings so many riches, but one lesser mentioned treasure is the people you meet along the way.

Irina cape townMeet Irina, one of my travel companions for the 2-week trip to Africa last September. Spending time with Irina is to understand how her whole life is a big adventure that she embraces with enthusiasm, good humor, and a strong mind. She is living the principles of optimal aging.

At age 30, she came to the U.S. from St. Petersburg, Russia with her husband and 2 small children; a 4 ½ year old son and another son was just an infant. Her husband wanted to divorce and left her to fend for herself. Speaking no English and not wanting to disrupt her son’s life as he was settling into a new school, she decided to stay in the U.S. and figure out a new life. Fast forward 25 years, married to a wonderful man, she has designed a rewarding life of career, family, and travel.

She loves to be active, exercise, and to eat! She never diets, yet has maintained the same weight since age 18, of course, except during her pregnancies, but she quickly lost her baby weight by listening to her body. She loves sugar and you wouldn’t expect someone who looks like she does to start each day with a sugar-laden breakfast with cinnamon rolls and pancakes. After breakfast, she hits the gym and says that the “sugar fuels her morning workout.” She is listening to what her body needs for a strenuous workout. She played basketball in high school and college, and still loves to be in the gym lifting weights four days a week. For most of her life, she was active, enjoying everything. “Everything I do, I do it because I like to do it;” which is a good philosophy for life-long activity. Find something you love to do and just do it.

But, about 6 or 7 years ago, she noticed her flexibility was decreasing so she tried yoga, but didn’t like it. When she told a friend, she didn’t like yoga because she wasn’t very flexible, her friend responded, “That’s like not taking a shower because you are dirty!” The message was received and now Irina is on the front row of the yoga class twice a week, not worried about comparing herself to others. She noticed that her balance was the first thing to improve. “Flexibility and balance are so important as we age, it makes me feel safe to do the things I want to continue to do.”

While I mentioned she doesn’t diet, she does listen to her body and tries not eat after 6 PM at night. She has also embraced intermittent fasting; fasting for 24-hours two days a month to reset her body. Although the first time she tried it was hard, she says now it feels good and is very doable. Intermittent fasting can be done in several ways: fasting for 24-hours once or twice a month or eating 500-calories for two days a week. While the jury is still out if it is effective for weight control, some researchers think it can improve health by regulating our circadian rhythm, improving some biomarkers (like cholesterol and blood pressure), and improving sleep. During her fast, she drinks plenty of water or unsweetened tea to stay hydrated.

So, Irina eats well and moves well, but travel makes her be well. She loves everything Irina dressabout travel: “exploring new cultures, hearing new music, tasting new foods, and learning more about what I don’t know is very inspiring.”  I watched her buy this dress in Africa and rock it in Zimbabwe!  Her adventurous spirit shines in this photo!

Travel brings many new experiences and meeting new people is certainly one of them!

Chris Rosenbloom and Bob Murray are the authors of a new book, Food & Fitness After 50; available on Amazon. #FoodAndFitnessAfter50

Food & Fitness After 50: The Power of Prevention

I was first introduced to Connie when I heard her sing the national anthem in front of 10,000 dietitians at the opening session of the annual convention of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Her powerful voice and engaging on-stage presence made me want to get know my fellow dietitian. Fast forward many years later, and many more times performing the nation’s anthem (10 times more, to be exact) and I’ve come to admire her commitment to helping her patients get well and stay well, and her personal commitment to prevent a chronic disease that runs in her family.

Connie  is a registered dietitian who is also a certified diabetes educator . She is the author of The African American Guide to Living Well with Diabetes, and her new book, Diabetes Guide to Enjoying Foods of the World, will be available soon (information is available on her website.)

Connie Brown RiggsConnie’s personal commitment to eating well, moving well, and being well stems from her desire to prevent diabetes. “Diabetes affects family members on both sides of my family and that inspired me to not only become an expert in diabetes, but to practice what I teach by leading by example.” Connie says she had always done a little bit of exercise, but as she approached her mid-60s she ramped up her activity by hiring a personal trainer for twice weekly strength workouts and does cardio work three times a week. She says, “I am running away from diabetes!” She loves challenging her mind and body in her strength and conditioning workouts. Her latest challenge was to set a goal to complete 1,000 feet of “Jacob’s Ladder.” This Jacob’s Ladder is not the biblical ladder that connects earth to heaven, but rather a tough workout combining aerobics on a stair stepper with power, balance, and agility. “When I set the challenge, I could barely do 100 feet, but I made 1,000 feet with hard work and persistence.” Connie finds it motivating to be able to perform feats “that some younger people cannot do in the gym!” Check out Connie lifting 155 pounds at age 66!

Connie says that it is hard to keep up her fitness routine when she travels, but that traveling isn’t an excuse to abandon working out. While many hotels have great fitness centers, it isn’t always easy to get to the gym at 5 AM when morning meetings start at 6 or 7 AM. Connie found a solution; she packs a travel hula hoop. She says, “I have been known to rearrange hotel furniture to find a spacing for hooping.” She also uses apps on her phone to download workouts that she can do on the road. But, she also says the goal with exercise is “persistence, not perfection.” She tells people not to beat themselves if they miss a workout, but instead take the very next opportunity to move it.

Thanks for inspiring us with your story, Connie, and making me want to hit the gym…now!

Chris Rosenbloom and Bob Murray  are the authors of Food & Fitness After 50. It is available on Amazon.Chris and Bob at video shoot 9.21.17

 

It is also available from The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Food & Fitness After 50: Nurturing Others…and, Yourself

Do you have a special friend who is a nurturer and a positive presence in your life? If not, I hope you find someone like my friend, Lisa, who elevates people by her outlook on life and being a champion and cheerleader for her friends and family.

In her early 60s, Lisa spent over 20 years in corporate America and now takes time to take care of her 89-year old mother, teach classes at a local college, and focus on nurturing her spirit by getting back into art and photography. Growing up the middle of three children, her mother tagged her as the “artistic” one. Lisa got her first Brownie camera as a child and took it everywhere, capturing people and places she loved. Art took a back seat to her career, but in 1991 when she moved to Chicago, she enrolled in a watercolor class at the Art Institute, where she met her husband, who was into oil painting. (At their wedding, the comparison to “oil and water” was raised!)
Lisa said she asked herself, “if art is my favorite thing to do, yet I don’t do it, how can I say it is my favorite thing?”

Lisa’s artistry and creativity are at their best at gatherings of friends. Many years ago, we met at a friend’s house in Pennsylvania. Hanging on her wall was a painting of a woman who she named “Shirley.” Lisa got the idea to have the five of us draw our version of “Shirley;” we were all pleasantly delighted when she compiled our drawings and framed the print for us. To this day, we call ourselves “The Shirleys,” thanks to Lisa!

The Shirleys

Lisa’s tips for healthy aging include sage advice for all of us. First, she says find your passion and act on it. Years ago, she heard Deepak Chopra  speak and one of the things he said has stayed with her. “Every day ask yourself three questions: Who am I? What do I want? How can I make a difference? The answers don’t have to come right away, but they will come to you.” For Lisa, she isn’t sure what the answers are, but she knows she wants the answers to be the same. Who she is will be someone who makes a difference.

She adds that a physically active life is also important for healthy aging. She enjoys running, walking, and cycling. But, she says, “don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day of exercise or don’t reach your goals.” She practices what she calls, “the power of now,” or living in the moment and being present for all of life’s experiences.

Lisa has always eaten well, but she admits she used to exercise so she could eat anything, but now she is more thoughtful about her food choices. Preferring local to support local farmers and protect the community, she shops at Farmer’s markets and grows veggies at home.

Lastly, Lisa doesn’t keep a “to do” list. Instead, she starts each day by thinking, “I’m going to feel great today if I do……” She also celebrates the little things in life and encourages us all to enjoy good news when it comes our way, instead of moving on to the next thing.
Lisa celebrates and elevates her family, her friends, and very importantly, herself.