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 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.