By Julie Gorges
This is really embarrassing. But I’m sure I’m not alone.
I somehow got the guts to get on the scales last month and discovered that I had gained 23 pounds during the pandemic.
Is this what they mean by middle-aged spread? I felt like a slug. Deep sigh. It was like that humorous poem, “When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but 20 extra pounds on hips, thighs, and rear.”
This fact is especially hard to share since I wrote a book titled, “Ten Secrets to Losing Weight After 50.”
How Did This Happen to Me?
Several years ago, after caring for my Mom who had Lewy Body Dementia, I packed a lot of pounds on. I was horrified to weigh 172 after her death. The most I had weighed in my life thus far. So, I did a lot of research and experimenting, lost 15 pounds – even though admittedly it’s a booger to lose weight as you age, then shared how I did it in this book. I even managed to keep the weight off… until the pandemic.
I broke my 5-pound rule shared in my book – if I gain 5 pounds it’s time to lose 5 pounds. Everyone else was stress-eating, indulging, and drinking wine. Why not me? We all had to comfort ourselves somehow, right? After the pandemic was over, I’d lose the weight again, I reasoned. After all, I knew how to do it.
Well, the trouble with that kind of thinking is that COVID stuck around for a lot longer than I planned. Originally, I told myself that January 1rst I’d start losing weight. Surely, 2021 will be a better year with less stress. Then one day, I was sitting in front of a full-length closet door mirror and my reflection shocked me. I took a photo, gritted my teeth, and decided to face the music on the scales.
I tipped the scales at 180 pounds. Sadly, I had broken my previous record. My BMI is 29 and 30 is considered obese. I was on the cusp. At the rate I was going, I’d easily accomplish that feat by the first of the year.
The Seriousness of Obesity During a Pandemic
I couldn’t let that happen. After all, this is not the time to become obese. Southern California, where I live, is the current epicenter for COVID as we head into 2021. According to the CDC, obesity increases the risk of severe illness from the coronavirus and may triple the risk of hospitalization. Put simply, as BMI increases, the risk of death from COVID-19 increases.
Yes, a vaccine is around the corner, but here’s some more bad news: Studies have demonstrated that obesity may be linked to lower vaccine responses. Yikes!
So, yes, I hated the way I looked, but that isn’t my primary motivation for losing weight. I want to lower my risks from becoming seriously ill or dying from COVID. Plus, I just turned 60 a few months ago. I want to stay healthy and strong so I can travel again when this is all over, play with my grandkids, and live longer.
No Time Like the Present
No more procrastinating. Last month, I began my journey to a healthier me. I wanted to be held accountable, so I bravely posted my weight on my author’s Facebook page and declared that I was going to start following my own advice in my book. It was super scary to make this announcement in case I failed, but it was time to get honest with myself and others.
A few weeks later, my hubby posted a picture of me on a hike. I had lost some weight by then, but still looked a bit heavy. Normally, I would have scolded him for posting this pic. Since I’ve gained weight, ashamed, I only allowed head shots. But, you know what? I’m owning it! I let go of Facebook approvals.
I re-read the chapter in my book about changing my attitude (like thinking losing weight is impossible when you’re older and lamenting that methods that worked when I was younger, didn’t work anymore). I reviewed my tips on how to overcome a slower metabolism and loss of muscle mass, control stress eating, avoid going hungry, and ways to get past stubborn plateaus.
Pretty good stuff – now I only had to follow through on my own suggestions.
Choosing the Right Diet
So, I began my journey and the weight started coming off. I didn’t cut out all carbs, consume grapefruit, eat at certain times of the day, use specific supplements, or eat raw foods. There were no dangerous surgeries, diet pills, expensive weight loss programs, pricey supplements, expensive gym membership fees, or personal trainers involved. And no starving myself or following crazy fad diets that are not only unhealthy but don’t work in the long run.
You don’t have to do any of that to lose weight. Steer clear of all those trendy diets your friends are raving about that work temporarily but are unsustainable. As we get older, it’s important to make health – not fast weight loss – a priority. Experts warn that rapid weight loss can cause malnutrition and loss of lean muscle mass. Fad diets can also cause digestive difficulties; for example, many of the trendy high protein diets can cause severe constipation. On top of that, you’re more likely to gain the weight back. Who needs all that?
Remember, you’re older and wiser. Your goals are different now. You aren’t dropping weight to look good in a bikini this summer or fit into a pair of tight jeans by the weekend. You want to lose weight so you can live longer and stay healthy and strong.
There’s a lot of confusion about choosing the right diet. You’ll want to use a plan that is nutritionally balanced with no forbidden foods and that is easy to follow, allows occasional indulgences, and provides permanent healthy lifestyle changes.
While writing my book, I tried a few of the top recommended diets from the US News World Report’s List of “Best Diets Overall,” including the Mediterranean Diet, DASH Diet, and Weight Watchers (by the way, the popular Keto, Paleo, Atkins, and Raw Food diets ranked as some of the worst on their list). I shared the pros and cons of the top diets, their requirements, and my personal thoughts based on my own experience.
Weight Watchers, which is rated number one for Best Weight Loss Diets, worked best for me during that time, so that’s the plan I’m currently using. Everyone is different, however, so you’ll need to find what works best for you. If you want to try any of the other healthy diets listed, you can find inexpensive used copies of books outlining the diets along with recipes on Amazon.
So, here I am a month later and, thank-goodness, my tips still work like magic! How much weight have I lost? I’m 169 pounds, so I lost 11 pounds in four weeks. I’m off to a pretty good start and determined to stay in this for the long haul!
I’m already feeling so much better physically, mentally, and emotionally. During the pandemic when so much is out of our control, it is empowering to regain control of my eating.
Experts tend to agree, if you need to lose a lot of weight, setting smaller goals works better than aiming for an intimidating, seemingly-impossible number that seems so far in the future you can’t imagine it.
Makes sense. Setting a goal of losing 10 pounds in six weeks is less overwhelming than setting a goal of losing 100 pounds in a year. Short-term milestones keep you focused on your success and progress instead of fixated on how much weight you still need to lose. Meeting your mini-deadlines is encouraging and energizing.
In my case, I need to lose about 30 pounds to reach a healthy weight. My first goal was to lose 10 pounds in six weeks, which happily I accomplished. However, from past experience, I know that weight drops off faster when you first start dieting. It slows down after that with a few plateaus thrown in that hinders progress.
So, I expect to lose one to two pounds a week here on out. Some weeks I may not lose anything – I may even gain a pound or two. That’s okay. Keep in mind, when you’re past the age of 50, your metabolism slows down and you lose muscle mass. That means losing weight is more challenging and will likely take more time. But it is certainly not impossible! And well worth the effort.
So, here on out, I’m going to make it my goal to lose five pounds a month – and focus just on those five pounds instead of all the weight I still need to lose.
Who Wants to Join Me?
So, it’s the start of a new year with all those resolutions. Is weight loss on your list? Are there any brave souls out there who want to join me on my journey?
Do you need help? Want to know what tried and true “tricks” I have up my sleeve to lose weight after 50? Do you need the answers to questions like: How can you control stress eating? What can you do to avoid feeling hungry? Which kind of exercises produce the best results? How can you get past those stubborn plateaus?
If so, subscribe to my blog, BabyBoomerBliss.net, and you’ll receive a free copy of my book, 10 Secrets to Losing Weight After 50. Or, if you prefer, you can purchase a Kindle edition of my book on Amazon for only $2.99 (a paperback edition is available for $7.99). By the way, if you read and enjoy the book, reviews are SO appreciated!
You can also like my author’s FB page to receive weight loss tips and follow my progress. I post a picture of my scales weekly and have promised to share my successes – and, yes, my struggles and failures as well.
For example, I knew that the last week of the year would be challenging since I was off my normal schedule. So, I made it a goal to simply maintain my weight that week. I believe it’s okay to take periodic short breaks as long as you don’t go TOO crazy and have a set date to begin eating healthy again. It probably helps in the long run. I let my followers know I gained back a pound. I’ll keep it real.
If you decide to join me on my weight loss journey, here is one more tip from my book. No matter how much weight you gain back during this process, keep your long-term goals ahead of you and eventually get back to eating healthier and exercising. Be kind to yourself and don’t expect perfection. One bad decision doesn’t need to wreck your whole diet unless you allow it to do so. Keep your vision of success alive and well. Remind yourself of all the reasons you want to lose weight. If you have a bad day, week, month, or even year, start each day anew and don’t beat yourself up for setbacks. Living a healthier lifestyle is a process.
We can do this together!
Julie A. Gorges is an award-winning author and journalist writing about life after 50. Her blog, BabyBoomerBliss.net, was selected as one of the top 50 baby boomer blogs to follow in 2019 by Feedspot. Her award-winning book, “I’m Your Daughter, Julie: Caring for a Parent with Dementia” is available on Amazon. To learn more about Julie, visit her author website at juliegorges.com.