In our youth-oriented culture, many people look at aging as losing their looks, their health, and their value in society. Aging is inevitable; everyone gets older, but how you age is greatly influenced by lifestyle factors. The foods you eat, the daily decisions you make, how you take care of your body, all have a huge impact on how you age.
Many people associate aging with weight gain. That’s not surprising when you look around and notice that many of your friends, co-workers, and loved ones, seem to pack on pounds with each passing year. Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, FAND- of discovergood.com states,
“Don’t assume that weight gain is inevitable. With that attitude, you’ll be a lot less likely to take the necessary steps to keep your weight in check. Gaining weight in your middle years doesn’t ‘have to’ happen – and if it already has, it isn’t too late to get it under control.”
You can prevent weight gain as you get older with a consistent exercise program and a healthy diet. Many times age-related weight gain is due to decreased activity and poor food choices. Many people become inactive when they retire and begin to eat out more often. Eating away from home can be challenging due to high calorie, high-fat menu items. This can lead to extra pounds from larger portions and extra calories. When you factor in a less active lifestyle, it can easily lead to weight gain, and increase your risk factors for diabetes and heart disease.
A weight training program can help you maintain a healthy metabolism and prevent weight gain as you age. Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, FAND- also points out, “Since muscle tissue does a lot of metabolic ‘work’ that uses up a lot of calories, the loss of muscle tissue as you age means that you will burn fewer calories per day than you used to – in other words, your metabolic rate slows down.”
The solution is to follow a well-balanced, consistent workout program to manage your weight, and help keep you strong and flexible. Furthermore, it’s imperative to add flexibility and balance training to your routine to stay limber and strengthen your core.
FOLLOW THESE FIVE STEPS TO PREVENT WEIGHT GAIN AS YOU AGE:
- Monitor your weight- Although it’s important not to obsess over the scales and weighing yourself daily, you do need to check your weight periodically. Gaining just a few pounds each year can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Make a point to weigh yourself once a week and log your results. If you notice a slight gain of a couple of pounds, then simply increase your activity and cut back on portion sizes. Tracking your weight weekly will help you avoid unwanted pounds that can creep up over the years.
- Clean up your diet- As you get older you may find yourself more relaxed about your appearance and the pressure of maintaining a certain image. Retirement often brings a more relaxed lifestyle without the pressures of a career and children. This is a wonderful time to explore life, travel, and experiment with delightful new restaurants and foods you’ve always wanted to try. The key is to eat a healthy diet of fresh fruits and vegetables and to limit your food splurges to one meal a week.
- Remain active– Staying active is a key factor in maintaining an optimum weight as you age. Many people become more sedentary after retirement when they no longer have the pressures and activities of a daily job. It’s important to remain active so you can enjoy a good quality of life as you age. Brisk walking is a great cardiovascular exercise or join a gym and become involved in group fitness classes. Many gyms offer programs specifically for seniors and offer discounts for memberships. You may want to consider trying aqua aerobics or a senior yoga class. It’s important to find an activity you enjoy and can adhere to on a consistent basis.
- Avoid processed foods- Processed foods are typically high in calories and contain chemicals and toxins that can lead to weight gain. If you frequently eat out, try to select grilled lean meat without sauces. Select a salad, baked potato, or steamed vegetables as a side dish. Try to cook and eat most of your meals at home. Purchase organic fruits and vegetables when possible and experiment with healthy new recipes you’ve always wanted to try.
- Do resistance training- Weight training is vital as you get older. Studies show that muscle mass declines with age. Muscle mass peaks around the mid-twenties; starts to decline in our thirties, and picks up speed as we age. Weight training helps you maintain a healthy metabolism and helps combat the loss of muscle tone as you get older. Lifting weights 2-3 times a week can play a major role in maintaining your strength and muscle tone. Therefore, if you are already strength training, you are on the right track! If not, it’s never too late to pick up a set of weights and get started.
Check out these wise words from Ben Franklin:
“I guess I don’t so much mind being old, as I mind being fat and old.”
The key to a healthy metabolism as you age, is to stay active and eat lean meats, fruits, and vegetables. Weight gain and inactivity can increase your risk factors for heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Weight gain does not have to automatically occur just because you get older. Take charge of your health by following a well-balanced fitness and nutrition program and periodic monitoring of your weight.