There’s no way around it. Getting older isn’t a picnic. Tasks that once were done with ease suddenly become more difficult or even impossible to do. Arthritic pains manifest themselves overnight and pants mysteriously become tighter around the waist.
With a greater number of Americans becoming increasingly overweight to the point of being clinically labeled obese, older men and women are being advised by their health care professionals to shed their excess pounds if they wish to live longer. Obesity has been linked to the onset of diabetes-2, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and even to some forms of cancer. In short, being overweight at any age, but particularly after middle age, is a health issue that cannot be taken lightly.
If those excess pounds are, in fact, a matter of life and death, why are so many of us overweight? Why don’t we shed those pounds and live a better, healthier life?
Clearly, the answer is that losing weight is difficult. It is very hard and it only becomes harder as we grow older.
In spite of the multi-billion dollar weight-loss industry that promises effortless and instantaneous weight loss at our great financial expense, I firmly believe that none of these methods work for the long-run. None! If any of them did, they’d be front page news. Every overweight person would know about it and none of us would ever worry about excess pounds again.
The problem with losing weight is not necessarily the actual shedding of the pounds, although I bet scores of overweight individuals would argue that point. The greatest problem with weight loss is keeping the weight off. That problem is difficult enough in the early years of life but it is especially troublesome to men and women over 50.
Before engaging in a weight loss program, consult with a credible health care professional.This is an absolute must, especially for us older folks. A quick check-up will ensure that there aren’t any health problems to be concerned about. And if there are some concerns like high cholesterol, hypertension or diabetes-2, losing weight may, in fact, minimize or altogether eliminate those problems. It is almost a foregone conclusion that keeping the weight on will exacerbate your health issues to the point of possibly becoming fatal.
To have a fair chance of losing excess pounds and to maintain a healthy weight for life, we need to understand and accept these basic principles of a healthy, weight loss program.
Losing weight and keeping excess weight off can only be achieved through a dramatic lifestyle change! This may be the most difficult part of slimming down and keeping the weight off. The following suggestions are true and tried, and they work, but they can only be successful when they are accepted as a fact of one’s new life style.
Losing weight is a matter of simple arithmetic! The body uses energy to do all of those things that it does, day in and day out. That energy comes from the food that we eat. Food is metabolized into energy that is either used by the body for its tasks, or it is stored in cells as fat for future use. A measure of this energy is the calorie. Overweight people have consumed more calories than their bodies were able to use as fuel, and that excess fuel was then stored in their bodies as fat. This, simply, is the cause of all overweight problems, sans special medical conditions that are not necessarily food intake related. The arithmetic for losing weight then is simply a matter of taking in fewer calories than what the body requires for its functions. The additional energy required for those functions will then be supplied by the stored fat in the body, and gradual weight loss begins.
Dieting that keeps one hungry NEVER works! Let’s face it, eating is as much pleasure as it is a matter of survival. Anyone can eat less than usual for a short period of time, but very few individuals can sustain it for long. Eventually, hunger takes over and then the binging begins. To engage in a routine of continually eating less than what is required to sate the appetite is destined to fail. The trick, then, is not to eat less, but to eat different foods that add fewer calories to the day’s total caloric intake.
A change in eating habits is paramount to losing weight! Although an occasional fast-food burger and fries will not negatively impact one’s weight loss program, the fact is, that the food we eat is directly responsible for how much we weigh. Many modern nutritionists, therefore now suggest a program of multiple, small meals throughout the day to stave off hunger and thus overeating. Snacks, interestingly enough, are thus an important aspect of losing weight. Snacks, however, should not include an abundance of candy bars … an occasional one won’t hurt … but should include fruits, nuts, energy bars or a host of other nutritious, low caloric foods. Snacks don’t have to be expensive specialty foods. Often they are already in our refrigerators or pantries. The idea is to not to eat less food, but to eat smarter by consuming fewer calories. If in doubt, a nutritionist should be consulted or at the very least an internet search should be done for further information.
Eating four hours before going to bed is a habit that must be changed. If breaking it poses an insurmountable problem, fight it by first drinking a cold glass of water. Often that helps in relieving the late-night hungries long enough to go to bed without the late night snack. A piece of fruit, a handful of nuts or even a small bowl of popcorn is better than a late night burger.
Eat breakfast! Eat breakfast! Eat breakfast! It doesn’t matter whether it’s a full course meal, a bowl of cereal or just a banana or some other fruit. Eating breakfast helps tremendously in minimizing the amount of food that is eaten during the rest of the day. Quit with the excuse that there’s not enough time in the morning to eat breakfast. Find the time! Eat a piece of fruit or some toast, but do it! Eating breakfast will be a major part of your weight control program. Do it!
Don’t drink full sugar soda pops. Switch to diet sodas! Granted, most diet sodas in the past weren’t especially pleasant until a taste for them had been developed. Today, however, there are a good variety of diet sodas on the market that taste remarkably good. Experiment with different diet sodas until you find one that tastes good enough for you to continue drinking, if sodas are going to continue to be part of your diet.
Eat one plate of food, wait 10 minutes, and then eat some more, if you’re still hungry! It’s a simple trick that works. How many times have we stepped away from the table feeling stuffed and, frankly, a little uncomfortable? The culprit is our body’s mechanism that signals the brain that we’re sated. That message sometimes doesn’t reach the brain for up to 10 minutes. Therefore, develop the discipline to wait 10 minutes between plates of food. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how well this works.
Keep hydrated. A recent report in the media reported that there wasn’t a credible medical reason to drink the all-too-well-known eight glasses of eight ounces of water per day. It seems that although everyone believes that drinking water is beneficial to the body, there doesn’t appear to be any scientific research to suggest that the traditional amount of 64 ounces of water a day have any specific health benefits. I’m quick to point out that the ambiguity is about the amount of water and not about the need of water in our daily diet. Although we now know that there isn’t a magical amount of water that we should drink every day, suffice it to day, that without water we can’t survive very long. Interestingly enough, the general consensus amongst those who should know suggest that most Americans are in a constant state of some degree of dehydration. So drink up! Drink water throughout the day and keep yourself hydrated. It’s healthy and as mentioned above, helps in staving off the hungri
Success begets success! Realize that losing weight is not a simple matter of weighing less every day. In fact, your weight will fluctuate from day to day. There will be days when in spite of all of your efforts, your weight will either not drop, or you’ll even register a few pounds heavier then the day before. Over time, however, you’ll notice a trend of weight loss that will be your success story. I strongly recommend that you weigh yourself on or about the same time every day, preferably in the morning after you’ve completed your toiletries, and that you record that weight on a chart. This chart can either be hand-drawn or a computerized spreadsheet. The point is to systematically track your progress. If after two weeks you haven’t seen any downward change in your weight, you’ll have to reassess your plan and decide where you went wrong.
Keep a food diary. This sounds like too much work, but the fact is that many of us don’t know what we eat and when we eat on a daily basis. It’s not only the meals that we have to concern ourselves about, but also the high-caloric snacks here and there, the chocolate bar in our desk drawer or the quick vending machine bag of plastic food that we consume. Keeping a diary of EVERTYHTING that we eat will identify the times that we eat as well as the type of food that we eat. As was mentioned earlier, the idea is not to eat less and starve the body. The intelligent approach is to eat smarter. A food diary will identify the snack times that are important to you. Keep those snack times but instead of eating junk food, eat something healthier that still is tasteful to you. Find what you like to eat that’s healthy and then stock up on those items.
In Conclusion. Losing weight is a very hard task. Everyone knows it! And although many of us who’ve tried losing weight before, have failed, there are those who have succeeded. They have succeeded because they 1) realized that for health reasons they had to loose weight, 2) they had an intelligent plan to loose weight and 3) they had the determination to stick to it. You, too, can do it, IF you really want to.