Author Steve MacGregor says, “Want to know a funny little secret about losing weight and staying fit when you’re over fifty? Well here it is: There is no secret” (7%). In other words, “Eat the wrong stuff and get too little exercise and you’ll get fat. Eat the right stuff and get more exercise and you’ll lose weight” (7%).
I believe there is a secret. For me, losing weight means eating raw, healthy foods, mostly organic. Oh, and nibbles of dark chocolate.
But those days, for me, are on hold. That’s because the budget’s tight. That’s another funny little secret about losing weight and staying fit when you’re over fifty: tight budget syndrome.
I’m fifty this coming year. The past two weeks, I had a grocery boom, so I gained six pounds. I intentionally gained, out of fear of fading away. To gain the weight, I also cut back on fitness to three days a week. With more body mass, I look more muscular—and with less gym time, my knee joint doesn’t ache. But my grocery budget shrank this week, so I’ll lose those precious pounds. Fast.
But what if you’ve got an unlimited grocery budget, extra belly fat, and an unhealthy diet? Author Steve MacGregor says, “For most men, the main reason they want to lose weight is either to get fit so that they can undertake a specific activity, or, most commonly, because they’re fed up with looking and being treated like Homer Simpson” (24%). Ouch!
That’s his motivation. But what sustains your weight loss? I believe a healthy diet does. “Eating more healthily should involve a range of foods which you enjoy. You’re not aiming to deprive yourself of good stuff for a week or a month in order to lose weight and then going back to your old habits” (68%). If you love fats—such as sausage, bacon, and cheese—switch to avocados and mixed nuts. If you love sweets, savor berries and apples. And if you enjoy potato chips, munch crunchy carrots, radishes, and raw sweet potatoes. Simple substitutions.
“Eating healthier stuff will make you feel better right away. Your energy levels and mental outlook will improve and you’ll feel less sluggish within a very short time. Second, over time you will stop gaining weight and you may lose weight” (67%). When you eat healthy foods, you crave healthy foods. You might even crave foods you once hated—like turnips. Bleh! Okay, so that’s never going to happen. But when you eat junk, you feel like junk.
Eat five healthy, but light, meals a day. “If you skip lots of meals or cut back drastically on what you eat, your metabolism will stay permanently in energy saving mode and you may actually gain weight despite eating much less” (69%). Aim to make breakfast your biggest meal. But don’t cook greasy sausage, eggs, and hash-browns. Instead, fuel your stomach with foods like steel cut oats, avocado, apple, berries, flaxseed, and yogurt. A big healthy breakfast powers your day.
Aside from eating healthier, don’t shy away from the gym: “Being around lots of fit, slim people just makes you feel more self-conscious about your man-boobs and wobbly belly” (60%). I never had man-books, thanks to my gender. But, once, I weighed a ghastly 180 pounds. Traumatized at tipping the 180 mark, I started swimming backstroke an hour a day. Two guys mocked me in the pool, but I kept going. Around four months later, I dropped forty pounds. That’s when those two guys praised me. So, if you’ve got the determination, don’t worry if they laugh. One day they’ll clap.
So, now you know the “funny little secret about losing weight and staying fit when you’re over fifty” (7%). No matter your age, veer off the path to excess weight gain. Hit the gym, eat healthy, and feel healthy.
* Despite my push for weight loss, don’t worry about your body weight. Use your day to day physical and mental energy as your guide to progress. After all, being lean or overweight is not the best determinant of your fitness level.