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8 Tips for Weight Loss After 40
Topic Started: Dec 18 2011, 04:56 AM (554 Views)
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8 Tips for Weight Loss After 40
By The Editors Of GOOD

1. Get to know your body's new biological rhythms - and adjust to them.


In long-ago times, older didn't necessarily mean plumper. Think of those icons of the American prairie, the sinewy pitchfork-wielding farm couple pictured in American Gothic. But today, those of us over 40 face a twofold challenge: We're living longer, and we're no longer out there pitching hay to the cows at 5 a.m.


When it comes to burning calories, it's a fairly simple equation. What goes in must be burned off, or it sticks to our ribs. Acquiring weight is absurdly easy - eating just 100 extra calories a day (100 more than what your body burns) will lead to a nine- to ten-pound weight gain over the course of a year, experts say. How much is 100 calories? Not a lot: A can of Coke contains 155 calories, a chocolate bar more than 200. Of course, that cola or chocolate chip cookie is no problem if we're walking or running it off. But after 40, our activity level tends to decline, too. So the challenge is to bring the two into balance.

2. Eliminate underlying metabolic conditions.


Would it surprise you to know that thyroid problems strike as many as one out of five adults over age 40? The most common of these is hypothyroidism - an underactive thyroid - and hypothyroidism is one of the primary reasons many people over 40 can't lose weight. The thyroid is a tiny gland that produces hormones that regulate metabolism, and when it's underactive, so is everything else. Think of low thyroid as having your internal thermostat set too low. Symptoms include feeling cold all the time, poor circulation in the hands and feet, clammy hands, tiredness and lethargy, hair loss (including eyebrows and eyelashes), and weight gain - despite real attempts to exercise and eat well.


If you suspect an underactive thyroid may be undermining your metabolism, the first step is to call the doctor and ask for a thyroid test. But beware: The first-line thyroid blood test, known as the TSH, is notoriously unreliable. And doctors are busy arguing about what's "normal" anyway. As of 2003, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists began recommending that the cutoff for normal TSH should be 3.0 versus the older standard of 5.5, but this news hasn't reached many labs or doctors. And lots of endocrinologists think having a TSH between 1 and 2 is ideal for maintaining normal body weight and function.


If your TSH result is above 3.0, make sure your doctor knows about the new recommendation. And ask for further testing; there a number of additional tests that many experts believe give more accurate readings of thyroid function.

3. Adjust your eating habits for maximum energy.


Your goal at this stage in your life is to keep yourself feeling full without succumbing to the temptation to eat like you could at age 20. One strategy recommended by internist Julie Taw, MD, of Englewood, New Jersey, is to eat more frequently but to consume less at each sitting. An added benefit of eating this way is that it's easier to keep your blood sugar steady, so you don't have the peaks and valleys that contribute to fatigue.[How To Turn Your Metabolism Into A Fat Burning Machine]



Here's the rule: Try eating five to six small meals a day, and don't go more than three or four hours without eating. For example, you might eat a healthy breakfast before you leave for work, then have a nonfat yogurt in the late morning. Then instead of eating a big pasta lunch and spending the afternoon in a stupor, eat a light lunch and spend the rest of your lunch break taking a brisk walk. An afternoon snack of trail mix and an apple keeps you from needing the 4 p.m. sweet treat and makes it easier to avoid overeating at dinner.


Your goal is the opposite of the starvation approach to dieting - you want to trick your body into feeling satisfied and well-fed at all times, though the total amount you're eating is less.


4. Time your eating to take advantage of your body's natural rhythms.


Experts are sure of one thing: Snack (or eat dinner) after 9 p.m., and whatever you eat goes straight to your hips and stomach. Happily, the opposite is also true - what you eat in the mornings, when your metabolism is revved up to its optimum operating speed, is much more likely to be expended efficiently.


Don't like to eat breakfast? Sorry, but there's no way around this one; eating a good breakfast is one of the key habits experts have identified that keeps thin people thin. When members of the National Weight Control Registry (people who have maintained a weight loss of 30 pounds for between one and six years) were surveyed, 78 percent reported eating breakfast every day and almost 90 percent reported eating breakfast at least five days a week. This was one of the only factors researchers identified that those in the registry had in common!




5. Trick your metabolism with fat-fighting foods.


I know you've heard it before, but it's true: It's really not just about how much you eat, but how much of which foods . There are plenty of healthy foods you can eat all you want of - and no, that doesn't mean stuffing your fridge with celery sticks, 1970s-style. Instead, make a few simple tweaks to your diet, incorporating foods that actually fight fat instead of those that trigger it. Then eat other foods in moderation, and you should be OK.

6. Make muscles an ally in your weight-loss campaign.


There's one thing the exercise gurus have gotten right: The more muscle mass you have, the more effectively your metabolism burns calories. But sad to say, a natural tendency of aging is to lose muscle, gradually replacing it with fat. So in order to enlist the calorie-burning abilities of muscle, we do have to work at it.


A common misconception, though, is to mix up muscle-building with aerobic exercise. Both are good, but the aerobic part - though it does burn calories - isn't what we're talking about here. What you really need to focus on for long-term benefit is basic strength training. Buy some hand weights, a bar, and some stretch bands, and channel your high school gym teacher. Make it as pleasant as possible; work out while you watch the evening news or your favorite sit-com. Slowly and gradually build up those biceps, abs, deltoids, and glutes, and you'll have some key allies in your fight to prevent age-related weight gain.


7. Strike up a healthy relationship with your sweet tooth.


If you're dying for a sweet treat, give it to yourself, savoring it slowly so it registers fully with your brain's pleasure sensors. A trick that many experts recommend: Cut the treat in half before you start eating, carefully wrapping the second half up to "save for later." You may or may not want it - sometimes if you eat the first half slowly and consciously enough, you'll feel satisfied. But knowing it's there if you do plays a nice trick on your brain, which tends to crave things it perceives as being in short supply.


Also, don't try to substitute artificially flavored sweets. Researchers have recently discovered that artificial sweeteners fail to trigger the body's natural satisfaction response. So eating that 100-calorie artificially sweetened cookie only adds to your problems; you'll keep on wanting the real cookie, so the 100 calories you just ate were in vain.


8. Forget dieting. Instead, focus on your fuel-to-energy ratio.


If, like most 40-somethings, you're packing some extra pounds, you've probably made plenty of resolutions to go on a diet. You've also probably figured out by this point in your life that diets rarely work, and neither does suddenly embarking on a strenuous new exercise regimen. There's a good reason that sudden, drastic changes don't lead to long-term weight loss, and may even lead to a rebound.Your man says you are gaining weight - do you mind?




Have you noticed that your weight tends to stay fairly constant week to week, even if one day you go on a junk food binge and the next day you're fairly good? Nature designed us with optimum abilities to maintain a steady metabolic rate, because it helps us weather food shortages and sudden demands on our energies.
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