Is weight loss harder as we get older? My short answer? Nope.
It may seem counterintuitive but I talk to countless women and men every week, in my practice and community, who are in the best shape of their lives as they get older. That doesn't mean that it's easier—it's because they employ a few strategies that are evolved from the strategies of our youth.
It's true that things like leptin resistance, inflammation, and hormones change as we get older—so we can't be as reckless as we were in our teens and early 20s. The body takes longer to recover and heal and is less armed with fat-burning hormones.
But...all is not doomed. Armed with this knowledge below and the right strategies, we can hack our own biology and finally get over that weight-loss plateau:
1. Understand the mind-gut connection. It is real!
Knowing how food makes you feel is key. That is the mind-gut connection. For example, these patients know the foods that they eat today determine how they feel tomorrow...and the next day.
For example, that pizza doesn’t look as good if it causes you bloating, fatigue, and headache for days after. Your gut is key is "talking to you" about what works for your body and what causes it to bloat, making you feel out of balance. Depression, anxiety, and fatigue can also stem from problems in the connection.
Many of them say that it took years to finally establish that connection. My tip to get started: After dinner, tune into your gut tonight and tomorrow morning. Did dinner make you feel good? If you're not sure, write down the ingredients in dinner and then do a different meal the next night. Eventually you'll start to see a pattern emerge.
2. Control your stress.
This is the most pertinent reason I see older folks in the best shape of their lives. They recognize and deal with stressors. Many of them are more focused on fulfillment and purpose—they may have even taken up meditation or prayer. Being a caffeine-fueled, sleep-deprived machine is not a great recipe for weight loss or overall good health.
3. Change the focus of your workouts.
I sound like a broken record when I say this, but you must pick an exercise that is not a punishment. The patients that look forward to the activity are the ones who stick to it and get results. For example, centenarians often report pleasurable exercise such as swimming or walking as the key to their longevity. Weight loss and health are a marathon—those activities that you can do every day, week after week, are your keys to winning.
To get started, imagine what you loved to do as a 12-year-old—try an activity that is similar. For me it was yoga class since I loved gymnastics as a kid.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there are some inevitable changes as you age:
- hormone decline
- muscle tissue loses mass
- bones lose minerals and density
- overall amount of fat goes up steadily—older people may have almost a third more fat than they did when they were younger
- basal metabolic rate decline
The biggest advantage of losing weight as an older adult (assuming you are overweight) is that you will be able to be more active and live longer. These studies show that it not only helps you live longer but helps you stay active longer, which is one of the most sought-after goals for patients at any age.
These strategies are ageless! Employ the strategies above to reach your ideal body (different for everyone) no matter what your age. Of course, talk to your doctor before changing your health routine.