Why is it so hard to lose?


Slow and subtle weight gain is common as we age, and this is affected by a number of factors including genetics, lack of sleep, stress, and the loss of muscle mass that typically occurs with each decade. Says Lawrence Cheskin, MD, chair of the department of nutrition and food studies at George Mason University and co-author of the Weight Loss for Life: The Proven Plan for Success. “But forget how much you weighed years ago. The question is, what is a reasonable weight for you now?”

In fact, weight doesn’t tell the whole story of your health. There is also the percentage of fat, bone and muscle in your body. “What’s important is maintaining muscle and bone mass,” says Nikhil Durandhar, PhD, former president of the Obesity Society and chair of the department of nutritional sciences and Helen Devitt Jones Professor at Texas Tech University. And, he adds, if you need to drop pounds for the sake of your health, focus on losing fat, not losing weight. Dr. Cheskin says the distribution of excess adipose tissue is also important. Fat around your midsection is even more dangerous: Visceral fat, which surrounds organs like the kidneys and spleen, produces chemicals that damage blood vessels, affects blood sugar levels, and increases the risk of diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. If you store fat around your belly, it’s especially important to maintain a healthy weight.

Healthy bodies come in different sizes, so you and your doctor should discuss your goals. “If you’re dealing with high blood sugar or blood pressure, these things are fixable,” says Dr. Cheskin. For example, you don’t have to wear the pants you wore before you had the kids, but you can discuss how much weight loss will help you achieve your goal of lowering your blood pressure. Be proactive. You probably don’t have any health complications now. But for people who are overweight, there is a higher risk of metabolic problems like diabetes or high cholesterol and biomechanical problems like joint pain,” says Eduardo Grunwald, MD, medical director at the Center for Advanced Weight Management at UC San Diego Health. “We want to reduce health risks so that prediabetes doesn’t turn into diabetes, for example.” Sometimes health care providers use body mass index (BMI), which is the ratio of weight to height, to determine whether you should lose weight, But BMI isn’t an accurate measure of overall health, especially for people of color.If you want to steer clear of BMI, you can ask your doctor to avoid weight conversations and use other markers, such as blood pressure and cholesterol, to assess your health risks.

Step 1: Track your health

To adopt better behaviors for you, find out where you are now.

Record your habits.

You probably eat big meals at the restaurant every week. Or maybe you walk less than you think. Keeping a food and fitness journal can help you see what you actually do versus what you think you’re doing. It’s boring, says Dr. Cheskin, but it raises your awareness of your choices.

Look in your medicine cabinet.

Many medications, including some antidepressants, beta-blockers for blood pressure, and gabapentin for pain, can affect weight, says Dr. Grunwald. If you and your doctor assess that your weight is unhealthy, ask about alternatives to medications that may cause weight gain or make weight loss more difficult.

If you use a scale, buy the correct one.

Find an inexpensive bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) device, which measures the rate at which a painless electric current travels through different tissues (slower through fat, faster through lean tissue). “If, for example, your weight hasn’t changed because you’ve retained some water, you may become frustrated,” says Dhurandhar. “This tool shows you how much fat you’ve lost, even if your body weight hasn’t changed.”

Make sure you are asleep.

A growing body of research shows that people who get too little sleep are more likely to be overweight and obese. Sleep affects hormones like ghrelin, leptin, and cortisol, so you may feel hungrier, less full, and more likely to crave comfort foods when you’re tired, says Dr. Cheskin. It’s also hard to make sensible food choices when you’re stressed and cranky. If you wake up to an alarm instead of automatically, if you feel drowsy while driving, or if you fall asleep while watching TV on the couch, Dr. Sommers says, you probably need more sleep. Most adults need seven to nine hours a night. Try to stick to a bedtime routine and schedule, keep your room dark and cool, and disconnect from technology and bright lights at least an hour before bedtime.

Stop negative self-talk.

Often the topic of weight is loaded with subjective judgment. Check those feelings out at the door. “If you think you can do better, don’t make it ethical. You’re not a bad person,” says Charlotte Markey, Ph. D., professor of psychology at Rutgers University, Camden. “This belief that we can modify the shape of our bodies to be anything, especially with We are getting old, not realistic. The perspective should be, what healthy behaviors can we control? “

Grocery bag on a plate with a maze for weight loss, healthy eating and healthy living

Andre Rucker

Step Two: Be mindful of what’s on your plate

Obsessing over food can be harmful, but paying attention to what you eat and making healthy choices is essential to health.

Forget diets that sound magic.

Diets that promise miraculous results may seem like a good way to start losing weight, but they target our weaknesses and often tout claims without scientific backing. “We want to believe in them for an easy solution. There is nothing wrong with expecting one, but there is a lot of quackery,” says Dhurandhar. It’s a good idea to follow a sensible plan like the DASH diet, which limits foods high in saturated fat and sodium, or the DASH diet. Mediterranean, which focuses on plant-based foods and limits red meat and sweets, says Dr. But avoid any extreme diet, such as one that eliminates all refined carbohydrates, because it’s not a long-term solution.

Start small.

Everyone wants instant success, but you will set yourself up for failure if you are too restrictive. “The research is clear that crash diets don’t work. We don’t like being deprived,” says Marky. It’s easy to stick with small tweaks. So instead of cutting out sugar and alcohol, for example, decide to eat dessert once a week, or Maybe you just enjoy a glass of wine on the weekend or a low-calorie alcohol.

Keep it effortless.

You have to make it easy on yourself, says Dr. Grunwald. Put a bowl of peeled oranges in the fridge so you can have them instead of chips. Roast many vegetables on Sunday so you simply have to reheat them to serve with your nightly dinner. If you know you’ll lose an entire bag of peanuts in one sitting, buy individual servings. Order groceries online and pick them up at the store to save time and avoid impulse purchases.

Make meals special.

Line your kitchen table with a cute centerpiece or candle. Then, when you’re down for a snack or a meal, sit at the table (not your desk or coffee table!), stash your phone away, and give your food the attention it deserves.

Listen to your body.

One of the most challenging aspects of maintaining or losing weight, says Dr. Cheskin, is learning how to adjust your body. Ask these questions when you eat: am i hungry Is this the best option? Do I need more or just want more? This is not about judgment. It’s about being honest with yourself about what triggers your eating if you’re not hungry. (Boredom? Worry? The fact that someone else is eating?)

The riddle of running shoes, sneakers

Andre Rucker

Step Three: Think about how you will move

Regular exercise can help with everything from bone and joint health to blood pressure and blood sugar to your mental health.

Try new exercises.

When it comes to exercise, “get out of your all-or-nothing thinking and embrace a more experiential mindset,” says Lee Jordan, lead health coach for the American Council on Exercise and assistant professor of kinesiology and integrative health at Point Loma Nazarene University. “Maybe start running twice a week and see how it goes. Or try weight training for a couple of days. Then reassess. The best exercise is the one you’re going to do.”

Step up your move game.

Walking is one of the best activities for all ages and fitness levels. “You don’t have to sweat to get the benefits,” says Dhurandhar. “Weight-bearing activity, such as walking, preserves bone and muscle mass.” Measure steps with a fitness tracker or pedometer to stay aware of how much total movement you’re getting. Or try quick intervals, which can burn up to 20% more calories: choose the amount of time, number of steps, distance to travel, or even a part of a song to listen to—put your butt off until the interval is over, then take it back and repeat.

Find an outlet for stress.

Dr. Cheskin says stress can get in the way of healthy behaviors by causing cravings for sweets, alcohol, or avoidance of physical activity. It also interrupts sleep. Find strategies to help you cope: go outside and move, stay still and color, take a bath, try meditation, or call a friend and talk to them.

The whole point is to lose weight as we age

Reframe your perspective and accept that bodies change with age. “There are changes, but we’re lucky if we get the chance to get older. After the past few years, we’ve survived a lot. If you’re still here, you’ve already won. Be grateful for who you are,” Marky says.

Maintaining a healthy weight is a lifelong journey, and not every technique works for everyone, so choose what works for you. By making small changes and increasing your awareness of eating, sleeping, and managing stress, it is possible to overcome significant weight gain. “Even if you gain weight over the next two decades, but you do your best to change course so that it becomes 20 pounds instead of 50, it’s a victory,” says Dhurandhar.

Head shot by Arricca Elin SanSone

Arricca SanSone writes for CountryLiving.com, WomansDay.com, family circleMarthaStewart.com Cooking Light, Parents.com, and many more. She is passionate about gardening, baking, reading, Polish pottery, old cookbooks, and spending time with the people and dogs she loves.


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