Gaining weight during middle age is only natural, right? Wrong. If you dread the pounds of midlife, cheer up! With the right attitude and an appropriate diet and exercise regiment, you may be able to keep your youthful figure and good health for a healthy start to your silver and golden years.
Midlife weight gain is unfortunately very common.There are definite factors working against you as you age. Besides fluctuating hormone levels, your metabolism begins to slow down. This means it takes more work to burn the calories you consume. Another problem is that most adults lose between 30 and 50 percent a pounds of muscle each year. The smaller your muscles are, the fewer the calories you are able to burn. Weight gain during your midlife is also a danger to your health as it increases your risks for a range of serious medical conditions from diabetes to heart disease to Alzheimer's disease.
Despite these possible setbacks to maintaining a healthy weight as you age, it is very important to prevent those extra pounds. There are four main reasons why people gain weight during their 40s and 50s: hormones, overeating, lack of exercise, and stress. Though it would be easy to blame weight gain on changing hormones, research has shown that hormones are responsible for only two to five extra pounds. Poor lifestyle choices account for the rest.
Looking for an answer to combat your lack of good lifestyle decisions? It comes down to maintaining a healthy diet, regular exercise, and stress management. In other words, you're going to have to start making good decisions soon.
Eat and Burn
The key to avoiding gradual weight gain is to burn as many calories as you consume. This will probably mean eating smaller portions at meals and including more physical activities in your daily routine. When you eat smaller portions, it is important to make sure you include a balanced diet of high protein foods such as meat, dairy, and eggs, and high fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Not only will these healthy foods contribute to your weight control, they will also improve your mood and give you more energy throughout the day.
After watching your calorie intake, you must make sure you burn those calories and speed up your metabolism with aerobic or cardiovascular exercise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a "minimum of 30 minutes of exercise most days to improve health." A good goal would be to burn 400 to 500 calories a day, and here's the good news - it is never too late to begin exercising! Whether walking, swimming, biking, gardening, or weight lifting, find something you enjoy, and make it a part of your everyday routine. Not only will you burn those extra calories, you will feel better about yourself and have more energy to face your day.
Decompress the Stress
A third reason for why people in their middle ages gain weight easily is because of the high level of stress in their lives. When under stress, many people tend to overeat, not exercise enough, or attempt to ease stress through unhealthy behaviors such as drinking or smoking. To manage stress, you must first identify the causes. Then you must take charge of your thoughts, emotions, work schedule, family life, and environment. Aim for a balance of fun, work, and relaxation. For some extra help, find support from a friend, spouse, or therapist to reduce the stress in your life.
No matter how common midlife weight gain seems, it is not necessarily inevitable. You just have to take control. So eat a balanced diet, exercise for your physical and emotional well-being, and reduce the stressors in your life. Then kick back and relax, knowing you won't be another victim of midlife weight gain.