It’s time to finally end the limiting belief that age is a barrier to weight loss
During my late 30’s, I weighed more than I should have. Although I was not overweight, I felt uncomfortable and insecure. I wanted to regain my confidence again, wearing the clothes I liked and tapping back into the energy I once had. I put on weight because I dieted for so long as a bodybuilder. I couldn’t lose that weight for the first time in my life. I searched far and wide on Google and consulted with trainers and many other professionals about this issue. But was I succumbing to the theory of getting older and my ability to lose weight? That didn’t make sense to me! I recall a conversation with my trainer — as I was unhappy with my appearance. I compared myself to a woman (we knew mutually) that lost a lot of weight and looked fantastic. His response was:“It takes time — you have to let your body get back to normal and stick with the right diet.” The problem was, I was sticking to the diet, but it didn’t work! Nothing did, hence the frustration. But, after spending many years trying different things, researching and failing — I finally got the resolution I wanted. It all comes down to caloric consumption and hormones. You get into that weight gain spiral when your hormones are out of wack because of too much dieting and eating more than your body needs. I believe that balancing my hormones through intermittent fasting was the key to my success. And that has been my lifestyle ever since — and now I’m 43. It works so well that I have maintained my shape, built muscle mass and sustained my leanness as much as possible — without deprivation and struggle. I still hear those words from other women — that weight loss gets more challenging after a certain age, but are we just making excuses? I know I was, and I believe that when we feed ourselves falsities, we also surrender to them. We lead our lives based on what someone else has said rather than looking at the science. The University of Warwick and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust studied age and weight loss potential. They randomly selected 242 patients who attended the WISDOM-Based obesity service between 2005 and 2016 and then compared the two groups (those under 60 years and those aged between 60 and 78) for weight loss achievement during their time within the service.
All the necessary measurements were taken and compared between the two.
The findings are as follows:
Those aged 60 and over reduced their body weight by 7.3% compared to a bodyweight reduction of 6.9% in those under 60 years. Both groups spent a similar amount of time in the facility, averaging 33.6 months. Those 60 years and over, and 41.5 months for those younger than 60. This hospital-based lifestyle program is tailored to each patient, focusing on dietary changes and psychological support whilst encouraging physical activity. Unfortunately, most of these patients were morbidly obese. Obesity can decrease with weight loss and reduced diabetes, psychiatric conditions like depression, anxiety, osteoarthritis and many other problems stem from obesity. Obesity is also closely linked to morality and poor well-being. Dr Thomas Barber, the lead author of this project, says, “Weight loss is significant at any age, but, as we get older, we’re most likely to develop weight-related morbidities of obesity. Many of these are similar to the effects of ageing, so you could argue that the relevance of weight loss becomes heightened as we get older, which we should embrace.There are several reasons why people may discount weight loss in older individuals.These include an ‘ageist’ perspective that weight loss is not relevant to older people and the misconceptions of the reduced ability of older people to lose weight through dietary modifications and exercise. Older people may also feel that hospital-based obesity services are not for them.Age should never be a barrier to lifestyle management of obesity. On the contrary, we should proactively facilitate that process rather than putting up barriers to older people accessing weight loss programmes. To do otherwise would risk further and unnecessary neglect of older people through societal ageist misconceptions.” Now that I’m writing this exert from Dr Thomas Barber, I feel that misconceptions of age limitations — specifically weight loss, are prevalent from a ripe old age of 30! It’s no surprise that the gap widens a lot more as we move towards our 50s and beyond. But, the research indicates that people of any age can lose weight. Sure, most people may need a little more intervention — but when we start to build good habits, those benefits will transition as much as our age does. If you think that perhaps it’s too late for you, it is not! Our bodies were made for movement and benefit throughout our lifetime when we feed ourselves nourishing food and move. So, yes, that includes weight training as well.
Start small and take one step at a time to start building up your own bodies resistance to disease and obesity by:
- Eating the right foods regularly — swapping highly refined foods for fresh, seasonal and nourishing “live foods.”
- Start exercising — begin with a walk around the block every day. Then expand to longer distances. Perhaps you might even start to jog or join the gym. Of course, you don’t have to run a marathon today, but a short stroll may be relaxing.
- Get your family members or loved ones involved. Set a challenge and see how far you can get in 12 months. Despite your age, you would have underestimated your capacity to make profound changes. We are well and truly capable of a lot more than we realise.
Don’t forget that we may need to turn a blind eye — perhaps an ear to those naysayers!
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