I am a 59 year old woman, 4′ 11″ and I weigh 135 lbs. I have been exercising steadily for the past 24 months; I do 30 minutes of weight training 2-3 times per week, and at least 3 times a week of one-hour cardio classes (spin, step aerobics, body works, etc.). I eat healthy, do not drink or snack (never have), but the weight will not come off. I have been the same weight for several years since menopause, which began at approximately the age of 50. Before menopause I was at a steady 118-20 lbs. I developed severe migraines at menopause, and was prescribed amitriptyline, which took away the headaches but left me with the extra 15 pounds. I no longer take the medicine, but the weight remains, despite all my efforts to lose it through diet and exercise. Do I have to do more than workout 3 times a week and avoid alcohol and snacks to lose weight? – Anne Marie
Yes, it will take more than you’re doing to lose the weight. That doesn’t necessarily mean eating less but being wiser with your food choices. First, look at your fluids. Beverages are the #1 area of unnecessary calories. Just switching from regular lemonade to a lemon seltzer water can save you 100 calories per day – enough to lose 10 pounds in a year!
Second, be sure your carbohydrate choices (starches, vegetables, fruit) are fiber-rich. Always choose raw or minimally processed. Corn on the cob is better than cornbread. Raw apple with the skin is better than applesauce. This is because it takes your body longer to break down the whole food, thus limiting blood sugar spikes and therefore fat storage.
Next, check your timing of meals since you don’t eat in between. If you have a late lunch and heavy dinner then your calories are going more towards the evening when you sleep. Instead, fill up on a balanced low-sugar breakfast and make lunch your main meal to fuel your day when you’re burning the most energy.
Last, look at how your diet has changed in the last 2 years since you’ve been exercising steadily. Note any subtle changes, such as adding convenience foods – energy bars, instant breakfasts, frozen dinners – or dietary supplements, even if healthy ones. Just switching from a puffed cereal to a granola can offset the calories you burn in an hour exercise session.
I’d like to point out that you’re doing a great job working out and preventing further gain! The average age-related gain is 5 pounds per decade. Maintenance is still a positive. Think of it this way… by keeping your weight stable another decade you’ll be 10 pounds ahead of the game.
– Debbie J., MS, RD
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