We’ve all heard that our metabolisms slow with age, making it harder to lose and maintain your weight. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible: There are lots of women in their 40s, 50s, and beyond who are successful at managing their weight. When I used to go to Weight Watchers’ meetings, for instance, Lorraine, 70, was a stalwart: She’d been a member for 20-plus years but she still tracked her intake and went to meetings almost every week to stay on track. Thanks to these efforts, she was well within her healthy weight range.
What other strategies work?
Up your exercise. A recent Harvard study found that normal-weight women who want to prevent weight gain as they age need to do an hour of moderate-intensity physical activity a day.
But don’t overcompensate for calories burned. Research conducted at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge found that if you eat more after exercising, you could put a damper on your weight-loss efforts. Women who exercised 3 hours a week lost less weight than those who exercised 1-2 hours a week, presumably because they ate more. The truth is it takes a lot of effort to burn a significant amount of calories—and it’s counter-productive to assume that because you’ve exercised for half an hour, you can eat 200 more calories that day, say dietitians. What’s more, most exercisers overestimate the amount of calories they burn during exercise.
Don’t use food as a reward. That also can be counterproductive to your efforts. Substitute other rewards—a trip to the mall, a movie or a pedicure—for food.
Eat at home or pack your food as much as possible. That’s the best way to control your calories and portion sizes and make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need. (By the way, I just attended a Tupperware press event where they gave us sample products to use, and boy do I love them! The colors are gorgeous and the innovative designs and products really help you make healthy food fast and easy—like pesto from fresh basil and olive oil!)