What makes loosing weight hard as we get older and how can we get a handle on it?
We had this question recently from one of our clients, but it’s not the first time we’ve been asked it. We’re middle aged ourselves so this is something we’ve looked into, for our own goals and to successfully help our clients.
First up, why does it get harder to lose weight as we age? Well, there are a few reasons – mostly to do with the natural ageing process of our bodies. After about the age of 35 (we’re all different though – that’s why we work with blood tests and genetic samples with our consulting clients), there are a number of hormonal changes going on in the body which can contribute to weight gain.
For both men and women sex hormone levels drop, with less testosterone in the body, we have a lowered ability to synthesis new muscle tissue. This is an issue as from this age we’re losing roughly 3 to 5% of our muscle mass per decade with a resulting progressive drop strength. It’s a double whammy, our muscle tissue is degenerating and our hormonal balance is no longer primed for regeneration.
Our bone density also lowers (partly in thanks to lower oestrogen levels), while this won’t affect our weight per se, it’s important to note this for the fixes we’re going to recommend.
Likewise our collagen production lowers as our age increases (yes wrinkles!) but also less elastic tendons and ligaments.
On top of this our metabolisms also slow as we age, meaning we burn less energy than we used to. Now factor in that muscle is highly metabolically active, and that we’re losing that too and you can see that we’ve got double whammy of metabolic sluggishness.
Throw increased stress into the mix (midlifers are known as Generation Squeeze – careers, kids, parents etc) and you can be looking at raised cortisol levels too. This is linked with increased body fat (particularly abdominal fat) not to mention a host of other negative health indicators – both physical and mental.
So, let’s recap: our metabolisms are slowing, we’re losing muscle mass (slowing metabolism further), strength, flexibility and bone density. We’re probably stressed too, leading to more fat gain and our lifestyles probably mean we’re not moving as much as we should and we’re probably eating too many of the wrong things at the wrong times. That’s why losing weight is harder as we get older.
All is not lost – far from it! And it doesn’t take a massive lifestyle overhaul. We need to address two factors – movement, and nutrition.
As we age, it’s great to keep moving for all kinds of health reasons, and if you can, a couple of HIIT sessions a week are going to be great to boost your cardiovascular fitness, burn body fat and raise your metabolic rate. If you need to ease into HIIT then standard cardio is fine, it’s about getting moving regularly.
If you can go the HIIT route then you need to train for 15 – 20 mins twice a week – do-able!
We also want to not only preserve, but increase that muscle mass, so a minimum of two sessions of resistance training a week are your prescription for: increased muscle, increased strength, better bone density, higher metabolic rate.
These sessions don’t have to be in a gym, or even using weights at all. Again, a 20 to 30 minute bodyweight workout can work wonders.
Moving more burns more calories too, which is going to help with your fat loss. The other thing that’s going to help is addressing your nutrition. Knowing what to eat, when makes a huge difference and it’s not about restriction or foregoing your pleasures – we love a drink. This is something we spend time coaching our clients on and helping them with their nutrition, making sure they’ve got a firm grasp of the essentials for sustainable, long term healthy living.
Add some stretching post workout for those tendons and ligaments, or a regular yoga class, and when you put it all together you’re helping future proof your body for old age.
Finally, address the stress. Start habits and rituals that help move you to a more positive space. Practice meditation and mindfulness. There’s a lot you can do for yourself, but working on your mind is definitely an area that getting help can make a big difference with. We’ll use NLP techniques or patterning based on hypnotic symbolism to help clients reduce stress and shift towards positive habits and thoughts.
There we have it, some of the things that are happening to us as we get older, and solutions for dealing with them so that we can get to, then stay, in the mental and physical shape we want to be in.
With the right knowledge its not that hard, its not that time-consuming but the results can be life changing and prevention is better than cure. It’s not too late to start and imagine how good you could be feeling a month from now 🙂
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