In a recent post, I address the 10 most common mistakes women 50 and over make when it comes to weight loss. I was asked, “why is this specific to women 50?” As women 50 and over we’ve lived the longest having learned old science, and even though logical new information comes our way, changing our old thoughts is extremely hard. We default in times of stress to our comfort zone and continue what we’ve always done. Our brains and even emotions have been programmed a certain way for decades. Unlearning and relearning takes more exposure. So, yes the focus is on you and this second fifty! This is about flipping your old thoughts into new and new actions that will lead to optimal energy and health that make your best weight a beautiful side affect .
1. Measure Your Body Fat and Lean Muscle Regularly
A body composition test will tell you how much lean mass you have and how much fat mass you have. The first measure is just a benchmark. It is what it is: no judgment, please!
If you’re losing weight, or trying to but not losing, this will be your GPS. You’ll know that you’re doing the right thing or that you need to reroute. If you don’t have a home scale that measures body composition (put it on your wish list and never buy another scale without it) find a gym or nutritionist who will measure body fat every 6-8 weeks for you.
2. Count Habits Not Calories
If you must count, count the number of glasses of water you drink. Count the grams of fiber. Count the meals where you get adequate protein. Count the intervals or the days you lift heavy. Count the nights you meet your sleep quota. These things add up to your success. You need to count them diligently until they become your new “normal.”
Then you may need just need a recheck from time to time to be sure you haven’t slipped into old habits.
3. Make Peace with and Friend Fat
Science can be frustrating. The best information we had decades ago caused us to believe eating fat makes us fat. Now that we have newer information proving otherwise we need to use it.
Fat is crucial if you want to create a physical environment with less inflammation as well as an emotional environment that leaves you satisfied after a meal. Changing old thought patterns is a major part of getting different results from your nutrition habits.
4. Test Your Personal Needs
Some foods just don’t fit anywhere in your diet. What is healthy is relative only to you with minor exceptions. We know sugar is not healthy for anyone. We know there are healthy fats we all need. We know that specific amounts of protein is important.
Your unique biochemistry is different than any one else’s. You may also have needs unique to you right now based on hormones, illness, medications or activity level that change your need for micro and macronutrients. Gone are the days when one diet was right for weight loss or optimal health.
5. Get Breathless with Purpose
Every workout should have intention. Whether you exercise three days a week or six, no two of those days should be exactly the same. Some days should be short high intensity interval training. Some should focus on heavy weight training. You may have special needs for balance, agility or sports performance. Some days should be less breathless and more balancing. The more specific your exercise plan, the more specific your results. Balancing hormones with exercise calls for different activities at different times of day.
6. Lift Weights with a Plan
Boost metabolism for more fat burning around the clock with compound exercises that use multiple muscles and joints. Sequence exercises from highest priority to lowest. When you’re crunched for time fit in the highest priority exercises and leave the rest. Consistency is your best exercise partner.
You can’t expect exercise for your biceps and triceps will give you beautiful arms if you haven’t changed your body composition by lifting weights for major muscle groups.
7. Get N.E.A.T. and Nutrition-wise
Health conditions, injury, or travel can interfere with you getting as much exercise as you want. The lack of an hour a day of exercise is not a limiter for being your optimal weight. It’s harder to lose weight without exercise but not impossible. You can still optimize nutrition. It’s even more important for an inactive older adult to get adequate protein than an active adult since you’re less able to synthesize what you eat. You can still get daily Non Exercise Activity Time (N.E.A.T.).
You’ve heard to park further away and take the stairs more. This type of daily activity has been so removed from our electronically controlled lives that adding it on purpose matters. I remember watching television with my son when he was young. The batteries on the remote control weren’t working. He thought that was it, no more TV. The thought of getting up and walking across the room never occurred to him. He’d never seen it done. We’re not headed in a good direction!
Obesity researchers suggest that N.E.A.T. is really the needle mover for decreasing obesity. Compared to subjects who did an hour of daily vigorous exercise, subjects who exercised less but had more all day activity experienced more weight and fat losses.
8. Get Micronutrient Sufficient
Few of us can eat 20K calories a day (and it’s not a recommendation). Yet on average it would take that and more to get all the micronutrients we need no matter how you eat: vegan, Paleo, Mediterranean, and several other popular diets.
If you’re missing even one micronutrient, it could cause weight loss resistance, or fatigue preventing you from optimal energy and health. An informal discussion of your health habits can reveal potential micronutrient depletion.
9. Eat the Right Food at the Right Time
It’s no longer about the total of what you eat at the end of the day. Start looking at the amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fat in each meal. Based on your personal signs and symptoms of hormone imbalance, you can positively impact your health with a few changes to your meals and snacks.
10. Sleep Like a Boss
More and more studies show sleep is a key to weight loss. If you changed nothing else and suddenly began to reach your sleep quota, you may find optimal weight and energy come much easier.