Dieting, weight loss & changing habits

September 19, 2019
Image of an apple, fork, measuring tape, and calorie counter

Image of an apple, fork, measuring tape, and calorie counter

This post is part of the Gorgeous 50’s series inspired by a book given to me by one of my sisters on my 50th birthday – ‘Grown up and Gorgeous in your 50’s’ by Pamela Robson.  I will be sharing some of Pamela’s words and my own thoughts along the way.  To see all posts published as part of this series, go here.

Pamela says:

Diets come and go, but there is no magic pill for weight loss. Gaining and losing weight is all about the little habits you’ve developed. Every time you replace a bad habit with a good one, it is a step in the right direction.

    • We often use food as a reward. Try to be aware of when and why you are eating. Use something else as a reward or comfort.
    • Stay within your kilojoule allowance and you’ll lose weight. If you drop 400 kilojoules from your daily diet, you should lose about 1 kilogram a week.
    • Adding exercise to the equation can boost your ability to lose weight. It helps to increase your metabolic rate, even after you’ve stopped working out.
    • Eat smaller portions, and forget what your mother taught you about finishing everything.
    • Make a shopping list and don’t shop when hungry. If it’s in the pantry you’re more likely to be tempted to eat it.
    • Be patient, you have to be in it for life. Be warned, go back to your old habits and you’ll go back to your old weight.

My thoughts:

First up – I’m not a dietician and I’m not a nutritionist.  I am though, a mid-life woman who is sharing her thoughts and opinions based on her own personal experiences.

Dieting and Weight Loss

I’ll be the first to admit that weight loss is something I’m always striving for since I hit these mid-life years!  It’s not as easy to stay slim and maintain it as when I was younger.  However, I don’t believe in diets at all anymore (and I think I’ve tried them all).  I believe in education – learning what is good for us and what isn’t; gaining an understanding of appropriate portion sizes and how much can be eaten in a day to either maintain our weight or lose some if that is what we are hoping to achieve; and little habits that can be changed that will accumulate to make a difference!

My research tells me that as we women age we don’t need as many calories, nor can we eat as big a meal!  Our metabolism slows and our muscle mass decreases, which can lead to weight gain in the long run.  Regular exercise, especially strength training, is paramount.  Here’s some posts I’ve written previously in this series about exercise for women over 50:  Exercise over 50 – Weights, Cardio & Stretching, and The best 50-something workout.

Menopause and Sleep

Another couple of things that women over 50 need to be aware of when striving to lose and/or maintain weight are:  Menopause and weight gain and Sleep and weight gain!  The two links provided there will provide more information to help with weight loss and to maintain as well.

How many calories should we eat per day?

For women, generally it is recommended we eat within the vicinity of 1,200 to 2,200 calories per day dependent on how active our lifestyle is and whether we are looking to lose weight or to maintain our weight.  You would need to seek the advice of an expert (dietician/nutritionist etc) to determine the right amount to match with your lifestyle and needs.

By the way – 400 kilojoules (as mentioned by Pamela above) is equivalent to 95.602 calories. 

Food as a reward

I agree with Pamela that as a culture we do tend to reward ourselves with food or drink or both!  “Let’s celebrate with a wine and a cheese platter!”  “Let’s catch up over dinner or Devonshire Tea”, etc etc.  We should really try changing things up to things like – “let’s catch up for a walk and a chat”.  You can still follow it up with a drink – but more-so with the purpose to hydrate while you chat!  Aside from meeting up with friends, I choose to reward myself for achievements or even just getting through a busy week with things like a pedicure or a hair appointment or a walk somewhere nice out in nature.

Portion size

Smaller portions is a given when it comes to meal times and a desire for weight loss or even to maintain our weight.  I actually have found this easier as I’ve gotten older as our appetite’s do seem to decrease somewhat. I’d prefer to have a smaller main meal and leave room for maybe some strawberries and blueberries with a bit of  yoghurt as a treat afterwards, than to eat one huge main meal that leaves me feeling overly full and heavy and blah!  My problem area, which I’ve said many times here on the blog, is SNACKING!  I think I might need to be hypnotised or something to stop me snacking!  

Grocery shopping when hungry

I most definitely have been caught in the shopping whilst hungry trap.  Best to avoid that one ladies.  Eat before you go!  If I’m hungry when I go grocery shopping all kinds of things seem to ‘fall’ into my trolley – pikelets, chocolates, savoury treats, you name it!  Then they are at home in my pantry taunting me all week – if they last the week!  This lesson has well and truly been learnt!

Nutrition for the 50+

I have my own opinions on what are the best kind of foods to eat at this stage of our lives and what foods must be avoided, but I’m hesitant to share them here because 1) I’m not a qualified expert & I’d prefer to refer to the advice from experts, and 2) Advice and opinions seem to be changing all the time, and 3) Food choices depend on taste and if you have any intolerances/allergies etc.  I will say though (because I can’t help myself) the following:

  1. The more fresh and organic foods that you eat the better.   It’s best to reduce or even remove processed foods from your diet. 
  2. I personally try to eat protein with every meal but not large amounts.  This does not mean red meat – there are loads of alternatives.  See these examples of healthy protein foods as advised by The Heart Foundation. 
  3. I recommend investigating anti-inflammatory foods, and 
  4. Learn what you can do to improve your gut health.  Here’s a couple of articles to get you started:  8 Steps to Better Gut Heath (by Dr Joanna) – a PDF;  and 5 top foods to nourish your gut bacteria (by Jean Hailes).

Here’s a post I wrote very recently on Healthy eating habits for women over 50 that’s well worth a read if you haven’t read it already.

If you’d like to know more about what nutrition is recommended for adults over 50 here in Australia, this is what Nutrition Australia tells us. 

You may also like to watch this video (13 minutes, 56 seconds) of Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond interviewing Erin O’Neill an Accredited Practising Dietician who talks on what Smart Eating is and tips for Women Over 50 to eat smarter and healthier.

Of course, anyone with allergies or food intolerances (like myself) may need to make some adjustments. You might be best to seek the advice of a dietician or nutritionist for this.

My final thoughts

Of course we would all like to feel slim and lovely but I’m of the opinion these days that the aim should not be a SKINNY body but rather a HEALTHY body.  In these days of hyper connectivity and social media we also need to be careful to not be comparing our bodies to all those body beautifuls (many of which are likely to be facetuned) we see on Instagram (for example).  We often tend to forget that more often than not those girls are 20-30 or so years younger than us and at their age we too looked like that!  We all come in different shapes and sizes and all bodies are beautiful!  They are the vessels that carry us through our lives and we’ve gotta be grateful for that!  True beauty really is what lies beneath the skin.  Us ladies can be far too critical of ourselves can’t we (yes, myself included)?!

Enjoy your week!

Ciao for now,

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  • Reply Joanne Tracey September 19, 2019 at 6:19 am

    Ok, I’m on the numbers merry-go-round with this at present and it’s mind-blowing. I’m losing about 300g a week, have increased exercise (pretty much doubled daily stepping), cut weekday wines and snacks & evening carbs. For 300g a week. It’s exhausting lol! Mind you I still have my cheat Saturday nights & lunch out on Sundays…which is probably why it’s only 300g a week lol. x

    • Reply Min September 19, 2019 at 12:37 pm

      300g’s a week is great Jo! It’s going in the right direction and is consistent. You’re doing better than me! You’re also much better at the regular walking than me. I’ve fallen off the bandwagon with that one. In my defence though I have been great at going to Pilates three times a week. Although this week is a write-off with me being sick with a chest infection etc. I’m with you – it does get exhausting having to think about all this stuff. I kinda just try and make subtle tweaks and changes and not overwhelm myself! 🙂 xo

  • Reply Lydia C. Lee September 19, 2019 at 8:22 am

    I am gaining weight in places I’ve never had it before…it’s depressing. I’m trying not to worry too much about it – I do need to cut down on the junk, but I refuse to cut down on my nightly cocktail (tho I do have 2 alcohol free nights a week). There needs to be some easy pleasures. I have cut down on meat, only not to waste the vegetarian meals I make for my eldest who is then never home to eat it. I figure that’s helping the environment and hopefully my calorie intake a bit…#Lovinglifelinky

    • Reply Min September 19, 2019 at 12:40 pm

      It’s a bit of a pain isn’t it? Mostly with women in midlife, it’s the midsection where the weight goes. Delightful! You’re doing lots of the right things. It’s what I do – little subtle changes, bit by bit, careful not to overwhelm myself or have myself feeling deprived. It all eventually accumulates and results can be seen, even if small. 🙂

  • Reply Deborah September 19, 2019 at 9:58 am

    I’m the same with ‘fit and healthy’ over skinny.

    I’ve just passed the (one year without a period) mark so not sure how much the menopause symptoms start / stop from this point but I’ll be relieved when they do. My doctor has been very disinterested so I’ve not talked to her about it at all and just waffled through the last few years.

    I need to clean up my eating (not in a wanky ‘clean eating’ way) but I need to eat healthier and less junk. I’ve cut back on my drinking over the last six months because – not working – I realised I had no excuse to not indulge most nights. And I need to do some exercise as it’s not been high on my agenda though should have been!

    Thanks for the reminders Min!

    • Reply Min September 19, 2019 at 12:46 pm

      I accepted long ago that I will never be ‘skinny minny’ again (see what I did there?) and I’m ok with that. I’ve embraced my curves now and I actually don’t mind them. There are parts I don’t like so much though and so I keep trying to make changes bit by bit to help improve those areas but mostly I just want to be reasonably FIT and HEALTHY and I want to make sure I have healthy bones and a healthy mind. I’ll never be super fit or an elite athlete of any kind. I’m simply just not built for it but I will do my best to keep active in ways that I enjoy and try and eat good nutrition so I can live as I want to as long as possible. That’s not to say I’m perfect though. I have days I eat crap and don’t move too. I’m always a work in progress! lol

  • Reply Sydney Shop Girl September 19, 2019 at 6:37 pm

    Lots to think about, Min! I know what I need to do and I do do it but sometimes I just divert from the plan. I’m more aware now about portion control and moderation and I’ve tried to make gradual changes because I find that easier to stick to. I don’t ‘diet’ as such these days but I am mindful about what I eat. Above all, I’ve ditched the empty calories of diet foods for good. Life is too short for all those chemicals!

    SSG xxx

    • Reply Min September 20, 2019 at 5:27 pm

      You’re not alone SSG. I divert from the plan quite a bit too. For example, I am so so good with my 3 x weekly Reformer Pilates classes but I’m supposed to go walking on 3 of the other days, leaving 1 day for rest. I seem to be getting 4 days of rest lately! I also have a problem with snacking … Sooooo … I am far from nailing this thing but at least I’m educating myself, and I’m trying. I don’t ‘diet’ either – been there done that in a zillion different ways *BIG YAWN*. Portion control, wiser food choices, mindful eating and as you say gradual changes are all good and sensible choices! 🙂 xoxo

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