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.
This is an introduction to the subject of your body in your 50’s. There is lots to cover so this topic will be covered over several posts.
Once it was considered normal for a woman in her 50’s to weigh more than she did in her 30’s. Now doctors are saying this is wrong. We should weigh the same. The trouble is that middle-aged spread creeps up, a kilo or so each year, every year.
Why middle-age spread is oh so bad
By the time you are 50 there is no option but to get serious about your body, diet and exercise regimen (or lack thereof). Now is the time to put in solid work to set you up for the coming decades. No one says it’s easy; staying healthy requires constant effort. But the rewards are immense. Yes, you want to look good, but a better long-term approach is to be healthy.
We’ve known for a long time that fat around your middle is especially bad for your health, making you more prone to diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Scientists now think middle area fat blocks the body’s signalling mechanism for controlling insulin. The system hiccups along, producing too much sugar and then too much insulin. As well as leading to diabetes, an over-production of insulin is thought to cause chronic low level inflammation throughout the body and play a role in hardening of the arteries and heart disease. High insulin levels are also thought to promote the growth of some cancer cells.
Some facts about fat
Losing weight and staying slim is not just about looking good. Obesity is more dangerous than smoking and can shorten your life by as much as 13 years. It contributes to about 10 per cent of cancers in non-smokers and it can increase the risk of heart disease by as much as 2.4 times (from the Foresight report written by 250 of the world’s top scientists). To make matters worse, another study – conducted in Australia and reported in the British Medical Journal – shows that obesity in middle age increases your risk of dementia in old age.
It’s true that the middle-aged spread creeps up on you. I would love to weigh the same as I did in my 30’s but I don’t. At least not at the moment. To say we should weigh the same as we did in our 30’s when we are in our 50’s, whether true or not, adds more pressure to us when we already put enough pressure on ourselves as it is. Additional pressure like this could make us feel like failures and we don’t want that! Our bodies change not only in weight but shape as we age. To expect to have a body that looks the same in its 50’s as it did in its 30’s seems ludicrous to me. Also, at this age we already have so much to juggle and deal with: the effects of perimenopause/menopause, launching young adult kids or still mothering younger kids, aging parents, adjusting to empty nest syndrome, rediscovering who we are and what we enjoy doing, preparing for retirement, our own aging and changing bodies. We don’t need to feel shamed and pressured about our weight on top of it all. That is the only thing that I question. Everything else Pamela says above is very true and I agree with.
We do need to get serious about our health when we reach our 50’s. We can’t avoid it. We can’t neglect or abuse our bodies anymore or we feel crappy and pay the consequences. Obesity causes so many health risks and issues and we have to be proactive if we want to avoid these. If we want to continue to live happy, healthy and active lives then we have no choice but to put in the effort by eating a good nutritious and healthy diet, being active regularly (find ways you enjoy – some posts to inspire here, here and here) and looking after our minds and spirits (e.g. mindfulness, meditation and self investment)! This is the age where that saying “use it or lose it” could very well become a reality if not careful.
There are many factors that come into play with regards to the middle-age spread: why we gain weight and why it is so hard to lose weight, and they will be covered in more detail in separate posts to come.
Are you over 50? Are you finding the need to put more effort in these days towards your health in order to feel good? Do you weigh the same as you did in your 30’s?
Ciao for now,
Link up here at WOTM or with another of us in the Lovin’ Life Linky team:
Leanne of Deep Fried Fruit
Lyndall of Seize the Day Project
Kathy of 50 Shades of Age
Deborah of Debbish
and Jo of And Anyways
It doesn’t matter where you link up as it will magically appear on all six blogs.
I’m changing shape and I have to say I really hate it. My metabolism has also changed and I can’t have a drink at all if I’m driving…so it’s def the metabolism, not just too many cakes….
Yes I think our metabolism slows down. The usual tricks to lose weight no longer work and it becomes much more difficult to shift the weight. A bit of a challenge for us! haha
I’ve started seeing a therapist. Again. Yesterday I had my first appointment and one of our discussions was about my goals. And she asked if I want to be a certain weight or if I want to feel good. I know it’s the latter but ignoring the numbers (and, as you say in your post, expectations of the world around us) is very hard.
I hope seeing a therapist helps Deb! I think not focussing on the numbers but rather how we feel is a very good idea. Often we lose inches/cm’s but the scales don’t reflect that. It’s all about feeling good! 🙂
I wish I weighed the same now as I did in my 30s but I don’t and my body shape is different too. I’m still recovering from the flu at the moment but I’m looking forward to getting back into my fitness routine once I can breathe properly when exercising again instead of coughing after 1 minute.
Sorry to hear you’ve had the dreaded flu Ingrid! Hope you’re feeling yourself again soon! In my early 30’s I had 3 little kids, one was a baby I was breastfeeding. When I breastfed I was usually pretty trim! We had different hormones and stuff at that age to what we have now. Hope you can get back into your fitness routine again soon. I am not a huge exercise or sporting fan so I prefer to think of exercise as activities that are active and that I enjoy – like walking and dancing and hiking and swimming etc. 🙂
Don’t get me started Min! I’ve put on 12 kilos since my 30s and although I’ve always battled to keep the weight off by eating sensibly and exercising I still seem to be overweight. I’m currently on Weight Watchers trying to lose some of the excess but it’s slow progress to date. I think our metabolisms are screwed at this point in our lives. I practically have to starve myself to lose a few kilos! However due to the health issue I’m sticking with the weight loss program until I lose at least 10 kilos. I do agree that there is so much pressure on us to look like 30 year olds these days. I think to an extent we are destined to be a bit chubby in our 50s and beyond.
It’s so much harder at this age Kathy. Our metabolism and hormones work against us I think. I think its best we not rely on the scales as our guide but how we feel. You might be right in saying that we’re destined to have a bit of chub hereonin! Guess it depends on the individual body type though. As long as we generally feel good and healthy and happy I guess! 🙂
Well I apparently have middle aged spread in my 30s haha. I think the … problem isn’t quite the right word… here is that we need to separate weight from body shape, type, and all those other variables. I remember hearing of someone who got denied insurance because their BMI was too high – because they were a weightlifter and all muscle! It’s an extreme example but it’s a good reminder of how different bodies can look and feel.
I think there is a lot to be said about relying on the BMI as a guide. It doesn’t consider age and other variables like your weightlifter example!
I know my body started changing around 50 – I’m definitely a few kilos heavier and I’m wider at the waist than I used to be. But I refuse to beat myself up about it – I am definitely trying to eat healthy and move more though. I read a fantastic post on FB the other day that said our body image should be based on: “How do I need my body to perform in order to continue to contribute, feel fulfilled, give back to myself and those that I love around me. How do I need it to perform to do the things I love to do?” I thought that was a good base point rather than weight or shape.
Same here Leanne – my body is different in my 50s than it was in my 40s and definitely my 30s but that’s life. I’ll do the best I can do to be healthy and active but like you I’m not going to beat myself up and let it consume me. I like that post you read on FB. Yes I just want my body to be able to allow me to continue to live and do what I want to do, in comfort (in a nutshell)! 🙂
Hi Min – I loved this post last year, and loved it again this year – Thanks for linking up with us at #MLSTL and I’ve shared this on my SM xx
Thank you Leanne! xo
It’s been the opposite for me, Min. I actually starting losing weight a couple of years ago without trying. We think it’s my hormones, but as much as that’s what everyone dreams about—it was quite scary. Because if you ever google “unintentional weight loss” —cancer is what comes up. I’ve leveled off now, so we think I’m stable. But there’s a smidge of worry still lurking….
I can understand how that would have been concerning Jodie! You do look great though – slim and healthy. I’m glad it’s leveled off now though and all is looking good! 🙂 xo
Lots to think about in this post, Min. I haven’t hit 50 yet but I seem to have had a head start on the weight gain.
That’s the creep SSG – the middle aged spread creeping up on you! Scary! LOL xo
Min I couldn’t help but laugh (at my own expense) at the line after which you inserted your ‘read more’ tag – ‘There is lots to cover…’ Yes, I certainly have a bit more to cover than I did in my 30s!! Whilst I’d love to get rid of the ‘spread’ in my middle region, I’m not really willing to put in the hard work to shift it. Perhaps one day I’ll decide to sacrifice the things that I love in order to drop a bit of weight. For now, I focus on overall wellbeing. I totally agree that we can all do without being made to feel shame or ‘not good enough’ because we don’t weigh the same as we did in our 30s.
Haha I never thought of that ‘there’s lots to cover’!! I concentrate on general wellbeing too. I can’t do the rigorous exercise I used to and refuse to put myself through that anymore. Instead, I prefer forms of activity I enjoy like brisk walking, some aqua aerobics, some cycling, bush walking etc … and besides it’s the food that goes into your mouth that is the main factor towards our weight so I concentrate on portion size and good nutritious food. 🙂
Hi Min, I actually weigh less at 60 than 30 but that is because I exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet. I still have my treats but I want to be fit and healthy to enjoy keeping up with my grandchildren. It isn’t about how we look but rather how healthy our bodies are and that shines through. We are on the same wavelength this week with our blogs ☺
I’d love to be a runner like you Sue but my body is not made for it, so brisk walking it is! You are very lucky to weigh less at 60 than you did at 30 but you’ve worked hard to achieve that so good on you! I want to be fit and healthy so I can live and do what I want to for decades to come! Hopefully I too will have some grandchildren to enjoy one day! Yes we are certainly both on the same wavelength on our blogs this week! lol 🙂
Oh yeah … I’ve gained 3 or 4 kilos so far this year, WTF. And even when I’m exercising, instead of losing weight like I used to, I am just staying the same … at least I’m not gaining more! Will definitely be having a chat about my rapid weight gain to my doctor when I see her in 2 weeks time, to check on my progress with the CPAP machine. I actually thought better sleep might help with the weight too but not so far!
I know what you mean Janet. Suddenly it’s harder to shift weight than it used to be. So not fair!
Yes, I’m over 50 and it’s definitely more challenging to keep the weight under control. Having said that, I now exercise most days, which I didn’t do in my 20’s and 30’s, so I’m actually a lot healthier. The exercise helps keep my weight down, and eating healthy foods more often is a game changer. I was a chocoholic and sugar addict, but now I’ve cut most of those things out of my diet -making a big difference to my weight and overall health 🙂 #TeamLovinLife
You’re doing so well Lyndall. Looking trim, fit and fabulous and producing some gorgeous sunrise pics in the process! 🙂
Using the BMI to determine good health is so outdated, and should be thrown out with being dictated to by the numbers on scales. Having PCOS, it was recommended to me by the Gyno to get rid of the scales and focus on looking after my mental health, eating well and exercising. Being out of action for six weeks recently and not being able to exercise, was a harsh reminder that if I don’t keep the exercise up the body will seize up.
I totally agree about not relying on the BMI as a guide. My sister has PCOS so I understand some of the issues you’d have living with that Jenni. I agree that looking after our mental health, being active and eating well are far more important than obsessing about numbers on the scales.
Oh no, not the same as 50. Although not horribly so, enough. About 20 pounds. I agree, that after 50 we should be more diligent about taking care of ourselves. It’s like the car that has over 100,000 miles on it now. It just needs a little more TLC and more frequent oil changes so that it will last longer.
Thanks for a great post.
Thanks Trisha! Great analogy with the car! I agree that we need a little more TLC and maintenance as we get older.
I totally agree with you Min. I don’t get on the scales now only when I visit the Dr. We can tell from our clothes if we are losing or gaining weight. The main message should be as you say, not trying to be the same weight as when we are 30 but living a healthy lifestyle which includes regular exercise and good eating habits. It is about our health not whether we have a model figure or not. Loved this! Thanks so much for sharing and linking up at #MLSTL.
I agree with everything you’ve said Sue. Can’t remember the last time I got on the scales. I don’t even know my actual weight right now … and don’t want to know. I go by how I feel. xo
I enjoyed this post, Min. My clothing size has not changed for a long time and the clothes still fit comfortably. I have more muscles now from regular exercise.
Thanks Natalie! Oh you’re so lucky that your clothing size hasn’t changed in a long time. I can’t say the same unfortunately but I focus on living as healthy a lifestyle as I can and that’s the main thing. I’m absolutely loving Reformer Pilates which I’m doing a few times a week and it’s really helping to make me stronger and more toned. 🙂
I agree Min it’s hard to weight the same as we did in our 30s without a whole lot of life adjustments. We don’t need to eat so much as we get older, but the desire to eat, cook nice things and go out for meals is stronger! Plus weight shifts to different places. I’ve noticed my thighs get a slimmer over the years but my waist grow larger. Weight re-distribution is a real thing.
It’s a lot more work now to try and stay slim that’s for sure Jo! And, yes weight re-distribution is a real thing – I’ve found that it’s around the waist/tummy area that the weight seems to go at this age. As long as we’re healthy and stay active that’s the main thing I guess! 🙂
I agree with all the comments here Min, you’ve really hit a nerve with this one. I find it very difficult to shift any weight despite doing all the right things. It’s quite demoralising.
I know how you feel Debbie. It’s much harder to shift weight at this age. All the old tricks no longer work. Lots less food has to go in and lots more activity needs to happen and even then it can be slow and difficult but the main thing is to eat healthy and stay active so that we are healthy and able to do what we want to do! 🙂
I am 67 and it has been a long time since I weighed what the weight charts say I should. As many have said health is the important thing if I didn’t have thyroid problems I would take no medicines. My flexibility isn’t what I would like and I try to work on that
I have thyroid problems too Victoria. Mine is underactive – so I know it can be hard. My flexibility and strength has improved so much this year since I’ve started doing reformer pilates three times a week. It’s a winner! I love it! 🙂
I actually managed to lose close to 50 pounds over the past two years, just as menopause is setting in. I simply found a food plan that worked for me. Now though, I’m recently diagnosed with a big GI issue so we’ll see.
As the weight has come off and I’m closer than I ever was before to pre-pregnancy weight, I can see the stretch marks coming out. But it’s okay. I worked hard for them!
That is fabulous that you found a food plan that worked for you Marya! It’s pretty rare & difficult to be able to lose weight just as menopause is setting in, so yay you! Hmmph – don’t worry about those stretch marks. We all have them. Sounds to me you’re doing great! 🙂