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,
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