Saturday, June 29, 2013
I was just reading some comments posted by members of one of my Spark Teams regarding losing weight in our 40s. Some of them were negative. It got me wondering how I feel about losing weight and changing habits in my 40s.
I've been the heaviest person in my family (excluding my dad) for most of the years since I was in high school. I started dieting in grade school, and continued through my teens, 20s and 30s. I didn't lose much weight, and regained what I did lose very quickly because I gravitated to fad diets. The only time I would call myself "thin" was during the downhill side of a terrible early marriage and the ensuing divorce. It turns out that I get nauseous when I'm really stressed and unhappy, so eating wasn't a hit for a few years. I'd call that the MISERY DIET! Once life improved the weight came back.
So how do I feel about losing weight in my 40s? I have had my only real success in this decade. Between 2005 and 2007 I lost 40 pounds by exercising more and eating smaller portions of foods I love. I never got into the "healthy" weight range for my height – but I was close!
I have some theories about why my 40s have been my most successful decade for losing weight and improving my health:
1) When I'm unfit I FEEL OLD. In my teens, 20s, and 30s I might have felt winded or tired due to my weight or lack of fitness, but I wouldn't have labeled it as "feeling old." I don't mind GETTING OLDER, but I don't want to FEEL older. I want to be one of those spry oldsters who amaze everyone with their abundance of energy.
2) I have a daughter I love dearly. I know that I need to make healthy choices if I want to be around to enjoy life's experiences with her.
3) I know so much more about heath now than I did in my teens, 20s, or 30s. No offense to a good, old-fashioned college education, but my nutrition course in college didn't teach me a fraction of what I learn in a week on Spark.
4) I was a stay-at-home parent during the two years I was successfully losing weight. My daughter was in kindergarten and first grade during the years I worked so hard to lose those pounds. During those two years I had the most free time I've ever had as an adult. Did I spend every hour she was at school exercising? No, but my excuses for not exercising evaporated.
5) I have medical issues that I can control with diet and proper activity. Getting older (for me) has involved learning about one "issue" after another. I developed serious back problems in my late 20s. Ramping up my fitness in my 30s did an amazing job of improving my back pain. A diagnosis of osteopenia in my mid-30s got me excited about lifting weights. Problems with foot pain and knee pain have changed my mindset from one of binge exercising to wanting to get strong and stay strong so I can keep doing the walking and hiking I love. Each one of these experiences was an important piece of the "build a healthy life" puzzle.
6) I know myself better. I have gotten wiser with age. In my teens, 20s, and 30s I was ready to listen to others tell me what to do. I believed that a cookie-cutter plan or diet that helped my best friend would work for me, too. Now I know that:
- I hate to be told what to do and will rebel. I have to create my own plan.
- My body doesn't handle sugar well. Mostly I avoid it, or combine it with protein.
- I can't go heavy on the starches or my blood sugar takes a dive and I'm ravenous.
- Consistency wins the day. Slow, steady changes are more likely to get me to success.
I'm sure my teammates who talked negatively about losing in their 40s probably had more success in the earlier decades than I did. However, I'm going to count my blessings. Without my experiences in my 40s (and all the failures that came before the 40s) I'd never know how well I could succeed.