What started me looking at the problem of age and persistent belly-fat was that I had targeted 157 as a good goal weight. The last time I was there I looked pretty good and fit into a size 12. Well I made it!!!! And I do fit into a Size 12 but there is a lot of belly fat hanging around which wasn’t there the last time.
On one Message board someone posted “Cardio, strength training, and eating well have gotten rid of most of my belly fat. AT BMI 25 I had a lot of belly fat. At BMI 20.4 I have very little.” I tried to figure out how much I would need to lose to reduce my BMI and this is what I found:
Past: 185 BMI = 30.8 Ate anything I wanted and just a little exercise (Size 16 a bit tight)
Now: 157 BMI = 23.7 Eat 1450-1550 calories, keep to 47 or less fat grams, moderate exercise 5 days, strength training 2 days (Size 12, tight around the waist)
Maybe: 150 BMI = 22.8 Eat 1350-1450 calories, keep fat grams under 45, increase cardio intensity, exercise every day, work up to heavier weights
I haven’t been at 150 for quite a while and although I believe that I can work down to it, the maintenance is going to be very difficult. Right now I am struggling with staying in my calorie range for 157 and finding a level of exercise I am going to do regularly from now on. Anything lower than 150 is just not worth it to me.
I have read through a lot of SP articles, blog and team/message posts and it is clear that the same rules for weight loss apply whether you're 30 or 60 -- reduce your calorie intake and increase your activity level. But in looking at the problem of my repeated weight gains between 50 and 60 it is clear that my body is different in my senior years than it was when I was younger. In reading about the after 50 woman, I found that as you age, your metabolism slows -- by up to 10 percent per decade after age 25. That means you may take in the same number of calories and exercise just as much as you did in your 30s, but the weight still creeps on.
Although your estrogen levels may be the same as they were in your 50s, you're still losing muscle due to aging. That further slows your metabolism, which is why belly fat continues to be an issue. As you lose bone mass, you become shorter. Because there's no place for your organs to go, your abdomen protrudes. What this means is that as you shrink your BMI numbers change. If you were 5’6” and 150 pounds your BMI is 24.2 in the normal range. If you have shrunk a little to 5” 5” and still 150 pounds, your BMI is now 25 in the overweight range. And since you have lost muscle that extra is in fat which is probably around your middle because you are a woman.
One article suggested that to avoid gaining weight, the rule of thumb is that for each decade past 40, you should consume about 100 fewer calories EACH DAY. That’s because metabolism—the rate at which your body burns calories—gradually slows down as you age. So it means that you need to fight the encroaching belly bulge by reducing your caloric intake even further and keep up your exercising. If you think walking to the mailbox is cardio, then you are in for a big surprise.
In another article it said that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is best at blasting belly fat. “Research has shown that women who did 20 minutes of HIIT 3 time a week burned more fat than women who exercised at a moderate pace for 40 minutes 3 times a week.” To do this you need to do work up to doing 25 minutes of HIIT 3 to 6 days a week. SP has a lot of articles on HIIT and it isn’t for sissies. (www.sparkpeople.com/resource/
Thinking about doing cardio is easier than doing cardio after 60. As I have aged, I find that I am not as flexible, it takes longer for me to recover from intense cardio, my joints ache a lot more and it is much easier to get hurt. So being active is great but there are limits.
As for reducing calories, it really means that you must give up sugar, all refined carbs, limit red meat and really watch the amount of fat you eat. And by age 60 I should be eating at the low end of my calorie range which is not a lot of food in a day and there is almost no room for fun food. Even if you plan out your calories to splurge at one meal, you still have to eat small amounts (think Thanksgiving!! ). There are 408 calories in 1 cup of Lasagna with Meat. Who eats only a serving of lasagna that fits into a cup? You can check on your favorite fun food.
One recommendation was when eating a Cobb salad (egg, blue cheese, bacon, dressing, maybe avocado) besides the lettuce and tomatoes only choose two items. It isn’t a Cobb salad at that point! But that is what it takes to reduce down the belly fat.
So where does all this information leave me? Really unhappy because it means that if I like being at my current weight I have to really watch what and how much I eat every single day and be committed to a regular (no excuses) exercise program. If I want to lose a little more belly fat, I have to eat even less and add in more minutes of cardio exercise.
I am very happy at having lost the weight and SP and the Sparklers have really made it possible. What I am now doing is exploring what I am willing to do to maintain and again SP really helps to think it through. So many other programs don’t really give you the tools you need to work out the problems of maintenance. So I am grateful for having lost the weight, feeling better, having more energy, being healthy and getting into a size I like. I just wish Mother Nature had thought this aging thing through a little better.