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Maintenance at 60 is a different game

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

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. (

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.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I was successful with weight watchers years ago with very little exercise. Maintenance is much easier with a sustained fitness program. SP has really helped me to reintroduce fitness in my life. Now that I am in menopause, I need both fitness and a good nutrition plan.

    Great blog!
    1652 days ago
    Thank you so much for candidly sharing on this blog - being less than a couple of years into menopause, I too, am struggling with ANY and ALL extra weight going right to my middle. Even heavy I always had a small(ish) waist, but not it is so important for me to keep on doing what I can not just maintain my muscle mass, but to increase it as much as possible to burn more calories.
    1669 days ago
    I should have stated before that I loved this blog. It's what I've known for a long time as a nurse and it's hard to stomach, if you will excuse my inference.
    1684 days ago

    Comment edited on: 10/15/2013 10:23:46 PM
  • JACKIE542
    1688 days ago
  • _CYNDY55_
    emoticon emoticon !!
    emoticon Info!!
    You are correct .. all about the exercise and your nutrition.
    Belly fat will slowly go away. emoticon
    Balancing act .. Strength and Cardio !!
    1690 days ago

    Comment edited on: 10/10/2013 2:39:32 AM
    Great blog. I think the answer is what is having a flat belly worth to you. I still have a little belly. But I do more than an hour of exercise daily, including ST and I really watch what I eat. I am a size 8, but if I don't watch that will become a 10 again, and I gave all those clothes away. I think that it is important to watch what I eat and how much I exercise to make sure I feel and look good. I am 59 1/2 and find that every year it gets harder. But I work harder.
    Good luck.
    1694 days ago
    Great blog. This aging thing really isn't always fun is it? I'm 50 and although I haven't reached goal weight yet I know once I do I'm going to be looking at the same options here. I really do want to get to a weight that I'm happy with and that I can maintain for a long time. I guess I'll be looking at all my options but I hope I will be able to make good choices and live a healthy life and be content and satisfied with how I look, belly fat or no belly fat. I think the most important thing is how healthy I am and to continue to make healthy food choices and keep portion controls in check, and from there I'll take it one day at a time.
    Good look with your continued journey.
    1694 days ago
    I am not in my 60s yet but as I creep into my 50s I am feeling all of the things you wrote here. It is really hard to maintain that first initial goal weight as we age and Mother Nature pulls her fast ones on us all. Great glob! Thanks for sharing.
    1695 days ago
    Thank you! Thank you! I'm 62 and just wrote a blog about this very thing. The belly fat is frustrating and the decision has to be made: do I want to kill myself with exercise and my body feels awful all of the time or do I lower my expectations and deal with this belly? Do I cut out all of the foods I enjoy across the board or do I eat healthy and enjoy some of my favorites, too? At my age, I'm thinking of enjoying my life a little more but I'm not liking the numbers on the scale or on my pants. emoticon My goal needs to be healthy not thin!
    1695 days ago
    Oh man. I'm bookmarking this blog. It's so WHERE I AM right now.

    Thank you thank you thank you.
    1695 days ago
  • DSJB9999
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1695 days ago
    Sounds like you have a good grip on you! Continued success.
    1696 days ago
    Congratulations on all your accomplishments and on a great blog! Way to go! I really got a tremendous amount of information from your blog. Thank you. As I approach the big 4-0, I often think about some of your comments. Thank you for your perspective.
    1696 days ago
    emoticon emoticon
    1696 days ago
  • OOLALA53
    wow, that's a lot of comments. I didn't read them all.

    I refuse to live my life worrying about every mouthful of food. I am willing to experience real hunger for an hour or two before each meal. (I am willing to tolerate fake hunger until my next meal time.) I limit sweets to weekends. I am willing to work out vigorously for 14 minutes 5x a week and take a brisk walk most days. That's it. That is what I can live with. If I eat less or work out more sometimes, great. I've been doing this (actually, not the exercise so much) for 44 months and am nearing the middle of my normal BMI range after a year of plateauing. So what? I eat very reasonably, and feel pretty peppy.

    Stick with what you know is truly fair and that you can live with for a long time. It really doesn't have to be a terrible struggle every day.
    1697 days ago
    1697 days ago
    Good Blog! Thanks for the info.
    1697 days ago
  • HOLLYM48
    It is true that we women have a much harder time losing fat! Very annoying. But we can keep on fighting to be the healthiest and the fittest that we can be. You are right that HIIT is not for sissies. Nor is intense cardio. But I think in the end it is about doing the best that we can do to stay healthy without killing ourselves or injuring ourselves to lose the fat. SP is awesome as far as the tools and the people that help to keep us motivated.
    Keep up the great work and contine to make great choices. It is not always easy that is for sure. You have done an aweome job of losing and best of luck on your journey into maintenance! emoticon emoticon
    1697 days ago
    Thanks for your blog post & all the information you shared! You mentioned the soreness & lack of flexibility, & I was wondering if you have considered (or do) any yoga. I have found that it not only has helped me with flexibility, but also strengthens my core, helps maintain good balance & makes me more mindful of what I eat. I feel like it helps reduce soreness with other types of exercise that I do, too. Best wishes as you continue to maintain & I celebrate your great accomplishment!!!
    1697 days ago
    I'm in that same club, I'm 62, have kept off more than 30 pounds, but the belly fat is still there. It took me a while, but I've accepted that it's not going anywhere, due to age and slower metabolism.
    1697 days ago
    Sadly, Mother Nature (Evolution) is mostly geared toward us being able to produce and raise offspring. Once we're past bearing years and the next generation are old enough to create their own offspring, many of our biological systems function less well and it takes more effort to maintain fitness.

    Fortunately as humans we've got free will and intelligence and grit, and we get to decide if something is worth the effort. There's a lady in my tae kardio class who is in her 80s. She's not in the best shape in the world and freely admits to having donuts at Tim Horton's when she wants them, but she's still quite active and enjoys her life. She seems to have found a way of life she's comfortable with.

    I hope if/when I make it into my 80s that I'll be as active as she is.

    1697 days ago
    Great blog!! I agree that slowing metabolism for over 60s (I'm one too) create particular problems for maintaining weight loss. This is an issue specifically addressed in the new book, State of Slim, written by one of the founders of the National Weight Loss Registry (there's a recent blog on my page and a link to consider purchase if you think it might help . . . I'm going to try some of it!)
    1697 days ago
  • LESLIE871948
    OK 65 here, formerly giant 365 pound girl :) I am barely at the top of my normal BMI. I lift a lot of weight. I think that may be one of the main reasons I can maintain at a decent number of calories. The thing is, I have to really work at staying this weight and the record keeping is the key. Years ago one of my good friends at WW told me about the Wendy plan. Eat lower in the range a couple of days, middle of range a couple, and high a couple. As long as I am keeping the journal this works for me. I have excel spreadsheets that prove it. This gives my metabolism a boost too, because the higher days assure my body that there is no famine going on or something. :)
    1697 days ago
    I'm pushing 60, and I'm resigned to a little bit of fat, but like Nell, there is loose skin. In my case, a lot of loose skin because I let myself balloon to 224 before I started to lose weight after menopause, and the skin doesn't just return to normal. Anyway, I applaud your efforts to educate yourself and your success in losing the weight!
    1697 days ago
    Congrats. I've always had a big belly and with the weight loss was looking forward to not having one. But, at age 60 my weight loss has been everywhere but my belly. The tape measurer shows a loss of 7" around my waist but things I wore before are still snug around the waist when I sit down. I've had to take about 6-8" off the legs but very little off the upper part. Being short-waisted is part of my problem - when I sit and my ribs and hips are almost touching, there is nowhere for everything to go but out but even when I stand - there it is leading the way. I'm sure I've got abs of steel beneath that flab! We'll have to keep on trying.
    1697 days ago
  • _LINDA
    I think Rosewand is the rare exeception here. It is very difficult to lose the belly fat, and I join the legion of older women struggling with it. I was right down to the lower limit of healthy BMI and still the bulge hung on. I could not safely go any lower. As I love to exercise I get away with higher calories, but as my health problems keep escalating and working against me, I will have to learn to reign in the calories. This is why Sparkpeople's dynamic trackers work so well for me -on the days I am unable to exercise I can see what calorie range I need to stay in. Its perfect.
    Happy maintaining -what ever way works for YOU!
    Keep up the great work!!
    1697 days ago
  • LYNCHD05
    emoticon emoticon
    1697 days ago
    1697 days ago
    1697 days ago
  • MOMMY445
    1697 days ago
    Great blog! Best wishes for continued success!!
    1697 days ago
    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.

    1697 days ago
    I can certainly identify with your blog! Thanks for sharing. It helps me to keep what's happening to me in perspective!
    1697 days ago
    I've always carried my weight in my belly, but after losing and maintaining for several years and at a BMI right around 25 (went up due to getting a little shorter, like you said), the belly fat and loose, lumpy skin seems to have gotten worse as I get older. Yesterday I was shopping and decided to just accept reality and get one of those "shaper" garments (like a panty that pulls all the way up to under the breasts). At least it will all be smoothed out under my clothes and confined to ONE roll instead of several! Mother nature can be such a meanie, but I will accept a healthy body and organs and let the shapers and camouflaging clothing handle the appearances! Congratulations on your maintenance - we will not give up, even though time is definitely not on our side!
    1701 days ago
    To get rid of the belly fat, I have to get down to a BMI of 18 or 19, which is wicked hard to maintain. And like Nell, I've got the oozy roll of skin over the top of my waistband, no matter how low my weight gets. I'm accepting of this and try to go around with clothes on as much as possible.
    1701 days ago
    I can totally relate to what you say. It's the same for me. Losing weight means exercising my butt off - literally- and starving myself to death - literally. LOL. I have scaled back my expectations.
    1706 days ago
    First , Congratulations on your success ! emoticon I do agree that age plays a huge part in the belly area, I am over 50 , little closer to mid fifties and although my scale reads 136 after reducing I too see the rolls. How to combat ? Well , for me , I do feel that hormones do effect all of us differently at certain ages. I just keep moving and strength training at a moderate rate. I have stopped focusing on the scale number and rely on how I look and feel in my clothes. Since I have started to train for this Triathlon ( mind you I am not striving to be in first place but to complete ) I have noticed the scale going up to 140 to 145 - no doubt due to muscle weight however I am still comfortable in a size 14 depending on the manufacture. I wanted to also Thank-you for visiting my blog. I noticed in that Triathlon most of the participants were woman in their late 50's thru 70 !! I was so impressed and the comrade was exhilarating. I am not sure if you knew I took some time off of Spark for the last month and a half due to a heat stroke - all better !! Thanks Karen emoticon
    1708 days ago

    Comment edited on: 9/22/2013 9:40:42 AM
  • KANOE10
    I am in my 60s also. I think developing muscles by doing strength training is helpful. Good luck on figuring out maintenance. We can do this!

    1710 days ago
    I'm 70, and have shed about 7 kilos this year and reached my goal, even adjusted my goal down. My problem seems to be that at our age our skin is no longer elastic, so doesn't keep the belly in shape! There's not much we can do about that! My spare tyre is outside my abs, so nothing to do with my organs. A more elastic skin would contain it more efficiently, but that's unlikely to happen. BUt people notice and comment on the fact that I have lost weight, and I've always been fortunate in looking slimmer than I am, even when I was really overweight! I'm not going to torment myself either by going hungry or by obsessing about the spare tyre. I enjoy and appreciate my new body, my new muscles. I'm not going to lose sleep over what I have not achieved so far!
    1710 days ago
    I lost the belly fat in my mid-sixties after trying for
    years. You might want to read the blog on my
    SparkPage about weight loss after menopause.
    The shift in our shape is largely about hormones.
    When we recondition our hormone responses,
    everything really does change. It really is that
    easy. Once I figured this out, the weight dropped
    slowly and steadily.

    When I started my waist was 35." For the last three
    years, it has remained a trim 25." I eat more calories
    than I did in my forties and now maintain the weight
    I was in eight grade. I still eat some sugar, white flour,
    pasta, etc. I really enjoy my diet and have found
    maintenance to be relatively easy.
    1711 days ago

    Comment edited on: 9/19/2013 1:39:05 PM
    I am 64 and don't have "belly fat" but I do have really soft loose skin that oozes over the top of my jeans a little, and crinkles into rolls when I sit down. The only thing for that is surgery, and I'll pass. I have learned to enjoy my cup of lasagna, and just a tablespoon of each component in a Cobb Salad. The one upside, I guess, is that time seems to pass faster at my age, so "a couple times a year" doesn't feel so onerous.
    1711 days ago
    Like you I am over 60 and know it's a challenge! I hope you find your path.
    1711 days ago
  • GENRE009
    I do weight Watchers with spark, because it teaches you how to change your lifestyle! If you eat properly, you will loose 2 pounds almost with out exercising. You can eat lot, and still loose weight. It's what you eat. I am 5'3", 157 is fat for me, at a size 12.
    In order to get down, my daily intake is1200 pounds a day. Go on the diabetic diet by spark. If you don't understand it, just remember you can change what is listed by clicking on the item, or look for diabetic recipes. They are the healthiest. If you are a vegetarian, then you need to know the vitamin content of the foods you are combining, and take certain vitamins.
    1711 days ago
  • ZRIE014
    1711 days ago
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