Clients often as me, and I guess they’re entitled, if I’ve ever been heavy. This question makes me uncomfortable and I’ll often mention the fact that I’m a runner or that like many women I had to loose weight after my pregnancies. The truth is that, as an adult, my weight has been fairly stable. While many sane habits contribute to this, there’s also an element of fear. You see, for almost 15 years I’ve been counseling perimenopausal and menopausal women. I’ve witnessed their frustration when it comes to weight loss and so in anticipation of what may be many years away for me, I’m doing what I can now.
I was reminded of this when I had lunch on Friday with my beautiful literary agent (the book concept is strong but the feedback is I need to be funnier and include more anecdotes, ok ok). Over our avocado salads, she joked about “the forty thing” being true. I noted I haven’t hit “the forty thing” but that even your 30’s are different than your 20’s in terms of metabolism. As we commiserated, we both acknowledged that our “good” mode now needed more stringency. I said “it used to be I could just remove the extras and my weight would drop those couple of pounds before a vacation or event.” To which she added, “now it has to be a total cleanse.”
Most people operate with a weight range. The have their ideal weight, then a range above this where they are “fine” and an upper limit. As years go by, the “upper limit” number can become the good number. This is the weight creep that’s insidious but real.  Our muscle cells drive our metabolism. Age and a decrease in estrogen, testosterone and other hormones contribute to the loss of muscle cells. Muscle cells are where calories are burned. So if you eat the same amount over the years and less is burned or it’s burned less efficiently…you see where this is headed. Another proposed mechanism is that our bodies are more likely to be in an inflammatory state as we age even in the absence of a threat (virus, bacteria). This inflammation can damage cells in joints and muscles or wherever the inflammation occurred. And sorry guys, this applies to you as well.
Before you throw your hands in the air and prepare for the inevitable pudge, know that you are not powerless. One tool is exercise as a way to preserve and deposit muscle.  The good news is that exercise can help prevent age-related weight gain. The bad news? You have to do more with each decade. A study of male runners gave the suggestion that “runners who average 10 miles per week at age 30 should increase their weekly running distance to 24 miles by age 40 if they plan to still fit into the tuxedo they bought a decade earlier.” Yes, I realize that 24 is more than double 10, it’s a good thing I’m marathon training.  I also advise my younger clients that they don’t want to exercise excessively in their 20’s as they will need to increase it as they age.
Another tool is anti-inflammatory foods. Chia seed, wild fish, hemp protein, ginger and turmeric are some of my favorites. Incorporate these in your daily diet. As for that diet, if you feel as though you’re doing what you used to do and not getting results, there’s a reason. You need to “do” things differently. The weight loss plan that worked in college will not work at 35. If this concept is a little scary, welcome to my world.
Have you noticed it’s harder to lose or maintain your weight with age? Do you do things differently? 
Do you find this depressing?


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