Sadly, as we get older evil forces conspire against us to make losing weight more difficult.
From years of abuse (why’d you have to love softball so much?) our muscles and joints become less cooperative. They’re stiffer, they hurt more, and they make exercising a lot less convenient.
And that’s just the beginning. Our metabolism doesn’t do us any favors either, gradually slowing down as we age. Every decade on average we burn 1 to 2% fewer calories, thanks to losing some muscle mass and putting on some fat. It’s a bad cycle to get into, and if we’re not careful, as our age goes up, so will our weight.
With that said, Brian Durbin, a NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist and personal trainer, is confident that if you know the roadblocks and “how to work around them—it’s easy to be successful at dropping pounds.”
The 7 Tricks to Losing Weight At Any Age
1. Pick Up Those Weights
When people say they can’t lose weight like they used to, it’s largely due to muscle mass. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, meaning that it requires more energy and elevates your resting metabolism. But of course, the opposite is also true—if you lose muscle, your metabolism slows down.
By 50, on average, people have 20% less muscle mass than they did when they were 20. “The good news is you can turn all of this around with a well-structured weight-training routine,” says Durbin. “It can increase your muscle mass and help you regain the ability to lose weight like you were able to 20 years ago.”
So pick up those weights!
2. Keep An Eye On Those Hormones
As we get older it gets more and more likely that our hormones could fall out of balance. If you don’t regularly check your thyroid, adrenal glands, and other hormone levels, your body could easily slip into fat storage mode.
Testosterone, in particular, is an important one to watch. Having enough makes it easier to stay fit and slim down. A balanced level can even help regulate your blood glucose levels, which is important for losing belly fat.
So keep an eye on those hormones!
3. Go Easy On Those Joints
Aches and pains can stop even the youngest person from staying active. As we get older, those aches and pains can become quite common and before you know it, you’re not really moving at all. It only gets worse after that.
A better way to go is to focus on activities that are easy on your joints. Walking is always a good one, as is jumping in the pool. Water exercise, like Aquafit, can be a lot of fun, is easy on your knees, and can burn a ton of calories. The extra resistance the water creates means that your body has to work that much harder, and can burn up to 30% more calories in the process.
If water and walking aren’t really your thing, cycling and yoga are two other good options.
4. But Don’t Go Too Easy
That being said, you still have to push yourself to get results. You should never be in pain while you exercise, but you also can’t just show up and slack off.
You have to make sure you’re working out hard enough to break a sweat and are completing the full of range of motion (when possible) of every exercise. You have to put the effort in to get the result out. Losing weight is never easy and as long as you’re doing everything correctly, your body should feel better, not worse, afterward.
5. See a Physical Therapist
If you are worried about your aches and pains, or even if you’re not, seeing a physical therapist is always a good idea, especially before starting a new workout routine. They should have great advice about what activities are best, and what activities to avoid. They can also help instruct you on how to do certain motions to avoid causing pain.
6. Change That Diet
The big thing to remember is that as you get older your dietary needs change. You generally need more nutrients, but fewer calories. So you have to say goodbye to the days of eating empty calories. Instead you must focus on nutrient dense foods, eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.
7. Don’t Let Stress Take Over
As you get older, life tends to get more stressful. “The average 50-year-old has many more responsibilities than their younger peers. They’re often in their prime income-generating years, which means extra responsibilities at work. They may also have kids who are going to college—a financial burden—or have aging parents who they’re helping to care for,” says Durbin.
Whatever the reason is, all that stress can show up on your scale. Stress eating is a common way to cope and you often don’t have enough time to hit the gym.
To bust the cycle, Durbin recommends scheduling time for exercise like you would a doctor’s appointment. Getting into a good consistent exercise routine is one of the best ways to ease stress.
With these tips, hopefully your age is the only number that goes up. (Sadly, I don’t have any tips for stopping that number from rising!)