As if the hot flashes weren't bad enough, you also have to deal with weight gain and a widening middle during the early years of your fifth decade. While you can blame some of this mid-life weight gain on your changing hormone levels, it may also be due to a lack of physical activity and just eating too many calories. You may find it harder to lose weight now that you are in your early fifties, but it's not impossible if you make changes to your diet and exercise routine.
1 Limit your calorie intake. To lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories than you burn. A deficit of 3,500 calories will lead to one pound of fat loss. Depending on your activity level, most women in their fifties need between 1,600 to 2,200 calories a day to maintain their weight. To lose weight, you need to limit your calorie intake to 1,000 to 1,200 calories a day. If you weigh more than 165 pounds or exercise regularly, you may be able to lose weight eating 1,200 to 1,600 calories a day.
2 Eat low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean sources of protein, for example, poultry and low-fat dairy products, help control hunger and limit calorie intake, making it a little easier for you to shed the pounds. Eating a nutrient-rich diet may also help fight fatigue, according to Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson Vandana Sheth.
3 Eat three meals and one snack every day. Don't skip meals, especially breakfast. Skipping meals causes you to feel too hungry later in the day and can lead to overeating.
4 Walk at a brisk pace for at least 30 minutes most days of the week. Walking is an easy activity to do because all you need are a comfortable pair of shoes and a safe place to walk. You may even walk indoors on a treadmill. However, your physical activity need not be limited to walking only. Getting more physical activity burns calories and helps support your weight loss efforts.
5 Focus on muscle building exercises two to three days a week. Building muscle not only helps you burn more calories, it also prevents bone loss, which may lower your risk of osteoporosis. The added muscle also improves strength and balance. You can easily add muscle by working out at home with free weights and resistance bands and by doing body weight exercises such as squats, push-ups and crunches.
Items you will need
- Free weights
- Resistance bands
- Use smaller plates, bowls and cups to keep portions and calories in check.
- If you're concerned about joint health, try water aerobics to lessen the strain.
- Burn a few extra calories here and there by always taking the stairs, parking at the far end of the parking lot and walking the long distance to the office restroom.
- Try eating five to six smaller meals every two to three hours instead of eating three meals and one snack a day.
- Consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.
- For your safety, do not lose more than two pounds a week.
- Harvard Medical School: Abdominal Fat and What to Do About It
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Eating Right During Menopause
- Today's Dietitian: Flourishing at Age 50 and Beyond — A Healthful Diet Plus Physical Activity Are Essential
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: Healthy Eating Plan
- FamilyDoctor.org: What It Takes to Lose Weight
- Helpguide.org: Exercise and Fitness Over 50
- MayoClinic.com: Strength Training: Get Stronger, Leaner, Healthier
- Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images