The holidays are over, the decorations are put away, and the New Year is here. Unfortunately, along with presents and good cheer, the holiday season has also left you with a few more pounds than you care to admit.
Maintaining a healthy weight is a critical concern for seniors, as it is tied to longevity, mobility, and disease prevention. However, as we age it becomes increasingly difficult to lose weight. The culprit is decreased muscle mass. Even if you maintain the same weight, as you age your muscles decrease and your fat ration increases. This means that you burn fewer calories per day, even continuing with the same amount of exercise or activity.
So, how can you safely lose that extra holiday weight? The tips listed below will help you get started.
1. Get Outside - getting in daily exercise greatly reduces your chances of becoming disabled and helps prevent life threatening diseases. However, the concept of dedicating to structured exercise can be overwhelming. Don’t stress yourself out with the idea that you need to be at the gym every day for hours. Start with a brief ten minute walk outside. Enjoy the fresh air and get your heart rate up a little bit. Over time, try to increase your walk time until you are walking for 30 -40 minutes.
2. Muscle Building - since loss of muscle mass is one of the biggest deterrents to weight loss for the elderly, focus on activities that will help you build more muscles. This doesn’t mean you need to start bench pressing at your local gym. There are many exercises you can do from home that will help build muscle. Invest in resistance bands or small hand weights. A mixture of arm and leg exercises (like squats, lunges, arm curls, and push ups) will help to build back some of the muscle mass that has been lost through the aging process.
3. Healthy Eating Habits - often the holidays are a time to indulge in rich foods and sweet desserts. To help you trim off those extra pounds, focus on the basics. Plan a diet that is rich in protein, fruits, and vegetable, with limited fats and refined sugars. A healthy diet usually requires a little more preparation than an unhealthy, prepackaged, and processed diet, but the reward is worth the extra effort. Giving you more energy, better sleep, and improved health, a more natural diet will help you feel better every day, while also attacking the extra holiday pounds.
4. Accountability - losing weight is hard and it is easy to get off track. Being accountable to someone else will greatly improve your chances of losing weight. Have a friend of family member be your "weight loss buddy." Check in with each other, encourage and inspire each other, and help each other through the rough patches. Try not to let an entire week go by without talking to one another and getting reinvigorated for the next week of successes and challenges. Victory will be so much sweeter when you have a friend with whom to share it.
5. Consistency - the last tip for weight loss is the most important, as well as the most difficult - stay consistent! Starting a diet or healthy eating plan is very common, but sticking to it, even for three months in a row, is much less common. It is easy to become discouraged while trying to lose weight, and to fall off track for a meal, day, or week. You feel like you have been dieting forever, but haven’t seen the results. Unfortunately, the bad days can counteract the good ones - causing you to maintain, or even gain weight.
The much sought after "Holy Grail" of weight loss is the power to remain consistent, every meal, every time. When you find consistency, you will begin to lose weight. It is human nature to make a mistake here and there, but you can’t let this derail your progress. Jump right back on your path, not letting one bad meal turn into a whole day or weekend of bad choices.
Weight loss is more than just a diet, but a whole new approach to life. Though the adjustment may seem difficult at first, the renewed sense of energy and healthy positivity will soon make the changes feel like second nature.