As we make our way through our 40s, 505 and 60s-plus, a host of age-related factors conspire against our waistlines, causing us to gain a pound or more per year. Among them: less physical activity, hormonal fluctua-tions and a pokey metabolism caused by a natural decrease in muscle mass. Is it any wonder that 80 percent of the respondents in the 2016 Parade! Cleveland Clinic Weight-Loss Survey say that they are trying to lose weight now or have tried in the past year? Nearly 40 percent want to lose 10 to 30 pounds. “As we age, it is even more important to keep your weight in check,” says Leslie Cho, M.D., section head of preventive cardiology at Cleveland Clinic. A healthy weight guards against many chronic conditions. “The key to success is making healthy diet and exercise part of your lifestyle.” Here’s how.
1. Fruits and veggies are as close to a magic pill as it gets. Eating healthfully was a challenge for sur-vey respondents (48 per-cent say its harder than exercising), but there is a fairly simple fix. A Journal of theAcademy of Nutrition and Dietetics study found that women who increased their fruit and veggie consumption by two servings a day weighed three pounds less after four years compared to women who kept their produce intake the same. The same trick should work for men too, says study author Bethany Barone Gibbs, Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburgh Department of Health and Physical Activity: “It’s a small change that can,deliver a better long-term result, because it’s not as challenging as; say, giving up French fries forever.”
2. Make sure you wash that produce, Pesticides are considered obe-sogens, meaning they may predispose people to weight gain. The produce most likely to be coated in pesticides? Apples, peaches, nectar-ines, strawberries and grapes, along with celery, spinach, bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry toma-
toes, imported snap peas and potatoes. Be sure to scrub these products well, or purchase organic versions to minimize ex-posure. Other obesogens to avoid: the chemical BPA, found in many plastics and in cash register receipts, and cigarette smoke (first-or secondhand).
3. Hit the weights. After 30, we lose 3 to 8 percent of our muscle mass per decade. Since muscle burns calories even at rest, that’s bad news for your metabolism. The best way to burn more fat is strength training (a fact recognized by 31 percent of respon-dents, although 60 percent mistakenly thought walking was better). “Find a certi-fied personal trainer familiar with your age group,” says Pete McCall, an adjunct faculty member at Mesa College in San Diego who blogs for the American Counc on Exercise. He poin out that more and more trainers these days are in their 50s and 60s themselves. The key is lifting heavy enough weight that you can only complete six to eight reps. Doing so, he say causes women to pro. duce growth hormon and men to make testosterone, both of which “help burn fat, build lean muscle and give you a more youthful appearance.’
4. Catch more 222s. Logging enough sleep not only keeps you alert, it may keep you thin—a fact that 46 percent of survey respondents got right A 2015 University of California, Berkeley, study found that nigl owls are more likely’ gain weight and have higher BMIs than their peers .who turn in early. That’s becaw when you deprive yot body of sleep, levels of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin increase while leptin (a hormone that suppresses appetite) lowers. Tired folks also have less willpower, making it harder tc turn down that scone staring at them from the -Starbucks — pastry case.
5. Fight fat with stress bailers. Life past 50 is full of stress, including job security fears, kids in college and aging parents. In fact, 21 percent of survey _ respondents identified stress as a barrier to weight loss. Arid it’s true, says Susan Albers, PsY-.D., a Cleveland Clinic clinical psychologist and author of 50 More Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food: “Chronic stress is a direct highway to weight-. gain.” Anxiety floods your body with the stress hormone cortisol, which induces cravings for sugary, salty and fatty foods. Stress also compromises your decision-making skills, ma. the fast-food drive-throtigh seem like a good idea. Fight., back with yoga, meditation or your favorite anxiety-busting ritual. Albers recommend_s – coloring for relaxation.
By Leslie Goldman