Aging and Weight Control

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weight control
After age 30 or so, as the years creep up, often the pounds do as well, sometimes by as much as 10 or 15 pounds a year. The distribution of weight is different for men and women; men tend to put on more around the middle, while women gain first in the hips and thighs. As menopausal hormone and metabolism levels change, women are thrilled to find that they gain a bit of a spare tire just above the belt as well.

It's not clear how many of these changes can be directly attributed to a lessening of activity and how much is genetic. What is clear is that it is not irreversible – nor is it inevitable.

The Carb Connection

Dr. Zane Andrews, Ph.D of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia is principal investigator in the metabolic neurosciences group in the Department of Physiology there. His research findings suggest that as we age, the appetite-suppressing cells are attacked by free radicals (which are found in everyone's bodies), most especially after eating meals consisting of mainly carbohydrates and sugars.

This is not to suggest that carbs are bad. Just that as a result of eating lots of meals filled with nothing much but carbs (much of it simple carbs – sugars and highly processed foods), free radicals can have their way with the aging body. The dietary solution is, of course, to eat more fruits and vegetables, which contain antioxidants to counter those effects and bring balance back into the picture.

A diet high in sugary and processed foods appears to be one culprit. That's easy to change. Whole wheat and whole grain versions of pastas and rices are more readily available in the grocery store now. Don't give up foods – replace them with new favorites! Search out delicious ethnic dishes filled with vegetables, beans and grains.

All is Not Lost - You Can Lose This Weight

Though it's been proven that losing weight is tougher to do as one gets older, it's a long way from impossible. In fact, aside from the small percentage of the problem that is genetic, it's relatively easy to do when one just makes up one's mind to do it.

The muscle to fat ratio changes as aging occurs, but a simple regimen of resistance training for 20 minutes three times a week can produce noticeable results in less than a month.

Remember when mothers everywhere would all chant the same mantra – "Go on outside and play!" The message is the same today. Go outside and play! Hike, ride a bike, go swimming or play tennis.

The Exercise Pay-off

Certain activities give bigger and faster results than others, but every exercise gives some result. The one muscle that must be exercised more than any other is the consistency muscle. Working out like a mad-person for a couple of weeks before reverting to old ways is not the answer. Putting exercise on the "must-do" list is key.

Don't know where to start? Incorporate little things into everyday life – park at the back of the lot and walk to the store, walk to work if it takes half an hour or less, take a couple of flights of stairs briskly. Enlist the help of a friend to partner up, and just get moving. Make lifestyle choices that support movement, and make it non-negotiable.

When regularity is enforced the effects will be good and almost immediate:
  1. The metabolism awakens and runs more efficiently.
  2. The immune system strengthens and wellness follows.
  3. The mood lifts. Happiness can't be far away.
  4. And the weight comes off - who can argue with results like that?
This is an obstacle that can certainly be overcome. Remember, it uses more calories to stand than to sit. More calories to walk than to stand. More to run than to walk. And as they say in the commercials – you're worth it!

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