Two thirds of Americans are overweight and that includes our seniors. Obesity is correlated with a host of other maladies: diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, arthritis and even cancer. Our western lifestyle is killing us.
We eat a diet of refined starches and processed foods. We have become sedentary, living our lives indoors, on our couches and smartphones, becoming so stout that it’s actually decreased our life spans. But it’s not too late to do something about it. Dr. Lawrence Cheskin of Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center has successfully helped people in their 90s to lose weight and improve their overall health.
“There’s no upper age limit for obesity medicine,” Cheskin said in Time magazine.
Eat Better To Live Better
As we age, it is common for appetite to decrease. This is because as our activity level lessens, our metabolism slows down. But a decrease in appetite can lead to malnutrition. It is important to get the proper nutrients in your diet, and not consume empty calories. Properly balanced diets improve cognitive function, energy level and immune response, adding years to our lives, and life to our years.
Don’t Stop Moving
The longest-lived vertebrate animal is the Greenland shark; they may move a little slowly, but they never stop. That, says centenarian Jeralene Talley, age 116, may be the secret to longevity. “I never stop moving.” Talley knits, bowls, and enjoys fishing with her grandson.
The oldest among us almost uniformly prescribe regular physical activity to extend life your lifespan. Connie Sawyer advises, “Move, don’t sit on the couch.” At 103, she’s still working. When we stop getting regular exercise, our muscles atrophy.
Over time, we get progressively weaker. It becomes harder to manage the basic tasks of daily life. That can start a destructive cycle: we are too weak to exercise comfortably, which makes us get weaker. Coupled with poor diet habits, the weight piles on, creating more obstacles to exercise, and more health problems.
No matter what your age, you can lose weight and get healthier. But you need to eat better, and you need to exercise more. Weight loss specialists suggest that seniors who are trying to lose weight seek out structure and routine to make their new diet and exercise regimens stick. Join Weight Watchers or talk to a nutrition specialist. Focus on the quality of your food – nutrient rich meals in small portions eaten at regular intervals will regulate blood sugar and help stave off hunger.
Make a regular date with a personal trainer. Join a gym, or set one up in the privacy of your own home. Weight training with dumbbells can increase strength. Resistance training with bands improves mobility and even works to heal muscles and bones. Get a yoga mat, stretch and meditate. You’ll strengthen both your body and your mind. The point is to be like that shark, and never stop moving.
Chuck Your Scale
Sustainable weight loss takes time, so be patient. Exercise builds muscle and muscle weighs more than fat. Take your cue from how your clothes are fitting and how your body is feeling. Are your clothes looser? Do your joints ache less? Is your range of motion improving? If so, then you’re on the right path. Swapping out fat for muscle means you will lose weight, no matter what the scale says.
You can improve your health at any age, by losing excess body fat and replacing it with healthy muscle. It’s never too late to get a fresh start on a healthier life. Replace your empty calories with nutrient dense, well-balanced foods and practice portion control. Make a commitment to keep moving with a regular exercise routine. You will lose weight, but more importantly, you’ll gain good health and stay mentally sharp and physically agile long into your golden years.
Written by: Kevin Wells of seniordiabetic.com
Hope you enjoyed this wonderful guest post!
Wishing you a week of health and wellness,
–Ricci-Lee Hotz, MS, RDN
Denver’s Dancing Dietitian
A Taste of Health, LLC
“Improving Quality of life one bite at a time”