Originally appeared in Sixty and Me.
If you’re an accomplished woman over 60 who is tired of feeling obsessed with food, but wants to lose weight, you will learn the 3 steps to weight loss in this article.
Those steps are:
- Heal your food obsession
- Change your thinking from “weight loss” to “weight management”
- Experiment with weight management strategies
Step 1: Heal Your Food Obsession
The first step to losing weight for women over 60 who are tired of feeling obsessed with food is to heal the food obsession so you can make consistently healthy choices that lead to weight loss.
The food obsession is caused by decades of All or Nothing Dieting where you either have to “eat perfectly” or “what’s the point?”, causing you to distrust yourself around food. You probably blame yourself, thinking you have a willpower or self-control problem, but the problem isn’t you, it’s All or Nothing Dieting.
All or Nothing Dieting has taught you:
- That you can’t be trusted around food because stress hormones activated by feeling deprived are causing strong urges to eat.
- To rely on food to care for your emotional needs, whether you realize it or not, because food works so well to allow you to “zone out”.
And all of this has left you feeling simultaneously exhausted by and obsessed with food. But take heart, there is hope!
The solution to heal your food obsession is to cultivate the Courage to Trust.
To heal from the damage caused by All or Nothing Dieting so you can stop feeling obsessed about food, you need to cultivate the Courage to Trust.
The Courage to Trust that:
- Food isn’t the problem (and neither are you).
- You can hear and respond to the cues your body is giving you, instead of eating to numb or restricting for control.
- You can mindfully indulge AND consistently make nourishing choices.
- You are worthy of care and love, just as you are, even while pursuing weight loss.
If you want step-by-step instructions for how to cultivate the Courage to Trust in your own life, sign up for my FREE live masterclass, “How To Stop Obsessing About Food And Make Consistently Healthy Choices”.
Step 2: Change your thinking from “weight loss” to “weight management”
Once you’ve healed your food obsession, the next step to weight loss for women over 60 is to change the way you think about weight.
Weight loss vs. weight management
The way we used to think about weight was in the context of weight loss. The belief was you would drastically change your eating and lifestyle by All or Nothing Dieting, lose large amounts of weight, and then be done.
Experience has taught anyone who has ever experienced All or Nothing weight loss that this doesn’t work.
The scientific evidence points to a new way of thinking about weight, called weight management.
Weight management is a continual process of:
- Losing weight
- Monitoring your weight to maintain
- Periods of regain
Reframing your thinking to weight management stops you from getting discouraged and feeling like a failure when regain occurs.
Weight Management allows monitoring your weight to be a more neutral act. Stepping on the scale no longer determines how “good” you’ve been, or whether the rest of your day will be full of anxiety.
Rather, monitoring your weight becomes akin to monitoring the amount of food in your pantry to determine when you need to grocery shop again. While grocery shopping is at times an annoying task, the need to grocery shop (and indeed move to a different part of the weight management process) is not a reflection of your worth and value.
Step 3: Experiment with Weight Management Strategies
There is no one size fits all with weight loss. Finding a way of eating that you can maintain for the rest of your life, meets your nutrient needs, and keeps your energy intake lower than your energy output is key.
That being said, there are a few important factors to consider for women over 60 who want to lose weight:
1. Don’t go below 1200 calories per day.
Eating too little can make it hard to meet nutritional needs for women over 60.
For example, calcium recommendations increase to 1200 mg after age 50 for women (that’s the equivalent of about 4, 8 ounce glasses of milk).
Additionally, changes in physiology can decrease Vitamin B12 and Iron absorption, especially with chronic use of medications called Proton Pump Inhibitors, commonly used for reflux.
To ensure you are meeting your nutritional needs and learn about potential drug-nutrient interactions related to your prescriptions, consider consulting with a Registered Dietitian for personalized advice. You can learn more about my services and book a consult call with me here.
2. Focus on protein to avoid sarcopenia.
Sarcopenia is age-related muscle decline that affects anywhere from 10-20% of women over 60 worldwide. This disease is associated with poorer quality of life and an increased risk of death (yikes!).
Because weight loss attempts may result in less nutrient intake and muscle loss, it’s important to factor in anti-sarcopenia measures into your weight management plan.
The good news is, there are several evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of and even treat sarcopenia:
- Focus on protein. Research suggests 25-30g of protein per meal may help prevent sarcopenia.
- Move your body! Avoid long periods of inactivity and add muscle-strengthening activities like weight lifting into your routine.
- Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and plant-based proteins. These foods are anti-inflammatory and inflammation may increase risk of sarcopenia.
3. Determine if weight is the best focus for you.
It’s true that weight management requires continual attention over your life. For some people that sounds exhausting and not fun at all.
You can heal your relationship with tools like the scale and tracking if weight management is important to you (or find others way to monitor without them). And yet, it’s also important to point out that you can choose not pursue weight management, and still work on increasing healthy behaviors.
If you’d like to learn more about how to manage your weight without constantly thinking about your body and food, sign up for my free live class, “How To Stop Obsessing About Food And Make Consistently Healthy Choices”.