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Shell Shocked: My Middle-Aged Journey to Weight Loss

Shell Shocked: My Middle-Aged Journey to Weight Loss
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BY JILL MATLOW

I couldn’t understand why I had such a hard time losing the baby weight I had gained over the years. That is, until someone pointed out that I never actually had children. Oops! I guess it was time to blame it on the freshman fifteen that never seemed to melt away.

I had a big shock last May when my doctor weighed me. At first, I thought I might be anorexic till I realized the scale was in metric. Those 72 kilograms were really 158 pounds! (Who else didn’t pay attention in school in the 1970s when they were trying to teach us metric?).

Now the freshman fifteen took on a whole new name: ‘menopausal weight gain’.

I was literally lying on a table with a gown on (and I’m not talking prom) feeling extremely vulnerable with no place to hide (my belly fat) when my doctor decided that this was the opportune time to lecture me on healthy eating habits.

But that lecture worked.

I started to go back over what my diet was and realized how much ‘healthy’ food I was eating at night. An hour after dinner, the snacking would begin. I’d have yogurt, cottage cheese, grapes, a wedge of cheese, an energy bar, tablespoons of peanut butter – all the while thinking “well, they’re all healthy foods so…”

It never occurred to me that I was probably eating about 700 calories during that all-you-can eat (albeit healthy) couch buffet.

As my fellow male and female baby boomers can attest, the older we get the harder it is to lose weight, even if we’re technically eating less and exercising more. But I did find some loopholes that made it easier for me to lose some weight (while still maintaining a lifestyle of 75% healthy eating; 25% occasional cheating) which I’d love to share with you.

PORTION CONTROL AND MODERATION 

As the above photo illustrates, pistachio nuts are dangerous. I never buy the ones already shelled because I like to ‘do the work’. But when you’re staring down a half-empty bag and you start ‘doing the math’, you realize you’re at a point of no return. And the scary thing is, most of us keep eating more anyway!

I’ll just have the recommended serving size and then close the bag” said no one ever.

So do you stop eating your beloved pistachio nuts forever? No! Buy them, eat them but if you realize you can’t control your intake, take a break from purchasing them. Maybe you buy them once a month. They contain some good nutritional components so nuts can actually be healthy. Just don’t over do it. Almonds are also a good choice (but try to stay away from the salted ones).

LISTEN TO YOUR CRAVINGS AND EAT OFTEN

While I know this might sound a bit gross, sometimes I wake up and instead of wanting a typical breakfast food, I’m craving something that you would normally eat for dinner. So guess what? I’ve eaten cold chicken for breakfast before. Eating a protein also fills you up longer than the muffin or bagel you might typically grab.

Is it 11AM and you’re starving but you think it’s too soon to eat lunch? Eat a little something anyway. Your body sugar needs to be regulated and your metabolism needs to be fueled like a furnace. So don’t wait till the point where you’re so hungry that you start inhaling your food. Eat often during the day but just make sure you’re eating something on the healthy side like a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts.

COUNTER ATTACK

Do you ever come home from the gym or work and you’re so completely ravenous that you open the refrigerator door, grab anything in sight and start eating standing up or over the counter? I still do that but now I make sure I have things I can grab that are on the healthy side. Carrots, celery and mini peppers with hummus are always a great choice. You can microwave a bag of edamame in 5 minutes. Dare I say eat an apple? If you’re in the process of cooking dinner, these are good snacks to eat while you’re doing so.

DON’T FILL UP ON THE BREAD

Remember when your parents used to say that to you in a restaurant when you were younger? Eat a little something before you go out to eat so you don’t attack the bread basket as soon as the waiter places it on your table. Dining out shouldn’t become less enjoyable when you’re trying to watch your weight. I purposely didn’t use the word “diet” because then you feel deprived and let’s face it, as soon as you break your diet, it’s all downhill. Just become more aware of choices and healthier options.

Do you want the cheeseburger that comes with fries? Maybe substitute a side salad (easy on the dressing) instead of the fries every now and then or if you want the fries, get the cheeseburger without the bun. Try to fill up more on vegetables. Substitute brown rice for white rice. Get dessert but only eat half of it. Take half your entree home if you’re full. It’s not about deprivation; it’s about mindful eating.

And stop already with the soda. It’s like drinking a glass of liquid sugar.

NIGHTTIME EATING

I stopped my grazing buffet at night and now just make a smoothie in my NutriBullet after dinner. It takes me about 5 minutes to make and 30 minutes to drink and it fills me up. I love to throw in some Blue Diamond vanilla flavored almond milk (only 30 calories/serving), ½ frozen banana, a frozen strawberry or two, some spinach or romaine lettuce, a small apple, some avocado and some ice cubes. It’s delicious, refreshing and has the consistency of a milkshake. Using a straw helps slow down the smoothie consumption too!

REACHING MY DESTINATION

I’m happy to report that during my annual trip to my physician this year, I weighed in at 140 pounds (or 63.5 kilograms for those of you who are embracing metric!), a total loss of 18 pounds since last May. I had to personally thank my doctor for showing me the light.

Did you also have an “a-ha moment” when you knew you had to take hold of your eating habits? As you get older, do you find it’s more difficult to lose those unwanted pounds? We’d love to hear your tips and strategies on maintaining and/or losing weight.

And remember…

“Skip the diet. Just eat healthy.” (At least 75% of the time!)

 

 

 

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Jill Matlow
Jill Matlow spent much of her career working in many different facets of the healthcare industry writing marketing proposals, creative briefs and tactical plans. She is thrilled to now be writing articles geared to baby boomers who are nostalgic about their past but still hopeful about their futures. While music is her first passion, writing comes in a close second.