Is it true we gain weight as we get older?
“Enjoy your thin body now because soon it won’t be.” “It’s tough to keep weight down as we get older?” “You will gain weight when you grow into your adult body?”
Any of this sound familiar?
Some believe as we get older it’s harder to keep the body weight down. Why is that? And is it true? The jury might still be out on this one as it seems there are all sorts of sizes—thin, average and over weight with adults in their mid to elder years.
Take Nelly, she’s turning 64 in a few short weeks. When she was a young girl she never concerned over how big or small her body was as she didn’t have to.
You see Nelly was blessed with legs that didn’t quit, a flat stomach, a well portioned torso, flat stomach and well —envy of all the girls. You could say she was perfectly formed.
As she grew into a handsome woman she maintained her lovely figure, even after the birth of her twin girls.
So what happened! Why is keeping her weight down now such a struggle?
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s article, Aging Changes in Body Shape, the body shape changes naturally as you age. The article goes on to say you cannot avoid some of these changes, but your lifestyle choices may slow or speed the process. I’ve been echoing these sentiments for the past twenty years—maybe longer.
What’s really interesting, is the article notes that the amount of body fat goes up steadily after the age of 30, and that after the age of 65, it goes down often resulting in weight loss. Hmmmm, many of my patients are in their sixties and DO struggle with their weight claiming they have most of their lives. Will they be on the decline weight-wise in just a few years?
The important take away is that we are all individuals and that there isn’t a “pure” formula that will give all the answers. Many factors need to be considered. Take myself for example, my mom insisted I was a BIG baby weighing 14 pounds at birth. She was convinced she was having her third set of twins.
I struggled with weight most of my teen and early adult life.
The funny thing, or maybe not so funny, is at one of the iadep (International Association of Eating Disorder Professions, of which I’m certified) conferences, years back, I was getting ready for one of the events in my hotel room. In the background an announcement on the Morning Show talked about a baby winning the Guinness World Record as the largest baby recorded.
The baby was 14 pounds!
I must have just missed winning this prestigious award by only a few months as the inception of the Guinness World Records, which originally known as the Guinness Book of Records, originated some time in the early 1950’s..
Research suggests overweight and obese women are more likely to have large babies. And babies born big are more likely to become obese as children.
It was also suggested in my many articles researched on causes of weight challenges, that if you were large as a baby you’d most likely have a difficult maintaining a healthy weight most of your life.
My mom was heavy all of her adult life and I was born big but that’s where things shift. I was a skinny kid turned heavy at 13.
So, back to me…could it be that I was born chunky hence would battle weight or at least need to seriously work on my healthy lifestyle to keep from inching up to 234 pounds as I once was?
And as we age don’t we shrink? What would happen to the weight then? Perhaps we’d be weighing higher than our recommended number in one of those crazy 20-span charts! What about bone size and ethnic background, and environment, and bad habits?
No, I don’t think we can say we are in the clear and will become our skinny little self as we edge into the elder years.
Yes, the appetite may go down do to trouble eating if you have dental issues, medications, and or illnesses. But as a whole, I think there are many factors to consider, but with that said, it is NOT inevitable we will gain weight as we get older either. Yes!
Another person that comes to mind is Tom. His nickname was green bean pole as a kid. He ate anything and everything to gain weight and long and lean he remained to the point he began to take weight and muscle boosters.
Tom grew out of his thin physique as he closed in on 45 years of age.
What happened to Nelly and Tom? Well, both of them turned to healthy lifestyle attitudes and behaviors and corrected their weight.
At first, in treatment, both obsessed on their weight. If I could make a dollar for every time I heard, “Yes, but I just want to lose weight,” I’d be a multi-millionaire by now. And of course I repeated my usual, “If the eye is on the scale the recovery is lost, it’s another diet. If the heart is on recovery the prize is weight loss.” In other words, stop focusing on your weight like a dog with a bone. Let go. Breathe. And look at some of the factors that may contribute to weight gain as you age.
Less active: You are not moving as you did as you did in your youth.
Drink alcohol: You drink alcohol more days than not.
Vegetable Disdain: You hate vegetables and replace them with too many carbs and high-fat foods.
Fast-food Junky: You’ve turned to Drive-Thrus and Take-Outs which are jam packed with calories.
Life Losses: You are losing friends and family as you age, turning to food for comfort.
Grieving Youth: you are grieving the easier more flexible times as you age.
Metabolism Shift: Your metabolism has slowed down as your activity is slacking too.
Join an exercise group to build friendships and outside activity.
Add more fruits and veggies and less processed starchy carbs to your menu.
Eat more fish and less red meats.
Eat three balanced meals and one healthy snack daily to avoid eating poorly.
Add a social life into your life.
Meditate connecting to your higher self.
Sleep at least seven hours a night and…a nap is not a bad idea too.
Add a spiritual or religious component to your life.
Life has its ups and downs but we don’t have to go up in weight just because we are getting on to another season in our life. We can be thin and healthy until our last breath barring any unforeseen illnesses or accidents.
What are your experiences with weight as you are inching up in age? Do you find it’s easier to keep the weight down. Have you lost your appetite? I want to hear from you—and learn from you.
Speaker, writer, licensed clinical psychotherapist, PhD in addiction psychology, eating disorder professional, hypnotherapist changing the view about compulsive eating one addict at a time.