Thursday, May 20, 2010

Here's the Skinny

I don't need scientists to tell me that my metabolism slows with age. Heck, I'm living proof that my body is definitely not the same as it was almost 20 years ago. Did you know that the average woman gains 1-1/2 pounds a year during her adult life?! That's enough to pack on 40-plus pounds by her 50s, if she doesn't combat the roller coaster of hormones, muscle loss and stress that conspires to slow her fat-burning engine! But midlife weight gain isn't inevitable. And if 40 is the new 20, well come on down midlife - minus the crisis, of course. Hopefully, by finding the balance between exercise and adopting some new eating strategies, we can avoid the pitfalls of packing on the pounds.

I'll be the first to admit that I absolutely HATE dieting. Not only does it make me hungry, it makes me a complete and utter lunatic (aka a raving bitch to my husband). I've tried everything from the Special K Diet to the South Beach Diet to cutting out carbs entirely. Yet, every time I FAIL. Depriving myself of food only makes me want it more. So, I've devised some healthy eating habits that will hopefully stave off the midlife weight gain.

Obviously, you need to cut calories to lose weight. But it's important not to overdo it. Going too low delivers a double whammy to your metabolism. When you eat less than you need for basic biological function (about 1,200 calories for most women), your body throws the brakes on your metabolism. Personally, I never really bought into the idea of eating a meal every 3 to 4 hours, but by doing so I've found that I stay satisfied and keep from overeating later in the day.

Try drinking a cup of green tea every day. Did you know that a cup of brewed tea can raise your metabolism by 12%? That is, according to one Japanese study. Researchers believe the antioxidants in tea provide the boost in helping with weight loss. Obviously, it's not a magic weight-loss potion, but just to be on the safe side I drink three cups a day. Tee hee.

I love white pasta and bread. To me, it just tastes better than the whole grain variety. But if I want to burn fat, research has shown that I better suck it up and boost my fiber intake and switch to whole wheat bread and pasta. And I should try to eat more fruits and vegetables. Hopefully, that shouldn't be too hard to do as salads and fruit smoothies will probably be my main go-to-meals this summer.

Drink lots of water. You hear it all the time. Drinking water is important. Ever since I stopped drinking soda, I've noticed a change in my body. Let's face it - I'm not drinking my calories anymore. It used to be so easy to drink 2-3 cans of Coke everyday. But now, when I choose to have a Coke, it's a treat. And a treat is something you don't indulge in everyday.

As for drinking until the sun rises? Ha! I'll save that for the college co-eds. I'm older (ugh!), maturer and wiser now. Quite frankly, I am a complete lightweight when I indulge in those rare happy hours with friends. One drink and I'm done. Apparently, that works in my favor because when you have a drink, you burn less fat. Who knew?

I'm no diet expert or exercise guru. I just know what works for me. Heck, I don't even own a scale. I know when I've gained weight by my clothes. Too tight? Time to do smaller portions again. I am far from perfect but as long as I try to eat things in moderation and keep active, I think I'll be able to avoid the midlife weight gain. Whew!

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