Disclaimer: The daily caloric intake described in this post is based on my personal requirement (age 45, height 5’4″). Caloric needs are based on several factors such as, age, gender, height, and activity level. For guidance on your daily caloric requirement, speak to a medical professional (doctor/dietitian).
Aging is bitter-sweet: mostly bitter with a hint of sweet. The hardest part of aging, for me, has been the physical changes that go along with it. Looser skin, not-so fine lines, age spots, brittle hair, perimenopause, and “the middle-aged spread”. Every little change is a reminder of my own mortality – not an easy pill to swallow. Harder yet, was accepting I needed to make changes to my life style if I wanted to age well.
I’ve been living in semi-denial for the past couple of years. I knew I was gaining weight, and I wasn’t completely clueless as to why. I blamed it solely on aging since that was an excuse I could live with. In reality, my nightly glasses of wine and constant snacking throughout the day were the real issues. Admitting this, however, would mean I’d have to do something about it, and I didn’t want to. I told myself that I wanted to be happy, and I didn’t want to give up the things I enjoyed. Lies, lies, and lies – I wasn’t happy. I hated the way I felt and looked. I no longer wanted to socialize, as I felt embarrassed by my own body. Deep down, I was ashamed of myself.
Indeed, aging played a part in my weight gain. In my younger years, I could drink and snack regularly. If I gained a bit of weight, I would clean my act up for a month and get right back to my fit looking self. My clever routine started losing its effectiveness with each year added to my 40s. As the weight started to pack on, my usual clean eating habits began shifting too. Partly due to living with a man who eats pretty much whatever he wants to, but mostly because I felt like crap. With 20lbs of extra weight and an almost diminished self-esteem, something inside of me woke up.
I was depressed and tired being fat, so I tossed out my excuses and made some changes. 29 days ago, I tossed out my wine and changed the way I eat. For years, I’ve been eating three small meals a day with 2 to 3 snacks. This goes back to my heavy weight training days. Experts recommended this eating pattern to keep energy levels up, and to ensure adequate fuel for recovery. If monitored, I could keep my caloric intake between 1500 to 1800 cal/daily. (1500 for weight loss, 1800 for maintenance) It seemed to work for the most part, so I never switched it up.
AGE, unfortunately, plays a factor in a person’s caloric requirement. With age, we start to lose muscle mass, which lowers our metabolism. Described in simple terms, our metabolism is a chemical reaction that takes place in our body when we eat. This chemical reaction breaks down nutrients in our food to create energy which fuels for our body. If we eat more than our body burns, the excess energy is stored as fat. Therefore, if we have less muscle mass, we use less energy to fuel them. Energy = Calories.
With this in mind, I struggled to keep my caloric intake under 1500 a day with my 5 – 6 feeding times. I began researching weight loss tips for women over 40, and intermittent fasting came up several times. I decided to give it a go. If you want details of what this looks like, read my previous post: here. It’s been nearly four weeks of no wine, intermittent fasting (around 1200 cals/daily), and regular exercise, and I’ve dropped 12lbs. That is a significant amount of weight in such a short amount of time. Not all 12lbs were fat, as I would have lost a fair amount of water retention. However, I’ve found a way to lower my daily caloric intake, lose weight, and start feeling myself again. I still have weight to loss, but I’m confident it will come. If you have struggled in your mid-life with weight gain, I highly recommend seeing if intermittent fasting is right for you.