Losing Weight After 50

It may seem like as you get older, losing weight gets increasingly difficult. It’s easy to blame our age or slower metabolisms as to why we aren’t looking or feeling as good as we want. Well unfortunately this is no longer a good excuse. Even though your metabolism may have slowed down, your weight gain is mostly due to being less active and having muscle loss. Fortunately, these are two things we can do something about.

Do we have the time and energy to work out as much as we did when we were in our 20s? Ummm no. Those were the days when we didn’t have kids, weren’t in the thick of our careers and had much more free time.

But now that we are in our 40s and 50s, we have to make our health a priority. We have to carve out time and pay attention. We have to set goals and get to work.

Here are a few things to do to help you be successful in achieving your fitness or weight loss goals:

  1. Set more than one goal. Don’t just set a goal based on the scale. Set goals to include a fitness component (example: jogging non-stop for 20 minutes) anda nutrition component (example: drinking 6 cups of water a day). Setting a variety of goals will help you feel more frequent success and positivity and help to keep you staying on track.
  2. Talk to the professionals. First of all, consult your doctor to ensure you are healthy enough to start an exercise program or if you have any specific issues that need to be considered such as IBS, Diabetes, or injuries (current or past). Make sure you are honest with all professionals you consult about your issues as this will ensure you are safe and programs are tailored to you. Some people you may want to consider hiring either for a one time or multiple sessions include personal trainers and dieticians/nutritionists. Let’s face it, if we were experts in these areas we wouldn’t be needing to get some help here. These pros can make the process much more enjoyable and increase your likelihood of success.
  3. Get moving – more often. Seems pretty basic but it’s a big move. Take the stairs, walk around on your coffee break, plan a coffee walk with a friend rather than sitting and sipping. These will all help to increase your metabolism.
  4. Workout. A few things about working out:
    a. Do something fun – whether it’s a dance class or swimming, find something that you enjoy doing – it will make all the difference.
    b. Buddy Up – whether it’s a friend or family member you meet for your workouts or a group fitness class, getting your sweat on with others makes you more likely to stick with it as you are accountable to others.
    c. Add weight lifting to your routine. This is especially important as we get older. Not only does this help with maintaining muscle to aid in keeping our weight gain at bay, it also helps with balance.
  5. Nutrition is so important! This is probably going to make the biggest impact on your weight loss. A few things (other than talking with a certified dietician/nutritionist) to consider:
    a. Be mindful about what you are eating, how much and when. It’s easy to scarf down an entire bag of chips subconsciously while watching Netflix!
    b. Increase your protein intake. Getting enough high-quality protein in your diet is not only important for weight loss but also critical for stopping or reversing age-related muscle loss. Some examples include lean meats, protein shakes, beans and legumes.
    c. Drink lots of water – try to have this be your more frequent drink of choice!
    d. Eat whole, nutrient dense foods – vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, poultry, fish, legumes, and whole grains, are packed with nutrients essential for maintaining a healthy body weight, such as fiber, protein, and healthy fats.
    e. Cook more at home and eat out less. Know what you’re eating. Eating out often usually means eating high fat, sugar and salt and highly processed foods. This will likely save you money too!
  6. Sleep! Not getting enough quality sleep may harm your weight loss efforts. Many studies have shown that not getting enough sleep increases the likelihood of obesity and may hinder weight loss efforts.
  7. Finally, be patient. Just because you start on a path to a better, fitter, healthier you, doesn’t mean it is going to happen quickly. It takes time. But it WILL happen. Just be patient.

Just because you haven’t made yourself a priority in the past, doesn’t mean it has to stay this way. You are worth the effort.

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Is Snacking Good or Bad for Me?

Is snacking good or bad for you? Well wait, what is a snack any ways? Do you mean late night snacking, chips and double-stuffed oreos? Or are we talking about a quick snack before I go to spin class? Well, I guess that depends on how YOU define snacking. I never like to classify anything as “GOOD” or “BAD”, but I want to answer this question for you, and give it to you straight!

One of the MOST common questions I receive from my IG community, and clients — “What can I have for a Healthy Snack?” So this blog post will review snacking from a few different view points, but mostly focus on the practical tips and answer the questions–what can you snack on? Let’s get started.

What is snacking?

There are many different ways to define snacking, but the way I think of snacking, is consuming small amounts of food between meals. This can include both food or drink, but the key is smaller portions, ie snacks are not meals! This is different for everyone, and it seems to be the busier we are, the less time we have for “sit-down” or conventional meals, and therefore we rely on snacking to get all the fuel and nutrition we need for the day. When we use snacks to replace our meals, we have to be strategic, as it is far too easy to overeat, choose highly processed foods, and then just continuously graze, and many of us actually consider ourselves grazers.

Is there a difference between snacking and grazing?

Yes. I grew up on a farm, so if you don’t get this reference, I apologize, but I’m sure you all have seen a cow before….think of a cow in a field…sauntering along leisurely, munching on the grass here and there, walking a bit, eating some more, chewing, walking, eating…for hours on end. This is grazing. You can imagine the challenge that this brings for humans. It encourages us to eat MINDLESSLY and when we are not mindful (ie mindless) about what we eat, we tend to eat more than our body needs, and we tend to ENJOY IT LESS, and why would we ever want to eat more, and enjoy it less, shouldn’t it be the other way around? Snacking on the other hand is more intentional and deliberate, almost strategic and doesn’t blur into one long eating event. Snacks are timed to bridge the gap between your meals.

Bottom Line: Grazing encourages mindless eating, snacking is intentional, so do your best to eat with intention on your journey to living your best life.

When is the best time to snack?

In a perfect world, we would all eat very intuitively, meaning, eat when we are hungry, stop when we are full, but to be honest, I can only think of ONE person that I know who does this…the rest of us tend to fall somewhere between the spectrum of totally starving and uncomfortably full. Actually, if you have any kids, or are around kids, you will notice that they are quite good at eating according to their body and how they feel/what they need. But as we grow into adults, we tend to fu*% things up by going on weird diets, trying to lose weight, gain muscle, trim up, tone up etc. It is through this process of up and down, erratic food intake that we lose our sense of proper hunger and fullness cues, and our intuitive eating becomes less reliable, and we need to train them again.

So to keep it simple, I like to follow some general rules of timing for snacks/meals that will also help you plan your day, and plan your snacks. As a rule, to avoid that extreme hunger, meals can typically be spaced 4-6 hours apart, of course there is variability here, but I’m trying to be concise and give it to you straight okay? If you eat breakfast at 8am, then you would want to have lunch by 12-2pm. If you eat lunch at 1pm, then supper no later than 7pm, you get the idea. But GUESS WHAT? We are not robots, and try as we may, life will get in the way of our perfect meal timing, and that’s where snacks save the day! Yassss!

Snacks can be strategically eaten to bridge the gaps between meals and to keep you from becoming that hangry beast…and I will admit, I am the MOST beastly when hungry, and not living my best life at all. To keep you living your best life, use snacks when you have large gaps of time between meals. Snacks are also very important when we do any time of exercise or activity, they will help you push through! Here is an example of timing, if you eat at 8am, and plan to eat lunch at 1pm, but you have a last minute conference call or meeting that doesn’t end until 3pm. YIKES- 8am-3pm (7 hours) you will be ferociously hungry and will eat everything in sight at your next meal, you have no willpower when you are this hungry. As a solution, plan for a snack at 1pm when you would have your lunch, this will keep you in check until you can eat your actual lunch. Same thing when you leave work or school, if you have running around to do, try to fit in a workout, chances are you will need that snack to get you through.

Bottom Line: Have a snack if your meals are too far apart, but don’t forget to eat your meal.

What about LATE NIGHT MUNCHIES?

DUN.DUN.DUN. What is it about the witching hours when the sun goes down that we get sooo peckish and just wanna go ape on all the food in sight? I honestly don’t know. But what I do know, is that most people struggle with evening mindless snacking, myself included. I start off with good intentions. My Peanut Butter Yogurt Whip maybe with an apple. Then I will have a melba toast or regular toast with peanut butter…then after that….I still want more, I will sometimes find myself just eating peanut butter straight from the jar–WTF? Am I even hungry? No. For whatever reasons we snack (and there are many reasons and rarely is it hunger) the problem is, it becomes a habit, a habit that would be good to break, but will take time, however here are some of my go to snack options for sweet or salty cravers:

SWEET:

  • Peanut butter whip yogurt

  • Ryevita cracker with almond butter and honey

  • Yogurt with granola

  • Energy bite (click here for FREE enery bite masters guide)

  • Fruit with yogurt or nut butter dip

  • Small amounts of any dessert is OK, just watch that portion

SALTY:

  • Que pasa tortilla chips and salsa

  • Thin triscuit crackers with cheese

  • Trailmix (portions please)

  • Chee cha puffs — great replacement for chips

  • Popcorn

  • Chip/Popcorn: my favorite trick is taking 3 cups of popcorn, and then a handful of your favorite chips (just a handful) and crushing them into your popcorn, tossing it all up and wam bam, thank you mam’ your entire bowl of popcorn, tastes like your favorite chips.

Bottom Line: Mindless snacking in the evening is rarely fueled by hunger, so rather than focusing on what you’re eating, maybe you should focus on what’s eating you?

What is a good snack anyways?

I am going to share with you, my perfect snack formula, it makes the ideal “between meal” fuel. Snacking on the right type and combination of foods will give you that energy boost that we demand from our snacks, you know to get you through that mid-day slump. To understand that “right” combination, let me #throwback to Canada’s Food Guide concept of food groups, because most of us have at least seen this before. Don’t roll your eyes at me! A dietitian referencing the food guide, YES! Now, CFG identifies 4 unique food groups distinguished by the nutrients that group provides for our body. Meaning, each food group provides a unique set of nutrients that are important for our overall health. As a reminder….the 4 food groups are: Vegetables & Fruit, Grain & Starches, Milk & Alternatives, Meat & Alternatives. The RIGHT snack combination should balance 2 of these food groups, so keep that in mind. Let’s get into it.

The Perfect Snack Formula

  1. Should contain 2 or 3 of the 4 food groups. The simplest combo would be a protein and carbohydrate (tuna & crackers, apple & cheese) as some examples. But the point is, any ONE item will likely not satisfy you or fill you up, like just carrots, just apples, just cheese, just nuts, combine two and get that synergistic benefit and a variety of nutrients.

  2. Should range between 150-250 calories per snack. Remember, snacks are smaller portions of foods and using a calorie range will help you determine how much of your favorite snack food you might eat, this will also discourage you from eating half a jar of peanut butter or a whole brick of marble cheese with your crackers as a snack.

  3. Should containt fibre and protein because they are your friends, try to get enough of both at a snack (5g of protein, 3g of fibre)

  4. Should be low in added sugars, if you can keep it single digits then you are a rockstar (less than 9 grams)

  5. Should contain “clean” ingredients that you might find in your own pantry. This is easier if you are making it at home, but for pre-packaged stuff, look for short, simple ingredient lists and no artificial ingredients.

  6. Snacks should be easy to Assemble and portable–like energy bites, balls, or bars!

Some Favorite Snack Recipes

Here are a few of my favorite snack recipes to help you along your way and keeping the above tips in mind. You may also want to try some pre-packaged snack products— I am working on a blog for this so stay tuned!

To answer the question from the start…Is snacking good or bad for me? Snacking is good for you, in fact we rely on snacks for fuel and energy. MINDLESS snacking, is not good for you, snacking for the sake of eating satisfy other needs, that go beyond our nutrition needs. Here is a recap:
  • Plan for snacks! Have a snack if your meals are too far apart, but don’t forget to eat your meal.

  • Avoid grazing as it encourages mindless eating, snacking is intentional, so do your best to eat with intention on your journey to living your best life.

  • Re-think WHY you snack when you’re not hungry– Mindless snacking in the evening is rarely fueled by hunger, so rather than focusing on what you’re eating, maybe you should focus on what’s eating you?

  • Try the perfect snack formula above!

About Jessica Wylychenko our GUEST Blogger! 

Jessica is a registered dietitian helping runners eat smarter, to run harder. She works with you to become a more well balanced, well-nourished runner so that you can hit your PR’s and reduce your risk of injury. Jessica believes food is fuel and should be used to nurture the body, but food is also enjoyment, more importantly enjoyment than anything else.

www.saladsaresweet.com 

My Favourite Greens

In this week’s blog, I wanted to explore the concept behind ‘greens’. When grocery shopping this past week, I looked down at my cart and noticed that everything I had put in so far was green. I definitely eat a very healthy and balanced diet (including other colors of course!), although that’s not necessarily everyone’s jam. So this week I decided to blog about my favorite green foods, why I love them so much and why you should consider adding them to your daily nutrition routine.

1. Broccoli – this high fiber food truly is a super food. Broccoli lowers cholesterol, aids in digestion and naturally detoxes the body. Packed with Vitamins D, K and A this tasty vegetable has enormous anti-inflammatory benefits. Some people find it difficult to digest raw, so a light steam can help with that. I eat this daily with hummus or on its own.

2. Avocado – loaded with nutrients, this healthy fat is great for your heart, kidneys and overall cell function. Its ability to reduce inflammation, has shown links to cancer reduction and help with arthritis. It is also high in fiber which can help with weight loss and keep your digestive system on track. Avocados also help your body absorb nutrients from other vegetables, meaning it works for you! I put avocado on my morning eggs. It’s also a great topper on salads, chicken, toast, or salmon. Half an avocado per day is what I eat. 

3. Spinach – this delicious one is full of vitamins and minerals – everything from A, C, E and K, to protein and flavanoids to calcium, iron and magnesium. It’s basically loaded with good things for every part of your body. Great for your heart, brain, skin, hair and bones. I put spinach on top of my morning eggs to give them a slight steam which adds even more benefits to spinach. A spinach salad for lunch is also a frequent occurrence in this household. Add with your favorite veggies, a few Hemp Heartsand some extra virgin olive oil…you are set. Added bonus? Eat spinach with a high vitamin C fruit such as berries to help pack even more of a punch.

4. Brussels Sprouts – everyone probably remembers having brussels sprouts as a kid and hating them. But they seem to have made a comeback in my kitchen in more recent years. Packed with vitamins and minerals, they are noted as one of the top 20 healthiest foods by the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index. Studies have shown links to fighting cancer, preventing diabetes, obesity and heart disease. They also increase your energy – so really how can you go wrong? After steaming these veggies I love to either roast them or toss them in a pan with extra virgin olive oil or raw organic coconut oil. It’s important to remember the foods we choose are important, but equally important is the way and in what we cook them.

5. Kale – with three grams of protein per serving, this high antioxidant super food is making its way to my fridge every week. It is said to be one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. Studies have shown links to cancer fighting properties, cardiovascular strengthening and can help you lose weight. I find it a harder one to digest so a light steam or baking them in raw organic coconut oil in the oven is a great way to add this one to your day. It also is really easy to grow in your garden if that’s your summer vibe. I will warn you – it grows like a weed so plan to eat A LOT of it at harvest time! 

6. Bok Choy – as part of the cabbage family, bok choy is loaded with nutrients, omega 3s and anti-oxidants. Cancer prevention is often tied in studies to bok choy and other green leafy vegetables. I find this one great to chop up and add to stir fry. I also make a great cold salad with chickpeas, bok choy, yellow and red pepper and cucumbers. Delicious!

7. Aloe Vera – there are numerous health benefits to taking aloe vera. A spoonful in the morning helps with digestion, antioxidant support, healthy immune system, reduces harmful toxins, increases nutrient absorption, balances stomach acidity and helps sooth muscle and joint discomfort. 

8. Chlorophyll – liquid chlorophyll is an easy one to add to your water to dash into your day. It helps keep your red blood cells clean, healthy and plentiful by rebuilding and replenishing those cells. In such, our energy levels are boosted. Other benefits include detoxifying your liver, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-candida and promotes healthy iron levels. It helps build your blood. And if you think about that statement, your body completely depends on it.

9. Green Tea – I’m not a huge fan of the taste, so when I find I’m ‘over it’ I simply supplement. This way I ensure I get the health benefits on the days I’m not drinking it. Numerous health benefits from this anti-oxidant super star include improved brain function, burns fat, lowers your risk of certain types of cancer, lowers your risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s by protecting your brain, lowers your risk for cardiovascular disease and Type 2 Diabetes, and promotes longevity. All that for a cup of tea? Do it!

10. Supplementing – now at the risk of this all sounding overwhelming, I wanted to give two suggestions of how to get your greens in when you don’t manage to eat them all. I would recommend the Amazing Grass brand. It comes in a few flavours – my favorite is the antioxidant berry flavour. I found the wheatgrass flavour to taste a bit like grass (and not in a good way) and the lemon lime one way to sweet. 

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