Please don’t hate me for this, but I inherited my build and metabolism from my dad’s side of the family, and, during my first 40 years of life, never had to worry about what I ate. I could eat as many of my favorite guilty pleasure Nacho Cheese Doritos or Dairy Queen Blizzards as I wanted and not gain an ounce. I actually liked my body better after I had kids.
So what happened? Around 40 years of age, I noticed that my tendency to snack between meals or overeat during the holidays began to stick around my waistline (or other places). I had acquired the dreaded slowing metabolism.
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Not So Easy to Shed Pounds Anymore
I used to think that when I went back to work after vacation, any extra pound or two would come off quickly because I never had time to eat much at lunch. Well, the pounds did not come off, and my weight began to creep up the scale. Not horribly, because I could still fit into my clothes, but they were definitely tighter, and I didn’t know what to do. You see, I had never had to develop any self-control regarding food, and I had developed some very bad habits. I needed to change those habits and develop new ones in order to maintain my weight and not let the “weight creep” become an irreversible trend. I didn’t want to go on a crash diet or starve myself, so what could I do?
Snack Substitutes to the Rescue
I tried substituting healthy snacks for the Doritos and sweets. Some of my go-to substitutes were frozen blueberries (we always had plenty of those around, as you might have read in another blog post about frozen berries), and I substituted Corn or Rice Chex for the Doritos when I needed something crunchy to munch on. I also tried to try new things, such as fried dill pickles, made in my air fryer (the subject of another post). So, for me, that was the first strategy I employed.
I also substituted herbal tea for my morning drink instead of the sugary breakfast drink I had been having. I’ve gotten better at eliminating nearly all of the sugar from my breakfast lately by using some of the foods on the Weight Watchers Zero Points Food List. I found some breakfast foods on the list, such as eggs, mixed in some mushrooms or fresh spinach, added some salsa (which does have a little sugar in it), and I had a zero points healthy breakfast. That was my first step.
Exercise Makes a Difference
Next, I realized I needed to exercise more. I was not very consistent about going to our local athletic club, even though we had a family membership. I decided to go to the club at least three times a week, if my schedule allowed for it. At first, I just rode the exercise bike and read a book, because I didn’t know how to work the controls on the treadmill, elliptical, or anything else on the cardio floor of our club.
After my family found out that all I was doing was biking (not very vigorously) and reading, my dear husband showed me how to adjust the settings on the treadmill. Later, after I had mastered that, he showed me how to use the elliptical and go in the right direction, not backwards. I would have kept rotating between those three pieces of equipment forever. However, my youngest son informed me recently that I needed to add weightlifting into my routine. If I really wanted to burn more calories, that was his top recommendation. Thank you, son.
My Son Was Right
I did some research, and it turned out that my son was right. I am always learning new things, and according to a study done for the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, as reported in an article for US News, intense (note the word intense, which is sometimes a challenge for me) strength workouts burned more calories per minute than a long run. There were other strength-training benefits listed in the article as well.
So, my third step was to listen to the advice of others and add new things to my routine. Listening to advice from trustworthy sources is important, as I was reminded recently by a friend whose grandmother is going to celebrate her 105th birthday soon. Her secret to longevity? According to my friend, her grandmother listens to the advice of her doctor. She eats what he tells her to eat, and now she is nearly 105. Of course, there are other factors at work. However, it is always a good idea to involve trustworthy friends or professionals who can encourage you in your efforts. They can keep you accountable, and perhaps give you helpful tips.
Putting It All Together
To summarize, the three things that helped me halt the weight creep of a slowing metabolism were:
- I substituted healthier food choices when I was able to work it into my daily routine.
- I found a way to fit some regular exercise into my life. If you have health concerns, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before beginning an exercise regimen.
- I involved others and listened to the advice of trusted sources. Even when they suggested I try something that was unfamiliar, I gave it a try.
What Are Your Favorite Tips?
Changing my routine was a gradual process, but I now feel healthier. I have reaped the benefits of eating better and exercising regularly. Now I’m able to indulge in the occasional DQ Blizzard or snack on Nacho Cheese Doritos without getting off track. I’ve also learned how to enter the weight room without feeling intimidated (which might be the subject of another blog post). How about you? Do you have any secrets to maintaining a healthy weight? I’d sure appreciate it if you took the time to share.
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