On Weight Gain as we age
Except for a period of depression, I weighed about the same from the age of 19 to 45. When I could feel myself inching above, I would take measures—I even joined Weight Watchers for a time in my early 20s when I weighed (horrors!) 5 pounds above my college weight, and immediately got things under control.
At 45, just about when my husband died, I put in my diary how relieved I was to weigh less than when I graduated college.
And then. The weight crept up on me. Another and another and another pound. I had started running when I was 40—I increased that up to 3 5Ks a week. Plus walking my daughter to school; that’s 2 miles a day.
And my weight increased, anyway, and suddenly, I weighed more than I ever had, except for when I was pregnant. Fine, I have a great deal of self control. I started the only-carrots thing for a while. And I worked out at the gym with a professional bodybuilder who gave me a discount for being a widow.
And continued to gain. I was staggering around eating carrots and still gaining. I said, screw this, if I am going to gain, anyway, after having gone through protein-and-veg, and even just veg, and STILL gaining, I may as well eat what I feel like eating.
Which is still a pretty leafy green lifestyle. I sit here typing at the most I have weighed since I was about to give birth.
Just in case you are in the, “Well, she should just try harder, camp,” here are some of the things I have gotten done. After reading this, I doubt anyone could say I just lack the drive to succeed at weight loss.
I worked my way through college. Three times. I have no student loan debt. The first time was cleaning houses and Pell grants, the second was working for AT & T six days a week, and the third was while working full time as a librarian and being a widow with a school aged child.
Even though I have asthma, I sing opera. Pretty well. I never would be a professional, but I have a good rep and can sing passably in English, French, German, Italian and Latin. I speak only English but that’s another story.
I have written and published 3 books—2 are self-published and one is through Warren County Historical Society.
I have come in the winner’s circle in my age group twice in 5Ks, and have run 2 five mile races. This is, again, even though I have asthma.
I can rollerblade from my house to Lake George and back (that’s 20 miles).
But I cannot lose the menopause weight.
I thought: I am ON this. I am a librarian, and I can look this up. So I did, in the relevant web sites and books.
WHOA. Victim blame city. “Try to discover where and how you made the decision to be less active.” “Replace your sugary foods with whole grains and leafy vegetables, and menopause weight need not be a concern.” “It’s up to you, if you increase your activity while reducing calories, you can control the menopause weight.” “Don’t let menopause be an excuse to let your weight get out of control.”
And, my favorite, “Losing weight during menopause is not different from other times: increase your activity and healthful foods and the weight will come off.”
What if you’ve lived a leafy green life for 20 years?
There was a time when I decreased my calorie intake to such an extreme that I did keep it at ten pounds above my college weight. But I also got symptoms of malnutrition such as spoon nails. (Spoon nails are not only ugly, they hurt. Your fingers don’t WANT to be concave.)
After much searching I found a website that stopped the blame, and confirmed my fears: As we age, we need fewer calories to maintain a weight while still requiring vitamins and minerals and protein. Even if I spend as much time on studying my food as I do on my job, and on how the hell I can get adequate nutrition while ingesting fewer calories, I am still screwed.
I can either be slender with my hair falling out and spoon nails, or I can look like the 50ish widow I am.
Is there hope? Is it only a matter of time?
A few websites and one or 2 books have told me that when menopause is complete the body will no longer be forcing on the extra pounds.
Some of my acquaintances, non close enough for discussion, went through 3 or 4 years of plumpness before slimming down again. Several celebrities went through weight gains in their mid forties only to declare their new dedication to health at age 50 or so.
Valerie Bertinelli famously hawks her weight loss secrets at 52—just older enough than me that I know she’s finished the change. Well, she hasn’t made any movies or much TV recently. She probably could use the endorsement money. And anyway, you can scarcely expect her to proclaim, “I LOST TONS OF WEIGHT because I FINISHED MENOPAUSE!” Easier to sell whatever product she is selling.
Hey, look at this, 52 year old Genie Francis just did the same. She’s selling a different weight loss program but is the same age as Valerie.