One of my favorite fitness sites ran an article yesterday that made me smile and roll my eyes at the same time: “How to slow down weight gain.” There’s something so wryly defeatist about that title. Not how to prevent weight gain, not how to lose weight, but how to slow down the inevitable gain, as if whoever wrote that is finally ready to just throw in the towel on the idea of losing or maintaining weight.
And it’s something I could have written myself, since I too am about ready to face up to a new goal of slowing down weight gain rather than losing or maintaining.
Ever since I turned forty, I’ve been surprised by how different my metabolism is than it was in my thirties. The same amount of food no longer allows me to maintain my weight. And it’s not like I was a big eater before. But I felt like I had taken years to figure out what kept my weight pretty steady and even – and then after I turned forty, that all changed. Now instead of feeling good that my weight hardly ever changes, I’m forced to welcome a new pound or two aboard every year, it seems.
Sometimes I just can’t be bothered to care. I eat a mindful if certainly not abstemious pesco-vegetarian diet. I ride my exercise bike for 45 minutes every morning, and I run anywhere from one to five miles every day. So I’ve got the cardio workout part covered. Yes, I should be doing weight resistance at my age as well – for bone mass as well as weight maintenance and toning – but I just don’t have any desire to add more exercise time to my day. I’d rather be reading. Or writing. Or cooking. Or eating. That’s the other thing: there’s so much good food in the world. To make myself continuously turn away from it seems like a show of ingratitude to the Universe for all the delicious things it puts in front of me.
A week ago, I decided to take a break from scale-watching. The continuous creep was just getting too discouraging. Moreover, I felt like I had enough to worry about when I arose in the morning – deadlines, family life, global issues – without giving myself the entirely avoidable added stress of seeing that another pound had hung on overnight. So I simply decided to stop weighing in every morning.
But that took its own kind of courage. What if I gain, like, five pounds because I’m not keeping track of it? I worried. Well, my clothes wouldn’t fit and I’d notice that, I reasoned back with myself. Okay, but what if I start gaining slowly but surely and it just keeps piling on? Well, yes, that’s what’s happening anyway. Why not spare myself the cold hard evidence?
So I gave myself a week off from the scale but followed the same guidelines for weight control that I always do: reasonable variety of food, restrained portion sizes, lots of exercise, avoid eating after 7 PM if at all possible.
And the results? When I finally weighed myself this morning after a ten-day break, it was okay. I hadn’t gained anything new at all.
I really want to think weight doesn’t matter to me, and that the pound-a-year acquisitions that arrived with my 40’s can be reversed. But this headline has me convinced the best I can do right now is slow it down. And then I reached the last paragraph, which starts with these words: “Finally, don’t be afraid to” – gain a little bit of weight as you age, I expected it to say. It’s an inevitable part of growing older, and it’s just not that big a deal.
No such luck. This is a fitness site, after all. They have product to move. The sentence actually read like this: Finally, don't be afraid to maintain and increase the number and volume of high intensity workouts as you age.
Oh, okay. I was looking for encouragement to let my body do what it does, but instead I found more ways to combat it. Don’t be afraid to increase my number of high intensity workouts? Thanks for that permission. I’m sure it will come in handy if I ever decide to start doing high intensity workouts. But for now, I’ll just face the scale every morning and do what the headline says: try to slow down that nearly inevitable post-40 weight gain.