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Take charge of mid-life health by shedding excess weight.
As you head into your golden years, 10 extra pounds can really slow you down. Losing weight after 50 can be tougher than it was when you were younger, but it's doable. Your determination and willingness to change your diet, exercise more and make positive lifestyle changes will help you shed unwanted weight so that you can stay healthy and active during your middle years and beyond.
Reflect on your eating habits over the past week to determine ways to reduce caloric intake. Count the number of times you ate fast food, consumed alcohol, and drank soft drinks or other carbonated beverages. The National Institutes of Health advises people over 50 to avoid empty calories that are low in nutrients.
Examine the contents of your refrigerator and pantry. Take stock of the healthy foods you have on hand, such as fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, fat-free or low-fat dairy products and whole-grain cereals and breads. Read the labels on packaged and canned foods. Take note of items that are high in added sugars and solid fats.
Determine your ideal daily caloric consumption based on sex and activity level. According to the National Institute of Aging, an inactive woman over 50 needs about 1,600 calories daily as compared to an active woman who needs 2,000 to 2,200 calories. An inactive man over 50 requires 2,000 calories, while an active man requires 2,400 to 2,800 calories per day.
Keep a food diary. Make use of technology to maintain your healthy diet, and use your computer to research food values, low-calorie recipes and meal plans. Download free applications that help you track your calories, calculate your body mass index -- there are even options that support your weight-loss efforts with personal diet plans.
Jump-start your day with a healthy, low-calorie breakfast of grains and fruit. Keep from overeating by consuming 100-calorie snacks between meals. Substitute salty snacks like chips with a cup of crunchy, chopped carrots, broccoli or cucumber with one and one-half tablespoons of low-fat ranch dressing. Drink lots of water throughout the day. Manuel Villacorta, MS, RD, author of "Losing Weight After 50," published on The Boomer Brief website, suggests that consuming 70 percent of your daily calories before dinner helps to counter the effects of ghrelin, a hormone that controls hunger and appetite.
Weigh in at the same time each day on the same scales. Keep yourself motivated toward your weight-loss goal with non-food rewards. If you have a slight set-back, don't give up -- keep trying.
Move It and Lose It
Enhance weight loss with exercise. Your body must expend 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound. To lose 10 pounds, you'll need to eliminate a total of 35,000 calories, whether through diet, exercise or a combination. Step up physical activity to burn excess calories.
Walking is a safe way to burn calories. Depending on your size, you'll burn between 49 and 71 calories for every mile you walk. Jaunt through your local mall or big-box store, or better yet, set aside 30 minutes three times a week for brisk walking outdoors in the fresh air. Work your way up to walking five days out of the week.
Find creative ways to add more movement to your daily routine. Dance around the house or park at the end of the lot instead of in front of the store.
Join a fitness club or community exercise program. Invite a friend to go with you so that you can support one another. Participate in wellness programs through your employer.
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Increase your activity level gradually if you're used to a sedentary lifestyle.
Consult with your doctor if you have existing chronic health conditions before starting any strenuous exercise program.