Lose Pounds at Any Age

Featured Article, News and Advice, Weight Loss
on May 22, 2013
How older people can manage their weight.

DEAR FORMER FAT GIRL: Is there any possibility that a 70-year old, insulin-dependant woman to lose weight? Sometimes, at this age I think I should quit worrying about it. I currently weigh approximately 215 pounds.—Katy

DEAR KATIE: First of all, you’re asking the wrong person to give you a pass because of your age. I know plenty of people who are 70-plus kicking butt in all kinds of ways—mentally, physically, creatively, career-wise. I believe that if YOU believe, you can overcome the conventional wisdom about aging and continue to grow and achieve, no matter what your age. The only limits you have are the ones you set for yourself.

RELATED: How to Lose Weight After Age 40

I’m not discounting the fact that people of any age can be limited physically, by illness or accident or what have you. But part of the attitude of a truly healthy, vibrant, “spry” person is to look for a new route when a particular path is closed off to you—not to give up completely. Sometimes, I think we are too ready to throw in the towel on our health when we’re faced with a barrier, perhaps because we don’t keep the ultimate goal in mind. Healthy living isn’t really about being at a certain weight—it’s about having the energy to live the kind of life you want, about being fit enough to move through that life with ease, about having a body and mind that’s ready to handle challenges, adventures and even setbacks. Thinking about it that way—not about simply a number on a scale—can be liberating. Rather than feeling forced into eating certain foods just because they’re good for you and simply enduring boring/distasteful/tortuous workouts, you sort of switch into exploration mode, searching for the solutions to healthy living that will really work for you. How can I get more servings of veggies every day (and learn to love them)? What new, healthier alternatives can I find for the sweets and carbs I love so much? Knowing what I know about myself, my likes and dislikes, my life and logistics, how can I find a type of activity that will keep me moving, one that I might even come to look forward to?

Looking at healthy living from that point of view can make you feel empowered, rather than backed up against a wall. That’s especially important for people with diabetes or other chronic conditions where it’s too easy to feel like you must make changes “or else.” Consider trying out this approach by systematically scheduling sessions where you make a special trip to the grocery store or farmer’s market (apart from your typical weekly visit) to find new foods to try, and researching how to prepare them. Then, make it a goal to “sample” different activities over several weeks. Look into things like ballroom dancing, Zumba, yoga, or other fitness activities you think you might like. If you’re concerned that you might end up in a class with a bunch of young things, try calling ahead and talking with the health club staff. Or look into programs specifically for seniors, like the YMCA’s Silver Sneakers or courses at community centers or even hospitals.

And, talk to your doctor about the type of insulin you’re using. Some types of insulin, particularly the newer, long-acting insulins, are less likely to cause weight gain or inhibit weight loss compared to pre-mixed insulin. Get more specifics in this article from our friends at Sharecare.com.

 Lisa Delaney, author of Secrets of a Former Fat Girl, shed 70 pounds—and six dress sizes—and has kept it off for 20 years.