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Losing Those Pandemic Pounds

This is very embarrassing. But I’m sure I’m not alone.

Last month I somehow worked up the courage to step on the scale and realized that I had gained 23 pounds during the epidemic.

Is this what they mean by middle age spread? I felt like a snail. A deep sigh. It was like that humorous poem: “When what should appear to my wondering eyes But 20 extra pounds on the hips, thighs, and rear.”

This fact is especially hard to share since I wrote a book called “Ten Secrets to Losing Weight After 50”.

How did this happen to me?

A few years ago, after caring for my mom with Lewy Body Dementia, I gained a lot of weight. I was horrified that I was 172 after he died. I have considered the most in my life so far. So I did a lot of research and experimenting, lost 15 pounds—though admittedly it’s hellish to lose weight as you get older—and shared how I did it in this book. I even managed to maintain my weight… until the epidemic.

I broke my 5 pound rule shared in my book – if I gain 5 pounds, it’s time to lose 5 pounds. Everyone else was stressing, pampering themselves and drinking wine. Why not me? We all had to comfort ourselves somehow, right? After the epidemic is over, I will lose weight again – I reasoned. After all, I knew how to do it.

Well, the problem with that mindset is that COVID has stuck around much longer than I planned. I originally told myself that I would start losing weight on January 1st. Surely 2021 will be a better year with less stress. Then one day I was sitting in front of a full-length closet mirror and my reflection shocked me. I snapped a photo, gritted my teeth and decided to face the music on the scale.

I tipped the scales at 180 pounds. Unfortunately, I broke my previous record. My BMI is 29 and 30 is considered obese. I was at the top. At the rate I’ve been going, I could easily accomplish this feat by the beginning of the year.

The severity of obesity during a pandemic

I couldn’t let that happen. After all, this is not the time to gain weight. Southern California, where I live, is the current epicenter of COVID as we head into 2021. According to the CDC, obesity increases the risk of serious illness from the coronavirus and can triple the risk of hospitalization. Simply put, as BMI increases, the risk of death from COVID-19 increases.

Yes, vaccination is right around the corner, but there’s some more bad news: Studies have shown obesity is linked to lower vaccine responses. Ouch!

So yes, I hated the way I looked, but that’s not my primary motivation for losing weight. I want to reduce my risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID. In addition, I turned 60 a few months ago. I want to stay healthy and strong so that when this is over I can travel again, play with my grandchildren, and live on.

There’s no time like the present

No more procrastination. Last month I started my journey to a healthier life. I wanted to be held accountable, so I boldly posted my weight on my author’s Facebook page and declared that I was going to start following the advice in my book. It was very scary to make this announcement in case I failed, but it was time to be honest with myself and others.

A few weeks later, my husband posted a picture of me on a hike. By then I had lost some weight but still looked a little heavy. Normally I would have scolded you for posting this picture. Because I gained weight, I’m ashamed, I only allowed a head shot. But you know what? my property! I let go of Facebook approvals.

I re-read the chapter in my book about changing my attitude (like thinking that weight loss was impossible when I was older and lamenting that the methods that worked when I was younger no longer worked). I reviewed my tips for overcoming a slower metabolism and muscle loss, managing stress eating, avoiding hunger, and overcoming stubborn plateaus.

Very good stuff – now I just had to follow my own suggestions.

Choosing the right diet

So I started my journey and my weight started coming off. I didn’t cut out all carbs, eat grapefruit, eat at certain times of the day, use special supplements, or eat raw foods. There were no dangerous surgeries, diet pills, expensive weight loss programs, expensive supplements, expensive gym memberships or personal trainers. And not starve myself or go on crazy fad diets that are not only unhealthy but don’t work long term.

You don’t have to do anything to lose weight. Avoid the fad diets that your friends rave about temporarily but can’t sustain. As we age, it’s important to prioritize health, not rapid weight loss. Experts warn that rapid weight loss can lead to malnutrition and loss of lean muscle mass. Fad diets can also cause digestive problems; for example, many high-protein fad diets can cause severe constipation. Plus, you’re more likely to gain weight back. Who needs all this?

Remember, you are older and wiser. Your goals are different now. You’re not losing weight to look good in a bikini this summer or to fit into skinny jeans for the weekend. You want to lose weight so you can live longer and stay healthy and strong.

There is a lot of confusion about choosing the right diet. You should use a diet that is nutritionally balanced, with no banned foods, that is easy to follow, allows for occasional indulgences, and provides consistent, healthy lifestyle changes.

While writing my book, I tried some of the US News World Report’s list of the best diets overall, including the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet, and Weight Watchers (otherwise known as the popular Keto, Paleo, Atkins, and Raw Food diets the worst on the list I have shared the pros and cons of the best diets, their requirements, and my personal thoughts based on my own experiences.

Weight Watchers, rated #1 in the Best Weight Loss Diets category, worked the best during this time, so that’s the plan I’m currently using. However, everyone is different, so you need to find what works best for you. If you want to try any of the healthy diets listed, you can find inexpensive used books that outline diets and recipes on Amazon.

So here I am a month later and thank goodness my tips are still working their magic! How much weight did I lose? I weigh 169 kilos, so I lost 11 kilos in four weeks. I’m off to a great start and I’m determined to stick with it for the long haul!

I feel much better physically, mentally and emotionally. During the pandemic, when so much is out of our control, this empowers me to take back control of my eating.

Set mini deadlines

Experts generally agree that if you need to lose a lot of weight, setting smaller goals works better than aiming for a scary, seemingly impossible number that seems so far off in the future that you can’t even imagine.

Makes sense. Setting a goal to lose 10 pounds in six weeks is less overwhelming than losing 100 pounds in a year. Short-term milestones focus on your success and progress, rather than obsessing over how much weight you still need to lose. Meeting mini-deadlines is encouraging and energizing.

In my case, I need to lose about 30 pounds to get to a healthy weight. My first goal was to lose 10 kilos in six weeks, which luckily I did. However, I know from past experience that the weight comes off faster when you first start dieting. After that, it slows down with a few plateaus thrown in that hinder progress.

So I expect to lose a pound or two a week on this day. I might not lose anything for a few weeks – I might even gain a pound or two. OK. Remember, once you’re over 50, your metabolism slows down and you lose muscle mass. This means that losing weight is more challenging and will likely take more time. But of course it’s not impossible! And it’s worth the effort.

So from now on, I’m going to set a goal of losing five pounds a month—and just focus on those five pounds instead of what I still have to lose.

Who wants to join me?

So it’s the start of a new year with these resolutions. Is weight loss on the list? Are there any brave souls out there who want to join me on my journey?

Need help? Would you like to know the proven “tricks” to lose weight after 50? You need answers to questions like: How can you control stress eating? What can you do to avoid hunger? What exercises give you the best results? How do you overcome these stubborn plateaus?

If so, subscribe to my blog at and receive a free copy of my book, 10 Secrets to Losing Weight After 50. Or, if you prefer, you can purchase the Kindle edition of my book on Amazon for only $2.99 ​​(the paperback edition retails for $7.99). By the way, if you read and enjoy the book, reviews are GREATLY appreciated!

You can also like my author’s FB page to get weight loss tips and follow my progress. I post a picture of my scales every week, and I promised to share my successes—and yes, my struggles and failures.

For example, I knew that the last week of the year would be challenging as I would not be working on my usual schedule. So I set a goal to simply maintain my weight that week. I think it’s okay to take short breaks regularly as long as you don’t go TOO crazy and have a set time to start eating healthy again. It will probably help in the long run. I let my followers know that I had put a pound back on. I’ll keep the real thing.

If you decide to join me on my weight loss journey, here’s another tip from my book. No matter how much weight you gain back in the process, keep your long-term goals in mind and eventually get back to eating healthier and exercising. Be kind to yourself and don’t expect perfection. One bad decision doesn’t have to ruin your entire diet unless you let it. Keep your vision of success alive and well. Remind yourself of all the reasons you want to lose weight. If you have a bad day, week, month or even year, start over every day and don’t beat yourself up over your failures. A healthier lifestyle is a process.

We can do this together!

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