As we get older, more than a few seniors have seen their body change into a shape they had hoped it never would. I was hoping mine would actually shrink, but of course that didn’t happen. After working a high stress job, gaining 25 pounds and losing lots of sleep, I decided to get off that roller coaster. I’m now semi-retired.
Fortunately for me, I am rarely sick and do not take any medication. So, I’m healthy despite weighing more than I should. I play pickleball every day, ride my bike to the beach and walk to get my daily 10,000 steps whenever possible. Did any of that weight come off? Down a few one day, up a few the next — an everyday cycle of hopefulness and disappointment. I then realized that I needed to change not only what I was eating but also my perspective about my body!
If you are experiencing similar frustrations as I had, my advice to you is first to continue enjoying your favorite foods and beverages, but start out by making small changes. According to the USDA Choose My Plate website (www.choosemyplate.gov/browse-by-audience/view-all-audiences/adults), the following are things you can do to help retain (or get back to) the healthy weight you want and the shape you once had.
• Add flavor to foods with spices and herbs instead of salt and look for low-sodium packaged foods.
• Add sliced fruits and vegetable (pre-sliced, if slicing/chopping is a challenge) to your meals and snacks.
• Ask your doctor for other options if your medications affect your appetite.
• Drink three cups of fat-free or low-fat milk throughout the day. Or try small amounts of yogurt, buttermilk, hard cheese or lactose-free foods. Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
• Consume foods fortified with vitamin B12, such as fortified cereals.
According to the website, the second best thing you can do for yourself is to be active in whatever way you physically can. Just starting with baby steps will help your bones, your flexibility — and your mind. But please consult your doctor before beginning any kind of physical activity you are not used to… except the baby steps. Simply taking a walk outside while enjoying good weather or just around the house is a start.
And, lastly, the world we grew up in (and still, somewhat, the same today) was all about your body image. You were either too thin, too fat, too big-boned or too muscular, etc. It’s been my experience that if you’ve had a good life and have friends and family who love you, it really doesn’t matter what shape you have now. Embrace your body; it got you where you are today. Make those small adjustments (food and baby steps) to extend the joyfulness in your life, because that is what is most important, not your shape!