Middle aged weight gain - ugh

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Middle aged weight gain - ugh
Wed, 05-08-2013 - 11:56am

Once upon a time I was a thin person.  As in, really thin - I'm 5'5" and weighed 112 lbs when I got married at age 27.  I had a harder time losing inches after baby #3 was born 10 years later but eventually it happened.  I gained an inch in the waist with each baby and I weighed 122 lbs after baby #3, but still no real problems.

But that was 13 years ago and now. . . ugh.  I'm 50, overweight, and out of shape.

I just stopped taking Sarafem for PMDD after 9 months.  At first Sarafem seemed like a dream come true - no more days of feeling hopeless and miserable when my life is (really!) perfectly wonderful, no more bloating and sore boobs.  The only downside was that I slept a lot - like 8-10 hours a night.  And had weirdly vivid dreams.  And woke up feeling steamrollered at least once or twice a month.  And didn't have any energy.  And couldn't get out of bed to exercise.  When I did exercise, I was exhausted for the rest of the day.  I realized I was groaning with effort every time I stood up or sat down or lifted anything.  I started seeing numbers on the scale that I previously had seen only when pregnant.

So I decided to stop taking Sarafem during this past cycle, and I'm so happy to have my normal energy level back.  I sleep for 7 hours and wake up refreshed.  I get out of bed and get moving right away.  I can focus on things at work.  I feel like myself again.

But how to get rid of the 10 lbs I've gained?  How to regain some muscle tone?  I started exercising again last week, started eating & drinking less, and the scale is still going up.

Has anyone here successfully battled middle aged weight gain?  What did you do, and did it differ from previous weight loss attempts when you were younger?

Avatar for nora_mcl
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-30-2011
Wed, 05-08-2013 - 12:50pm

I'm certainly not one to tell you the magic of weight loss-though I did go to TOPS about 15 years ago & was down nicely. But then I got tired of the politics of such a group & left. And slowly the weight came back-not to where it was, but enough that it was too much.

Then Adam got sicker. And when I am under stress-I eat. (Mike & I are opposites-he stops eating).Morning, noon & even at night-I eat...so the weight just keeps coming. However, I am trying to stop the continual eating, I have a new "coaster bike"(no gears-pedal brakes-simple bike for simple mind)& go biking every other evening. I moved my stationery bike into the laundry room for those times when I go in & there are only a few minutes left for the load-I will climb on it & pedal.

I need to lose about 30pounds-at least. But I'm trying to get myself into the mindset of 10 pounds at a time. Once I lose the first 10-I can work on the next 10.

My neighbour (who is 20yrs younger than me!)is biking with me in the evenings-so knowing she is coming is motivation.(I gave her my old bike)I should try walking too-but I need to get into the idea that I can go out, after years of being sure one of us is home-or a nurse is here-it takes awhile.


As an "Old Nurse" I know that the trick is simply to use more calories than I eat-or my head knows that. My body doesn't believe it-especially at 1am when nobody else is awake & I'm padding around the house! But I am trying to change-& trying to reform. The main stressor has been removed-leaving a hole in my heart-but sadly that hole did not take away any calories, so I have to keep working at it.


Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Wed, 05-08-2013 - 1:28pm

Kelly, this is an issue for most of us here, and probably many women of our age group. It sounds like you haven't hit menopause yet which is a good thing because the battle will likely get harder then (it did for me).

I had one successful campaign, 5 yrs ago which was the year I turned 56. For Christmas my dh gave me a 6 month subscription to an online personal trainer for cycling. It was pretty pricey and I was highly motivated so it worked really well for me. (The precursor was that for the previous year I had been cycling and had lost several pounds and gotten a decent degree of base fitness) Every week I was given assignments which included riding the bike 4 times a week and a strength training routine (at home) twice a week. It was highly effective: my goals were to train for and complete 2 events, a 62 mile ride and and a more challenging 50 mile ride, and I did both of those well. I got into probably the best physical condition I've ever been and while I wasn't skinny, I was trim and firm. I didn't have any food restrictions but  found that I started thinking of food as fuel and made good choices. (also I was eating a lot of those gels etc while training and they satisfied my sweet tooth). The downside is that it was very time consuming, and required a lot of physical and mental stamina. When the 6 months was up I needed a break! Since then I haven't resumed that level of activity. For the year following I stayed pretty active and kept most of the weight off but after that it started creeping back. I'm sad to say that in weight I'm probably a little higher than I was before I started the coaching, but the worse part is that there's a lot more fat and much less muscle. 

Several years ago my previous doctor, who is female and a few years older than me, told me that by the 50's it takes both diet and exercise for women to lose weight. And that we need to remain vigilant--its not like when we were younger and could do a crash diet for a few weeks and be good for the next 6 months. It has to be a lifestyle change and it gets harder as we get older and our metabolisms slow and we lose more muscle mass (which in turn further slows our metabolism). And expect that the losses won't happen as quickly as they used to. I think that where we used to be able to skip some workouts and splurge on desserts without getting too far off track, now those lapses must be few and far between or else the weight comes back quickly. I have a friend who has maintained her very slim and fit figure--but she exercises every single day and is always very careful about what and how much she eats.

Strength training is a good way to build the muscles. Push ups, free weights, lunges, etc. You need cardio to burn the fat and raise overall fitness. There are lots of exercise routines available online including here on iV, if you have lots of self discipline. I found that it helped to have accountability to the trainer, although a diet and exercise buddy might be as effective. If possible, it might be a good investment to work with a trainer for a few weeks to get a tailored routine. You could do it through a gym or use somebody independent.

Do you feel like you have a good sense of what to eat or not? There are online calculators to help determine how many calories you can eat to lose X amount of weight by a goal date. Do you want to go on a restrictive eating plan, or just try to limit portions and certain foods?

Good for you for dealing with this now, while its just 10 pounds!

Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Wed, 05-08-2013 - 2:06pm

I can definitely commiserate.  I was 131 (5'6.5") when I graduated high school (on swim team).  Until about 5 years ago (I'm 54) I was usually about 134-136.  Now 138 (and done with menopause) and not happy.  My doc is one to point out everything; he says I'm fine and to quit sweating it; it's normal to gain some.  So what do I do - I do hand weights (5 lbs) for arms and also 5 pound ankle weights for legs 5-6x/week so those are pretty good, but it's the bit (not horrible but there) of muffin top and stomach that I hate.  I can do crunches but they never seem to do much.  I walk at lunch a few times a week and try to walk with dh in the evenings.  I play somewhat competitive volleyball on Wednesday nights. I've backed off on meat (not that big a fan anyway), backed off on dessert and junk, but that just seems to maintain, not lose.  So I guess I have to back off on caloric intake even more.  I definitely hear ya...


Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Wed, 05-08-2013 - 2:09pm

Nora, I eat under stress too, although when life is beyond-stressful, I can't eat.  The last time I had a fairly dramatic weight loss was after 9/11, when DH lost one of his good friends, and there were some other changes going on that made it impossible for me to choke down food.  It's not a weight loss strategy though.

I think one reason I eat and drink more now is because I no longer feel a need to "control" food.  When I was young and life was uncertain, one thing I *could* control was what I ate and looked like.  Now that I have both gained more control over my life as well as learned how much I don't actually need to control, I'm a lot chubbier.

Thanks for sharing what's going on with you in this area.

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Wed, 05-08-2013 - 2:26pm

Lots to chew on here (pun intended!). 

I've belonged to a gym since 1996.  I used to exercise religiously.  For the last 10 years, not so much, and for the last year - bleh.  There were reasons other than Sarafem but that was the big one.

Your points about having to work harder to just maintain are good ones.  And that if I'm going to make any actual changes, I'm going to have to do more.  OK.  Now that I'm no longer a "Sarafem slug," I think I can do that.

Fortunately my gym has lots of great offerings.  I think I need to build up to cardio 3x a week, strength training 3x a week, and yoga 2x a week.  I say build up, because my joints are weak - my muscles have always been able to move more weight than my joints can tolerate.  I've had PT twice on my knees, elbow surgery, cortisone shots, etc.  And that was in my late-30s, early-40s.

Regarding food, I need to REALLY work on that.  I have a lot of food intolerances, which I hate.  I would LOVE to eat lots of salads, beans, fresh vegetables, whole grains, like I used to.  However my body can't digest them anymore.  I can't eat:  wheat, barley, rye, malt anything, raw vegetables, most nuts, beans of any kind, and many fruits.  My digestive system would love a steady diet of lean meats, cheese, berries, chocolate, and wine - sounds decadent, doesn't it?  That's what I can digest, but I also suspect that's what's making me so chubby.

I have to also (sob) reluctantly admit that my 2 glasses of wine a night (plus a late-afternoon cocktail on the weekends) have something to do with this.  There's no way a 50yo body processes alcohol like a 30yo body (even if the 50yo consumes less over the course of a week than the 30yo).

10 lbs doesn't sound like much but I've gained it all around my middle - I'm an "apple" - and if I go down the same path my sisters are on, I'm going to be round very quickly.  Our mother and grandmother both died of heart disease - same shape as we are. 

Time to face facts.  I need to make some significant changes in my diet and exercise and view them as long-term life changes, not short term tweaks.  Thanks for the wake-up call and advice!

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Wed, 05-08-2013 - 2:28pm

I'm working on the crunches.  I know they won't decrease fat, but I have verrrrry weak abs, and I'm pretty sure that having functional abs that held things in place would make me look better - and of course it's much healthier to have some muscle support for your back.

Avatar for shirley_v
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-29-2000
Wed, 05-08-2013 - 4:58pm

I am like many here, struggling with weight gain.  Older than you, and I've been through a few diets over the past 15 years at least.  I did lose even by having hypnosis sessions...really worked like a charm!  But the sessions were for only so long and once they ended them, staying motivated (i.e. without the weekly dose of hypnosis session!) was difficult and I found myself drifting back to old eating habits again.  Then a few years ago I was attending a doctor-run clinic paid for by Alberta Health which worked for a while - following a plan that outlined how much of each type of food (carb, protein, fat, fruit, etc.) could be had in portions (not by calories).  That worked too but at some point along the way (how long I can't recall) I began to have horrible stomach pains -  not sure why but none of the doctors (or whomever it was I saw this clinic) could tell me why I felt like this and even though they gave me some suggestions of what to do, whatever that was didn't work. I finally quit going and went back to yet again, old ways of eating...gained weight again. *sigh* 

So I'm not much help unfortunately.  I did attend a gym years ago but never lost weight purely on going to the gym alone. 

I am loathe to follow a diet plan after feeling so badly on that last diet...which one would have thought was a healthy way being run by a medical doctor.  And it's not like I was paying out money to some private clinic. 

Some people have been happy going to Weight Watchers. Like anything though, I imagine it takes discipline to follow a food plan.  But cutting out alcohol or some of it is probably wise.  It sounds like you are already pumped up and ready to change and do whatever...

I do wish you luck, or whatever it takes...and oh if only I had ten pounds to take off!  As someone said here, good that you are being proactive about that now at ten pounds than the oh about 40 I'd need to lose...sigh, again! 


Avatar for deenow17
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-12-2004
Thu, 05-09-2013 - 9:15pm
Kelly, I weighted 105 when I was married & was 5'4". By the time I had my kids, I weighted 112 with the first & was fortunate to lose every lb plus 2 after each birth getting down to almost the 105 again after child #3. Then I reached 36 & things changed. I started to gain about a lb a yr until I was 50. In the next 5 yrs, I gained 40 lbs thanks to menopause. Nothing worked, I tried diets, saw dr & joined exercise club. My dr said I was one of the unfortunate woman who struggles with menopause & there was nothing I could do as I wasn't eating more than 1500 calories a day. Part of the problem was that I was in a high stress job too. So 12 mths ago when I retired, I changed my lifestyle totally. I joined weight watchers because it's a lifestyle change now, not a diet. I have lost 25 lbs in the last yr by eating smaller portions, making different choices in food but still enjoy treats so I don't feel like I'm dieting & I'm back to exercising. I have 30 more to go which is my focus for this yr. I'm healthier than I have ever been. My blood pressure has gone from high to low, my blood sugar is excellent & so Dr is considering letting me stop my bp meds & my diabetic meds. Now if I could just get rid of these stupid hot flashes, life would be perfect but I'm on yr 12 & it's been 6 yrs since I hit menopause. Dee