The Elder Vote
Landlady at ESP

More Elder Weight Control

category_bug_journal2.gif A little late to the party on the weight control in old age post that I wrote last week, Ashleigh Burrows left this comment (in part) yesterday:

“Without wanton snacking and with a modicum of exercise I've maintained my post-Jan 8 weight - even the 10 pounds I lost in the hospital and never put back on. Mindful eating, my girlfriend calls it.”

Yes, as opposed to mindless eating which I've certainly indulged in over the years and Ashleigh reminds me that I've got a bit more to say on the subject of elder weight control before I let it go.

Now into my fifth month of “mindful eating,” I think perhaps that a bit of the wisdom we hope to gain with advancing age is helping me succeed in losing weight. In my younger years, the fight to keep down incipient pudginess was all about vanity – could I get into that one-size-too-small dress I bought by next Thursday - leading to some dreadful eating choices.

Now, having reached the age when vanity is useless, it's all about health. With vanity out of the equation and smart purchasing choices, it's not hard to maintain a well-rounded diet that also cuts down calories.

The other attribute I have gained – and I suspect many elders do – is will power. Fortunately, I don't like carbonated drinks nor have I ever cared about salty snacks – potato chips, pretzels, cheezy doodles, whatever. No, it's fat and sugar I crave – preferably together: cookies, chocolate candy, pie, certain kinds of doughnuts, cakes with creamy fillings, French pastries, peanut butter and, of course, ice cream and cheese. If it's loaded with fat and/or sugar, that's for me.

Although I do not count calories, I know enough about the general number in individual foods to not overdo and know that a few cookies or a piece of cake can use up almost a day's entire allotment of calories.

So beginning four months ago, I adjusted my route through the supermarket to avoid those sections. I stopped going to the French bakery even for their excellent coffee. And I whizzed past the fresh pies and baklava tables at the farmers market. That's the will power part.

But an amazing thing happens in a relatively short time with will power – it becomes habit. Recently, I realized I had stopped thinking about avoiding temptation; I just don't eat those things anymore. They are no longer a part of my food vocabulary.

In time, I may feel that I have enough control to allow occasional treats but I'm not willing to try that yet. Certainly anyone who has tried to lose weight knows the problem of “I've already blown the diet; I might as well keep eating.”

Meanwhile, I've learned that eating three meals a day, on time, is essential for me because as soon as I feel hunger, I want to reach for a quick snack which always means something on that above list of fats and sweets.

Another plus is that with nearly five months without sugar, fruits have become incredibly sweet tasting, especially the half dozen varieties of small melons – slightly larger than a grapefruit – available at the farmers market. I'll be sorry when the market closes down for winter in a few weeks.

I think everyone needs to come to their own way devising a healthy diet for themselves. What works for me won't necessarily work for anyone else. The trick is to know yourself, your weaknesses and strengths in regard to food and incorporate that knowledge into a sustainable eating plan.

As I said in the first post on this subject, I don't have a scale and gauge my weight loss by how my clothes fit. I'm guessing I've lost 25-30 pounds so far with about that much more to go. Already, my jaw line is reappearing, my little jowls have receded a bit, my hips are slimmer and my belly flatter.

Oh, my. Did I say vanity is not an issue?

ANNOUNCEMENT: I'm taking a break from Time Goes By for about 10 days. I will return on Monday 19 September. Meanwhile, stories will still appear at The Elder Storytelling Place as long as submissions continue to arrive and I will link to them, as always, from here at Time Goes By.

Also, Saturday's Interesting Stuff and Peter Tibbles' Sunday Elder Music will appear as usual.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Jackie Harrison: Twins


Have a great break. I will miss you with my morning coffee, will wave at you when we whip through your town, but will cheer your return.

Just hoping that the break is for something rewarding and will look forward to your return.

Will miss you here. Ponder well.

I don't know about the weight/will power stuff. At 64, I still fight the battle of my bulge. :-)

I'm afraid that I have 'won't power.' I won't let the cookies get stale, etc. I am not proud of my lack of discipline, but at my age it WON'T change. But good for you, Ronni. I'm impressed.

I do hope your time out is for a fun trip or some other rewarding activity. You will be missed, but we will all wait for you.

A well earned break Ronni, hope you have some fun.

I unloaded 30 pounds over a year ago and have kept it off. I was motivated by a diagnoses of type 2 diabetes. So health accomplished what vanity no longer could. But the vanity persists; my chin did emerge but did a number of wrinkles no longer puffed out by the fat. The other plusses: my knees and feet stopped hurting and I can bend over and tie my shoes without my stomach squeezing all the air out of my lungs. All in all its been a good trade. I agree, it does become a habit, but it took a whole year to pass the Dove bars and almond pinwheels in the bakery up with ease. Fortunately I've always loved all kinds of veggies and fruits. Like Mage at postcards has written I too have whole meals of just veggies. I love onion and red pepper loaded egg scrambles.

I'll miss you while you're gone, me and my cuppa in the morning.

At your age, you must be doing something right. I'm just trying to ensure that I make it to the age you've attained.

There might be something to elders getting more won't power and it also could be metabolism changes again and that helps. My mom was pretty much overweight all of her life until near 70 somewhere and she then lost the weight and was on the thin side the rest of her life.

Enjoy your break, Ronni.

You deserve it and we will be right here when you get back!

A break! Gak! What will the fans do!
Look forward to your return!

Rain: That is what seems to be happening to me at age 72. My sister looked at me the other day and said, "You don't need to lose any more weight."

I've found mindfulness makes everything better—when I can do it! Dieting, exercising, keeping my house clean day to day (instead of doing a massive clean-up once a week or month!) all works better when I can be real and aware. Do we get better at this as we get older? I think that might be the case.

Ronni, what happened to your "taster" with sweets happened to me with salt. Yes, salt and fat as in chips, fast food, and a variety of ethnic foods and regional favorites. After being on a low-sodium diet for a month, I can taste flavors more. On occasions when I have felt obliged to eat something I formerly loved, the saltiness burns my tongue.

Vanity has its place - and don't you feel good! Enjoy your break - come back refreshed and ready for the battle.

After two master's degrees and thirty years in the educational trenches, I just don't want to discipline myself re food, a major pleasure. I started 3x a week aerobic swimming 1 1/2 years ago & enjoy that very much, but I don't particularly like veggies or salads, though I love fruit (though now supposedly I can just have 15 grapes for a serving...).

I sure admire your discipline but I admit to an adolescent rebellion about severely limiting my meals. However, the pounds are creeping up and somehow I need to change my frame of reference about all this....sigh...

Have a wonderful refreshing break!!

Ronni, your post just emphasized what I learned years ago -- we inherited our taste in foods and yearnings for sweet and salty foods from our very ancient ancestors (think cave men/women). They only found honey and fruit occasionally each year, and then over-indulged themselves. The same with salt.

That’s why for many centuries humans lived near sources of salt … and so do other animals. You can always find a deer or cattle near a ‘salt-lick’ (as we called it), and farmers buy blocks of salt to leave out for their herds in areas where there is not naturally-occurring salt source.

Many people/tribes paid for things with salt, which was once one of the most valuable things to the human race. Heck, our word “salary” comes from “sal”, the Latin word for salt.

Our problem today is the ability to indulge every day in things our bodies don’t need on a daily basis!!

I'm a 'foodie' who loves salt, fats, and all things about food from the shopping/planning to the prep and certainly the eating.
The single greatest tool I've found is the MYPLATE section at
this has made watching my food FUN! and has inspired my exercise program because I can track the exercise, too, and that adds back in calories for that day. Very cool.
It's free and fun, and if you're remotely computer-savvy, it is also easy. Even works on a trip! Love it. Down 8 lbs in 3 weeks.

"But an amazing thing happens in a relatively short time with will power – it becomes habit."

There is a new book that was featured on NPR today: Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. They talk about that self-control muscle and how well it responds to regular exercise. Isn't that wonderful? A muscle that actually gets more responsive at our age!

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