Getting older often means gaining weight, especially when you’re postmenopausal. Not only does your metabolism slow over the years, but the “change” ushers in hormonal shifts that can creat curves in all the wrong places.
Although Roxanne, 63, has always been on the slender side, her weight gradually crept up over the past 2 decades. “My clothes were tight, I had a ring of fat around my middle and some bra fat, and it seemed like no matter what I did or how active I tried to be, the scale wouldn’t budge,” she says. After some friends told her about intermittent fasting, she decided to do some research and give it a try. (Interested in trying it? Here are 5 ways to give fasting a go.)
For Roxanne, the plan is pretty simple: “I limit my eating to the 8 hours between 11 AM and 7 PM,” she says. After following this schedule for 5 months and eating a balanced diet, she lost 10 pounds and is within 5 pounds of what she weighed when she got married 19 years ago.
After her father passed away, Mary’s weight climbed up to 290 pounds. She was no longer able to tend to her flower beds, walk through the sand on the beach, clean her house, or even make it from her car to the door of her workplace without getting out of breath—and she was only 50 years old. “I used to lie awake at night wondering what I was going to do. Was I going to see retirement age at this rate?” she says. She decided to join an Anytime Fitness gym and started meeting with a personal trainer three times a week.
At first, “I could not jump with both feet off the ground. I could not do the crab or bear crawl because my belly was so big. I could not do a full sit-up or push-up,” she says. She stuck with it and eventually lost over 100 pounds. After seeing her progress, several of Mary’s friends and family members joined the same gym, and they now enjoy working out together on Sunday mornings. They call themselves the Golden Girls, and have since started participating in races to raise money to support local community programs and charities.
“I knew I was getting heavier and wasn’t sure how to change,” says Cindy. So when her husband decided to try a Paleo-style diet to combat his high cholesterol, she decided to follow. She was 53 at the time and going through menopause, so she also stopped taking the low-dose birth control pill she had been on to regulate her periods. Meanwhile, she started walking every morning, doing Zumba, and occasionally taking yoga classes at the YMCA.
Now 25 pounds lighter, Cindy believes that healthy living goes beyond diet and exercise: “I practice meditation and prayer to keep me in balance, do daily journaling, and read positive prose,” she says. “It’s not just about weight loss. It’s about healthy living—and mind, body, and soul are a part of that!”
When Sally’s late husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, she took action to help him. She had heard that exercise might slow the progression of the disease, so they headed to the gym together. While he was working with a trainer, Sally—who was nearly 200 pounds—started exercising on her own. Her workouts, combined with making healthier diet choices, led to a 40-pound weight loss over the next few years.
Around that same time, Sally’s 3-year-old grandson died of cancer. Rather let herself slide into a depression and unhealthy habits, she decided to raise money for childhood cancer by training for the 25-mile CureSearch Ultimate Hike. Sally, 67, continues to stay fit by attending fitness classes and makes keeping a positive outlook a priority in her life. “I enjoy moving to popular music and seeing smiling faces,” she says. “No complaints or gossip during my daily routine. I feel stronger now than I ever have been, and I have a zest for life that enlivens each day.”
At 5’4″ and 160 pounds, Sharol’s back and knees had been bothering her for a while. But it wasn’t until she saw a picture of herself at her daughter’s wedding “looking like a stuffed sausage” that she knew it was time to make some changes. Step one: downloading the Calorie Count and MyFitnessPal apps and using them to track everything she ate.
“If I had to write it down, it made me think twice about eating it,” says Sharol, 62. Using the apps also helped her learn exactly how many calories she should be consuming. “My calorie intake for weight loss was about 1,500 calories a day,” she says. “If I dropped lower than that, the weight loss stopped, and if I ate more, it slowed.”
To stay active, Sharol used her Wii Fit regularly. “It wouldn’t have worked without the exercise,” she says. Over the course of 8 months, she lost 30 pounds.
At 313 pounds, Patricia’s doctor recommended she have bariatric surgery. Instead, she decided to try The Lyn-Genet Plan, which is designed to help pinpoint which foods are causing inflammation in the body—along with weight gain and health problems.
“It took me 3 months to determine the best proteins, vegetables, grains, and fruits for me,” but then the pounds started coming off, she says. Aside from the dietary changes, she signed up for water walking at the YMCA and spends 15 minutes in the sauna each time she visits. Now 64, Patricia is currently down to 245 pounds; she hopes to reach her goal weight of 160 pounds by the end of the year.
“My health has improved tremendously,” she says. Losing weight also improved her chronic postnasal drip and leg edema.
At the age of 55, Marcie Webb managed to lose 30 pounds and 24 inches—with 10 of those inches coming off her waist. “That was remarkable to me because, as we all know, weight collects around your middle during menopause/postmenopause,” she says. Marcie achieved her goals by exercising to Beachbody videos, practicing good nutrition, and drinking Shakeology shakes. “My Beachbody coach told me repeatedly, ‘You cannot out-exercise bad nutrition.’ ”
Marcie admits that she has to work hard to maintain her weight, but she feels it’s worth it. “That certainly doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy my life, but I have to be on-point with my nutrition and exercise 90% of the time.”
“I had come to believe that gaining weight was just part of the aging process and something I had to live with,” says Patricia, 58, who lost 129 pounds in 13 months following a Weight Watchers plan. “Now I know better.” Particia says she always struggled with her weight, but after having brain surgery in 2008, gained an additional 100 pounds. “I was not eating properly nor getting any exercise. In retrospect, I think it was, in part, because I continued to eat like I was 20 years old.”
Patricia began eating five small meals a day, increasing her water intake, controlling her portions, wearing a Fitbit, and doing strength training at Planet Fitness. Attending Weight Watchers meetings provided the support that she needed, and she encourages others to get similar help to stay motivated. Her advice to other women struggling to lose weight? “Take it one day/meal at a time. If you go overboard and feel you ‘blew it,’ don’t give up; get right back on track the very next meal. Make small changes. Make it personal and something you cannot only live with but enjoy. That’s how you will stick with it.”