Is Losing Weight More Difficult when we Age?

Is Losing Weight More Difficult when we Age?

Given my own experience, I am sure losing weight is more difficult when we age. When I was young I weighed 50 kg. With my height of 1.72 m that hardly was a healthy weight and I often had black spots in front of my eyes when I rose from a squatting or sitting position.

After my pregnancy, this changed dramatically. I was content I had gained 20 to 25 kg and that I didn’t lose it all after giving birth to my son. My weight back then was between 65 and 70 kg which made me feel more comfortable with my body.

Menopause brought another change. Suddenly I saw myself in the mirror with a bloated head. I had gained too much weight and it showed. When I finally had the nerve to weigh myself, the scale showed an unwanted 86 kg. “Help, I want to lose weight!”

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Is losing weight more difficult when we age?

Our metabolism changes when we age. Maintaining the way of eating from our youth or early years, will result in gaining weight. So we have to change our lifestyle. Burning more calories than we eat, skipping alcohol, and eating organic are the main changes.

Copying my mother’s behaviour

What’s the big deal, sinning that one time

Following the example of my mother, who was always either dieting or planning to, I got into dieting. And forgot dieting when I came close to the targeted 75 kg. And got into dieting again. And so forth. This has a name, I’ve discovered. The yo-yo effect.

Several years ago, I thought I could do better. No more rigorous diets, no more quick fixes, but nice and easy cutting back on sweets and alcohol and doing more exercises. And stop combining carbohydrates with fats.

Oh, what’s the big deal, sinning that one time

I lost one kilo per month and was very proud of myself. I did not feel hungry. Occasionally I ate a pastry with my coffee or bought a bottle of wine. Steadily I went towards my goal of 75 kg. I was almost there…

And then came my birthday! Not every guest wanted the delicious pie, so I ate most of that myself. The wine I had bought for the visitors was not finished at the end of the day. And I got a couple of bottles of wine as a present.

So instead of sinning just one day, I sinned a whole week. And because the scale kept on showing 75 the first week after my birthday, I had the illusion that it did not matter.

Why does one pound of sweets or alcohol add three pounds to your body?

Of course, it matters. In fact, it matters a lot because, in the end, it is all mindset. If I have the idea that it does not matter, I get sloppy. And “suddenly” I have gained 3 kg. Ruining a quarter of a year’s work in a single week.

Back to the setting of a goal

Long-range goals keep you from being frustrated by short-term failures

So I went back to basics. I did not beat myself up like I used to do. Just returned to my goal of 75 kg. Mindset is everything and I knew I could do it.

This yo-yo-ing kept on going several times. When I got the message that my cholesterol was too high my weight was an undesirable 88 kg.

Several reasons made sure that this ultimate time I did better:

  • My husband joined me in trying to lose weight; 
  • We wanted to lose weight very slowly;
  • Every day we walked about an hour;
  • Instead of calling it a diet, we called it a change of lifestyle;
  • We planned to keep this lifestyle for the rest of our lives.

I passed the original goal of 75 kg within a year. To my surprise, this turned out not to be my ideal weight, because I kept on losing kilos.

After another year passed by I reached 65 kg. Which stayed my weight for months in a row. To this day it more or less is, so I consider this to be my ideal weight.

Tips for a healthy lifestyle

Although we might not always live up to it, I guess we all know what we should do to have a healthy lifestyle, whether we want to lose weight or maintain our present weight:

Healthy lifestyle: Socialize
Socializing is part of living a healthy lifestyle
  • Watch what we eat;
  • Exercise both body and mind;
  • Avoid stress.

We have several posts about (organic) food. For instance:

And also about exercising:

One important thing NOT to do

To ask an important question “What certainly not to do when you want to lose weight”: it’s essential to stay consistent and not get sloppy. Or are those two things? Well, you know what I mean.

Sloppy means not sticking to your healthy regime for days in a row like I did that week after my birthday. Sloppy does not mean you can’t have an occasional cheat day.

Especially if you want to lose weight it’s important to be lenient with yourself to some extent. The main reason people can’t hold on to a certain lifestyle is the idea they are restricting themselves. That’s what we heard the most when we were still open to those kinds of comments: you will miss so much!

Why we should care

There are several private reasons we should care about our weight and general health, but also reasons that benefit our communities and society.

The private reasons are:

  • The immune system benefits hugely from a healthy lifestyle;
  • Your body will function much better when it doesn’t have to carry around a lot of weight. Our joints wear out as we age, but if we are overweight on top of that, they will suffer even more;
  • Lifestyle diseases such as heart problems, diabetes 2 and even dementia are kept at bay for a longer time period.

While the way our societies are organized encourages us to be individualistic, there is no harm in taking the common good into account:

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  • Governments complain that healthcare is becoming too expensive, so the longer we can avoid having to use the facilities, the better. That is why I do not understand that governments are not committed to prevention and healthy lifestyle habits;
  • As long as we are healthy we can help our families instead of being a burden to them;
  • We have gained a lot of knowledge and experience during our lives. Being healthy we are able to share that with our community.

In conclusion

There is only one person who can make you lose weight and that is you. As the expression says: You can lead the horse to the water, but you cannot force it to drink. 

If you know that you can’t do it on your own (and I know from experience it’s way easier if you are with at least 2 of you) then either join our Facebook Group to seek motivation and inspiration from others. Or find yourself a buddy or a friend to encourage each other.

Tell us, have you experienced weight and yo-yo issues like me? The comment box is down below.

12 thoughts on “Is Losing Weight More Difficult when we Age?”

  1. Fantastic article Hannie. I can relate to the yoyo effect. With me, I easily lost the pregnancy weight within 6 months to a year of each of our children being born (we have 5). My weight gain occurred in the 5 years prior to and the first 2 years following menopause. My metabolism just suddenly tanked and the weight piled on. At my heaviest, I weighed 68 kg which doesn’t sound bad but I am only 1.52 meters tall. It is certainly heavier than I wanted to be. By adopting a healthy diet, controlling the snacking, and ensuring I get regular exercise I am currently at 58 kg. At this rate, I should reach my goal within a year. I did indulge in a slice of cheesecake when celebrating my daughter’s birthday but otherwise, I kept it healthy. Do you think our metabolism slows at menopause or was that just my imagination looking for an excuse?

    • Hi Deb, thanks!
      I don’t know if it’s our metabolism slowing or something else, but things definitely change around our menopause. I had the same experience! When we live healthy almost all the time, an occasional cheat day is not a problem, in my view. When Tom and I started changing our lifestyle we had one cheat day a week as a rule. And in the beginning, because every change of habit is difficult, we lived to that moment and felt relieved that we could ‘sin’. But nowadays we don’t even count the days anymore. Weeks go by without any cheat day and when having the choice between for instance a sugary pastry or a tostada con tomate we usually choose the latter.

      It’s all a matter of mindset. Same with the exercising, as you described so well in one of your own blogs: once you’re used to a certain regime you’ll miss it if you skip it for that day. Keep up the good works. 🙂

  2. Great work on your goals, keep it up as you will stay healthy. I am one of the rare people who was always trying to put on the pounds. Back in high school, if I turned sideways you could not see me. I am kidding, of course, but it is just as hard to keep the pounds on as it is to keep them off. I exercise, eat a balanced diet and a not so healthy diet and I receive the same results. I use a weight gainer supplement to keep me on track with my ideal weight. So I understand the ups and downs or “yo-yo” with my weight. Some people get discouraged when I say I have a weight issue, but I was born with what I got.

    • Hi Rob, after years of having troubles with my overweight, my scale almost went into the wrong direction as well. So I can relate to you being underweight. Last summer I was 61 kg at some point and fussing about that did me no good. Nowadays I don’t weigh myself every day anymore and just keep on eating healthy. Because having a not so healthy diet – even when it doesn’t affect your weight – will in the end ruin your body.
      Thanks for sharing your experience!

  3. Hi Hannie,

    It was great to read your story, and I will say that I am extremely proud of what you’ve achieved over the years, especially in the last few.

    As I’m sure you’re aware, this is a subject that I’ll generally have a lot to talk about, but I will try and keep it brief.

    The main issue I have with diets is that most people do this with the yo-yo effect.

    Basically, they completely overhaul their way of eating and exercising for a few weeks, lose the desired weight, and then go back to their “normal” way of eating, and perhaps even lower activity levels.

    Once they pile the weight back on this whole process repeats itself once again.

    Unfortunately, for some people the use of starvaton diets is their “ideal” way to lose weight.

    However, this will typically have a detrimental effect on the metabolism, which will actually make it harder to lose weight in the long run.

    There’s a couple of things that you’ve mentioned here that I really like.

    Firstly, stress plays a huge role in our weight, and also whether we lose or gain weight.

    Stress releases the hormone cortisol into the body, and it is cortisol that is often responsible for slowing the metabolism down, thus leading to stores of body fat.

    So, it’s definitely important to work on the mind just as much as the body when it comes to losing weight.

    I also like the fact that you’re not overly strict on yourself, and I see nothing wrong with “cheating” every once in a while, and I do it often myself.

    Being on a “strict” diet is often hard to keep to, so having something to look forward to (in terms of food) occasionally will actually help with your weight loss efforts, as it keeps the mind happy (once again the mind).

    I could go on forever about this subject, but I won’t, LOL.


    • Thanks, Partha, yes, I know you can go on for hours. ROFLOL

      But since it’s always very valuable what you have to say, I don’t mind at all. Your explanations are always more indept than mine, so I love reading them. Both here as on your own website.

      Mindset indeed is everything. Last week I read 2 books. They are about homelessness, but at the same time about long distance walking. Very inspiring.

      So after weeks of telling myself I couldn’t do our usual big round anymore (which is a hike of 1(!) hour on the mountain) and kept to a 2 mile walk alongside the canal, I got inspired by those books. I walked the round 2 times this week and a 3rd time we even extended it with half an hour deeper onto the mountain.

      Like Henry Ford said: whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right. 🙂

  4. Hi Hannie
    I completely identify with your story. I have experienced similar yoyo weight loss and weight gain cycles. There is usually some trigger that turns the cheat day into a cheat week and it goes downhill from there. Mostly the reasons have been unavoidable changes to the daily routine. A good example of that is when I was commuting to work, the daily commute included two 10-minute brisk walks and two 20-minute brisk walks. You add to that walking between meeting to attend different meetings throughout the day, then replace all that with working from home, to move between meetings now involves a few mouse clicks. I think you are right – it takes determination and commitment and a realistic plan that doesn’t destroy your social-life. Thanks for a great article.
    Best regards

    • Oof, I can fully imagine, Andy, what that means for your weight. I am afraid a lot of people have this problem at the moment. My friends ask me how many Corona-kilos I have gained. They don’t ask me IF I have gained, but how many, as if it’s a given fact. Being confined to our garden during the first lockdown, expecting that it would last for quite some time, I started from day one with a promise to myself to keep up the exercising and the walking.

      Yes, walking around the pool was boring, but at least I was outside. And I added piramid walking to it – jogging for slightly longer and halfway shorter periods in between the walking. Making me even lost weight in the beginning! Not exactly what I was aiming at. 🙂

      I hope you find a way to get back to the amount of walking or the effort you made before this virus chaos. Take care!

  5. So many great points, especially the one where you call it a lifestyle instead of a diet.

    So many people need to understand this. Losing weight is not just a quick fix, it’s life long journey that will change everything.

    Very good article, straight to the point. Love it!

    • Thanks Silvie. We sure noticed a difference in our mindset once we said we were changing our lifestyle instead of we were going into dieting. I must say I am truly lucky with my husband Tom being the cook in the house. He is making lovely, tasty breakfasts and lunches. We never have the feeling that we are denying ourselves of anything.

      For a lot of people dieting feels like a punisment. No wonder they want to get back to normal as soon as possible. In the process ruining the gain (or in this case the loss of kilos!) of the previous period. Making the next time even more problematic because of the sense of failure and the idea it’s no use at all.

  6. Hi Hannie,

    I think I don’t believe in diets but in lifestyle changes, like you mentioned. Many people follow different diets, and when they reach the desired result, most revert to the lifestyle they used to live, meaning that they put on the weight again they worked so hard to lose. I have never believed in diets, although I know that some work, but what I mean is, why take a diet when we can make a lifestyle change? Changing our way of life and what we eat isn’t as scary as many believe. Healthy food has long been associated with “tasteless” and “boring” but in fact it is quite the opposite. Healthy food can be delicious.
    I agree that it’s perfectly ok to fall of the wagon sometimes. I do too. No harm done 🙂 At least, I don’t think so 😉

    • Thanks Christine, and as your own website shows so eloquently it’s quite obvious healthy food is far from boring and tasteless. Whether that is vegan food like you eat, or an altered mostly vegan/vegetarian way of eating we have.

      When we keep an open mind to our own functioning and to new things that come on our path or that we seek out deliberately, beautiful things will happen. 🙂


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