Mind Over Fatter: A New Approach to Losing Weight After 50
Why Losing Weight after 50 Can Be So Hard
The idea that diets often don’t work in the long run is not new. Dieters may lose weight initially, only to gain it back later. Some may end up weighing even more than they did before starting the diet.
This can be explained by science and body chemistry. But that does little to relieve the frustration and feelings of failure that can follow an unsuccessful diet.
Most diets focus on control. Dieters are taught to avoid certain foods and to limit eating overall. It becomes a test of “willpower.” Food becomes the enemy.
As humans, we can only keep up the fight for so long before we tire or encounter a cookie we just can’t refuse. When we “give in,” we may tell ourselves we’ve blown it and then simply give up. Even worse, we may beat ourselves up for our “weakness.”
Life can become an endless cycle of diet, failure, frustration, renewed determination, diet, failure, frustration, renewed determination, and on and on.
Mindfulness Meets the Munchies
Practicing “mindfulness” may help change unhealthy eating patterns. This may lead to weight loss.
Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhist meditation. A secular version of the practice has gained a foothold around the globe.
Mindfulness means being aware of your thoughts, feelings, body sensations and surroundings in each moment. Experiences are accepted without judgment. For example, there is no “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. It simply “is.”
Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Wherever You Go, There You Are, created a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979. His research since then has documented the physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness.
Kabat-Zinn’s program model is now being applied to weight loss. Through mindful eating, people may learn to:
Notice hunger and fullness
Make conscious choices about what and when they eat
Savor the food they choose to eat
It’s believed that mindfulness may help address underlying causes of overeating, such as craving, stress and emotional eating. These are the very things that typical diets may actually make worse.
The concept of “blowing it” does not exist with mindful eating. Each moment is new. You can choose to eat mindfully at any time, again and again. Also, mindful eating teaches people to savor what they eat. The focus is on experiencing enjoyment and fulfillment rather than on trying to control, avoid or limit food.
Mindful eating is a daily practice, a way of life. And it just may gently lead to a healthier, happier you.
Some Medicare Advantage plans offer health and wellness programs that may help with healthful eating and losing weight [after 50]. You may want to check with your plan for more information.