I gained weight and I’m glad

I gained weight and I’m glad!

When I was 17 I hated my body because it never got thin enough to make me happy. When I gained weight I hated it even more. Now I'm wise enough to know that gaining weight is my body's way of taking care of itself even though it gains weight because I'm not doing such a good job of caring for it!

When I was 17 I hated my body because it never got thin enough to make me happy. When I gained weight I hated it even more. Now I’m wise enough to know that gaining weight is my body’s way of taking care of itself even though it gains weight because I’m not doing such a good job of caring for it!

I wasn’t one of those skinny people who needed to gain some weight just to stop looking like a walking skeleton.

HA! Heavens, no! I have plenty of meat (and fat) on my bones. In fact, more than I need, and yet I’m happy to have gained weight. It’s a wonderful thing!

Inability to gain weight has never been my problem!

Inability to gain weight has never been my problem!

I’m 62-years-old. It’s normal for healthy adults to start gaining weight somewhere around age 40 even though it seems that their eating and exercising habits haven’t changed. Gaining weight continues through 50s and into 60s. 

For most older adults there are some changes taking place in our bodies we don’t notice. 

Starting in our 30s we begin losing muscle mass. By the time we reach our mid forties, if we haven’t been doing anything to preserve our muscle mass, the loss becomes significant. Our body composition slowly shifts to a higher fat to muscle ratio. Even though the number on the scale may still read the same, what’s happening in our bodies is profound.

Less muscle mass means a reduced need for fuel. In other words, we don’t need to eat as much because our bodies are burning fewer calories at rest. Body fat doesn’t burn calories to sustain itself the way muscle does. Unless we adjust our caloric intake to match our need to fuel, we will gain weight.

That’s not all. It’s common for older adults to become more sedentary. This can further speed up loss of muscle, especially if the kinds of activities we stop doing include carrying heavy objects and other activities that provide resistance to muscles.

The need for all of those calories to sustain us at our adult weight changed.

To maintain our adult weight we need fewer. Many of us don’t adjust our caloric intake downward, but rather keep eating like we always have. Some of us with more time on our hands and more stress or boredom or other emotions start to eat more.

Taking in more calories that we need causes weight gain. That explains why adults tend to gain weight. Women blame it on menopause, but it’s not menopause, it’s aging. Men experience weight gain just as much as women.

I began this blog by saying I gained weight and I’m glad.

After spending more than 45 years dreading weight gain, why would it make me glad now? I’m glad because it’s a sign that I’m healthy. The weight that I gained is a direct result of getting too complacent. I’ve let my weight maintenance behaviors slip. I’m aware of all the ways in which I’ve relaxed my efforts. My clothes still fit so I didn’t take action to pay attention.

My clothes fit but I started to notice I felt differently in them. More of me seemed to roll over the waistband. My watch doesn’t slide around on my wrist as much and my ring is snug. There were clues telling me I needed to step on the scale.

I’m up 5 pounds. If I were losing weight without trying it would be a sign that something was wrong with me physically. For years I’ve dreamed how lovely it would be to effortlessly lose weight, but the truth is that only happens to people who are not well. It could be a minor problem or a sign of a serious and deadly disease.

Diseases that cause weight loss include some really scary stuff.

  • malignancies
  • nonmalignant gastrointestinal disease
  • psychiatric conditions

Unintentional weight loss in adults 65 and older (more than a 5% reduction in body weight in 6 to 12 months) is associated with increased morbidity and mortality.

Gaining weight because I have gotten lazy about maintenance actions is a sign of health. It says, “I’m healthy,” and it’s a wakeup call. If I continue to be lazy about maintenance I’m putting my health at risk. Weight gain is a sign of health and it’s a sign I’m slipping back into unhealthy habits. It’s time to get back to healthy habits to return to a healthy weight.

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I know what to do to get off these 5 pounds and I am taking action right now!

 

Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.