Mid-age weight baloney
Damn it’s tough to lose weight in mid-age.
I think back to my 20s and 30s when see sawing weight meant gaining just a few kilos and the top end of my weight spectrum was 12 kilos lighter than I am now.
I tried a personal trainer but having to drive across the city to exercise in the dark was a drag.
I have a wardrobe full of great clothes yet spend ages each day hunting for the handful of things that actually fit. If I lost weight I wouldn’t need to buy a new outfit for years. With the weight gain came a period of size denial so many of my clothes have never been worn.
I’m in a “Biggest Loser” competition at work and have so far gained two kilos and lost 1.5 kilos. I’ve tried nutritionists and weight watchers and contemplated but then shunned weight loss drugs.
I played competitive sport from age 7 to 34. In my news journalism days I drank often and smoked a lot but ditched those bad habits. Somewhere along the line a bit of stress eating crept in – probably replacing the smoking and drinking. Whatever the cause, I started piling on the kilos.
People generously offer me excuses. A “slowing metabolism” is one. Being in my mid-40s another popular life line is “maybe you’re peri menopausal”. I now panic whenever I feel hot asking the blokes and 20-somethings in my office “is anyone else hot?” So far it actually has been a thermostat issue but I really must stop asking that question because one day I will be the only hot one and not in a good way.
(By the way, my former personal trainer, Sarah, is a slim and fit 50-something mother of four. So much for menopause or motherhood being an excuse).
My Dad says “it’s in the genes”. Big size jeans more like it. I remember seeing a visiting American medical academic speak in Sydney last year about thinking beyond your genes.
He played a TV ad to the audience featuring a pretty, ash blonde 50-something woman speaking soothingly to camera about weight problems. “It’s not your fault,” she cooed before spruiking a diet drug. It is my fault.
This month’s Pharmacy News claims weight loss and obesity drugs are in decline. Business analyst Datamonitor told the mag that most health care professionals still regard obesity “as the result of lifestyle choices that could be better managed through diet and exercise rather than drugs.”
I would love to blame genes, metabolism, increasing portion sizes in restaurants or additives in food but at the end of the day I eat too much for the amount of exercise I am doing.
I have access to a subsidised office gym only a block away and a 7 km waterside walking track a few minutes from home. I love fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts and all things healthy. This should be totally doable.
You might have some very real condition keeping you from shedding the kilos but I don’t.
The challenge is flicking that switch in my brain that makes weight loss more compelling than keeping the weight on and I think I may have finally found it. The threat of a horrible death. Bit dramatic but nothing else has worked so far.
Last week I interviewed Professor Graham Colditz for an article. The Australian-born health prevention expert has taught at Harvard and now teaches at the University of Washington Medical School.
He has Australia’s ever expanding waist line in his sights and predicts we will see the number of cancer cases here double within two decades if we don’t lose weight and start moving about. He says weight issues and obesity are already costing Australia $21 billion a year so its time to get serious.
As well as making ourselves vulnerable to cancer, we are also risking diabetes, heart disease, sleep disorders and stroke.
So here is the good news. According to Professor Colditz, more than 50 per cent of cancers can be prevented through lifestyle change including smoking cessation, moderate drinking, weight loss and increased physical activity.
More than 20 per cent of cancer deaths in women and 14 per cent in men are due to weight issues and obesity.
Regular exercise can reduce your risk of colon cancer by half and a woman’s chance of breast cancer by 20 per cent.
Dropping 10 kilos after menopause can reduce an overweight woman’s risk of breast cancer by 60 per cent. A loss of even 2.5 kilograms could lower a woman’s risk of breast cancer by 15 per cent.
Since our conversation I’ve already lost 1.1 kilos doing nothing more than walking and making more sensible food choices.
A long time friend and fellow weight loss warrior asked me if she should try a new herbal weight loss remedy. I don’t reckon she needs to spend another cent. Nor do I. We know everything we need to know about weight loss – we just need to put it into action because the price of inaction is way too high.
Kate Southam is the editor of CareerOne.com.au.
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