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3 Ways to Maintain Your Ideal Weight as You Age
Over the years, many of my female patients have come to me complaining that they keep gaining weight, especially around the waist, even though they eat the same amount of calories or fewer. They feel constantly bloated and sluggish, and they no longer fit into their clothes. This weight gain is not only emotionally frustrating; it can also have dire health consequences, such as increased risk of heart disease, breast and uterine cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke.
After age 20, your metabolism slows down by about 10 percent every decade. This may explain why you can’t eat the same quantity of food you did when you were younger. Even when your level of activity and exercise remains the same, eating the same amount of food may make you gain weight.
But you can reverse this metabolic decline by changing your eating habits. A pattern of five small meals a day instead of three larger ones keeps the metabolism going without storing up extra reserves. It is never a good idea to eat big meals because your body can only use a certain amount of food, depending on your activities, and will stockpile the rest as fat. Ideally, you’ll eat breakfast, a snack, lunch, a snack, and dinner — small amounts and, of course, all healthy food. By eating small meals, you keep the fire burning and won’t put anything in storage.
2. Don’t mix food and drink
If you are lavishing your body with the finest nutrition, that’s wonderful. Now you need to ensure that your system can make use of the food you eat.
Drink your fluids in between meals so that you do not dilute your gastric juices at mealtime. Consuming beverages during a meal weakens the teamwork of the spleen and stomach, and interferes with the organs’ function of proper digestion and absorption of nutrients. Wait at least 30 minutes after eating before you drink fluids. In between meals, sip herbal teas, water and vegetable juices; avoid coffee, sodas and other sugary beverages. Similarly, fruits with high water content should be eaten between meals, especially melons of all kinds. Soups are the exception to the rule: A broth of nutritious ingredients is actually easier to assimilate.
3. No time for exercise? Think physical
A formalized exercise program is ideal for losing weight, but it is not the only way. If you feel overwhelmed by the idea of fitting a new routine into your schedule, instead of thinking “exercise,” think “physical activity.” If you have a sedentary job requiring you to sit for long hours during the day, you can use your break periods and the time before and after work to invigorate yourself. Before you grab a cup of coffee or sit down to lunch, walk up a few flights of stairs. Park a few blocks away from work, or better yet, walk or bike to and from the office. Try to engage in more physical exertion on weekends, such as mowing the lawn with a manual mower, gardening, vacuuming and washing the car. Participate in a community walkathon; volunteer to clean up parkland; coach your kid’s soccer team — whatever gets you outdoors and moving.
From Second Spring: Dr. Mao's Hundreds of Natural Secrets for Women to Revitalize and Regenerate at Any Age by Dr. Maoshing Ni. Copyright © 2009 Free Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Republished with permission.