With age comes wisdom, but some of us would gladly trade a bit of that hard-earned knowledge for the body we took entirely for granted in our 20s. Joints start to ache as we get older, muscles are pulled more easily, and perhaps the worst thing of all that happens is the slowing down of our once-speedy metabolisms.
Like a lot of things we’ve learned about in life, this simply isn’t fair, but the good news is that there are many things we can do to stay in shape as we age. We may have to work a little harder to get there than when we were younger, but it is still entirely possible to maintain a fit and healthy physique.
Set a Schedule
Some people like to eat 6 small meals a day, and some choose the traditional 3, but the most recent research has shown the amount of meals per day actually doesn’t matter as much as we once thought – calories are calories. If maintaining even blood sugar levels is mandatory, multiple, mini-meals may be your smartest choice, but if you’re a 3-squares-a-day kind of person, that’s okay, too.
However, no matter how often you choose to eat, the most important thing is consistency: set an eating schedule and stick to it. When your body feels deprived, it goes into starvation mode, which lowers metabolism, so let it know what to expect and deliver the goods on time.
Muscle Up, Buttercup
In addition to increasing bone mineral density, adding weightlifting to your workout routine can build muscles, which automatically increases resting metabolic rate.
Strength training exercises can also build up muscles around aching joints to take the pressure off of them, reducing strain and pain.
When starting a weightlifting regimen, remember that you don’t recover as quickly as your younger self, so start slow. If you can’t do 15-20 repetitions, lower the weight, and gradually work up to it. Pushing yourself too hard can result in an injury, which will send you frustrated and limping back to the beginning.
Make More Movement
Your days of circling the parking lot, vying for the up-front parking are over. If you want to boost your metabolism, one of the best ways to do this is to create reasons to go the long way – like parking at the back of the lot. On purpose.
If you work in a building with an elevator, make friends with the stairs; they will thank you by burning calories and building muscles. Finding a walking buddy to get some head-clearing and fat-burning exercise on your lunch break is another great idea. If you can get up and walk around while on the phone, even pacing while you chat is an excellent way to sneak in more movement.
Protein is Your Pal
Studies have proven that protein not only assists in the building of muscles, it makes us feel more satisfied than carbohydrates, which can cut down on daily calories consumed.
Try to include a little protein with every meal for increased feelings of fullness and steadier glucose levels to eliminate hunger-binging.
High-protein yogurt (such as Greek) can be especially helpful for weight loss, as it also contains probiotics to bolster good intestinal flora and assist in digestion.
Slow Down to Speed Up
The stress hormone cortisol is a common carbohydrate-craving culprit that can cause extra weight gain, especially in the belly area. Not getting enough sleep can also increase levels of ghrelin, a hormone that increases appetite.
The solution to this hormonal weight gain double whammy is difficult for many: making sleep a priority, and getting a minimum of 7 hours per night. But no matter how hectic your life may be, it’s crucial to get a good night’s sleep.
Yoga and meditation are also wonderful ways to stretch, relax, soothe the soul and de-stress. And if nature eases your mind, gardening or taking a hike somewhere green can work wonders, as well.
If you’ve noticed you can’t eat as much as before without gaining weight, and the ways you used to stay in shape are no longer working: don’t give up. Try some of the ideas above, and move your metabolism back into a higher, fat-fighting range to keep your body burning calories like a champ and feeling great.
Ashley Jenkins is a professional blogger that shares tips and advice on health, training and nutrition. He writes for Fitness 19, a leading fitness facility with affordable month to month memberships.