The importance of maintaining a healthy weight is well established and applies to people of all ages. But there are more things to bear in mind regarding weight when it comes to those of us born between 1946 and 1964 – aka “Baby Boomers.”
A huge concern for Boomers, especially those born earlier in the generation, is reduced mobility and, in turn, losing independence. Being overweight and the countless issues it brings can impede Baby Boomers’ movement and independence.
Mobility and independence could be affected by aches and pains in large weight-bearing bones and regions. Or it could be related to the social and mental effects such as reduced self-esteem and poor body image.
Baby Boomers are more likely to have other chronic medical conditions that can further hinder their independence and mobility. And excess weight can be a driving factor for some medical conditions.
For example, if a person had a heart attack and was found to be overweight, not losing the excess weight would keep their recurrence risk higher than if they lost the weight.
Additionally, Baby Boomers are likely to have multiple risk factors that have accumulated as they’ve aged. As your weight is something you can change, Boomers should do everything they can to ensure they have a healthy weight, so they’re not needlessly putting their health at increased risk.
While it is true that Boomers often struggle to lose weight – mainly because they have a low metabolic rate and may have health conditions which limit how much exercise they can perform – a person of any age can lose weight, so you shouldn’t let your age deter you!
What Is Considered a Healthy Weight?
A healthy weight is ultimately one that is appropriate for your height – and there is quite a bit of leeway in what weight is considered “healthy” for any person.
There are different measures like waist circumference, fat calipers, and body mass index (BMI) used by clinicians to assess and categorize a person’s healthy weight. BMI is commonly used, but it is certainly not without its limitations.
A person’s BMI is calculated using their height and weight. The result then is put into one of four classes: underweight (<18.5), healthy weight (18.5-24.9), overweight (25-29.9), or obese (30-39.9).
If you know your weight and height, you can use online BMI calculators to see your BMI score.
Take Your BMI With a Pinch of Salt…
Note that your BMI result must be interpreted in light of your gender, age and how active you are, so it’s not merely a case of placing you in one of the categories mentioned above based on your height and weight.
BMI is far from a perfect measure of whether a person – Boomer or not – has a healthy weight because BMI can often be overly simplistic and fails to take into account other important factors, such as a person’s fat percentage.
For example, as muscle is much denser (weighs more) than fat, a muscular person could be very healthy and have a healthy weight, but their BMI may class them as overweight or even obese!
Another issue with BMI scores is their inherent inability to assess fat distribution accurately. A person may have a healthy BMI score, but if their waist circumference exceeds 37 inches for men or 31.5 inches for women, they would be medically advised to lose weight.
This is because carrying excess weight in the abdominal region puts you at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease or suffering a stroke.
Remember, if BMI scores are interpreted alone, you may likely wrongly classify yourself as overweight or underweight.
Fat calipers or an electronic scale (which provides a body fat percentage reading) are often better and more accurate to determine whether your weight is healthy.
Here’s a BMI Calculator you can use to see where you stand but remember, this is a far from perfect number as BMI can often be overly simplistic and fails to take into account other important factors, such as a person’s fat percentage.
What is a Weight Loss Program?
A weight loss program is essentially a diet and exercise regimen, which is designed to help you reach a healthy weight, usually to improve your health or to give your self-confidence a boost. There are several types of weight loss programs from which to choose. Some of which have been specifically put together for Boomers.
A few examples of diets include plant-based diets, meal replacement diets, and high-protein but low-carb diets. Most of the exercise regimes predominately consist of cardio and other types of fat-burning exercises.
The program’s duration often varies as well, with some promising quick results, while others are more realistic and aim to help you gradually shed those excess pounds.
The most effective programs promote lifestyle changes instead of simple crash diets, which may only deliver results in the short term and can have serious health implications, especially for Boomers.
People who use such aggressive forms of dieting will often regain the lost weight and then embark on a new crash diet only to repeat the cycle. This is called “yo-yo dieting” and has a vast number of adverse effects on one’s mental and physical health.
Choosing a reliable weight loss program that helps you reach your healthy weight and teaches you about nutrition and exercise can be tricky. With so many options to choose from, it can get quite overwhelming and confusing. This guide will try and help you make the right call.
If you’d like to try a diet but would prefer some help with meal planning and preparation, we’ve provided some options here.
Best Weight Loss Programs for Men
Men struggle immensely with weight management, with three in four classified as overweight or obese. However, they can gain muscle mass and lose fat more easily due to higher oxygen consumption and testosterone levels. In some ways, men can lose weight (and avoid putting it back on) more easily than women.
A program that eliminates carbs and fat is not often recommended. Instead, you should be looking for regimens that increase lean protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats. Permanent weight loss should not be seen as a sprint. Instead, it should ideally lead to lifestyle changes that enable you to maintain your new, healthy weight.
However, if you desire quicker results, you could try a low-carb, high-protein diet, keto, or paleo diet.
Remember, the sustainability of such diets is variable and does depend on each individual.
Best Weight Loss Programs for Women
Women’s bodies go through many changes throughout their lives, with each event taking its toll on the body. Menopause, in addition to general aging, can often make weight loss particularly challenging for women. It’s estimated that around two in three women are either overweight or obese.
Generally, women seem to have the greatest success with natural weight loss programs such as those with The Mayo Clinic or the low-fat, low-calorie diets with Nutrisystem. Again, faster results can be achieved with diets like the restrictive keto diet, but some struggle with maintaining such regimens on a long-term basis.
Keep in mind that there is some overlap between the best weight loss programs for men and women. For example, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and Medifast provide tailored plans with the added benefit of coaching for both men and women.
How Can I Lose Weight?
While you will find more comprehensive information and guidance in a weight loss program, there are some basic principles that you can apply in your everyday life to help you lose weight.
Making exercise a regular habit is essential to sustainable weight loss. It is recommended that you get around two and a half hours of moderate exercise each week, but considerably more than this is advisable if you’re looking to lose those pounds.
However, if that seems too much, then build-up to it. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t hit your target straightaway. Everything counts when it comes to your health.
As always, consult a physician if you’re concerned about your physical health and ability to exercise. Although it is great to push your limits to increase your stamina and strength, you must listen to your body. If you feel you need a break, take a break and don’t feel guilty about it.
Eat More Fruit and Veggies
Increase your fresh fruit and vegetable intake. Fruit and vegetables packed with so much natural goodness and low calories are the way to go for weight loss and improved well-being.
If you’re consuming enough fruit and vegetables, you won’t likely have to worry about vitamin or mineral deficiencies, which is another bonus.
Watch Out For Carbs, Sugars, and Starches
Be mindful of your carbs intake and cut down on sugars and starches. Excessive carb consumption can stimulate your appetite, especially if you’re mainly having simple carbs like white bread. Reduce your carbs intake so that your body will burn fat instead of carbs.
You should also try to switch the remaining carbs you eat to complex ones and see how it fuels your body for longer, meaning you need to eat less and can, therefore, be satisfied with eating fewer calories.
Up Your Lean Protein Intake
Increase your consumption of lean protein as this is essential for muscle mass maintenance and increasing your metabolic rate.
Eating foods that boost your metabolic rate is particularly crucial for Boomers, as your body metabolizes food more slowly as you age. which can make losing weight more difficult (and can leave you prone to quickly putting on weight.)
Good sources of lean protein include chicken, eggs, various seafood, fish, and beans and legumes.
Things to Consider When Comparing/Choosing a Weight Loss Program
Now that you have information about weight loss programs, you’re probably wondering how to compare and choose the right one for you.
Start by establishing precisely what you want to achieve from a weight loss program. Things like information and guidance on nutrition and exercise are a given, but what format would best suit you? Do you prefer to have it written out in a booklet, or do you prefer to watch videos?
Consider the guidance and motivational aspect of this journey. People are much more likely to succeed at losing weight and keeping it off if they receive support. Would you prefer online support or face-to-face coaching?
And think about what motivates you – you can reflect on a past experience where you set out to achieve a goal and succeeded in doing so. What kept you going when things got tough or after the novelty wore off? You can try applying it in this context.
You need to think about each weight loss program’s practicalities, as this will affect how likely you are to follow through.
Would you prefer to receive prepackaged meals, fresh ingredients for you to cook up, or meal replacements? Do you have any dietary restrictions or allergies that you need to consider before committing to a diet?
Of course, you must set a budget and try to stick to it as well. There are many programs on offer, so you’re bound to find something that suits both your palate and wallet.
Read reviews of the programs you’re considering, so you have insight into the overall experience. You’ll gain a lot of tips from the program’s successful and unsuccessful users.
Watch out for red flags. Lofty claims like no exercise needed to lose weight, or guaranteed weight loss in certain body areas, or unlimited calorie consumption are often empty promises that do not deliver results.
Such programs also give you unrealistic expectations, making it very likely you’ll give up once you don’t see the promised results.
Pro Tip: Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight will take effort. This effort is entirely worthwhile as it can result in a healthier body overall and increased self-esteem. You can do it!