Tips on Weight Management

Simple, Practical, Science-Based Tips for a Long Healthy Life

By Christine Rosenbloom and Bob Murray

As 2024 continues to unfold, we are targeted with reports of the “best diets,”, inspiring selfies of fit men and women on Instagram, many offering the “secret” to lasting weight loss. We all know the advice isn’t helpful and, in some cases, it can be harmful. How many of us have jumped on the latest and greatest diet trend, only to lose weight and regain it after a few months?

This post is not about treating obesity. For many, obesity is a chronic disease that deserves medical care from a qualified medical expert. Rather, this post is simply tips from us, Bob Murray and Chris Rosenbloom, co-authors of Food & Fitness After 50, on maintaining weight as you age and avoiding the weight creep, that couple of pounds added every year after age 50. It can be avoided with monitoring and attention.  We’ve both done it and you can too. 

Chris’ Tips

My weight is very stable and has been my whole adult life. In middle school and high school, I considered myself “chubby” and tried lots of diets. They never worked and just made me feel bad about myself. I became a dietitian but not because of my weight concerns. I became a dietitian because I learned that modifying diets helped my father control his kidney disease when he was on dialysis.

My real “aha” moment was exercise, or my lack of it. In my early 20s I was a cardiac rehab dietitian. The physician who ran the program encouraged the staff to walk or jog with the patients as they performed supervised exercise. I soon learned that my aerobic capacity was lousy and 60-year-old men with heart disease were in better physical shape than I was. I was hooked. Physical activity not only helped me maintain a steady weight, but it helped me feel better about myself. All the mental health benefits ascribed to exercise are true for me.

I weigh myself every day and I know for some with disordered eating it might be triggering. But it works for me to help me stay in a set weight range that is right for me. I also know that weight fluctuates a pound of two every day due to hydration, so I look at a range, not a single number.

I enjoy all foods but have noticed that at age 72, my appetite is not as robust as it was when younger. So, I try to make sure to get protein-rich food at every meal: cereal and protein-fortified milk or eggs at breakfast, yogurt, cottage cheese, or peanut butter at lunch, and seafood or plant-based proteins at dinner. I like to snack on nuts, fruit, or string cheese. I enjoy adult beverages and I like desserts but find the 100-calorie ice novelties are just right. I also love to bake but only do it around the holidays and I make a mean chocolate cake for my husband’s birthday every year.

For me, it works to monitor my weight, watch my portions, and move every day through dog walking, gardening, exercise classes, or working with a personal trainer.

Bob’s Tips

My weight has never fluctuated much over my 74 years, aside from the years of puberty and high school wrestling.  I don’t obsess over my weight but am aware when I’ve gained a few pounds, usually over the winter months when my daily activity level is at its lowest.  When it’s cold and dark outside at 5 pm here outside of Chicago, it’s easy to settle in front of the TV for the rest of the evening.  I try to keep such sedentary time from being too sedentary by fidgeting while I’m sitting and by getting up at least once every hour, if only for a bathroom break.  I’ve never been one who can sit still for more than 30 minutes and my preference is to always be moving rather than sitting.

On those occasions when I am active all day, I try not to make the common mistake of overestimating the number of calories I burn and underestimating the calories I consume.  When I do overeat—unavoidable from time to time—I purposefully under-eat the next day.  I’m more concerned with keeping calorie intake under control over the course of a week, rather than a day.  Although high school wrestling was a long time ago, cutting weight taught me that hunger is just a feeling.  In fact, I like the feeling of being a little hungry as I reminder that I haven’t overeaten.

My observation is that friends and family who struggle with their weight seem to spend more time complaining about it than doing something about it.  It’s easy to gain weight and a challenge to lose it, so it makes sense not to gain it.  Consuming an extra 500 calories takes only a couple minutes but burning off 500 calories takes at least an hour of moderate-to-hard exercise.  I try to eat a healthy, varied diet, high in all the good stuff, but I don’t deprive myself of desserts, tasty snacks, or adult beverages.  I just try to keep those to a minimum.

Everyone has to find a formula for weight control that works for them.  What has worked for me would not work for my wife. She has her own approach to weight control that is different from mine, but just as effective.  In both cases, moving a lot more and eating a little less are the common denominators.  Obesity researchers would argue that weight control is much more complicated than that and they’d be right, except that moving more and eating less have to be part of every formula for weight control.

What It Means for You:

  • While we are not encouraging you to be annoying fidgeters, do think about how often you move during the day. Studies show that NEAT (short for non-exercise activity thermogenesis; physical activity that is not planned exercise) increases calories burned.
  • Slow down. Eating quickly can lead to overconsumption of any food.
  • Don’t be fooled by “healthy” foods; the organic, whole-grain, non-GMO crackers have just as many calories as their regular counterpart.
  • Stop looking for a quick fix. Learn to enjoy all foods in moderation.
  • Cook more, eat out less. We both enjoy eating out, but it is easier to make healthy, satisfying meals in your kitchen to control portions and avoid hidden calories in butter-soaked restaurant dishes.
  • If you enjoy eating out regularly, try to make an appetizes your entree or just share an entree.
  • Accept that you will not have the same body at 70 as you had at 25. If you’ve been trying to lose 5 pounds your whole life, stop struggling and vow not to gain weight.
  • Limit sedentary time…no need to binge watch an entire series in one day. Get up and move…do some cleaning, walk up and down the stairs, or take the dog for a second or third walk.

For more information, visit https://www.chrisrosenbloom.com