Tag Archives: Aging

Synchronicity and the BMI

I believe in synchronicity because many times when I am ruminating about an issue up pops the information that I need.

The issue that I have been thinking about for a while is weight gain and obesity in older people (women in particular). And how obesity is defined by the use of certain parameters like the BMI.

I have noticed that as I get older I have accumulated weight with hardly any effort and find it very hard to lose the weight. There are many factors that contribute to weight gain in older women besides just overeating. Let me list a few.

Some of the factors are decreased metabolism, or we don’t need as many calories and don’t burn up the calories as efficiently. This also makes it difficult to lose weight by reducing caloric intake. I know with me my metabolism seems to slow down even more if I restrict calories. Another factor is the natural loss of muscle as we age. Muscle helps our bodies burn calories. Stress from worrying about weight loss, among other things I worry about, can cause increase cortisol which then results in my body wanting to hold onto weight. Many older women have hypothyroidism which again affects the metabolism. And there can be a genetic predisposition and your body’s natural make-up that leads to being a larger size.

For all these reasons and more older people (women) many times end up in the overweight and obese section of the weight chart at the doctor’s office. I say that there needs to be a change at the way we look at weight, and older people should not be compared to younger people when it comes to defining obesity.

There can be dangers with dieting. Dieting often leads to muscle loss instead of fat loss. It is actually dangerous for older people to lose muscle because this can affect balance which can lead to falls and worse. Studies have shown that low weight is worse for recovery from surgery than being overweight.

So today I found a great article on Next Avenue that really resonates with what I have been thinking called ” Why Our Culture is Obsessed with Thinness,” by Patricia Corrigan.

Here is just one of the many excerpts from the article I loved about how nutsy we are about diet that even when women were in hospice with cancer they refused to eat desert.

Consider this: A hospice chef in Wisconsin told a science journalist that many of the dying women who were still able to eat “refused bread, salad dressing, butter, chocolate, desserts and other ‘fattening’ foods.”

You’re on your last lap, and you think it is imperative to pass up salad dressing and say “no” to chocolate?

Another point Patricia makes, which I have been thinking about as well, is that people naturally come in all different shapes and sizes with different genetic make-ups and it is unrealistic and wrong to expect everyone to fit into these narrow parameters that are considered normal by our society.

She also shares information about another author who has written a book about this topic, Harriet Brown “Body of Truth,” which I intend to read. In fact, I could quote Patricia’s whole article verbatim but I will let those interested click on the link above to read for themselves. I will share this information in the article from Harriet Brown’s book:

  • dieting and weight cycling (aka yo-yo dieting) leads to unhealthy physical and psychological effects
  • physical and psychological damage comes from being rigid, chaotic and fearful about eating
  • people unhappy with their weight are more likely to give up on health-positive activities than heavy people who are satisfied with their weight
  • whether you diet or don’t, you are going to die

Patricia and others have made the point that weight loss has become a big industry with pharmaceuticals and all kinds of diet specialists and diet foods. I suggest, along with Patricia, Harriet and others that we take a critical look at the current cultural spin on weight  and start to “change the conversations about weight and health with ourselves, our families, our friends and our doctors.”

I intend to take her article with me to my next doctors appointment.

Age Like an Okinawan

Senior Planet alerted me to a You Tube video of Dr. Andrew Weil talking about longevity in Okinawa. Many of us have read about “Blue Zones” or regions of the world known for centenarians. Many things have been written about the diets and philosophies of the people in these zones in hopes that we may emulate them.

Dr. Weil discusses how he has made several trips to Okinawa and has found many factors that may contribute to their people’s longevity. A couple of factors he mentions are healthy diet and physical activity. One factor he chose to emphasize, and that really caught my attention, is the cultural value placed on aging in Okinawa. He says the people there are not ashamed of aging and are considered valued members of their community. They are considered ” living treasures.” Dr. Weil argues that the extreme negative attitudes towards aging in our culture are what influences the way we age and contributes to the negative manifestations of aging we see. Food for thought?

Try to catch yourself when you are making negative self-talk about getting older. Things like ” I’m having a senior moment,” or when you have a ache or pain saying, ” Oh, I must be getting old.” I have heard 40 year olds making these remarks about getting older. Just think if you feel that way at 40, how will you feel at 60?

When we internalize our culture’s negative attitudes toward aging we can not help looking at ourselves negatively and feeling negative about getting older. I would like to age like an Okinawan and feel like a “treasure.” How about you?

How to Find the Meaning in My Life

I have been thinking a lot lately about my life and how I want to make it more meaningful for me. This is a process of self-discovery as well. Tuning in and turning inward to myself.

For many years it was about the outer world and what was demanded of me, in work, marriage and motherhood. I had to fulfill certain roles, meet expectations, requirements, and others’ needs. Now I find I have more time to think, and to think more about myself. This is a new experience because for so long so much of me was given away. It’s like here I am, still here after everything.

My journey now is tuning into what feels right, in what I believe, where I want to focus my energies, to be aware of what energizes me, and what drains my energy. I want to devote more and more time to what energizes me, what I love. I want to be sure to spend more time on the relationships I really care about as well.

Even if you are in an earlier stage of life, I think it is important to carve out time for your own self discovery and enrichment. What do you think?

Act Your Age

The image on my post is of Bette Davis and Gary Merrill in ” All About Eve.” This film was about a middle-aged actress being undermined by a younger, inexperienced competitor and how Hollywood treats “older” actresses.

We tell kids to “act your age” when we think they are acting immature and older people are sometimes told the same thing. What do we mean when we tell an older person to “act your age?”

I was very happy and humbled to see the response to my last post about Aging Disgracefully. The response made me realize that there are many people out there who are thinking about this issue.

One big reason why I do not like being told about  “aging gracefully” is that I interpret it to be a prescription on how we should all behave and live our lives as we get older. And there are all these assumptions and expectations that come attached to that description of aging. Here is something from Huffington Post: “Want to Age Gracefully? Avoid these 7 Things,” with a photo of George Clooney and Sandra Bullock on the top. The suggestion being that if we want to look like these celebrities, who are obviously “aging gracefully,” we should read the following. And it seems the author thinks being in your 50s is the start of aging. Another post on the  “Gen Fab” blog  called ” Ageing Gracefully: What Exactly Does That Mean? ”  has a photo of Sandra Bullock as Superwoman in the top photo.  They asked women, a group of bloggers nearing and post 50,  what they thought of “aging gracefully.” I liked the slideshow in the post a little better which includes some opinions of the bloggers.

Here’s another post from Huff/Post 50  today: “It’s Hard for Men to Believe I Feel Attractive at 50.” I almost skipped reading it with that title but she did have a few things to say I thought were positive about aging.

Another thing that bothers me is that much is written at older people and not by older people. I would much rather read about the personal journey than what someone thinks that journey should be. So I was happy to read what  some of you shared about how you are living your lives.

How should we “act our age?” I don’t think we have to prove anything, like be a marathon runner, swim to Cuba, or take up aerobic yoga. To me it is a process of self-discovery. If we have been athletes all our lives we may still want to be athletes. But there are so many other things we can do. One reader said she is “creatively aging.”  I am in the process of discovery myself. I have been working a little as a tutor and I am volunteering as a literacy tutor. I am blogging.  🙂  I want to start exploring other possible interests as well.

How do you envision your aging? How do you want to “act your age?”


FYI for the Introverts among us and those who love them  The Quiet Revolution website is getting ready to launch soon.

Aging Disgracefully

I detest labels, stereotypes, and being put in a box. I have always been a bit of a rebel and will fight for your and my right to be different. Oh, how I hate conformity, how people are encouraged to march along in lock step, and never question anything. I hate group think. Pop think. Fads. Everyone following along with everyone else. This all being said, I really liked a post I read by Margaret Manning on her new site Boomerly called  The Secret Life of Modern Grandmothers.  I am not a grandmother yet but I am getting older and refuse to climb into a box , be labeled, and be expected to be any particular way that fits a stereotype of an older person.

I have read all these article about aging gracefully and I bristle. I want to be like the little girl who got her clean, frilly dress covered with mud, and ruined her party shoes. I borrowed the title of this post from Margaret’s post where she mentioned “aging disgracefully.”

Ageing gracefully is not for me. Another writer I follow, Ann Brenoff in the Huffington Post, wrote recently I’m Not Trying to Age Gracefully, So Don’t Pressure Me To. She makes some great points, that we all age differently. Some of us do need to dye our hair because we don’t look good with gray, and we all can’t look like your favorite celebrity, and some people have good genes so that’s why they look younger.  She compares this pressure to “age gracefully” to “fat-shaming.”

I am for all of us, no matter what age, being our glorious, beautiful selves.