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Is Losing Weight Through Diet and Exercise an Impossible Task?

By Brian Maddy, UGA Cooperative Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent, Troup County

We’ve all seen those diet commercials on TV about losing weight. The hosts often look like they have never had to think about a diet. We’ve also seen interviews where top models are asked how they stay slim. Their reply is that “I’m always hungry.” Then there are folks who have the same body they did when they were sixteen and look down their noses wondering why others can’t stay fit like they do.

Losing weight is not an easy thing for most people to do – especially as they get older.

As we age, our bodies and metabolisms slow down. Sometimes it’s due to medications that we have to take. These can mess with our activity levels. Sometimes we have jobs where we stare at computers, sit all day, and don’t have time to exercise. Sometimes we come home from work and all we want to do is eat dinner and chill out. We’re too tired to exercise! So what can we do to change this pattern?

The first step is to know the difference between being physically tired and mentally tired. A lot of jobs leave us mentally tired. Our bodies may feel tired because our minds are tired.

Try this: Take a short walk after supper instead of taking a nap! Getting your blood pumping should leave you feeling refreshed. Watching the flowers grow, listening to the birds sing, and feeling a fresh breeze can be fun. Getting the creak out of those joints is the first step to moving more! It’s like my mother used to say, “If you don’t use it, you lose it!”

It’s the same with good exercise habits. Being fit is a result of exercise. Toning your heart, lungs and muscles will do much to lessen mental tiredness. Most of all, it gives one a sense of well-being. You can also exercise by working in the yard. If it gets you moving, it helps!

But what if you’re one of those folks who is always on the job? Many businesses encourage exercise as part of a health and well-being program. Don’t pass up those opportunities, and ask your employer about wellness opportunities if you don’t know of any!

But losing weight through exercise alone can be a tough row to hoe. How can diet help?

When I was younger I could drop ten pounds in a month with hardly trying. It’s a whole different ballgame in your fifties. In my family, carbs, namely sugar, seem to be the problem. I rarely have encountered a cookie that wasn’t worth sampling, but cutting back on sugar seems to be one of the best ways to cut my weight. So I try to eat nuts and fruits for desserts. Irish potatoes and white bread are a thing of the past. I actually have gotten used to unsweet tea and enjoy it too!

Most of us don’t have the money for a personal trainer or four hours of spare time to work out every day. We may never have the figure that we had when we were teenagers. That doesn’t mean we can’t stay fit and active through diet and exercise as we continue down the road of life. Our goal should be to be as healthy and active as we can, and it takes some fortitude to break bad habits. Balanced diets and exercise are good steps in the right direction.

“Nothing in life is easy,” is an old saying, but it still rings true in our lives today. But the sooner you get moving, the easier it becomes.

And remember — when you move more, you live more!