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Is it really possible to change in our 40s?

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Old 05-09-2010, 01:28 PM   #1
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Question Is it really possible to change in our 40s?

Hi everyone,

I guess I'm just looking for a little motivation and conversation.

I'm going to be 45 later this month. *shudder*

I've never been successful with weight loss. I continue to learn more. I continue to improve my overall health. I force myself to exercise. I am learning how to eat more healthfully. But despite my efforts, I'd still rather have real cheese on my real burger and I'd still prefer to watch HBO than lift weights.

So. The question is this, is it really possible to change lifelong habits this late in the game?

I've never been thin. Ever in my life. I can stay within 10 lbs of my current weight with absolutely NO effort at all. That means I can eat dessert, I can enjoy french fries and chips when I want, and I stay about 210 lbs.

Gosh. Is this even making sense?

In other words, with little no effort, I can maintain about my current weight. I keep asking myself if it's even possible for me to reduce my weight. I've never been thin. What makes me think I can change things this late in my life?

Okay. So it's pretty obvious I've no resolution to the questions I keep asking myself. I thought I'd ask all of you.

Is it too late to change in our 40s, if we've never been successful before? Is it worth all the work? I think I stress more trying to lose the weight than I did before I began trying to lose weight. Which stress is worse? Trying to lose weight is very stressful business. At least in my book.

Anyway. You guys always give the best advice and encouragement. I guess that's what I'm needing at the moment.

Best wishes to everyone else.
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Old 05-09-2010, 01:50 PM   #2
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You know, I do think it's possible to change at any age. We see it all the time. The granny who finally graduates college at 70. The women on this site who lose and maintain their new weight. My own mother was in her 40's when she finally got her GED.

I am 49, soon to be 50 this year. It is tough to change our habits but we can do it. I didn't have weight problems when I was young but it's pretty much been a life long adult issue for me. This is the longest I've ever stuck to my wt loss program.

I heard something from my swim instructor yesterday that I think can apply to us. Be kind to yourself, she said. Get one move down. You have time to perfect this. She talked about how we had the ability to slow down in the pool, perfect a certain part of a swim technique and then add to it. I just loved hearing that. I think if we could apply this to other areas of life that we struggle in we'd find ourselves far more successful in general.

Anyway, I would encourage you to be kind to yourself. Take time to find something that works for you. Add to it as you are able. Do whatever it takes to keep yourself on track, not discouraged. It really isn't a race, nor can we expect perfection coming right out of the gate. It's a matter of choice, each and everyday. Choose to do something good for yourself. It doesn't have to be so stressful. Yes, change is stressful to a certain degree but I really believe that as you reap the rewards of wt loss, stress goes down and enables to make more good choices.

You are worth it. Instead of stressing over the big picture (and trust me, I know where you're coming from) just try taking it one step at a time, if that is going to work for you better. Some people can do a complete overhaul and some can't. I say, babysteps are okay-- if you end up being successful and finding something you see yourself doing for the rest of your life.

It's a constant struggle for me. I'm still working on my plan. I started off working on portion control only. I just couldn't do any more than that. I made it a point to move more but I just wasn't physically in a place where I could do formal exercising. As I lost weight I found a water aerobics class that I could do. Now, I am learning how to swim. I am more aware of my trigger foods than ever so my diet is better than it's ever been. What I wasn't able to do 6+ months ago is easy now. It's easy to go to class. It's easy to move. Even on my worst day I make far better choices now than I ever did before.

I know I need to lose more weight, but right now I have decided to maintain my current weight for awhile. That's just where I'm at. I know I will feel successful if I can maintain for awhile. I've never done that before! Losing for me is easier than maintaining. I also know that when I'm ready I will go back to losing. This has taken a great deal of stress off me. I'm doing what is working for me, not someone else. We're all different and I'm sure you're going to get a variety of responses. Pick what works for you.

You're worth it, and you can find a way of doing this. You can.
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Old 05-09-2010, 01:59 PM   #3
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Well, I started this project at 41, and I'll be 43 this summer. Yes, I have totally changed my lifestyle, and I feel very confident it will stick, because, frankly, I was so overweight when I started, that getting to where I am now, which is just within the normal BMI range for my height, has taken some time. (19 months, give or take a few days, I think.) That's an awfully long time to devote to something, and plenty of time to allow a lifestyle change to become natural and comfortable. Also, it helps that I very much prefer the life I've been living since I decided I was going to change. If I found it miserable drudgery, there is no way I could've stuck with it, none at all. Fortunately, it really doesn't have to be miserable drudgery. No, I am not just stuffing my face with whatever I want, but I also don't ever eat ANYTHING I don't want to eat. I like every single thing I regularly eat. I enjoy being so much more physically active, and the whole process has become self-reinforcing. I like being smaller, I like being active, I like what I eat, I like not feeling lousy all the time, and I have no desire at all to stop doing any of those things. All eating junk and sitting around did, in the end, was make me unhappy. Yes, I had to white-knuckle it in the first few weeks, but the positive feedback I was getting, both from the numbers dropping on the scale, and from my increased energy, was enough to reinforce my decision to change.

I hadn't been anything even remotely approaching thin in a very, very long time. We are talking decades. I had all those years of ingrained bad habits to overcome, and what surprised me the most was that, past those first few weeks, it got easier all the time. I sincerely thought I was probably going to hate this, because the couple of times I'd lost substantial amounts of weight before, I did hate it. I was eating crappy diet food I didn't like, and didn't satisfy me, and of course, I eventually slid right back into my lousy habits, because I felt resentful and put-upon. I didn't like what I was doing, so eventually I quit doing it. This time? It's all different, because I found a way of liking it so much more than liking the lifestyle that was keeping me so fat.

I believe this change is going to stick, because I don't resent and hate it, I love it, and the rewards just keep getting bigger and better all the time.
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Old 05-09-2010, 02:30 PM   #4
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Gosh, I jolly well hope so ! I will be 43 this weekend. I want to conquer this once and for all. I did a few years ago, but so much got in the way, and somehow despite getting the weight off I didn't conquer those inner demons which have helped put it back on. There are so many reasons, or should I say excuses, and I wish we could all just realise how important it is at our age to DO SOMETHING !!
I have a beautiful family who deserve to have a Mum, wife, who loves herself. This time I will do it, once and for all.
To all those who doubt, lets just keep going, and to coin a phrase "finish what we started". I no longer want ot be fat and forty - rather "fit and forty"
Go girls (and guys of course!)
Big hugs to you all
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Old 05-09-2010, 02:43 PM   #5
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I'm 43 and still have hope after many years of struggling,daily life ups and down...My main goal is to accomplished on weight loss and I know I will succeed and be fit by 50.

Don't give up hope...I still believe we all can be successfull any age level with our weight loss efforts. Good luck!
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Old 05-09-2010, 07:14 PM   #6
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ANewCreation - You're right, we're all worth it. I admire you for taking a break to maintain and what you say about it makes sense to me. And, I am definitely in the club that says we need to be kind to ourselves. I'm grateful for the advice you got and shared and I'm going to try to apply it.

catherinef - Congratulations on your success! You are speaking from a position of experience and I'm listening. I think it IS important to like what we're doing for the most part and that does contribute a lot to how we feel about doing something. For me, I think I like the things I'm doing, but I'm still not convinced that I can be successful. I'm committed to continue trying. But, I've tried before without success, so I'm no more sure about 'this time' than any previous time before.

starbrite, I agree with everything you say. Our loved ones deserve the best of us that we can be. Otherwise, we're not only cheating ourselves, but we're cheating them.

Liliann - Just the fact that you *believe* we can succeed is encouragement for me.

Thanks to everyone who's responded so far. I'll check back.

Best wishes to us all!
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Old 05-09-2010, 08:59 PM   #7
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I am pretty sure it's possible to make changes at any age. I am now almost 49. I quit smoking not quite 2 years ago. Just decided one day out of the blue after 34 smoking years that it was time to quit. I did get medication-Chantix-to help me and I also found an online support group to help me. And nobody is more surprised than I am that it stuck. I am still quit and I never thought I'd even try to stop.

I can't say I've always been fat. I got that way when I quit smoking for the most part. And it took me a while to decide to do something about it. And I am 100% determined to do whatever is necessary to lose the weight I gained. Exercise, eat right, get more sleep...hatever it takes. No excuses. if I don't like to do it one way, then I will find another way until I find the way that works for me.

When I was a little girl, we had an elderlky friend who drove race cars...and didn't start it until he was in his 60's. And he learned to downhill ski when he was 70.

I think a person can learn new skills at any age. I think they can use the experiences they've gained from all previous endeavors as tools to get to the next level. I think that if you tried something before and it didn't work, then you leanred what doesn't work and are one step closer to learning what does. Perpective can really influence how easily we can change and adapt. I will never be able to flap my arms, pretend they are wings, and fy, but perhaps I can take lessons and learn to fly a plane, or perhaps I can go to school and earn more money to buy a plane ticket. It's all a matter of looking at things from a different viewpoint to see how to use what you have to get where you want. So often, we are taught that obstacles are our limiting factors, but seldom does anyone tell us they are opportunities to try something ifferent.

I believe I;ve rambled enough. Hope my words offer you some hope and encouragement!

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Old 05-09-2010, 09:18 PM   #8
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There's a saying "You can't think yourself into right action, but you act yourself into right thinking."

Just do the weight loss program for awhile & make small changes. A burger with cheese is fine as long as it's moderate and not accompanied with a large fries and shake. And watch HBO and do weight training at the same time. You see what I mean? Small changes that you can tolerate.

What I heard in your post is that you don't think you are ready to give up the eating and non-exercise that keeps you at 210 pounds.

I thought that for a long time about smoking. I could never quit permanently and thought, "Well, I gotta die sometime, guess it will be by lung cancer." But. I just kept trying and I've been off cigarettes again for 4 months. You probably think my analogy is crazy but if you think about it, obesity isn't good for long term health.

It's really not at all too late. My mom is 67 and has been gaining and losing the same 60-70 pounds all her life. She has Type II diabetes & high blood pressure now, but she keeps trying. And I think she's healthier for it even though she hasn't been able to keep the weight off. At least she's exercising and trying to eat right.

I'm just throwing some stuff out there for you.

Hang in there. Just keep trying.
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Old 05-10-2010, 07:16 AM   #9
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There is a book called "The Kaizen Way" that teaches how many tiny steps equal big changes. One of the stories is about a single mom who works 2 jobs, is overweight and has the health issues to go with it. Her only "me time" is a couple of hours of tv at night. Instead of just telling the woman to lose weight and exercise, which she's heard a million times before, they give her one thing to do : walk in place during the commercial breaks when she's watching her tv shows. It sounds overly simplistic but over time it created a chain reaction that led to the weight loss and better health!

I came across this great blog http://30dayfitnessexperiment.com/ The author started w/ committing to improving her eating habits and moving a bit more for 30 days. She's on her 2nd - 30 days now, with a committment to increase her physical activity.

I believe that anybody can change at any age, the key is that you have to want it, and then you have to come up with a plan, even if it's just one baby step at a time!
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Old 05-10-2010, 07:48 AM   #10
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Of course we can change in our 40s. I'm 46, three years ago I weighed 290lbs. This was a weight I could maintain 'without effort' and thankfully I had no major health problems from it. However I knew, as I aged that this would not last. I did not want to be on permanent medication, unable to do anything slightly physical without exhausting myself and I think I was not too far off from this if I didn't take it in hand. So I did. I reached my goal in September last year. I was a teenager the last time I was at this weight.

In some ways I found it easier to lose as a mature woman. I'm much more able to speak my mind, less influenced by others and much more likely to put myself first when necessary than I did when I was younger. So when my DH says to me 'your not going to the gym AGAIN?', I just reply 'yes, I am'.

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Old 05-10-2010, 09:19 AM   #11
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Beth-I'm a psychiatrist and if I didn't believe people can always change I couldn't do my job. It would be pointless. One thing I have learned is that people only change when they are no longer comfortable where they are. What I heard in your original post is that you are still pretty comfortable at your current weight, doing what you are doing. Once you become uncomfortable for whatever reason, you will do something to make some changes. For me this has been a long journey not just about my weight but about learning about the quality of the food (or fuel) I put into my body and wanting to make good choices for my health whether or not they led to weight loss.

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Old 05-10-2010, 09:59 AM   #12
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Absolutely, we can change. I'm well into my 40s, and over about a three-year period, I've changed my food buying, cooking, eating and exercise habits so completely that I've turned into the exactly kind of person whom I used to be sarcastic about (while envying deeply): Someone who's health-conscious, physically active, even a bit of a jock, something of a foodie, and who eschews three-quarters of the food that I used to pig out on. These behaviors have gone on so long, they can't be described any more as a mere "passing enthusiasm" in my life. I was really very afraid for my health; now I feel more in control of it, as if I can actively work to affect it for the better.

Never undestimate the movitating effect of fear of illness & mortality. By the time you're in your 40s, and the generation ahead of you starts becoming disabled or dying, you start rethinking that whole "I'm gonna live forever" thing or kidding yourself that "I have plenty of time in which to get healthy again."

I think it's a sign of my maturity. I believe I lumped a lot of healthy behaviors -- healthy food choices, shopping for whole & organic foods, cooking for yourself, eschewing junk or processed foods, exercise, yoga, meditating against stress -- into a sort of narcissistic upper-middle class boho yuppie-ism, which I wanted no part of. It was class warfare on my part. I don't know who I was fighting, exactly. It got me nowhere -- I was just rebellious, fat, unhealthy & lacking stamina to do some things I needed to go. I had to let go of that. These are just behaviors & choices, not empty badges of one's social class. The rebellious, sarcastic adolescent in me finally shut up & faced part of adulthood, which includes dealing with an adult metabolism & life span.
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Old 05-10-2010, 11:20 AM   #13
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I just turned 48 and I absolutely know I can change my eating, my body, my activity level and my life, because I've done all of that over the past 6 months.

I used to think that even though I had never succeeded at losing weight and keeping it off, at least I was ok with maintenance. But then when I went back and looked at all the numbers, I realized that I was not maintaining my weight, it was increasing every year. Not by huge amounts but still, 8 or 10 a year, even 5 lbs a year, adds up to a LOT over time.

I tried to internalize that message, but to reverse it too. When I first started on this weight loss journey, instead of thinking that I had to lose 100 lbs, I told myself that I just needed to lose 25 lbs a year, and in 4 years, I'd be at my goal. 25 lbs seemed like something possible, just a couple of pounds a month. As it turned out, once I got started, it didn't feel like a hardship at all to push myself a bit harder - to pay closer attention to my food and to incorporate more movement into my daily life - different from formal exercise - I am trying to just get up and move my body more throughout the course of my day. So after 6 months, I'm over 40 lbs of the way there (although depending on what happens when I get there, I think my final goal will be more like 110 lbs rather than 100 in part because I got a new scale and "gained" 7 lbs along the way because of that! lol!).

Most of the time, with the right planning and preparation so I have my healthy choices readily available, I can stay on plan. But for me, the biggest issue has always been staying on track and not letting one bad day turn into an excuse to just keep going. I started to go back into bad habits in April and ended up putting back on about 7 lbs (although some of it was water) and I saw myself having gone from a 3fc low of 221.8 to over 228.

And instead of just giving up YET AGAIN, I said no way, there is no chance I am going to ever weigh anything in the 230s again. And I pulled it together and got back in my healthy habits and am back down almost to my low and I know I'll get there and keep going. I WANT this more than anything, and I'm not going to be perfect and I'll probably have other bumps and setbacks, but I'm just going to keep going - because even once I lose all the weight, there will be bumps and setbacks too, and I'll have to overcome them to maintain. So I just needed to understand that I can give myself a break - I can screw up, I can gain a few pounds back, but I am still worth the effort and I can get back on track and get where I want to be.
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Old 05-10-2010, 08:44 PM   #14
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angelskeep, you didn't ramble at all. Your points are all well spoken and well taken. A race car driver who didn't start till age 60 and I'm moaning about turning 45?! Guess that gives me some perspective, doesn't.

Actually, I wonder how hard it would be to change my life and behave like a millionaire if a few cool million dropped in my lap tomorrow. I bet I'd find a way! :-)

motivated chickie, I like what you said and I'm listening. I'm encouraged to know that so many others going before me believe change is possible. All I can keep doing is making a few small changes at a time. It is fun to find things that DO work.

By the way, angelskeep and motivated chickie... GREAT job on giving up tobacco! Congratulations and best health to you.

weightlosswanted - THAT is a cool blog; a lot of information there. Thank you for sharing it. And, I agree. Small steps, small plans, over time must equal success. I'm going to hold onto that for a while.

KforKitty, you're right. I can either do this now, or later when I'm sick. I believe that 100%. That is a great way to think of it. I'm going to hold onto that for today.

petra65, I've also learned a lot about the foods I put into my body. And, that is a good point. I can now go to the theater and watch a movie WITHOUT popcorn because I learned a little about the chemicals they use and call butter. I'm also encouraged to hear that you believe we can still change. You speak from experience and I appreciate it.

saef - Oh man. Boy do I ever envy some of the beautiful women at the gym (of all shapes, ages and sizes, I might add). I hope.... that someday.. I'll be in a place similar to yours. And, yes, I agree about fear of mortality. I turned 40 and EVERYTHING started falling apart. I would like to preserve myself as best as possible for as long as possible.

PeanutsMom - And, yep, I agree. Every year, I'd put on just a little bit of weight. Even if I just determined that instead of putting on a little weight, I'm going to take off a little weight, I'd still be in a better place.

Thanks so much to everyone who's posted here. I asked for motivation and conversation and I got it in spades. I try to post encouragement when and where I can, but I hope someday I'll be able to motivate someone with a story of my success.

Best wishes to everyone!
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Old 05-10-2010, 09:40 PM   #15
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It is never too late to make positive changes for ourselves. All that is required is the strength and motivation to see it through.

I was 44 when I decided to lose weight and get healthy. I lost my first 50 lbs in a little over 3 months. As I celebrated my 45th birthday in November I was at the lowest weight of my adult life. So yes, it is very possible to change well into our 40's!
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