The sheer mental exhaustion of gaining and losing weight as you get older

I’m 58 and I’ve gained and and lost lots of weight in cycles over time, but I have been heavier more often than I have been lighter by a pretty substantial margin. It’s to the point now that I can’t stand it anymore. I’ve never been weak and fat and although I’m a large, strong person it now ranges from annoying to agony to drag 70+ lbs around that I don’t need.

The flip side of all this is that if I get back on the horse and lose the weight and look studly and etc I know that eventually it will creep back again the way it has done every time in the past when I stopped watching my intake like a hawk. I feel like Sisyphus. I know I need to do it for my health but eventually the boulder will slide back.

I know I have to do it but in the past it was motivating to look forward in time and see myself in my minds eye as in shape, but it’s hard to form that image these days it just seems like an endless hamster wheel. But… although I am fat right now I hate being fat. God how I hate it and it’s got to go! So no more whining time to cowboy up and get it done.

Your older-self is cheering you on mightily. Us, too.


I’m 62, and every winter I’ve gained weight (tough to get on the bike when it’s below zero and icy… and tough to not eat T’giving and Xmas goodies). The last few years, I’ve decided to just accept the fact that I’m going to gain 10-20 lbs over the holidays and not take it off til spring.

But this spring, it ain’t comin’ off. (Possibly because after a month of dieting and exercise with almost no change, I miiiiiight have sorrrrrta given up…)

This OP’s done more than anything else has to motivate me. Tomorrow, kale ‘n’ fruit salad, less beer and more exercise.

Good for you, astro. For what you’re doing for yourself, and everyone else you interact with.

A short and simple mantra has worked for me, astro.

“Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.”

I feel your pain. I was thin all my life without a moment’s thought, until around 50. Now the pounds have crept up on me, and every time I lose weight, the pounds craftily sneak back again plus a few.

Story of my 6th decade, to date (I’m 58): I lost 5 extra pounds I gained, slowly gained 10. I lost the extra 10, gained 15. I dieted to lose the 15 and dammit, it was too hard…the weight just didn’t come off the way it used to. I was uncomfortably starving for a month to lose a measly 2-3 pounds.

So for the moment, I’ve decided simply to keep my weight in check and not gain any more, rather than worry about losing anything. I’m lucky that my starting point was so thin that the extra weight doesn’t make me look fat, just a little past my sell-by date.

True story to illustrate how easy it was for me to stay thin in my 20s: we had a cat with a perverse love of Doritos. We ate Doritos so often that she developed a Pavlovian reaction to hearing the crinkle of the cellophane when we opened a bag. (No, with the rare exception of a tiny nibble, we didn’t feed her Doritos. But she lived in hope.) And yet, I maintained a weight of 98 pounds. Those days are long gone. I can’t even look at a bag of Doritos now.

Ten years ago there was a major change in my lifestlye, which enabled me to take complete control of what I ate. I lost 40 pounds in a year or two, which I didn’t really need to do, but it’s nice not carying those car batteries up and down the stairs.

Most people eat as a social activity, and what and when and how much you eat is dictated by your companions. I started living alone, and just took control of what I ate.

I also stopped driving. Which means walking to the supermarket, and home again with my bags of groceries. It’s easy to make the choice to pass up that second potato, when you think about carrying the replacement bag of potatoes 3/4 of a mile. It’s not a lot of exercise, but it does no harm, either.

Just structure your lifestyle in a way that very small portions of healthy food becomes the routine. For eight years, my weight has been steady at 145-150, and I never even think about it, except when I buckle my belt. Zero mental exhaustion when it becomes your way of life.

It is a bitch when your metabolism slows. Walking has been my solution - along with arm exercises (pushing my self away from the table).

Seriously though, I try to clock yaps least five miles paper day, walk to the store, to the bar, with the dog etc. The more time on the couch, the greater the weight.

It’s easy to be smug when the simple steps work without a lot of pain. Sure, I’m a firm believer in the truth that calories in vs. calories out model does indeed determine your weight - no excuses on my end about medications, thyroid, rare diseases, etc. HOWEVER this does not change the fact that it requires a helluva lot of willpower for many people (especially post-menopausal women) to lose weight and keep it off.

Those hunger pangs are real. And in some cases, like my own, exacerbated by exercise. I run a 5k most days (and even came in 3rd in class in a race I ran last year, though honesty compels me to say that there were only 17 in my age group). There’s been a lot in the popular press lately about how all those exhortations to exercise so you lose weight leave out one sad fact: exercise makes you HUNGRY. So, you either eat more and don’t lose the wieght, or you endure a constant nagging hunger. I’ve tried it both ways, and for the moment have decided on plan A: exercising lots, eating enough to not be hungry constantly, and keeping a stable weight even if it’s a few pounds higher than my ideal. And by the way, most of what I eat is quite healthy. I don’t consume much processed food at all. My grocery basket each week is filled with vegetables and lean meat.

Luckily age has abated my enormous appetite. Lucky because I can’t be as active as I once was and there’s no way I’d be able to keep myself from ballooning up again if I kept eating the way I used to. But I’m still stuck at my set weight which is still too high for someone who isn’t physically active. I’m in the best shape I’ve been in for the past 10 years, probably about as good a condition I’ll be in for the rest of my life, I don’t think starving myself thinner will help. I think my last resort is to take up regular swimming as a low impact means of working off calories but it’s been tough trying to work that into my life.

I’m 50 now, and probably 10-20 years ago my thyroid secretly decided it didn’t want to work that hard. I gained ~60 pounds just before 30, and managed to get and keep it off. Exercise and eating right were vital (and finally figuring out I had hypothyroidism), but ‘social eating’ has been the real problem all this time.

Not only are people continuously trying to force food upon you as a social activity, but it’s inevitably the worst kind of food: donut meetings at work, lunch meetings at work, birthday cakes and cupcakes, it’s-been-so-long lunches and dinners, date nights at fancy restaurants, drinking at happy hour. It’s all junk calories that’re almost impossible to keep track of. And usually taken poorly when refused.

So, I’ve become a curmudgeon, who has to constantly hear the amazement that no, I don’t want a cupcake. But at least I’m not schlepping an extra 60+ lbs around.

I absolutely adore food. I spend a very significant portion of my waking time either thinking about, reading about, preparing, or consuming food. I love all types of food.

I’m in my 30s, but recently lost about 40 pounds and have kept it off for almost a year so far. This is my understanding of the best way to lose weight and maintain a weight loss:

Find some way to reduce calories that you can live with. For me, it’s having nearly every lunch be either soup or salad (leaving me lots of tasty variety with significantly lower calories than other lunch options), and small portions of starch and meat with lots of veggies for dinner. Once every two or three weeks I allow myself to splurge and eat whatever I want, but my appetite is lower than it once was. Snacks are mostly fruit, and I eat as much fruit as I want. I eat 1/4 of a watermelon most days for dessert after dinner, and my sadness at a small dinner is mitigated by my anticipation of my beloved watermelon which inevitably fills me up afterwards.

Once you’ve found this lower-calorie “diet” that you can live with, stick with it forever. For the rest of your life, this is how you eat, barring contrary medical instruction.

That’s my plan. So far it’s working, and I’ve stayed at my lower weight. I would assume it would work for older folks, but I don’t know for sure.

While you’re losing weight, would you mind losing some for me too?

Me too. Many times a week I have to sternly remind myself that nobody is putting food in my mouth except me.

In my prepubescent days, I thought I was destined to be a scrawny kid without a figure. Well, that didn’t last once the hormonal changes kicked in. It’s been a battle ever since, and not a particularly successful one.

I’m 63 and on my way down from my heaviest. There was no startling moment I can point out, no scare from a doctor, no split seam at an embarrassing time. I just decided to quit snacking, especially at night. If I feel really hungry after supper, I might have some nuts or some fruit but I no longer buy ice cream and I can’t recall the last time I baked something sweet. I’ve also started cooking smaller portions so I don’t feel compelled to finish the last little bit that’s too small to save.

I don’t know exactly when I started or exactly where my weight topped out, but it’s been about 3 months or so and I know I’ve lost more than 15# - I was actually able to wear a pair of pants that had been consigned to the back of the closet.

It hasn’t been total denial - I’ve had ice cream a couple of times while we were out, and I ate the chocolate bunny my mom sent home with me on Easter, but I’ve found that I’m actually considering fruit to be a treat! Go figure! It also helps that I’ve changed to a 4-day work week, and I’ve been more active on the 3-day weekends. Mostly, it’s doing chores and yard work, but it’s physical activity involving more than clicking a mouse. Not like training for a marathon, but a definite increase.

I recall reading something about the effect of losing 10% of your body weight on your blood pressure. Rather than setting a goal of so many pounds, I’m thinking in terms of the 10%. I don’t know if that makes a difference, but it seems to be motivating me for now. And I’m coming to the point where I’ll have to think about getting new jeans - wonder if I can tolerate baggy britches till I can skip to 2 sizes smaller? I don’t want a big interim wardrobe.

Sure, it can work, but:

  1. It takes more willpower; because

  2. You need fewer calories as you age - your basal metabolic rate decreases with each passing year. So the regimen of food and exercise that worked at 30 will not work at 55 - you’ll have to eat less/exercise more to maintain the same weight you had at 30.

This is true for me also; I lost 30 pounds almost without thinking about it when I divorced my first husband and lived alone. Unfortunately, I’m happily married to another awesome man and gaining weight again. I guess I prefer to be happily married than to be slim.

Said it once before but it bears repeating.

I just turned 59 and yes, it’s rough. I’m another one who gains 10 - 15 pounds every winter and tries to lose it every spring. I try to walk and hike when the weather gets nice, but too much other life stuff is in the way this year. I don’t feel as motivated as I have in the past. A friend and I used to joke that we couldn’t wait to get older so we could let ourselves go, but we’re trying to eat healthy when we can stick to it.

There are some good threads on this board that are worth reading, I like Martin Hyde’s post 32 and 33 from this thread in regard to highly-palatable foods, also known as Franken-foods, processed foods that are engineered by food companies to be addictive. I’d like to say I don’t eat them, but I do.

A Weight Watchers counselor for a meeting I used to go to had a nice/fun way to think of those yummy foods: she said they had “high AP”. High Abuse Potential. She got us into the habit of looking at food and evaluating what the abuse potential of it was before we even looked at calories or points or whatever. It was just to keep us cognizant of those things that can easily get out of hand. Barbecue Doritos? High AP. Lettuce? Low AP. And everything in between.