Losing Weight and a Middle Aged Spread

Middle aged spread: To those unfamiliar with the term, Middle Aged Spread refers to how people, as they approach their mid-30’s, start gaining weight. There have been plenty of theories about why middle-agers gain weight, from blaming the hormonal changes of menopause to a natural tendency of our metabolism to decrease as we get older.

I disagree.

I think most middle-agers get fat because they are raising children. Active, healthy, athletic kids need three meals a day, plus snacks. Parents tend to eat more than they need to because the food is sitting right there on the kitchen table. Beyond this (keeping in mind that a healthy diet involves daily exercise) parents of growing children are more sedentary because they have to be.

Parents sit in cars: Parents are chauffeurs to their kids and the neighborhood kids. You need a ride to football practice? Jump in. You need a ride to piano recital? Jump in. You need a ride to the high school play? Jump in. Parents sit on bleachers: When parents go to football games, recitals, or plays, they again take a seat until the event is over. Then, it’s back in the car to sit a bit more while driving everyone back home again. Parents sit at home – exhausted: I accept that it is extremely tiring to be sitting around for long periods doing little more than spectating. It is not, however, a high metabolic / high calorie burning activity.

Lots of food and little time or energy to exercise. 

Parents of young children – You have my sympathy.

Is there nothing parents can do then, other than resign themselves to living large-r? Yep, eat less and exercise more. (I know, not earth shaking advice, but there you have it. The simple rules of weight loss don’t change just because you have kids to raise.) The eating less is the hard part. There is so much food around when raising a family that it is tough to eat less. If parents are able to limit the empty calories of White Flour, White Rice, and White Potatoes, and instead increasing the high fiber substitutes of whole grains, vegetables and fresh salads, they will have a better chance of controlling weight gain.

On top of that, parents should exercise whenever they get a chance. Instead of sitting at sports or music practice, go for a walk, or better yet, have your jogging clothes on and go for a run. Instead of sitting at home while the kids watch television, pile them in strollers, wagons or on bicycles and go for a walk. Play with your kids, be it basketball, soccer, volleyball or badminton. Get out and have fun with the family.  Ditto on vacations or when camping. Do not sit around a beach reading a magazine and sunning all day. You are at the beach – go for a swim! Play frisbee. Find a place to go hiking and enjoy the beauty of nature all around.

I know what many are thinking – there is laundry to wash, grocery shopping to do and grass to be cut. Budgeting your time will be difficult. Please avoid dusting, washing windows and vacuuming until you really have nothing else to do. Controlling your weight and keeping an active lifestyle is hard work. Harder still if you do not want to commit to it. (Yep, lots of folks with commitment issues.) Good luck. Losing weight and getting back to an active life can be a looong, slow process. Might as well start today.