You can’t outperform your diet. So what now?

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When you are through your teenage years, it is time to face the facts: there is no more surpassing your diet. Gone are the days when you could eat whatever you wanted without limit and still not gain weight.

When you were young you may have had to grapple with the problem of being a hard gainer, but time eventually turns that problem on its head and turns you into a hard loser. As difficult as it was to gain weight in our teenage years, it is difficult to lose it years later. This means that in those formative years you only learned to overeat, with no consequences.

Even when you were in your late 20s and early 30s, you probably learned that you can’t beat a bad diet. Add a decade or two more and you’ve found that you either need to be engaged in some kind of manual labor occupation all day or hone your diet and exercise to be even more competitive in the battle for the bulge. Without this, a sedentary lifestyle and diet like the ones you used to be used to when you were very active is a recipe for continued weight gain every year.

What does weight gain and weight maintenance look like over your decades? Here is a review.

Weight gain at 20. After high school, many people shorten their time doing less exercise or exercising. While it helps to be young and have a high metabolism, even that has a hard time fighting the “newbie 15”. Add in COVID-19, and weight gain is a lot easier, even for the younger generations.

If your job calls for fitness tests and physical activity, this supplement of your life may be your in your early 20s. But in a few years, physical activity in the workplace won’t be enough either.

How do you fight it? The lifestyle change for this group is to stop eating like you are very active and find time in your day to exercise like you used to, or to go out more and walk, ride a bike, take fitness classes visiting the gym or taking intramural and pick-up classes. Sport on. Doing something to stay active is key.

Weight gain at 30. As you carry your hardgainer eating habits into your fourth decade, you will find that they are slowly catching up with you. The weight gain could average maybe five pounds a year, but by 40 you could be over 50 pounds heavier and never even see it coming.

For most Americans, life becomes a lot less active as we work harder on careers and families, and as we get less physical activity. Food is always on the go and usually doesn’t consist of the best choices.

The best lifestyle change in your 30s is creating a better schedule and devoting more time to better eating habits and food choices for you and your family. And you may need to get physically active early in the morning before work and family responsibilities take over your day.

Weight gain at 40. The 40s is typically the decade most Americans realize they need to focus not only on the unwanted extra weight, but also their longer-term health and wellbeing. The lifestyle change needed for this decade focuses on eating better and less, getting more exercise, and avoiding injuries through smarter exercise.

In your 40s, the medical blood test begins to catch up with you, and most of the problems noted will be coped with with more exercise and better diet. If you follow a healthy diet, portion control is likely to be an issue even if you are in average to above average fitness. Even for very active people, it is not very likely that fitness alone will overwhelm your diet, and exercising even more to try to exceed your diet will result in more pain.

But learn that 80% are the new 100% will save you from unnecessary injuries that can prevent you from exercising normally. Avoiding injuries that keep you from exercising and working is key this decade as many of the injuries from the previous decade re-felt as gnawing pains in your day.

Weight gain from 50. If you didn’t listen to your body and your doctor in your 40s, you will in your 50s, but in a much harder way. Medical problems are now real as friends are more likely to have heart attacks, strokes, and cancers. Many of these diseases in later life are caused by what we didn’t do in our 40s and early 50s.

But with a few lifestyle changes that require discipline, you can change things and make life so much easier for yourself by just being easier on your feet. These changes include clearing up your diet and food servings while adding age-appropriate workouts to your schedule, as well as getting adequate sleep and rest time.

I didn’t wear this item into the 60s and beyond as I personally haven’t been there yet, but my plan is to stay active, eat smaller but healthier servings, and focus on flexibility, joint mobility, and gentle cardio activity Concentrate while maintaining strength for overall durability and freedom of movement. Staying lighter is also a major goal which also makes the focus above a lot easier.

In short, in the future, try the following: focus on smaller servings and avoid junk food; Eat fruits and vegetables, good fats, and lean proteins that are high in the nutrients you need for energy and recovery; and drink more water. It will require a new level of discipline because the old eating habits of how we were highly active 20 year olds are difficult to break even if they are still very active even after 40 and 50 years.

Stew Smith is a retired Navy SEAL and fitness writer who was certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook shop when you want to start an exercise program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to [email protected]

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