For many people approaching middle age, weight gain becomes a very difficult problem. As we get older, it seems to be harder and harder to lose those extra pounds that accumulated last Christmas, and maybe even this Christmas.

There are many reasons that this occurs. As hormone levels shift toward menopause for both men and women, the ability to tolerate carbohydrates declines. Our bodies seem to become more resistant to insulin, and any foods that turn into sugar in the blood is stored as fat. It is also harder to change fat into lean tissue because the cell nucleus of fat cells is more resistant to insulin and doesn’t convert as readily.

We also change in our exercise requirements as we age. It seems that we need more consistent cardiovascular exercise at the same time that we can’t exercise as hard as we used to. People who exercise really hard find that it is almost more difficult to lose weight than those who hardly exercise at all. There is a very fine balance between intensity of exercise and the ability to lose weight.

There are other issues, such as: addictions to various types of foods; inability to use willpower when eating; the need to gratify emotional deficiencies; and inability to make time for exercise. Sometimes hormones and digestive problems contribute to make weight loss more difficult. I have seen many people who had digestive infections for years without knowing about them and couldn’t lose weight until the infections were dealt with.

Many people believe that weight loss is merely a matter of “calories in versus calories out.” Exercise more than you eat and you will lose weight. This is a very logical point of view, but I have found that it does not work exactly that way, at least for midlife women. On a bet with my ex-husband, I even tried a strict low calorie diet for two weeks with a lot of exercise and lost no weight during that time.

The final reason that weight loss is difficult is due to a combination of spiritual and emotional factors. We have spent many years being conditioned by society and our families about body image. How we view our bodies and how we perceive our genetics play a role in the shape our bodies take. As we age, those factors become more important because other coping mechanisms decline and we are stripped down to our core beliefs about ourselves.

In the last few years, I dealt with my own midlife weight gain in various ways. One thing I did was to visualize my body taking on my desired shape. Every day while exercising, I thought about myself as being my ideal weight already, and I would play a particular song on my mini disc player that represented my ideal self-image. I visualized my body shedding its genetic predisposition to be round in the middle and becoming what I wanted it to be.

Author's Bio: 

Having practiced medicine and acupuncture for over 20 years, I empower people to listen to their bodies, create a plan for their health, and have happier, healthier lives.