Dieting After 60

When you lose weight, do you lose your friends? 


Jane had no idea when she decided to start on a program of diet and exercise that it would bring about such dramatic changes. Not just to her appearance, but also to how those around her would relate to her.

Jane was in her mid sixties and had been a yoyo dieter for the last twenty years. She was divorced and had not been in a relationship with a man for over ten years. She weighed ninety-six kilos and could see herself getting to a hundred kilos within a few years if she didn’t act soon.

In mid May one year she entered in her diary that on June 1st she would start to diet again and in very large letters she wrote right across the page for that day “D Day.” On the evening of May 31st she was carrying forward her uncompleted items for that day to June 1st and saw written across the page D Day. She thought to herself, “What was I thinking? What made me think I could finally start dieting again.” She then put a line through the words and ignored the diary entry.

The next morning when she was eating her way through a bacon and egg breakfast with the works in her local café she thought, “I’m such a failure. I’ll be overweight and unhappy forever.”

When she returned home she looked at her diary again and thought maybe she could start a month later? So again she wrote D Day in her diary, this time on July 1st. She noted it was a Wednesday and thought to herself, ‘Thank god it’s not a Monday.’

Her goal weight was sixty-six kilos that meant she needed to try and lose thirty kilos. A week before July 1st she decided to do an audit of her kitchen. She took all the high carb stuff out of the cupboards and fridge and jammed it into plastic bags, which she piled at the front door.

She decided for the first month to cut all sugar and simple carbs and reduce portion sizes. Then she thought, “If by then I’ve started to lose some weight I may even try to do some exercise.” Then from August she decided she would also cut out bread and then start using meal replacements shakes for lunch.

She was starting to feel really positive about her plan. On June 30th she went shopping and bought in extra fruit and vegetables plus a range of low fat products.

On Wednesday July 1st she bounced out of bed and made her first coffee for the day with lite organic milk. Then she made herself a fruit salad and juiced an orange and thought, “That’s breakfast all I have to do now is make it to lunch with crashing.” For lunch she made herself a salmon salad with two wheat crackers. Dinner was asparagus followed by a chicken breast with salad.

At 10pm that night she realised that she had made it through day one. It was her plan to diet for at least a year so now there were only 364 days to go. She had also decided not to weigh herself until the end of the first month.

Saturday August 1st just before breakfast she took all her clothes off, went to the toilet again, made sure the scales were on zero and tentatively stepped on. The pointer on the scales stopped at eighty-nine kilos. Six kilos less! She was in shock and got straight off the scales and then back on to check it again. It was still eighty-six kilos!

She was off the carbs and had her portion sizes under control, now she also needed to give up bread (and butter) and start to exercise. So she proceeded to take out all the bread that was in the freezer, then the butter, the peanut butter, the honey and the cheeses and put them in a plastic bag for her neighbour. She had tried to increase her exercise by parking further away from locations and walking to the shops but so far hadn’t been able to start a serious exercise program. By the end of August she had lost a total of ten kilos and was down to eighty-five kilos and had managed to get back into size sixteen jeans and was feeling really happy with herself.

The next week on her way to a luncheon she stopped off at her local café for a coffee. The café was crowded so she had to sit at the community table at the back. She’d been there for several minutes when she looked up and straight into the eyes of a man sitting opposite. He made a remark about the weather and the next thing they were talking.

All she could think of was, “Oh why hadn’t I started my diet on June 1st then maybe I would have been back into my 14s. At least I’m sitting down and he can’t see my big bum.” He told her he just lived down the road and that he was newly divorced. Then to her surprise he asked if she would like to have lunch or dinner with him soon. She accepted. Naturally she started panicking as it had been so long since she’d been involved with a man.

They had dinner the next week and she was happy with how things went. He asked to see her again and the following weekend they went to the movies. To her surprise he told her that several years ago he had also been overweight and that he now followed a strict food and exercise regime. He also told her he was committed to a low G.I. eating program and that he walked daily.

By the end of the next month he had encouraged Jane to start a daily walking program early each morning. He worked with her to develop a low G.I. eating program that included starting her day with oats, a combination of raw seeds, yoghurt and fresh berries.

The romance blossomed over the next few months and her weight just melted away and she came to love walking. By June the next year she was sixty-six kilos, her BMI was 23 and she was into size 12 jeans and have achieved her goal!

Unfortunately by then the romance was on hold due to some complications. Jane was disappointed about the relationship but delighted that she’d managed to stay on course with her program.

As her transformation became obvious many of her married friends stopped involving her in their social activities. Then as she no longer ate carbs when having coffee out with her friends she realised they were not contacting her. One friend told her that with her new slim appearance she made them feel guilty about what they were eating when she joined them for coffee.

An overweight friend who telephoned her regularly asked her what was new? Jane told her that she had just bought a pile of new clothes as she had finally lost thirty kilos and was now a size 12. The friend hung up and to this day has made no further contact.

There we also some facetious people who said to Jane, “How long do you think you’ll be able to keep it off, especially at your age?”

What really stunned her was a year later when she was talking to a friend on Skype with the camera off. He friend said, “Why don’t you have the camera on. Are you fat again?”

This story about Jane demonstrates that at times friends are not always that supportive when someone manages to achieve their goal.

Have you lost a significant amount of weight before? How did your friends and family react?

Check out your BMI if you don’t know it. It can be calculated at:

xxx Carole L

Anyone with a BMI over 25 and over the age of 60 should really look seriously at devising an eating plan that has reduced kilojoules. You need an uncomplicated plan that can also fit in with your lifestyle, and one that you can adapt if necessary for unavoidable social events. Please note that Carole is not a physician, dietician or nutritionist. If a reader has any issues about their weight that are medically related then a professional opinion should always be obtained before embarking on any changes or restrictions to their diets.

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Dealing with the swimsuit season


How often have you cringed when you have been invited to a summer BBQ when the host says, “Bring your swimsuit the BBQ is by the pool.”

Do you instantly think ‘no way’ and then decide to decline or do you think ‘too bad’ I don’t care what I look like, I’m going in the pool. This is more of a girl thing, most men don’t understand how we feel putting on a swimsuit when we’re not in good shape.

We all know that we can improve our health, our mobility and how we ultimately look in our swimsuits by eating moderately. It is so hard for those trying to reduce their BMI (body mass index) as food is everywhere and most of our social life and celebrations with family and friends involves food. At these times carbohydrates are almost impossible to avoid.

Eating out in restaurants can also mean we ingest hidden fats and sugar in meals that add hundreds more kilojoules to the food. Most take-away food is even worse some doubling the kilojoule count of the actual food by the way it has been prepared.

Many of the experts say that if you know you are likely to overindulge at a social event eat moderately the day before to try and balance out what you may eat when you’re out.

It is usually best to try to advise the host prior to an event that you’re not eating carbs, although if the host is overweight they usually try to sabotage by making one feel guilty for not having that slice of pavlova they made especially for you.

Dieting is not just boring for the overweight but also for those not overweight who have to listen to ongoing complaints about their friends or family members weight. So many say diets don’t work and we all know someone who has been on every diet known and are still overweight or obese.

So what is the answer?

It always comes back to moderation. We all know people who seem to eat everything but never gain weight. It is usually because they eat smaller quantities such as a 100grams of steak instead of a yummy 300gram T-bone. Also they usually have just a slither of the baked cheesecake and forgo the extra cream and ice cream. Or they may even torture themselves with exercise like those on the TV show the ‘Biggest Loser’.

Doing an audit of your kitchen is a good way to get rid of the food products that have hidden kilojoules that won’t help you reduce your BMI. Start to dispense with all those prepared sauces and dressing that are loaded with sugars. Stop buying those convenient fruit juices and sugar laded breakfast cereals. Don’t make any cakes or slices because you want to try out the recipe or because someone may call in, you know who’ll end up eating them. If possible make your house a total biscuit and cake free zone.

Last Sunday a friend called by my house and stayed for afternoon tea. My house is a biscuit free zone. So with her tea I gave her a small plate with three strawberries, two fresh dates and a slice of brie. I didn’t apologise as I normally would because I didn’t have any of the traditional carbs in my house. Nowadays at home I try to have no easy carbs that I can resort to when I’m upset or emotional. I also virtually eat nothing pre-prepared or packaged; I don’t want to eat all those kilojoules that are hidden in these foods anymore.

This is not really dieting it is taking control of what you’re eating and along the way reducing the kilojoules that you consume.

Another important thing to tackle is portion sizes; mostly our portions here in Australia are far too large for the average sedentary person. A good hint here is to serve your meal on a smaller plate; our dinner plates today are about 35% larger than they were fifty years ago. If you look at the old dinner sets in an antique shop you would be surprised at how much smaller dinner plates were.

I spoke to some people about their BMI:

Woman 71 – I have no idea what my BMI is, all I know is that I can’t stand this fat around my middle.

Woman 67 – I don’t care about my BMI and I’m going to eat what I want when I want and if I get bigger. I can hardly walk now so I can’t get any worse.

Woman 66 – I know my BMI is 50. I’m obese, so what, I’m not going to diet they don’t work I’ve tried everything.

Man 68 – I don’t know my BMI but I think I’m about 20 kilos overweight and I don’t like it but at my age why worry. Everyone around me is overweight

Man 67 – I’m not overweight now because I had a health scare last year and got myself under control. I expect my BMI is ok.

Man 68 – My BMI is ok but it’s a struggle, I like my beer and I’m also a fan of the big BBQ’s at weekends. I’m recently widowed and I hope to meet a new lady so I’m keeping myself together.

So it would seem the women in this small sample don’t yet want or can’t change their situations and the men due to their circumstances are doing better.

Your BMI can be calculated at:

Your waist measurement can be calculated at:

There are so many options that you can consider to reduce your BMI. The popular weekly and monthly magazines are full of stories about who has lost or gained weight. They list all the latest quick fix diets and what star or starlet is on them, and how easy it is and you are guaranteed to loose ten kilos in the first two weeks and on and on.

So what option is the best for you to reduce your BMI (that’s if you want to of course)?

I say reduce the carbs, reduce the portion size of your main proteins, increase the amount of vegetables and salads, between meals have a few pieces of fresh fruit or a small quantity of nuts. Do an audit in the kitchen. Make your house a biscuit and cake free zone and don’t eat at night after 7pm.

It’s not a diet it’s trying to reset your habits, and as I said last week it takes ten weeks to reset a habit. So give it time and hopefully you will have some positive results and be keen to get into your swimsuit.

Good luck and check out your BMI if you don’t know it. xxx CaroleL

Anyone with a BMI over 25 and over the age of 60 should look seriously at devising an eating plan that has reduced kilojoules. You need an uncomplicated plan that can also fit in with your lifestyle, and one that you can adapt if necessary for unavoidable social events.

Please note that Carole is not a physician, dietician or nutritionist. If a reader has any issues about their weight that are medically related then a professional opinion should always be obtained before embarking on any changes or restrictions to their diets.

*   *   *

Do you know your BMI? 

Just have a look around you next time you are in a shopping center and check out how many older people are overweight. It is really an eye-opener.


What I’m hoping to do by writing this regular column ‘Dieting after Sixty’, is to make us all more aware that reducing our weight is something we can all do something about. We can’t change our height, our colouring or change that we are ageing, but we can improve our mobility, our health and how we look by taking off the excess kilos. And if we don’t resort to what the advertisers are telling us dieting is something we can start doing today at almost no cost.

Business booms dramatically for many slimming groups, slimming products and fitness centers after Christmas. This year I noticed the advertising started just after Boxing Day trying to play on people’s guilt for what they had indulged during the festive period. I had a friend staying with me over Christmas and he overindulged so much he was in bed ill for two days on December 27th and 28th.

It is an unfortunate fact but as we age many of us have gotten bigger. It may amuse our friends to look back at our photographs and go into shock at how we used to look, but it’s really something to take notice of. I have a photograph in my kitchen when I was in my early 20s holding my niece and people say, ‘That can’t be you?’ I remember one person actually said, ‘Oh my god what happened to you?’

The health professionals are now continually telling us things like, fat feeds cancer, fat causes heart attacks, fat causes strokes, fat causes hypertension, fat contributes to type2 diabetes and on an on. Do we listen? Apparently not because around 59% of women are overweight and 29% are obese, and around 66% of men are overweight and 25% are obese. I don’t have the age breakdowns on these figures but I would like to suggest from what I’ve recently read that the figures would be greater in the over 55s in our affluent groups and greater in the over 35s in the less affluent groups. The United Nations have announced that for the first time the number of overweight people in the world exceeded those who were undernourished, with more than 1.3 billion people overweight and 800 million underweight

My specialist recently told me that she would like me to lose at least ten kilos but fifteen would be better. I was a little offended as I was still fitting into a size 14 walking erect and not hobbling around like many people of my age. She then asked me if I would like to see a dietician, I told her it wouldn’t be necessary that there wasn’t anything about food and dieting that I didn’t know. Great she said, ‘Well put it into practice.’

I left her North Sydney office quiet angry thinking to myself if only she knew whom I was. I used to write for one of the very first Slimming and Nutrition Magazine in Australia and was an advisor to readers about their weight problems. I was also a state coordinator for their slimming clubs all across NSW. Then I thought to myself, ‘Well if you know it all why are you ten plus kilos overweight again?’

Even if we don’t want to admit it many of us now over the age of 60 are either slowing down or retired, and many of us eat far too much and do far too little. When I first moved from my urban lifestyle in North Sydney to a small village in the Blue Mountains I started having morning and afternoon teas and eating cake. All those around me were so why shouldn’t I indulge as well. I soon found out that with my metabolism slowing down having cake and extra carbohydrates between meals soon converted to un-wanted and unattractive extra weight.

Firstly, it is a must that we all know our BMI (body mass index) number. This is the true measure of where our body is at. The ideal BMI number is between 18.50 to 24.99. A BMI number from 25 to 29.99 is classified as overweight, and over 30 is classified as obese. If you are unsure of your BMI you can do the calculation of your present weight divided by your height squared at: › Home › Healthy Eating Active Living‎.

The other important thing that we all should know is our waist measurement in relation to our height. As we age many of us store fat around our middle, this puts us at a much greater risk of developing heart disease and type2 diabetes. Our ideal waist measurement should be half our height. More information on this is at:

I recently obtained both these numbers for myself and I have to tell you I was in shock with my BMI and my waist measurement in relation to my height. This was really a final wake up call for me and for the last month I have been working again on getting my BMI number down to my ideal number of 24.

According to a recent study it takes at least ten weeks to develop a new habit. That’s around 70 days for your brain to reset itself and get used to not indulging in certain foods or alcohol that you may know is responsible for your current BMI number. This theory was obvious to me when I switched to decafe coffee in October last year. When I first started drinking decafe and Cara I thought they were both disgusting. Now after about twelve weeks they taste ok, my taste buds and my brain have obviously reset to except the change. Another good example of this is with sugar in tea or coffee, once you have given the sugar up it’s almost impossible to drink tea or coffee with sugar.

Anyone with a BMI over 25 and over the age of 60 should really look seriously at devising an eating plan that has reduced kilojoules. You need an uncomplicated plan that can also fit in with your lifestyle, and one that you can adapt if necessary for unavoidable social events.

Next week I will relate some stories from other people about their weight and discuss the many options that are available if you want to reduce your BMI number.
xxx CaroleL

What diets have you tried over the years?

Please note that Carole is not a physician, dietician or nutritionist. If a reader has any issues about their weight that are medically related then a professional opinion should always be obtained before embarking on any changes or restrictions to their diets.

If you would like me to cover any particular topic in this column please email me at:


Carole Lethbridge is the author of “Online Dating After Sixty: One woman’s journey of love, lust and losers”. She has been both married and single over the last few decades and she has done her own research, gathering extensive data on relationships between females and males, drawing on both for her book and column. Online Dating After Sixty is available for purchase for $21.50 via Booktopia.




Carole Lethbridge is an Author and Sculptor. She lives a very active life and resides in the    Australian Blue Mountains 100km west of Sydney. She was born in Maitland NSW in 1943 and grew up in Newcastle. In the 70s she worked with a Slimming and Nutrition magazine as an adviser on dieting for their readers and she also ran the magazines first slimming clubs in NSW. She had originally trained as a lettering artist and by the late 70s her creative skills led her to a very successful career in advertising reaching board level before leaving Australia to live in Milan Italy for five years. She still travels extensively and has a love of Paris and most of Italy. She has just completed her first book about her three years experience with internet dating. In her leisure time she still loves to work on her sculptures that are timber assemblies mostly in antique Japanese boxes.

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