Why Weight Gain Creeps On Us As We Age (And What To Do About It)

Remember when we were younger, we could eat all we want, drink all we want yet we could still maintain our physique effortlessly. Fun times, usually these were teenage years to our mid20s. We didn’t have to THINK about food, we begrudgingly ate healthily from time to time, but our focus was on living our best lives.

This post is for those of us who have a feeling of “it was easier to be fit before” or “I looked better before”.

A living testament is to go on social media accounts which tend to rehash posts from many years ago – and for those millenials like me – most likely currently being in mid/late 20s to early 30s – will see throwbacks from 5, 10 years ago.

And we comment “hahaha this day at the party was fun!” or “we were crazy!!”, in a heart warming moment of nostalgia. Life somehow does seem to have been more fun in the past (especially taking into context our current reality).

However another realisation may then be apparent – we may now look different, one of the most obvious ways is that it is clear that we have gained weight, often against our wishes. A lot of people I know commonly have this very real struggle of having tried for a long time to lose weight or gaining weight and being unhappy about it.

Getting Older Means Establishing Priorities

When we were younger, especially during high school/university times, the idea of priorities didn’t have as much weight as it does now. Things were mostly “planned out” for us – to focus on school, make sure to pass that test or handing in that assignment on time, plus to have fun whenever we could.

Of course as we were younger some did experience unfortunate life events – a loss of loved one, parents divorcing, financial struggles, trauma eg car accidents – terrible things that affect and derail your focus on activities that will drive your life to a better future.

One important thing when we were younger – there was no true emphasis on our health, it was effortless to look good without little focus on it. It was just sort of “I live in the moment” and “the future takes care of itself”.

Then we grew older.

Now we have graduated from universities, we now have to look for jobs, we have children, we get married, we have to look for a place to live and find a way to get money to pay for us to live and support ourselves. On top of the realities of ageing parents, family tragedies, trauma, and maybe even a pandemic.

In other words, new priorities show up that we didn’t have when younger. And it takes all the time, energy and attention that we have to realise that “growing up” isn’t as easy as we thought it was. And throughout all that is life, we don’t really learn to put our health first.

We continue eating as we did before, we continue indulging in alcohol to the same extent, we don’t drink enough water, we still finish a whole bag of family sized Doritos by ourselves on a biweekly basis. We drink 2L soft drinks and fruit juices as we did before. We don’t want to control our portion sizes.

Of course we should live our lives and enjoy ourselves, however if indulging in behaviours with the reason of “enjoying life” leads to results that make you unhappy or take you from where you want to be, then I’d reason it’s not really serving your interests.

And the basis of adulting is learning that now we don’t have the freedom or carelessness we had prior when we still achieved the effortless looks of youth.

Adulting means you need to make time and consciously choose what is important to you and allocate attention to it for you to get what you want. And the majority of us don’t allocate time and attention towards increasing physical activity and improving on health for the long term.

Normal Does Not Always Mean It’s Good

It is seen as “normal” to gain weight as we grow older. This is something I have seen everywhere and is commonly accepted by everyone.

Of course as I mentioned, life does happen such as having children, developing illness, or financial situations that affect us and those are natural processes in life.

But if you are here, on the internet, reading this article, I can pretty much bet that you are in a position where if you feel unhappy with your health or weight, you can choose to make a change. You also probably know what you need to do or where you can get what you need to make that change.

Chances are however, that you won’t.

Because a lot of us live behind what is considered “normal” and acceptable – mainly what it does is it gives us a strong reusable excuse to not push ourselves beyond what is comfortable in order to make our health better.

Common Excuses

  • “I have 2 children/Having a child ruins your body/I used to be healthy before my kids/I don’t have time because I have to take care of my children”
  • “I work 6 days a week, 12hours a day/I work night shift 5 nights a week/My work schedule is too hectic”
  • “I have no money to buy healthy food/Eating healthy is expensive/I can’t afford to eat healthy all the time”
  • “I am too stressed to think of eating healthy/I don’t have energy to eat healthy”
  • “At home everyone else eats whatever they want, I don’t want to stand out/I have to eat what they cook at home”

All of the reasons above are valid and true barriers to needing to do what you want. However, in every single category above, there are thousands and thousands of people who overcome those challenges.

To make things simple, for all those scenarios above, the exact same strategies below will absolutely work and need to be kept in mind:

  • You need only 3-4 hours a week of effective workouts to achieve results eg this free gym workout plan and this home workout plan. That’s just a handful of Netflix episodes a week.
  • Meal prep is a timesaver to ensure you have healthy meals even with time and energy limitations
  • Having a health related goal will boost your mood, and achieving small wins will alleviate anxiety and stress. You will feel even more motivated to improve other areas of your life, and find that your mental health improves

Such are examples of how the answer is actually few effective steps to implement and take control of you health again. This means that as much as you make your children a priority, your job a priority, your family a priority – if you really want it, you have to make your health just as much of a priority. It is the only way to make true, lasting, change.

Undoubtedly, prioritising means you will have to give up on some things – alcohol, watching Netflix day – however, keep in mind nothing worth having is truly “free”. That’s what prioritising is – sacrificing what you want to do for what you need to do.

The Answer To This Problem

The main summary to all this, and the solution to achieving what you look is one thing.


Becoming aware of food and health associated behaviours and accepting where you are is the very first step. And usually from there, change is ready to be made – without avoidance of falling into the trap of excuses.

Mindset is the key to making this change and you need to be aware of what you’re doing and if it isn’t leading towards happiness, you are now in a position to make the changes you need.

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