5 Weight Loss Myths Keeping You Stuck: A Guide for Over-50 Women

We all fall prey to various myths and whoppers from time to time. But how many weight loss myths are tripping you up and keeping you stuck?

Hey fellow over-50 gals, are you tired of the weight loss rollercoaster? Sick of staring at another plate of dry steamed chicken breast and a side of broccoli?
Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!

Wave goodbye to the struggle, because I’m going to share with you 5 big weight loss myths that are keeping you stuck:

  1. eating too many meals
  2. believing that carbohydrates make you fat
  3. you think can’t eat all the foods you love
  4. tons of willpower is needed (and you’re plum tapped out)
  5. you haven’t yet found that perfect plan

So grab your hat and find out what you’re missing!

Before we dive in, make sure you grab your free copy of Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Results guide so you can learn how NOT to be a slave to your default thoughts!

Think YOurself Thin!

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Weight Loss Myth #1: You’re Eating Too Many Meals

“Give yourself six or seven opportunities to eat throughout the day, and that’s six or seven occasions when you’re likely to overeat.” So says Dr. Valter Longo, director of the University of Southern California’s Longevity Institute.

Why is this? Apparently, we almost always underestimate the amount of calories in our meals.

Let’s face it, we’re mostly horrible at estimating portion sizes. I remember when I first got the little containers for the 21-Day Fix. My God! They were TINY.

When the nonfat frozen yogurt I adore says 150 calories for 2/3 cup, and then I actually measure it out? It looks puny.

In any case, we don’t usually guestimate well. Think back to when you were a youngster and the portions at restaurants (if you went to them back in the day, that is).

So, if you jump on to the “eat 5-6 small meals a day” to lose weight bandwagon, there are 2 to 3 more chances to underestimate your calories, and gain weight.

And too, newer studies show there may be no real advantage to eating more small meals per day in order to stoke your metabolic rate. So, eat when you want to!

Calories Matter

Calories have a pretty bad reputation these days, but they matter! Even though there can be pitfalls to counting calories, it’s still the best way to lose weight. Especially if you still want to eat good food (and I do).

But here’s what the latest craze says, more or less:

“It’s much easier, not to mention more pleasant, to win the weight-loss game by switching to whole, natural foods over processed items, and adhering to reasonably smaller portion sizes. Stick with high-fiber nutrient powerhouses like fresh berries and leafy greens, and choose whole-wheat bread and pasta over white flour for longer-lasting fullness. Eat when you’re hungry, and chew slowly until you’re satisfied.” (Source)

That’s the whole, Intuitive Eating, or Instinct Eating crowd talking. Don’t get me wrong; of course that’s good advice!


I mean, really, if it were that easy to just flip a switch and eat healthy foods in the right portions all the damn time, wouldn’t we all be doing it? And how the author of that quote thinks it’s “more pleasant” is beyond me.

Again, if it were more pleasant, we’d be doing it.

So, either stick to 3 (or fewer) meals a day, or eat more meals but be careful about your portions!

Count those calories, and find a way to do it that is fun and a challenge. Make it a game, not a ball and chain.

Weight Loss Myth #2: Carbohydrates Make You Fat

No they don’t. Eating too much makes you fat.

Your body needs carbohydrates to function properly. They play a crucial role in brain function and give energy to your body.

Graphic showing images of complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates

As the graphic above indicates, carbohydrates are loosely lumped into two categories. Most people assume “complex” carbs are good, while “simple” carbs are bad, but it’s more nuanced than that.

Fruits are simple carbs, but nearly everyone save extreme no-carbers consider fruits in moderation to be very healthy.

Fruits contain many vitamins, minerals, and other phytochemicals, plus fiber that are quite beneficial. Plus, they’re usually sweet and can be very helpful when your’re craving a treat.

In addition, milk is a simple carbohydrate, but also has beneficial qualities, such as protein and calcium. And while many people are lactose intolerant and stay away from milk, it’s not an inherently bad thing for a healthy diet.

Also note that not everyone (including “experts”) classify carbohydrates the same way. You can find some who put fruits in the complex category and whole grain breads in the simple one.

The fact is, carbohydrates can also be classified this way:

  • Sugars: Individual sugar molecules or short chains of sugar molecules. These include glucose, fructose, galactose and sucrose.
  • Starches: Longer chains of carbohydrate molecules that need to be broken down in the digestive system.
  • Fiber: Carbohydrates that the body cannot digest.

The traditional Japanese diet is quite high in carbohydrates; their main source of calories comes from white rice. Yes, WHITE rice!

The Tukisenta in New Guinea eat a diet of mostly a type of sweet potato. It comprises nearly 95% of their diet! Sweet potatoes are virtually all carbohydrate, yet these people are found to be fit, lean, and muscular, with no signs of protein deficiency.

I think we can ignore this myth. Of course don’t go eating a gigantic diet of sweets and white bread while topping it off with a guzzle of maple syrup!

Weight Loss Myth #3: You Can’t Eat The Stuff You Love (or Crave)

Sure you can! I wrote a post on this very subject. You should read it if you haven’t yet.

You can lose (or maintain your) weight while eating foods that satisfy you and don’t leave you feeling starved.

One thing that’s been so important for me is to not think in terms of “I can’t eat/do this thing,” but instead “how can I make this work for me?”

The way you frame circumstances is often the lion’s share of the battle to change something in your life for the better.

Changing the thoughts in your head slightly from negative, negative, negative all the time to something more positive or even neutral will (eventually) transform your life.

I guarantee it! It doesn’t matter how old you are, or how entrenched in your ways you (think you) are. I did it in my 50s and 60s (it’s an ongoing process) and you can, too!

How Do You Do It?

I have found 3 main ways to continue eating the foods I love while still losing weight, or maintaining my weight. They are:

1. Portion Control

Portion control is self-explanatory. You like chips and salsa? Eat a pre-determined quantity and stop there. Want some birthday cake? Take a small slice.

two glasses of wine being poured

Love your wine in the evening? Keep it to one 5 oz. glass. I found this difficult until I decided to pour my glass later in the evening, giving me less time to run out and pour another glass (you see, I do speak from experience!).

This is great and can certainly work if you don’t have issues with your brain telling you to have just a “little” more, etc.

Beyond that, you can become more aware of how you generally serve food. For example, do you have the serving dishes on the table and dig in?

Maybe you could keep them on the counter and dish up a bit less than you usually do. If you find you’re satisfied, put the rest away and that’s that.

One way I have dealt with portion control is to take large quantities of snacks and separate them into individually portioned plastic bags or some other container.

These are easy to grab and go.

2. Ingredient Substitution

The sky is the limit here! Ingredient substitions exist for practically everything. Some of them are better than others, and some people may love one, while another hates it.

greek yogurt being poured into a bowl one way you can bust weight loss myths

You definitely need to experiment here. For example, virtually every recipe I read for something that would normally contain a lot of oil, or cream (sour or otherwise) says to substitute nonfat Greek yogurt.

The consistency is similar and it seems you can use it for so many recipes.

However, I cannot stand the tangy taste it leaves. I once made a chocolate frosting with it and ended up dumping it all out. Many people, however, raved over this frosting!

Update: I found a low-fat Greek yogurt that I LOVE (at least the vanilla flavor). It’s called Two Good. I found it at my local Fred Meyer, which is Kroger store. It is thick and creamy, not too tangy. I tried it in a delicious low calorie cheese cake (recipe coming soon) that is, to coin a phrase, to die for!

So, you just have fun trying things! If you can do this with a friend or two, even better as you won’t end up throwing a lot of stuff away.

Some ideas? Lower calorie milk(s) for high calorie ones. Virtually every type of milk has a lower fat/calorie counterpart.

Applesauce for most (or all) of the oil in cakes, muffins, and brownies.

Ground turkey in place of beef; olive oil spray instead of blobs of oil; Carb Balance flour tortillas (an amazing invention!); use a lower calorie butter spread. The list could go on. Be sure to read the post I mentioned before as it has a lot more detail on this subject.

3. Recipe Makeovers

This is similar to ingredient substitutions, but a bit more involved. For example, I love meatloaf mainly because of meatloaf sandwiches I can have the next day.

My mom’s very tasty meatloaf used to come out of the oven literally sitting in oil. It was a sight to see.

Many, many years ago when I was a young mom I came across a recipe for meatloaf that used ground turkey breast. I tried it and dang if it wasn’t delicious! I’ve perfected it over the years and it is very low fat/calorie, but bursting with flavor and protein.

And it makes the BEST meatloaf sandwiches, which I put between slices of Franz 24 Grain bread that has 60 calories per slice. I don’t use mayo–just some ketchup and mustard!

Weight Loss Myth #4: You Need Lots of Willpower

The truth is, willpower is fickle and fleeting. A lot has been written about willpower in the last decade or so.

Earlier studies indicated that we have a limited amount of willpower and that it wanes as we tap it during any given day.

Such that, by the end of the day we’re all tapped out. What does that do to you when you’re facing the dreaded night time cravings? It leaves you high and dry and vowing to “do better tomorrow,” or worse, give up altogether.

Newer studies aren’t so sure. Turns out that when the earlier studies were replicated, the “ego depletion” didn’t happen like expected.

a woman holding an apple and a donut showing willpower as a weight loss myth

Now the thinking is that what we believe about willpower may have a greater affect on us than any sort of ego/willpower depletion.

Hmmm…where I have I heard that before? Our thoughts determine our actions. How and what we think about our circumstances are far more important than the circumstances themselves.

It’s like I said above: “The way you frame circumstances is often the lion’s share of the battle to change something in your life for the better.”

Author, clinical psychologist and professor Kelly McGonigal wrote a book titled The Upside of Stress which aims to show that stress can make us stronger, smarter, and happier—if we learn how to embrace it.

In fact I wrote a post all about this as well! Seems we’re detecting a theme here…

Yep! There it is again: how you think about nearly everything determines how you’ll react.

But can willpower help with weight loss? Let’s see.

I can think of a couple of people who have incredibly successful careers, lots of drive and determination in so many areas of their lives, and yet have failed many times with their weight loss efforts.

If it was as easy as just “willing” it to be so, they should have been able to combat their weight woes as well, right?

One of these people is the very famous and extremely successful Oprah Winfrey. But when she was up for an Emmy award in 1992, all she could think about was how she would look if she had to get out of her chair and walk up to the stage.

She was 237 pounds at the time.

And now, in 2022, a full 30 years later, she’s talking about a “reset” because she had been eating like food had just been invented.

For whatever reason, weight loss seems to be nearly immune to willpower’s magic elixir.

Bottom line? Don’t rely on willpower!

Weight Loss Myth #5: It’s All About The Specific Food (or Workout) Plan

Pish and tosh.

No, it’s not.

You can eat vegan, nutritarian, paleo, keto (please don’t), gluten free, high carb, low carb, Whole 30, semi-vegetarian, no red meat…on and on.

It doesn’t really matter.

OF COURSE eating on the healthier end of the scale is better. Nothing I ever say or suggest goes against that truth. I would LOVE it if I absolutely adored broccoli and asparagus and fish and stuff like that.

Imagine if, when you had a craving, you craved broccoli!

But alas, that is not my truth, and it’s probably not yours, either.

But facts are facts. The only way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories than your body needs to stay at the weight it’s at right now.

And the way to maintain is to not eat more than you need to stay where you are.

Of course it’s somewhat more complicated than that. You need to include your activity levels, hormonal stuff, and a few other things that affect the fringes, but IN GENERAL, calories matter.

So as long as you’re in a calorie deficit, you’ll lose weight over time.

Big Note–Please Read

This does NOT mean that if one day you eat 0 calories and you normally eat 3500 in a day that the scale will show a full one pound loss the next day.

Fitness Over Fifty Is Mostly A Mind Thing

To lose weight and get fit at any time isn’t as easy as just eating less and moving more. If it were, we’d all be fit and healthy.

And following weight loss myth after weight loss myth isn’t going to get you any closer to your goal.

But especially when you’re over 50, and you may have decades of dieting, deprivation, and degrading yourself behind you, this is especially true.

You’ve GOT to get your mindset in the right place. I resisted this for so long, but I’m sorry, it’s just true.

There’s no new, magic formula out there, no super pill that’s going to make it happen. You’ve got to put in the work to change your thoughts and your mindset, and learn to become the person you want to be.

The way to do that is to get clear on your big “WHY,” practice new thoughts, devise healthy behaviors, and then develop the simple habits that will move you toward what you desire.

If you’re serious about this, be sure to grab my free Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Results guide! It really works to change how you react to circumstances, which in turn can transform not only your health, but your life!

Think YOurself Thin!

Training + Worksheets

You don’t have to ACT on all your thoughts! Learn to lose weight and get fit by learning to manage your thoughts!

What weight loss myth are you clinging to that is no longer serving you (if it ever did)?

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