HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Melissa Peck isn't the same size she was in high school, but she is still slim.
Much of how she maintains her weight is based upon not what, but how she cooks and eats.
"I started to work out more and cut back on sweets and carbs," said Peck.
She said she gained some weight when she was pregnant with her second child then she lost inches, but not pounds.
"I've tried to use more vegetable or olive oil, bouillon and things like that instead of fat. I still eat meat. I still use occasional pork fat - just less of it."
How she cooks helps her family.
"We tried to grill more or broil our meats, sometimes we just pan sear them. We do still like to batter fry fish and things. We just try to do that less," added Peck.
Her experience mimics a University of Pittsburgh study. They followed nearly 500 overweight or obese women in their late 50s'. Results were compared at six months and four years. Parkway Registered Dietician Kim Donohue studied the results.
"It basically looked at changing some lifestyle habits, not necessarily a diet," said Donohue. "Some of those changes are reducing your meat and cheese intake. We physically need three servings of meat, three ounces of meat per serving, increasing your fruits and vegetables."
Most women blame weight gain on the slowing of their metabolism. The study says there are natural declines in energy output, but the process is more complicated.
"Part of that is muscle loss, so we need less calories. Every decade that we age - our metabolism drops about seven percent, so we need less and less calories," added Donohue.
She said the department of health and human services recommends activity about 30 minutes a day, five times a week, and some weight lifting can help keep muscle mass.
The bottom line to all this research? You have to change the way you eat and the way you cook, but it doesn't have to be by much. Simple changes and a moderate amount of exercise will help you not only maintain weight, but lose it for your health.