It’s going to happen to all of us! There is a way to fight it , however there is no way to stop it from happening!
I fight it every day by trying to eat healthy. This doesn’t mean I am perfect in my eating habits, but making more good decisions than bad is what I strive for. Healthy eating does so much to feed our body what it needs to be healthy, i.e. look younger. As we age it shows up in how our skin looks, muscle tone etc. Exercise, both in cardio and strength form, helps with muscle tone and increasing blood flow throughout the body to keep a healthy glow!
Doing all we can with exercise as we age will do a lot! Here is the challenge, and there is nothing we can do about it. We naturally lose strength as we age. When training older adults who have been active their entire life, they sometimes get very frustrated with this and feel they are going backwards with their fitness. I notice this for myself since turning 50 last year. It’s frustrating because we spent so many years getting stronger! One thing is for sure. If you stay consistent with your workouts throughout your life you will still be much stronger than someone your same age who doesn’t exercise. There are many things we have to take in stride as age hits us and this is one of them. As I have heard so many older fitness enthusiast say, “getting old is for the weak minded”. Understand that what we are doing throughout our life will give us a much better quality of life!
Let’s be sure I make this clear from the beginning…I love functional training and think everyone should be doing some form of it. When performed properly, these moves give great results. The key is to do them properly.
What brought this to mind is seeing a young exerciser in the gym, obviously starting out on their fitness goals for the year. This individual was performing a challenging move, maybe taught from a trainer or something they saw online. It was a good move however it was apparent to me that it was just a bit too advanced for his level. What can end up happening if this is the case is an injury that puts him out of the workout loop for a while. Hopefully exercise helps to eliminate injuries!
There is always a baseline of fitness that needs to be accomplished before doing more advanced moves. Much like training for a marathon doesn’t mean walk out your door and do a marathon. It takes a build up from training.
With strength, advancing through the baseline exercises is so important. When first working with a client who hasn’t been in a strength routine, I have always implemented what I call the Big 5. Do a chest move, that gets front of shoulders and triceps. A back move with the rear delts and biceps. A leg move such as leg presses for a good overall leg work. And use the stability ball for abs and low back. Within these exercises are so many variations that you can still keep interested by not doing the same thing over and over again. Once you get strength to those big muscle groups then slowly advance to where you feel more comfortable with functional moves.
I realize exercise isn’t a one size fits all things but especially with a newbie, slow and steady is always the best bet!
Most people, when starting a workout program, are looking to lose weight. Yes, there are those looking to gain some weight but overall it is about weight loss. And taking it a step further, fat loss. Let’s face it, we want to lose fat, not muscle. Sounds simple right?
Many times people are surprised when I put so much emphasis on strength training for weight loss. We have been conditioned to believe that to lose weight we need cardio, cardio, cardio. While cardio is important for many reasons, not just caloric burn, we get many weight loss benefits from strength training.
First, there is a big difference between bodybuilding and strength training. While with both we are challenging the muscle group, the goals, and amount of time spent, are very different. When we see a bodybuilder we can tell they spend a lot of time in the weight room, pushing and pulling extremely heavy weights. The goal is to look almost “freakish”. I’m not using that word in a derogatory way, as I have heard many bodybuilders use it to describe what they want. The amount of time spent in the gym by bodybuilders is freakish too!
When we use strength training for weight loss, there is a difference. Any time you strength train, you want to challenge the muscle group to make it stronger. You will see some muscle growth and development but not nearly to the extent of bodybuilding. When that muscle gets stronger, it will use more calories throughout the day. That is the important part. If you take a 30 minute cardio workout and a 30 minute strength workout, you will burn more calories during that cardio routine. The burn throughout the rest of the day is what you get from strength. This is how you change your metabolism to become a fat burning machine!! Plus, the amount of time spent doing strength training for weight loss is much less. This doesn’t equate to easy. As I said earlier, we want to challenge the muscle group. Doing 12-15 reps for a muscle group is good, as long as at those last reps, you are “feeling the burn”. You have heard that before right? And a good, solid strength routine could be 2-3 times a week. Now, any time those goals change, such as you want to add more muscle, the amount of time spent will also change. Be consistent with that workout and you will see results!!
I actually heard this statement the other day… “my doctor told me not to exercise. He said whenever he sees someone on an elliptical, or other piece of equipment, he is just seeing future knee surgery. He said all you need to do is be active”.
A couple of thoughts came to me right away. First, if your doctor tells you this, find a new one immediately! I don’t know of a doctor today who would preach this garbage. There is entirely too much research on the benefits of exercise to dismiss it.
Second, and this is probably the case here, we simply hear what we want to hear. Could the doctor have said something like “it’s good to stay active”, or “if you are prone to knee issues you should be careful” ? Most likely. I have trained way too many doctors, who exercise for themselves and would tell me everyone should be doing something, to think otherwise. Isn’t it funny how we pick out what we want to hear and forget the stuff we don’t?
While being active can certainly help in keeping weight under control, as well as many other wellness factors, we still need that challenge of exercise. As a full time trainer I was active all day but it wasn’t the same as working out for myself. I still needed to do that. Too many benefits other than weight control happen to dismiss exercise altogether. Getting the heart rate up, relief of stress, lower anxiety are just a few of those.
Here is a suggestion when you go to your doctor. Put your phone out and record the conversation so you can play it back later. That way when you say to yourself, “my doc said not to exercise”, you can listen again and find out what was actually said there!
There is a stigma, whether you think it is positive or negative, to being a “gym rat”. Working in the fitness industry for many years, I’m sure I was thought of as that. And for as many hours as I spent working I definitely felt like a gym rat! The question for many is “Can I be healthy and fit without becoming a gym rat”?
There are a number of things that go along with this so it isn’t a simple answer. First, you have to decide what your goals are. Are you looking to lose weight? Do you want to gain muscle? Do both? Are you looking to compete in some event whether it is cardiovascular or a bodybuilding event? Do you want to live a healthier lifestyle? Once you have this answered then you decide how much time you have to devote to this. Why is this important? Let’s say you want to run a marathon but you only have 2-3 days a week to train. When you look at any marathon training schedule, you need much more time than that. Not to say you can’t be healthier but you may have to change your goals, at least for the time being.
Now comes a big part. Finding a fitness professional that can put you on the right track and be honest with you is crucial. There are many fitness trainers out there that make promises, whether they are stated or not, that you can look like him or her. Let’s face it, you most likely want to work with a fit trainer. You see all these muscle bound men and women and you think “if only I work with them, I’ll look like that”. I have had a number of first time clients that treat the initial meeting as a job interview. They are hiring me for a service so they want to find out what I think! This is what everyone should do! There are many questions you may want to ask during this time but if one of your reasons to train with this person is because you want to develop the physique they have, you need to find out some things. A legit question would be “how much time do you spend working out and what do you do”. You want to know this because that is most likely what it takes to have that physique, and keep it. Along with that is to find out how long they have had fitness in their life. When someone starts working out at and early age, and consistently keeps up with it, as they get older they can maintain that level, to a certain degree. It doesn’t mean it is easy. I love seeing memes on Facebook of the “bodybuilding grandpa”. These look great but most of the time those people have been training for their entire life, so when they are 60, 70 years old they have a lot of muscle tone. If you decide to start lifting weights late in life, you can certainly reap the benefits, however to become a bodybuilder you will have to spend a lot of time in the gym, or be a “gym rat”.
Set yourself up to succeed when it comes to your fitness goals. That goes a long way to making them happen!
Nothing hurts me more than to talk about taking a break from coffee/caffeine. There is much out there that says caffeine can help with your health. I recently stopped coffee cold turkey (mmm turkey sounds good) as I started a Shred 10 but I also wanted to see if I could do it. The headache from detoxing matched some of the worst I have had in the past, and that includes the day after St. Patricks Day! It came to me that if it makes me feel that bad as I’m coming off of it, there must be something not so great about it, at least in the large quantities I was drinking.
Listen to Dr. Mitra Ray give a short explanation on why it is good to take a break from coffee/caffeine. You don’t have to give it up altogether but it is good to take breaks!
This is nothing new. However, like so many other natural health pathways, when someone starts to talk about it, they are demonized as being over the top. There is a great article by Ian Leslie talking about the sugar conspiracy.
This begins as far back as 1972, before sugar was found in almost everything! Even then, the talk of how dangerous sugar is made you a leper.
In 1972, a British scientist sounded the alarm that sugar – and not fat – was the greatest danger to our health. But his findings were ridiculed and his reputation ruined.
John Yudkin was a british nutritionist who wrote Pure, White and Deadly. In it Yudkin states
“If only a small fraction of what we know about the effects of sugar were to be revealed in relation to any other material used as a food additive,” wrote Yudkin, “that material would promptly be banned.”
There is so much to learn about the harmful affects of sugar. Remember, we are talking about added sugar. Too many times people are told to avoid fruit because of the sugar. The amount of sugar in fruit is natural and our bodies can handle it. It is all the sugar we add to food or is added by companies.
Check out the video by Dr. Lustig from the University of California Television.