Getting the Junk Out of Our Trunk After 50

Archive for August, 2012

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Staying on Track Away From Home


Whew! Its been a long week. I started school on Monday and classes start at 7am until 6pm. The drive adds an hour on  each end, so I am out the door at 6am and not home until just after 7pm. It has been hard to squeeze any exercise in, so I have been working mainly on what I eat. Really its about what I don’t eat that will keep me on track.

Every night, I make a sandwich ( chicken or turkey), pack some graham crackers, applesauce or little  cans of fruit cocktail. I have been freezing 3 or 4 bottles of water to help keep my lunch cold, you can’t eat those ice pack things, and they just take up room. Since I have to get out so early, I have only had one cup of coffee, and yes I had some caffeine with drawl, but I have been drinking an entire bottle of water on my ride each morning, so it is a good change.

I spend my first morning break walking around the building just to get some exercise and to stay awake. Since I am not getting my coffee jolt, I am pretty sluggish by 9 or 10 am and found that a brisk walk really does wake me up. The last thing I need is to fall asleep in class!

It is most difficult to stay away from the vending machines and the lady who brings the Mexican food truck around every day. That food smells so good and she gives a big helping, but I now if I eat that way everyday I will blow my progress. Maybe on my last day I will have something, maybe a tamale or two, maybe. That gives me something to look forward to.

This first week away all day from home and the schedule I have set up have been a little challenge. I am not letting these things get to me, just tackle it one thing at a time and trying to be ready for the obstacles. Packing lunch, some good snacks, carrying water, have been part of the strategy of getting my weight under control. For the vending machine, I will tell you my secret, I do not carry any money, only my debit card if I need gas or for emergencies.

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Burn the Fat, Keep the Muscle


I have been reading up on the subject of burning the fat, not the muscle. Being over 50 years old, women tend to not work with weights as they think that it is not as important as loosing weight. We need to understand that muscle burns fat. Even when you are sitting on the couch, the more muscle you have, the better your body burns fat.

While you have been told that aerobic exercise is the key to losing your belly, weight training is far more valuable. Penn State University researchers put overweight people on a reduced calorie diet and divided them in three groups. One group did not exercise, one group only did aerobics, and one group did aerobic exercise and weight training together. Each group lost about 21 pounds. But the weight lifters shed about six more pounds of fat.

The two groups that did not lift lost weight, but also lost muscle.  research on non-lifting dieters show that 75% was fat and 25% was muscle loss. It may reduce the scale, but you wont look good, and you may not feel as good as lifters. The research also showed that you are more likely to re-gain the weight you lost. Weight training protects your hard-earned muscle and burns more fat.

Lifting increases the number of calories you burn while sitting on the couch, because your muscles need that energy to repair and rebuild your muscle fiber after each resistance training workout. A Wisconsin study found that when people performed a total body workout using just three big muscle exercises, their metabolism was elevated for 39 hours afterwards. They burned a greater percentage of fat than those who didn’t lift.

Ladies, we need to incorporate weight lifting into our routines. Just loosing pounds is not enough. Research shows that between the ages of 30 and 50 you are likely to lose 10% of the total muscle on your body. This percentage doubles by age 60. Worse than muscle loss is that most likely fat will replace it. Flabby under the arms? That’s muscle loss. Thighs jiggling? Muscles lost.

Look, I am not saying to compete in a Ms Body Builder contest (unless you want to), but being strong makes everyday living a lot easier. Getting up and down stairs, lifting bags of groceries, picking up the grandkids, you will notice how much easier you do these simple everyday things.  The statistics say that you begin loosing muscle around 30 years old….that’s 24 years ago for me, so I am also in a catch up mode.

I went to Wal-Mart and found a weight bench on sale, got ten pound hand weights, and a nine pound weighted bar to get started with.I Googled and printed out simple weight lifting instructions.The whole thing cost me under $60 and some time. I have been watching everything I eat, walking almost two miles a day, but not a budge on the scale. Its time to bring out the big guns. Resistance training is just that, the big guns.

If you can’t afford to buy weights right now, there are things around the house you can use. Try two large cans of something 16 oz. each for hand weights. Your own body weight is good, and there are exercises you can do using nothing more than yourself. Be sure to warm up, and do some good stretches afterwards. For the first few days you will be a bit sore, and some epsom salts in a warm bath will help.

All my research quotes above come from Adam Campbell, Fitness Director and The Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises, printed by Rodale. It is the most complete exercise book I have ever seen written especially for women. They also write one for men. I also subscribe to Burn the Fat newsletter and they offer a great program based on nutrition, resistance training, and some great motivating challenges and contests.

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Birthday Cake Dilema


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via Birthday Cake Dilema.

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Birthday Cake Dilema


I really thought I blew it this morning. Last night I had some cake and ice cream. Not just any cake, Lemon cake, my mother-in-laws recipe. She was a fantastic lady and wonderful cook. She taught me a lot, sewing, crocheting, tried to teach me to knit, but it was her way of cooking that really stuck with me. Its funny the things that stay with you long after other things (marriages) fade away.

Back to why I thought I blew it. I have been really staying away from any extras, salt, sugar, fats. Keeping to a diet is not very easy as we all know, but it is extra difficult when you need to entertain, or just want to have the gang over. It’s hard to be a great hostess passing out all the goodies, but not enjoying any of  it yourself.

A family member was having a birthday and asked for the Lemon cake and vanilla ice cream. What could I do?  Announce that I could not have any as part of my diet? Invite everyone to the workout room for some  party exercises? So I indulged, and tried not to eat the biggest piece I could cut with company present. The worse part was the clean up and I had to resist cleaning it all up with a fork. So I freshened the bathroom up, took out the trash, and let someone else do the leftovers, with instructions to ‘take any that you want home with you.’ It was hard to part with the rest of the cake.

I was getting ready to go to an appointment this morning and went to put on a skirt. Mind you, I had worn this skirt about three weeks ago and it fit fine for a size 14. Today the waist band was too big, too big for a safety-pin even. So I had to look for something else and that something else was a size 12. I felt so relieved, and a little sad, cause I really liked that skirt!  Never happy right?

I don’t have a magic bullet for these times, so enjoy your family and friends when they visit. Try to keep portion size in mind, only have one serving of the goodies. In a real world you can’t live in a box, eventually we all have to go to a restaurant, or function where food is the main focus. Just remember the goal to get healthy, eat right, and exercise 90% of the time so the other 10% can be enjoyed.

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Diet, Exercise, and Magic Fat Burning Pills


Diet, Exercise, and Magic Fat Burning Pills.

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Diet, Exercise, and Magic Fat Burning Pills


We have all heard the latest doctor on tv  talking about what pills  you can get to help lose weight. I have fallen victim to a couple of them, sending in my $5.99 shipping and handling, so I can try their miracle pills for 30 days free. The testimonials, before and after pictures are hard to resist. You get a supply of huge capsules, that you can feel laying in your stomach. I never make it past two weeks. The last thing I tried was Raspberry Keytones, every time I burped I tasted raspberry. I have half a bottle sitting in the kitchen.

Really, the only thing that has done it for me has been diet and exercise. I feel like I accomplished so much by sticking to my meal plan, getting some exercise, and drinking plenty of water. Doing an extra set of exercise or learning a new exercise just does something for me mentally. I pushed myself to do more or learn more.

Just like I make a plan to exercise, I make a plan for meals. I start in the grocery store choosing what the daily meals are going to be with a view on real, fresh food. Some things get re-packaged when I get home into smaller portions, what you don’t cook, you don’t eat. Fresh fruit like grapes are easy to get out,  I wash a handful, munch on them and it helps me stay on my diet.

Sometimes I just feel like having something, anything. Maybe salty, no sugary, when this urge strikes I try to take a walk, drink some water,  put a load of laundry in, clean the bathroom, anything to stay on my diet. Most times the cravings disappear. But when they don’t, I have to go to my significant other and ask for a bite sized Hershey bar, yes, I have to ask and the rule is I only get two.

No magic pills I assure you. Being healthy takes a lot more than waiting for the mailman. Like most things in life, diet and exercise are real work, and some creativity. I am going to stay with my plan to get fit and skip the magic pills.

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After 50 Olympic Gold


I have been watching the Olympics and really feeling very motivated by the athletes I am seeing.  I am so impressed by the dedication of these kids, it really takes something to get that far. Think of the diet and exercise regimen they go thru, the mental work it takes to be that good.  Good enough for gold.  Their bodies reward them by doing what is asked of it when the time comes  and the rewards reach farther than the games if they continue to follow a healthy lifestyle.

We are, in effect, going for the gold in our own way. After 50 years old, your body has developed a mind of its own. Any forward movement in diet and exercise, changing your mindset are paths to personal gold. A few pounds lost, seeing muscle defineation, sleeping better at night, more energy to get thru the day are all mile markers. Let theses simple things be a motivation to stay on track. We are in an Olympics of our own.

I have been right on track these past few days, especially with exercising everyday. I am on a good schedule working out with weights every other day, and doing  Cardio in between. I have been walking to get the paper everyday. My walk is just down the driveway, but in the country, our driveway is 7/10th’s of a mile one way. That’s just under a mile and a half, and some days I go again in the early evening when its cool.

One of my bad habits, is my posture, which I try to practice on when I am walking. Getting and staying aligned, holding my stomach in, and taking smaller steps, takes a conscious effort for me. Shoulders back and down, not hunched up and tense, lining up my shoulders and hips. I actually feel the difference just as if I had worked out because I am using other muscles that have not been used lately. I have even been running a little bit, not going too fast, trying to keep my form.

My diet is not perfect but my portions are well in line with the deck of cards rule. Most times I only put a meat portion and a veggie portion on my plate. I have bumped up to 10 – 16 oz. bottles of water a day.  I have had a ginger-ale here and there, and still having coffee with sugar in the morning. The difference is that I am not drinking a whole pot of coffee with cream and sugar in every cup. My second cup is a warm up, not adding anymore cream or sugar.

I have learned that after 50, it’s the little things that can make a big difference in exercising. One thing is to not get ahead of yourself, if you have not exercised in many years, you may need to review the exercises you are planning and practice your form before doing an entire routine.  You don’t want to risk an injury that can derail all of your progress, and maybe take a long time to heal.

Don’t get crazy cutting calories either. When I was a teenager, I lived on chocolate bars and soda.  I did so many things wrong with my diet, thinking I am not eating that much, but I was not eating smart.  Even though I walked to work and home almost everyday, I never trimmed any fat off.

Age brings wisdom, they say, but I think it just gives you more time to learn what your body needs, and how it reacts to different things.  Now that I am older, my body needs different things to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Looking good doesn’t always mean feeling good. I am here to get the best of both worlds. I want to stay motivated, learning about new exercises I can do, and eat the correct foods to maintain my diet, getting the nutrients an older gal needs.

I admit that even without weighing-in or measuring myself, I feel great. Watching the kids in London when they do their dismounts I feel myself ‘sticking’ the landing with them. Gold. I am an athlete, an after 50 athlete. I am strong, motivated, and right in line living a healthy lifestyle after 50. Come with me, and let’s go for gold!