In this first podcast for Men’s Fitness After 50, we start by contemplating what it means to be over 50 years old and how long and how well we can expect to live. Let me know your thoughts.
There are great doctors and there are awful doctors. There are doctors in-between. Just like any other profession. Of course, there are doctors that are great in some areas and lousy in other areas. The problem is knowing which your doctor is.
Just the other day, a client in her mid-sixties came to me after injuring her wrist. She said that when she went to her doctor, the doctor told her to stop lifting weights, which, for her wrist at the time, would not have been unreasonable. However, the doctor then followed up with, “Why would a woman your age want to lift weights anyway?” I was taken back that this opinion still exists in the medical community. My client said that she wasn’t going to be swayed by her doctor and that she knows the importance of strength training as we get older. (Phew!)
Now, even the best doctors can’t stay current on all areas of human health. As a fitness professional, I know that there is new research every day and that it takes work on my part to stay up with the most current information. Because there can be new studies that could potentially disprove what I “know”, I understand that I can be proven wrong and am happy to change my position if enough evidence supports it. Good doctors will do the same.
So, my suggestion to you when you believe your doctor is mistaken, is to find the research to back up what you believe is correct. Present that information to your doctor ask to discuss it with him or her. If they are not willing to discuss it, maybe you should look for a doctor who will. There is a caveat to this though, don’t just take what you find on Facebook or what Dr. Oz says to be as good as scientifically supported information. Use credible sources. Here’s a pretty good list of sources for accurate health and medical information. RefSeek’s guide to the 25 best online resources for medical reference Remember, doctors are not infallible. Don’t fear questioning them. Be your own advocate.
*By the way, here’s some research on strength training as we get older: “Current research has demonstrated that strength-training exercises have the ability to combat weakness and frailty and their debilitating consequences. Done regularly (e.g., 2 to 3 days per week), these exercises build muscle strength and muscle mass and preserve bone density, independence, and vitality with age. In addition, strength training also has the ability to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and the signs and symptoms of numerous chronic diseases such as heart disease, arthritis, and type 2 diabetes, while also improving sleep and reducing depression. – The benefits of strength training for older adults. Am J Prev Med. 2003 Oct;25 (3 Suppl 2):141-9. Seguin R1, Nelson ME.
Does trying new things scare you? Did you ever think to yourself, “I’m too old to start this.” or, “I’ll make a fool out of myself”? You’re not alone. Everyone (well, most everyone) has things that make them feel that way. This is unfortunate for a couple of reasons.
First, we miss out on a lot of things that could enrich our lives. This could be starting an exercise program, taking dance lessons, cooking lessons, learning a language, or starting a business.
Second, those things that challenge us, the very things that we’re afraid of feeling stupid doing, are among the best things we can do to keep our brains functioning at their best. The cognitive work required to learn new skills is one of the 5 pillars of brain fitness (exercise, nutrition, stress reduction, socialization, and… cognitive challenge).
Personally, I’ll jump into many things without worrying about how I look, however, when it comes to my profession, my reputation, I honestly get a little apprehensive (scared.. ok, I said it.). In example, I’ve wanted to try podcasting for the better part of a year and have been to afraid that I would make a fool of myself. Well, we all need to get over it and just do it (not to get too Nike on you). The benefits for us, better health, greater skills, better quality of life, far outweigh the perceived risks.
So, whatever you have wanted to do and have just been afraid to start… jump in, the water is fine. (oh… and I’ll start podcasting on Monday). Let me know what you’d like to try , but are afraid to, in the comments.
Have you ever known someone that was working really hard to reach fitness goals, reached them and then fell off the proverbial wagon all to end up back where they started? You want to run up to them and ask what happened, but generally don’t because you know that they are likely to feel pretty upset by it being brought up.
As a personal trainer, I’ll bump into people where this has been the case. They are usually embarrassed or ashamed and will often try to avoid me. I don’t let them off the hook that easily. “We’ve missed you.” “What have you been up to?” At that point they will usually fill me in on what upset the cart. It often is a very understandable event that threw them off and then the inevitable, “I’ll get back to it soon….”
This is the important thing to note, we all fall off the wagon at one point or another. That should be something for everyone to expect (although most do not). It will happen. But, don’t wait until you feel like you can stick to it before you start back up. Start back up again as soon as you can. Don’t worry about how long the attempt will last, just get back up on the wagon. The number of times you try and fail doesn’t count against you. In fact, you will be far better off by repeatedly trying, learning from your mistakes, making new plans, and trying again, than waiting until the situation is perfect before you restart. What’s past, is past. You can’t change it. Don’t worry about it. Don’t feel guilty about it. Learn from it and move on. Start as often as you need and you will eventually succeed.
No, no misspelling here. I’m not talking about your backside. I’m talking about the excuses we find to not do what we know we should be doing in order to improve our health and fitness. “I know I should _______, BUT…”
If you want something to change, you need to be willing to do something different (and that usually means something more difficult). For changes in our health and fitness levels, you need to make sure your diet is where it’s supposed to be, you’re getting in the right kind of workouts with the appropriate frequency, keeping your stress levels down, and getting enough sleep.
When you’re not getting the results you want, you need to look at these areas and ask yourself which of those items aren’t happening and what it is that’s getting in your way. As you identify the area of difficulty, listen to yourself. “I know I shouldn’t be eating the doughnuts that work supplies, but it’s all they have there.” “I have every intention of getting to the gym, but something always comes up at work.” Those buts are your excuses, your scapegoats, and you have to recognize that fact. That’s not to say they aren’t a problem, only that knowing that they are a problem means you need to come up with a different solution as to how to work around them. You need to pre-plan for those occasions when your normal schedule is thrown off.
In example, normally your diet is good. You eat what, when, and where you’re supposed to. But, when your friends come to visit for a long weekend, you end up overindulging the whole time and feeling guilty. So, imagine they just called. You know how this weekend usually goes. Ask yourself what you could do differently that would make your weekend diet better. Could you have more fresh fruits and vegetables on hand? If you usually drink alcoholic beverages, could you alternate between those drinks and a glass of water?
The key to getting the results you want, reaching your goals, is getting rid of the big fat BUT that has been allowing you to think you had an excuse. Well, it isn’t an excuse. A but simply means you need to come up with a new way to handle those things that have been getting in your way. If it means enough to you, you can find a solution.
Please let me know if you need any help losing your big but.
When contemplating dieting, most people don’t want to fully commit to suddenly eating healthfully and the appropriate amount of calories, so they like the idea of having cheat days. I’m sure that you’ve heard the concept of cheat days. These are days that are set aside that allow you to eat what you want. In example, you work hard at your diet all week, but on Saturday you can eat whatever you desire. The theory is that it’s easier to stay away from high calorie/high fat foods most of the time if you know that you can guiltlessly have it on your cheat day.
While that may sound reasonable, being better most of the time (and it certainly could help some people), here’s why I take issue with it. If you’re having a difficult time sticking to your diet, it may be too restrictive for where you are in your journey for lifetime eating and healthy weight maintenance. It should be a gradual process of tweaking you diet (and exercise) so that it’s not overwhelming.
My other problem with cheat days is that it keeps you desiring those less healthy foods. You can change what you desire by making small, better choices over time. Like going from whole milk to 2%, to 1.5%, to 1%, to skim. By the time you get used to skim milk, 2% tastes like cream and you don’t care about ever having whole milk again… no cheating even wanted.
So, while having a cheat day may help you lose weight, Id challenge you to simply be more gradual with your changes so that sustaining them becomes effortless.
Before my physical therapist friends jump all over this, let me say that what I find problematic with physical therapy, is the limited coverage (number of visits allowed by insurance) and the patient’s understanding of their role in their physical well-being once they are released from therapy and are on their own.
Problem #1: Let’s assume you get injured on the job. Your primary care physician refers you to a physical therapist for treatment. The therapist takes you through various rehabilitation modalities that will most likely included some exercises that you will perform. Insurance only pays for “X” number of visits and then you’ll need to continue on your own. More often than not, you do not follow through with your therapy exercises. Without that follow through, the your physical level will begin to decrease from the point when you left physical therapy. This deconditioning sets you up to get injured again.
Problem #2: You, after completing your allotted physical therapy, continue to do your therapy exercises as prescribed, same weights, same repetitions, same number of days per week. I know, that doesn’t sound like a problem, but it is. If you do the same thing over and over again, you get really good at it. It gets easy, and… if it gets easy, you’re no longer challenging yourself. Without the challenge, your conditioning level starts to decrease. Now, it won’t drop as low as if you weren’t doing the exercises, but it will drop below the level that was when it was challenging.
The goal of reconditioning after surgery or injury, should be to get back to where to where you were prior to the event, AND THEN to continue training/conditioning so that you are more capable, more “injury resistant”, and better prepared to do any of the activities that you want. This is true at any age, but even more important as you get older. You can accomplish this by working with your physical therapist until released, then take your exercise prescription to a certified personal trainer that has post-rehab experience. Have the trainer show you how to translate the physical therapy exercises to your gym/health club. Then, come back to the trainer periodically to get an updated program, so you can continue to get stronger, healthier, and ready to tackle the rest of your life. After all, we don’t want to just survive as we get older. We want to thrive!
If I could give out a medal for working out, it would be given for how consistent a person is in fitting their workouts in. Olympians reach their level of strength, power, conditioning, and skill because they work at it, day in and day out, for years. That level of consistency creates the kind of results that can make you an Olympic champion.
While we may never be Olympians, we can still achieve great results, IF… we can be consistent. Occasional super hard work outs will never give the benefits that even moderate intensity work outs on a regular basis can. Consistency creates habits, which means it gets easier to keep on a schedule and, ultimately, get the results that we want.
The commitment, the habit of working out also allows us to set a clear progression. We did X sets and reps on Wednesday, which means we can do Y on Friday. When work outs are sporadic, you are either going to have to lower the intensity or, at best, keep it the same. You’ll never reach your goals that way.
If the Olympic Games are motivating you, or if you’re simply motivating yourself, start by shooting for that gold medal in consistency.
What is probably the worst reasons to try something is because someone says, “It worked for me!” This is true with diets, exercise, supplements, or following some “guru”.
One story from my college days (yes, many, MANY years ago) is a perfect example of this. I was working in the university weight room and saw a huge bodybuilder doing concentration curls (one arm curls in which you’re seated with your elbow resting on the inside of your thigh). He had giant biceps. While curling with one arm, he held a metal pipe in the other and was hitting his biceps with it. I had to go ask what that was all about. He said that by hitting his muscle with the pipe, he was breaking down the muscle faster to build it up bigger…and who was going to argue with him, it must work, right. Whoa… big time wrong! That’s not how muscle breakdown and building works. “Well, (naysayers will say) if it didn’t work, why was he so big? Huuhh?” Well, let’s think of all the other things he could be doing. His diet was probably supplying the right amount nutrients. He was working out hard, even without the pipe. He probably had some genetic advantage, aaand… at that time, it was likely that he was taking anabolic steroids. Still, he said it was the pipe and people would surely believe him.
Any exercise program will give results to someone who hasn’t been exercising. It doesn’t mean it is the safest, most effective exercise program. It is just that now you’re following a program and doing some kind of exercise.
Almost all diets will give weight loss results short-term. Whether they are cutting out food groups (paleo, ketogenic, vegan) or managing when you eat (intermittent fasting) or has you track your points (weight watchers), they all will manipulate you into eating fewer calories. Fewer calories = weight loss (at least short term). (Marie Spano, MS, RD, CSCS, CSSD, has a great post here.)
All that said, I do hope that all of our clients are saying, “Try Jiva Fitness! It worked for me!” What’s the difference? Do your research. If it’s an exercise program or a diet/eating plan, what is it based on? Is there scientific evidence to back it up. Who are the people that created it? Are they qualified professionals? Don’t go blindly into things that are in the popular news. After all, even the Shake Weight was popular for a short time.
A friend of mine just had a heart attack. It was mild and he’s going to be ok, although it could have been much worse. For the better part of a year we’ve had the ongoing discussion about how he was going to start working out and eating more healthfully. Work and family always demanded too much of him and he could never seem to find time to start a program.
This is such a common situation. I hear it all of the time. But here’s the thing, if you put it off too long and something happens, how much good will you be to your work or your family?
You will hear me say a thousand times that it’s never too late to start. Of course, that’s if you are still around to start. Please think about this. Yes, it is a scare tactic, but more than that, it’s a reality check. Life can be short and we want to have the longest, best quality life we can. Can you afford to put getting healthy off?
“Maybe it is true, that people only care when it’s too late.” – Anon