Breaking the Age Barrier

getty_rf_photo_of_mans_hand_holding_caneIt can be difficult getting yourself to a gym weeks at a time for results that sometimes seem small. Other times the barriers of starting just seem too high, and not worth overcoming.

One concern I keep hearing from potential gym goers is the age barrier. Many men and women thinking about a personal fitness plan sometimes worry that “I’m too old to start exercising,” or “going to the gym is something for younger people, not me.”

This brings up a big question for potential gym-goers: How old is too old? Is there an age requirement at the front door that keeps everyone over the age of 39 out?

The obvious answer is no, but sometimes that’s easier said than understood.

A client of mine was talking about her father who endured a major lifestyle change late in life, and it reminds me of just how little age really matters when we want to start an active lifestyle. We’ll call her father Rob.

Rob lived an active lifestyle in his earlier years, which allowed him to age relatively gracefully as he got older. Even in his mid 70s, Rob was still walking the golf course three to five times a week, actively playing tennis, and traveling abroad whenever he had the chance.

During his travels, Rob had an accident, falling down a set of stone stairs in Istanbul and tearing up both of his knees. He had emergency surgery and endured months of physical therapy, but was told that as a man headed into his 80s, he would never be able to walk unassisted again.

Now for some people at Robs age, two torn-up knees and a prognosis like that might mean spending the rest of his life glued to a walker. And for a while, Rob was glued to a walker. After living a life of constant movement, suddenly being confined to the house was not an enjoyable concept. But from his point of view, he had little to no choice. This was just a part of getting old.

But after months of relying on others for transportation, some good natured ribbing from friends, and some guidance from family members, Rob decided to do something about his sedentary condition, old age or not.

Rob started going to the gym, worked with a personal trainer, and set a tangible goal for his future: to walk around the block without a cane. For someone who could walk 18 holes in an afternoon, a block might seem inconsequential, but Rob knew he had to start somewhere. He began leg exercises, started a healthy diet, and kept at his scheduled work-outs.

And it payed off. Today, Rob is walking around the neighborhood unassisted, playing golf, and traveling up and down the coast. He still carries the walker in the trunk, but mostly for peace of mind than for actual use. Rob still has a lot of progress in his future, but he is already miles ahead of where he started.

There’s a lesson we can learn from Rob, and it’s something I hope you spend some time thinking about this coming week. Rob decided that spending the rest of his life on an easy chair was not an acceptable future, and decided to do something about it. He set goals for himself, made a commitment, and stuck to his regiment.

Age isn’t the barrier we face. It’s the belief that age somehow defines what we can or cannot do. Rob, an 82 year old man who had to relearn how to walk, has no excuses. So what’s yours?

January Fitness Fail – The Truth About the Gung Ho Approach to Fitness

By far January has to be the busiest time of year at the health clubs across the nation. Everyone wants to start out the New Year with resolutions to get fit, lose weight, and live a healthy lifestyle. That’s great, it really is! But what happens is that people usually take what I like to call a “gung ho” approach to fitness, and that isn’t exactly the best route to take!

The gung ho approach is when you have someone who has not had exercise be a part of their life and then overnight they dedicate an hour each day to it. Sounds like it might be a great thing, but in actuality, it tends to backfire. As a personal trainer I’m the gym a lot and see this happen. People start out all gung ho, working out like crazy.

Heck, you can’t even get a treadmill at the gym half the time in January because it’s so busy! Usually there’s not a free weight in site during this month either. Everyone is working out frantically, pushing their limits and hitting the gym. Fast forward to about the third week of January, and it seems like everything in the gym is available! What happened to everyone?

What happens, year after year, is that most people start out with the best of intentions and then tend to falter as time goes on. They give up, they decide it was too hard, too time consuming, or too something else. There are as many reasons for why they quit within the first few weeks as there are people who sign up to begin the gym membership each January.

The gung ho approach is all about being overly excited in getting started in fitness. While I want you to be excited about working toward fitness, I don’t want you to go gung ho on your approach. It fails, and with it, so will your goals for fitness. Instead, you need to have a plan that will be long lasting. Change little things at a time, such as the way you eat, and start working out by easing your way into it. Not everyone is at the same fitness level, or has the same goals, so not everyone can start out doing the same thing.

The best way to assess this, and get off to the right start, is to work with a personal trainer. A personal trainer will evaluate your current level of fitness, determine reasonable goals, and develop a plan to help you get there.

When you take a more reasonable approach to fitness, you are more likely to still be in the gym come February. And once you reach those goals, you need to find new ways to challenge yourself in order to remain interested and motivated. That’s another area that a personal trainer can work with you. So forget going gung ho and throwing yourself into the gym full force. Instead, have a plan that will be effective and you will be successful at!

 

 

Top Fitness Tips Learned in 2011 (and How to Make it a Great 2012)

One of the many benefits of being a personal trainer is that I get a chance to keep up on learning lots of fitness tips, news, and information throughout the year. One of the benefits of keeping a blog is that I get a chance to share that information with all my readers, both baby boomers and beyond. Throughout 2011, there were several key fitness tips that I picked up that I think can help you make 2012 the best year ever!

Here are the top fitness tips I learned throughout 2011:

Taking a break can be a good thing. It can help you to get re-focused, so that you come back fresh and ready to get down to business. Taking a vacation or small trip, for example, will help you reflect and remember that you are not a human “doing,” but rather you are a human “being.”

Getting a tune-up can be a really great thing. By a tune-up I mean a massage, acupuncture, or some other type of activity that helps you feel great. After all, we take our cars in for a tune-up, so why not take in ourselves? It will help with recovery, mind clarity, and overall wellness.

Making health and fitness a lifestyle is crucial to long term success. One effective way you can make your fitness goals a long term lifestyle is to work with a personal trainer. The support, guidance, and accountability is extremely important and effective.

Trying something new can be a great way to clear the mind and help you feel good. For example, this past year I went to the symphony for the first time. I found that I enjoyed it! It’s important to try new things and remember that variety is the spice of life.

It is important to find things you love to do and then do them during the week. This will help you to take care of yourself and your passions, so you can give more of yourself to others.

Just because someone takes a step backward doesn’t mean they have failed. Two steps forward, one step back, means you still took a step forward! Don’t get caught up in what you are not getting. Instead, focus on the fact that you trained four days, for example, rather than focusing on the fact that you are not at your goal yet.

You can’t out-work bad nutrition. If you consistently eat poorly, it will catch up with you. It is essential to eat a healthy, balanced diet to have overall wellness.

Whether you are a baby boomer or not, or you are seeking weight loss, or just want to adopt a healthy fitness lifestyle, you can increase your chances of success in 2012 by keeping these points in mind. This year, success can be all yours!

The Transformation of Dinah, Part I

Dinah BEFORE (Left)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dinah AFTER

 

As a personal trainer, one of the greatest feelings is when I am able to help lead someone to reaching their goals. Success stories are what personal trainers live for! And boy do I have one to share with you. I want to introduce Dinah to you, and over the course of four blog posts, I’m going to share her story of us working together with you. I hope you find it interesting, as well as inspiring!

Dinah, like so many other people who battle weight problems, had been battling it for 10 years. She would gain and lose over 100 pounds and had reached an all-time high of 317 pounds. All this time she had also been battling with multiple sclerosis (MS). As you can imagine, having such problems pushed Dinah to the end, where she was also experiencing depression and did not have any confidence that she could ever achieve a healthy weight loss or lifestyle goal.

As time went on, she was increasingly getting weaker and was losing her balance. Then one day she decided she was sick and tired of being sick and tired. And that one day and that one thought changed her life. Upon a recommendation of a physical therapist, who told her she should start doing strength training, she decided to work with me.

On our first meeting together, I did what I normally do with my new clients. I took her measurements and we set goals for every two weeks. I also created a meal plan for her and suggested that she begin eating small, frequent meals, rather than three large meals per day. She was a bit reluctant to do this at first, afraid that she would gain weight because it seemed like she would be eating more.

I told her to try eating the smaller, more frequent meals for a month. If it didn’t work out, she could always go back to eating the larger meals as she had always done. She agreed to take me up on my suggestion and give it a shot. Additionally, the plan that I set her up on was based on SMART (Goals that are Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Bound).

The areas that we focused on included weight training three times per week, cardio for 30 minutes per day, and we focused on mindset tips. So just how did Dinah do on this plan that I put her on? Be sure to check out Part II of her story to see what happened!

To learn how to make 50 and 60 the new 30 click here

The Truth of How to Turn 50 or 60 into the New 30 – Part I

By the time you become a baby boomer, you have probably joined the ranks of the millions of people around the country who are searching for the fountain of youth. And if you find it, you may just be able to turn back the hands of time, or at least keep you looking younger. As a personal trainer, I may not have found the fountain of youth per se, but my lifestyle keeps me looking younger than I am, and it can work for you as well!

At 33 years old, people are always mistaking me for being 21. Whether I’m being carded to buy alcohol or having one of my friends be mistaken for my dad. My lifestyle, which is taking care of myself, keeps my body from aging at a faster rate than if I didn’t make physical fitness a priority. This is the key to making 50 or 60 years old become the new 30!

Each year there are billions of dollars spent on anti-aging tips, tricks and products. Everyone is trying to find the secret. But if you have an understanding of how the aging process works, you will be far ahead of the game and can slow the aging process down yourself, without spending money on fancy products and procedures. In my three-part series, I am going to explain exactly how you can help slow down the aging process, beginning here with understanding what aging is.

Aging is simply the rate at which we all age. What happens when we age is that our cells divide and become damaged. The real kicker here is that the lifestyle we live can either speed up or slow down this process. Some of the things that speed up the aging process include:

Not getting enough sleep.
Having elevated blood sugar or insulin levels.
Having a deficiency of nutrients.
Being a smoker.
Being under stress.

The two most important things that age your body’s cells are inflammation in the body and insulin resistance. Because of this, it is crucial that you focus on fighting chronic inflammation in your body and avoid insulin resistance.

To fight inflammation, you need to eat a healthy diet, which includes avoiding processed foods. It is important that you eat a lot of plant based foods, such as nuts, grapes, apples, broccoli, spinach, and turmeric. To help avoid insulin resistance, you need to focus on being physically active, eating healthy, and getting plenty of sleep.

In part two, we will look at what else you can do to slow the aging process, including oxidation and glycation. For now, start taking a look at your diet and physical activity level, so you can begin your journey of making 50 or 60 the new 30!

Top Ways to Stay Alive and Get Out of That Chair

As a senior citizen or baby boomer, you may think that you will be perfectly healthy exercising for 30 minutes and then sitting on the couch the rest of the day. After all, you got your exercise in, right? You may be thinking that, but according to researchers, you would be wrong!

We all know that not doing physical activity is going to harm your health and probably take years off your life. But most people don’t realize that even if you engage in an exercise program everyday and then follow it up by sitting around for hours on end, you are still putting your health at risk!

Although you may have over 300 channels on your television and movies you can rent for just a buck, keeping active will keep you alive! So forget sitting around watching the tube. Instead, get moving!

Here are five ways that you can get out of that chair and add years to your life:

Look for chances to stand up. Whether it is when the phone rings or every time you change the channel on the television, it will be good for you to do.

Instead of looking for the closest bathroom or parking space, opt for one that is farther away or up or down a flight of stairs (providing it is safe and weather is permitting). You will use more and different muscles, burn some calories, and keep moving.

Focus on doing some type of chores everyday that keep you moving. This could be washing windows, gardening, or cleaning the floors. What it is doesn’t matter, so long as you keep moving. And just think of how clean your house will be!

Make stretching a normal part of your day, regardless of what you are doing. If you are sitting at a computer, on a couch, or in the car, try to get up and do some stretching exercises every 30 minutes to an hour.

Get some of your neighbors together to take a walk around the block each morning or evening. Most likely you have neighbors that need to be active as well, so team up, motivate each other, and keep moving!

Even if you are not striving for weight loss, it is important to keep active. It will help you live longer and lead a healthier life. Health and fitness goals always include getting off that couch and moving around. Keeping active is one of the most important fitness tips you will ever get!

Grocery Shopping for Fitness

As a personal trainer, I see people quite often put a lot of time and effort into their workout routine. Whether they are doing cardio exercises or strength training, they put a lot of focus on just that. Then, once they finish their workout, they go home and grab anything to eat for their lunch. That’s not such a good idea. If you are going to take the time to focus on fitness, take the time to eat right to go along with it!

Whether you are a baby boomer that is just getting started in your quest for fitness, or you have been at it for years, you need to keep what you put in your shopping cart in the forefront of your mind. What you buy and stock your kitchen with can make a big difference in obtaining and maintaining your fitness goals.

When it comes to the best way to lose weight or what the best weight loss foods are, it all comes down to what you put in the shopping cart. If you don’t bring unhealthy food into the house, it won’t be there when you are reaching for a snack. And you don’t have to meet with a nutritionist in order to determine which foods are going to be the best weight loss foods.

Here are some tips when it comes to grocery shopping for fitness:
Shop the perimeter of the store. This way you get more natural foods, rather than a lot of pre-packaged items. Be sure to load up in the produce department. Or better yet, find out when and where your local farmer’s market is and hit that up.
For breakfast, aim for high fiber cereals or steel cut oats.
Be sure to get plenty of lean protein, fiber, fruits, and vegetables. When you shop for things like your pasta or bread, make sure it is whole wheat. You really need to have that fiber in your diet.
Make sure that the fats you are using are friendly ones, which means to eliminate or limit the amount of saturated fat in your diet.
Pay attention to what you are drinking. You don’t want to load up on alcohol or sugary beverages. Opt for water, green tea, or in limited amounts, pure fruit juice.
For your snacks each day, go for things like hummus and veggies, low fat yogurt, peanut butter on celery, or fresh fruits.

Eating healthy is a huge part of losing weight, as well as maintaining your fitness goals. This is true with older adults, but it is also true at any age. So pay attention to what you put in your grocery cart, so each week you help your fitness goals, rather than hinder them!

Indoor cardio for those cold days

It’s easy to stay active during the spring, summer and autumn when the weather outside is warm and sunny. It can be just as easy to give up on physical activity in the winter when days are cold, rainy, snowy and short. What are Baby Boomers supposed to do, sit inside and watch television all day? Not quite. In fact, it is just as easy to stay active indoors as it is to stay active outdoors during those long winter days. It’s even easier when you think of all your normal daily activities that can serve as a good cardiovascular workout.

Cardiovascular activities are aerobic and increase your pulse rate. You may even find yourself getting a little out of breath. That’s okay, but don’t push yourself too hard at first. Gradually work up as your fitness level builds. If you are bound indoors most of the winter, think about some of these everyday activities that help you stay active and burn calories while waiting for spring:

Cleaning: This includes dusting, vacuuming, mopping floors, washing windows, cleaning out closets and drawers and sanitizing your bathroom. For a person weighing 155 pounds, half an hour of rigorous cleaning can burn around 170 calories.

Moving furniture and carrying boxes: This can include re-arranging rooms around and cleaning in those places that you haven’t cleaned in years. On average, a 155-pound person will burn between 180 to 210 calories in a half hour.

In addition to cleaning and moving furniture and boxes around your house, also consider working out to an exercise video. These DVDs are in just about every store and feature videos for aerobics, yoga, free weight training and everything in between. Especially geared towards Baby Boomers is Jane Fonda’s “Fit & Strong,” a gentle workout video with exercises that you can do sitting and standing. Also gaining in popularity are game console video workouts, such as Jillian Michaels’ “Fitness Ultimatum” made for the Nintendo Wii. This exercise “game” takes you through the woods and on the beach, where you exercise with an animated Michaels on your screen. Her workouts are more rigorous than Fonda’s but you can certainly adapt segments to fit your fitness level.

For community support, join a gym, take Baby Boomer aerobics classes or practice yoga with family and friends. Exercising with others can help you push one another and find encouragement. In time, you will see that it’s actually just as easy to exercise inside as it is outside. By the time winter is over, you will be in even better shape than you were prior to the season. That way, you will be able to take on even more fun outdoor activities this coming spring and summer.

Having a job may keep Baby Boomers ticking

The large number of Baby Boomers entering retirement age this year certainly adds stress to the already-dwindling Medicare benefits and Social Security funds available to our country. On top of that stress is the fact that companies are downsizing and handing out severance packages to employees or are forcing others to retire. Whatever the case may be, if you are a Baby Boomer who still needs to work or who still wants to work, you are not alone. There are many other individuals in the Baby Boomer population who continue working well past retirement age too.

What are the reasons why a Baby Boomer would actually want to keep working past retirement? Some reasons may include truly enjoying their job, such as a die-hard gardener who works in a greenhouse well into her 80s. Another reason may be because the pay is just that good: They may be the CEO of their own family business. Others may continue working because they would otherwise be completely bored at home. And, at any rate, we are simply living longer than what our forerunners did 60 years ago. Regardless of the reason, working past your supposed retirement age may just be what is helping you to stay ticking.

When you face the mental and physical demands of your full or part time job, you are constantly working on your alertness and strength. If you maintain proper nutrition and exercise often, more than likely you will have more energy and will be better suited to continue working in your current job. And, it can also help to improve your chances of landing a new job if you decided to retire from another occupation in the past.

If you’re in better shape, you will most likely live longer and may not need to rely upon all of those Medicare benefits anyway. To help keep the Social Security funds in better check now, the government is currently looking at pushing the eligible retirement age further and further out from age 65. This may or may not be beneficial to all Baby Boomers, but if you start leading a healthy and fit life now, it may serve you well. In fact, you may indirectly help to stretch the fund out for many more years which, in the long run, would benefit everyone in the Baby Boomer population and possibly beyond. Therefore, keep exercising and eating right if you want to continue working for as long as you need to or want to.

The Bad Stuff About Obesity in America

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If you think obesity is on the rise in America, you’re absolutely right!  It’s now known that about 60 million people in the US are obese.  Obesity affects more women than it does men, and women aged between 20 and 74 are those predominantly affected by this epidemic.

And most of them are African American or Mexican American.

That’s according to the statistics anyway – and they are nothing short of alarming.

Obesity in the US has been on the rise since the 1960’s, and it was from this time that the life of the average American got busier.  Much more career focused, busier, less active and more convenience-driven.  That’s also why take away chains are doing such a roaring trade…but look a the incredible cost.

A rise in obesity means increased health problems, which drains our stressed health system.

But, what exactly is obesity?

It’s one thing to be overweight and another thing to be obese.  When one is overweight, it means they are heavier in the muscle, bone, water and fat department.  If one is obese, they have too much fat.  According to health care professionals, to be obese, guys have in excess of 25% body fat, and women have in excess of 30% body fat.  Biologically, women have more body fat than guys.

So that is what is considered to be obese.

And that’s pretty significant.

Obesity is directly linked to lifestyle diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease – even breast, colon and prostate cancer.  But physical diseases isn’t where it ends.  Obese people tend to suffer more from mental health conditions such as depression, low self-esteem and a lack of self-confidence.

Obesity can happen to anybody…but positive change all boils down to willpower

Sure, it’s often the case that obese people come from obese families.  The fact of the matter is though that it can happen to anybody.  You just need to have that lifestyle of eating too much and exercising too little – if at all.  All of these factors are a recipe for obesity.

As scary as the statistics are and the ramifications of obesity, the power is with you to ensure you don’t become obese – or stay obese, if you already are.

Earlier this year, on Good Morning America, we watched how 500 people lost a combined weight of nearly 700 pounds.  That’s astonishing isn’t it?

The five people were Eric Freemyer who lost 130 pounds, Wendi Tillem who lost 124 pounds, Kim Eidson who lost 159 pounds, Marty Moorehead who lost 163 pounds and Ken Shooltz who lost 120 pounds.

They lost weight by using a variety of diets from Aitkins to Dr. Siegal’s Cookie Diet, and exercising.  As great as the weight loss has been though, all five of these people have made the necessary lifestyle changes to keep their weight within the healthy range.

As great as those stories are though…

…some of you guys out there may have tried diets like this, but to no avail.  Perhaps you could not stick with it?

If that’s the case, don’t beat yourself up.  Understand that permanent weight loss is the only weight loss.  There is no point yo-yoing…losing five pounds here, ten there.  You need to achieve a healthy weight and you need to stick to that weight, in order to be healthy.  Lifestyle is the only way.

So before you reach for that next diet shake or order weight loss pills, remember that.  Do you really want to be drinking shakes all your life?  Do you really want to be popping pills?

More often than not, the answer is no.  And that’s a good thing, because lifestyle is the only way.  Adopt a healthy, balanced diet and exercise at least half an hour a day, three days a week.  There really is no other way to do this permanently.

Keep reading my articles to get helpful tips to help you achieve it for yourself – and your family!