Although I’ve been a dietitian since the ’70s, I really didn’t concentrate on my own fitness until 10 years ago. Like many Baby Boomer mothers, I’d put off “me time” until my youngest daughter graduated from high school. Then I invested in a personal trainer and doubled my efforts to get in shape with my four hours of cardio per week (I knew nothing about strength training at that time)!
I would continue working another eight years as a school foodservice director, heading a department with an $8 million budget, feeding 12,000 students daily at 22 sites with 60+ employees. It was stressful, but I survived to retirement and the start of a second career (which I thoroughly enjoy!).
As I’ve learned more about fitness these past couple of years, I’ve put this knowledge into practice and find that at age 63, I’m in pretty good shape! Here are five strategies that have helped; I wish I’d known these 10 years ago:
1) Strength training is critical as we age!
Like most women, I avoided weight lifting; I just didn’t think it was important. Cardio was king! But I’ve since learned that strength training is vital to fight age-related muscle loss (sarcopenia) and to keep metabolism up to burn calories. Pushing weights gives us the ability to do everyday tasks as we age, to avoid falls and to live independently as long as possible!
2) Protein intake is important, especially at breakfast!
I was never a big meat-eater, and I usually had a breakfast bar or bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. I’m sure my protein intake just barely met the minimum requirement. But protein is vital for several reasons as we grow older: it’s needed to help repair and maintain lean body mass (read: muscles), also helping counter sarcopenia, and it helps you feel fuller longer (important if you’re trying to lose weight). Most of us eat too much protein at night, when it’s not used to build muscle tissue, and not enough at breakfast. I now make sure to include an excellent protein source every morning.
3) Not all calories are the same.
In the old days, we used to have people focus on calorie-counting. Now we know that the most nutritious calories–those from fruits, veggies and whole grains, full of phytochemicals and dietary fiber–need to be the focus of our diets. It’s especially important to consume nutrient-dense foods, minimizing sugar and processed foods, as we age and our caloric needs decline.
4) Lots of us don’t get enough water, which helps with weight control and to support our immune response.
I didn’t pay much attention to my water intake back in the day. But I rarely leave home now without a water bottle.
5) A lack of sleep messes with your weight and can make you sick.
If you don’t get enough sleep, it negatively impacts the hormones that control hunger and fullness, leading to weight gain. Sleep is critical to repair tissues and fight illness. The last few years of my previous work life, I had chronic sleep problems and am happy to have lived to retirement!
Have you learned something about fitness recently that surprised you, or do you have any fitness questions? I’d love to hear from you!
Note: If you are ready to FINALLY TAKE CONTROL of your FITNESS, and want to speak with me in an unbiased format, take advantage of my FREE CALL. I promise to give you a few tips and things to look at immediately, plus we can discuss if any of my programs or classes are a good fit for you.
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