Tuesday, July 20, 2021

EXERCISE is a KEYSTONE HABIT

A Keystone Habit is any habit that translates into other good habits, creating postive change unexpectedly in other parts of life.  It leads to a cascade of other actions and benefits. 

Exercise is one such habit.  For instance,  regular exercise not only improves our physical fitness, (i.e, you lose body fat, become lean, look better, gain muscle, get stronger, etc), but it also results in numerous other positive benefits which can literally TRANSFORM our lives.

Studies have shown that people who exercise regularly consume less alcohol, smoke less, and become more productive at work.

Those who exercise regularly are generally happier… more motivated… less depressed… and make healthier eating choices.  Regular exercise also helps with insomnia, memory loss, and combats Alzheimer’s.

When exercising the body produces hormones (Serotonin and Endorphins) that make us feel good, lift our mood, and fight disease.  These feel-good endorphins also boost our self-confidence.

Then there's the matter of self-discipline.  It requires self-discipline to exercise daily which improves our self-control in other areas, making it easier to say no to destructive choices. 

For example, if you put forth the effort to go to bed early to get enough sleep so you can get up early to workout, you’re not going to turn around and drive through the nearest fast food joint for an artery-clogging deluxe breakfast. 

Experts say that regular exercise is like taking a magical pill for your brain, and if there were ever a drug that could do for your health what exercise can, it would be the most valuable pharmaceutical ever developed. 

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Healthy Living 

1.  During the COVID shutdown last year, instead of sitting around eating junk food, binge drinking, and skipping workouts, I played the hand I was dealt and made the most of it.  I doubled down on my workouts and dialed in on better healthy eating habits.  I got stronger, and a little bit leaner.

2. I usually don't have Friday nights on the town.  It’s not healthy for me to be out late and overeating.  Instead, I like hanging out with people who will go with me to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m. to buy vegetables and drink coffee.

3.  My goal is to age well.

4. The outdoors is my gym.  I do most of my workouts exposed to the weather (hot, cold, freezing, humid, muggy, whatever).  I have a home gym in a shed out back (pictured) and the building is not climate controlled, so I’m exposed to the changing weather conditions.  Beyond that, I hike trails in the forest, kayak or canoe local rivers, ride my bike, and take long walks (often carrying a weighted backpack; it’s called Rucking).  There’s something therapeutic and invigorating about being in the outdoors.  It’s one of my happy places.

5.  If you eat seafood, it should always be wild-caught.  Never farm raised.  Ever.

6.  The healthiest food choices are what you can grow, pick, catch, or kill yourself.

7.  Shop for fresh food every four days (produce, vegs, fruit).  Since they don’t keep very long, it’s best to buy a few days’ worth and then restock midweek. 

8.  I prioritize sleep.  It's essential for recovery.  I have a nighttime ritual each night that helps program my body into believing it’s time to shut down.  This helps me a lot.  I strive for 8 hours every night.  When I wake up in the morning I’m ready for the day.

9.  Squats.  The squat is the single most important exercise for anyone to master.  This is especially true for senior adults.  The ability to simply squat down and then stand back up is critical to one’s quality of life.  Find a version that works for you and master it. 

10.  Weightlifting at my age is not about bodybuilding as much as it is rehabilitation of my body, recovering lost connective tissue, and developing an underlying foundation of strength so I can remain active.  That approach is very important for older adults.

 

Monday, March 8, 2021

 How to Get a Grip on Emotional Eating

1.  Change your relationship with food. Instead of eating with your feelings or mood, enjoy your food from a health or fitness perspective as part of your nutritional plan.  View your food as energy and fuel.  

If we eat food only for enjoyment or comfort, it quickly turns into a series of bad choices of overeating which results in weight gain and internal inflammation.  

In reality, food is medicine.  It’s meant to nourish, correct, and heal.

2.  Re-engineer your food environment.  Get junk food out of the house.  If it’s not in the house, you can’t eat it.  Open your refrigerator.  It is filled with ‘convenience’ foods?  Or earth-grown real foods?  There’s nothing normal about any food that has traveled down a conveyor belt in a factory and ends up on a store shelf wrapped in plastic.

3.  Avoid Avalanche Foods.  Avalanche foods are those that you can’t stop eating.  Once you take a bite, IT’S ON!   Chips, crackers, cookies, etc. are “foods with no brakes.”  Know yourself, have a sense of awareness, and distance yourself from the temptation of your avalanche foods.

4.  Eat like an Athlete.  If it makes you feel like crap, stop eating it.  If it makes you feel sluggish, bloated, and guilty, stop eating it.  You know what I’m talking about  - a sausage McMuffin covered in gravy with side of cheese hash browns, or some other toxic poison they call food.

Make choices that optimize health and performance.  Eat with awareness (instead of mindlessly consuming calories).  Eat high-performance foods.  Drink lots of water.  Listen to your body.  Exercise self-discipline like an athlete.
 
5.  Meal Prep.  This is the practice of preparing your meals ahead of schedule for several days.  Having pre-prepared meals on hand helps me from making poor food choices throughout the day, controls portion size, and helps me reach my nutritional goals.
 

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Why I Resumed Weight Training at 60 Years Old






Here’s an excerpt from the book “The Barbell Prescription” written by Jonathan M. Sullivan, a medical doctor and PhD.  It really got my attention.

Strength training can slow, arrest, or even reverse many of the degenerative effects of aging:  loss of muscle and strength, brittle bones, floppy ligaments, frozen joints, and the decline of mobility and balance.

In the past, war, famine, and infectious diseases were the scourge of mankind.  Today the main killers are cardiovascular diseases and stroke.  Cancer runs second, while diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and respiratory diseases bring up the rear.  When infectious diseases do kill us, they tend to do so at the extremes of age and ill health.

A tragic manifestation of modern aging is the 65 year-old nursing home pretzel: diapered, immobile, sore ridden, tube fed, chronically dehydrated, kept alive until the insurance stops paying off, and finally allowed to die to open up the bed for a more lucrative replacement.

This obscenity is perpetuated by modern medicine’s ability to keep dead people breathing. 

Me? I have no intention of going quietly.  I am committed to growing older with as much strength, vigor, and function as I possibly can.

Lifting weights at any age has its rewards, but after 50 it can literally change your life.  The prescription for stiff joints, sore backs, and sleeping trouble is lifting weights. Pumping iron can increase bone density, reverse osteroporosis,and raise testosterone in older men!

Strength training (lifting weights) has long been thought of as the domain of burly young men.  Sure, a 22 year old bodybuilder can train a lot harder than a 60 year old grandmother, and he might even look better with his shirt off.  But the 60 year old needs to train in a way that Gym Bro cannot begin to fathom.  The 22 year old is pumping iron to look good on the beach.  The older person is engaged in a death match for existence, fighting to hang on to tissue, mobility, independence, and years of quality living.

In my remaining years I want to be active, in shape, continue gardening, throw my cast net like a boss, jog on the beach, lift heavy things, live as productively as possible, and passionately pursuing the things that mean the most to me.  I want to run my race well and cross the finish line strongly.

Dr. Sullivan says, “Exercise is the most powerful medicine in the world.  No drug in the world will ever match the power of exercise medicine.  Not drug in the world will ever confer so many beneficial effects to so many organ systems, at so little cost, with so few side effects.


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

What I Have Learned from 1 Year of Lifting Weights

This week marks one year that I have been on a serious workout program.  I began last year - the week before Thanksgiving - and have stayed with it ever since.

Here’s a few things I have learned along the way.  

#1.  Finding my “inner reason” was the key to get going.

Starting when I did was strategic.  I didn't want to gain weight during the holidays... only to start an exercise routine in January, so I figured I would get a jump start on things.  

i.e., There's something called "weight gain creep" which means every year during the holidays many of us add about 5 pounds of body fat and never work it back off.  Decade-after-decade goes by and it really begins  to add up.  One day we look in the mirror and realize we've packed on fifty-to-eighty pounds since high school.

More importantly, I turned 60 last year which got me thinking more and more about the quality of life I wanted to live for my remaining years.  I decided I wanted be as healthy and active as possible in my 60s and beyond.   I don’t want to shrivel up in my senior years, become obese, or die from heart disease.

If I am to continue in the ministry - or whatever the future holds for me - I must be healthy to be productive.  
Besides, I’m an active outdoors-man (I like to fish, go boating, camping, work in my garden, hike trails, ride bikes, go canoeing, etc, etc, ) and I’m not ready to give that up.  Living my remaining years in Miami playing shuffleboard with the old people is not part of the plan.

That was my inner reason – to be healthy and fit in my 60s.

I realize I will never have my 30-year-old body again, but it doesn’t mean I have to shrivel up either.  I can still be active, have more energy, and keep up with the grand-kids. 

If you’ve been thinking about beginning an exercise program but just can’t get started, find an inner reason.  It makes all the difference.  Do you want to look good?  Be healthy?  Have more energy and confidence?  Regain youthful strength?  Slow down the aging process? Find your own inner reason - whatever it is - and it will motivate you to get started and stay with it for a lifestyle change.

#2.  No one else really cares what I'm doing.  I get it.

It’s exciting to talk about what’s going on in my life, but the truth is most people don’t really care that much. 

I’m good with that. 

Know why?  I’m doing it for me... and that's why I haven't said anything for one year. Besides, the more time I spend talking to others about what I’m doing the less time I devote to actually making it happen!  Instead, I free myself up to achieve a lot more when I stop trying to tell everyone.  I simply put my head down and do the work quietly while no one is watching.

By the way, if you find your own inner reason to get started, you'll feel the same way.  An audience will not be needed. 

#3.  My gains have been slower.  A lot slower.

When I was younger I could start working out and within six weeks I would be pumping weight like a boss, and in six months I would pack on several pounds of muscle. 

Not now.  Took me a while to figure that out.

At my age, making progress comes a lot slower than in my 30s & 40s.  I mean a lot slower.  My body just doesn’t respond as quickly.  Getting stronger and adding muscle doesn’t come so easy.  And losing body fat seems to take forever.  Fooooor - evvvvver.  Dang!

Understanding this – (no, figuring it out after injuring myself a few times) has helped me tailor a good workout routine and pace myself appropriately.   

I went to the doctor for a checkup to make sure all my vitals on the inside were good.  Then I began an exercise routine, starting out very slow and easy – walking, then progressing to interval jogging, then bike riding, and finally to serious strength training.

Twelve months of lifting weights has improved my strength dramatically.  I'm lifting like a boss again - (that is, like a 61 year old boss 😎).   I have added a few pounds of muscle and lost body fat (especially the visceral belly fat that collects inside the abdominal cavity around the organs and causes all sorts of diseases).  I’m sleeping better at night (most of time). My appetite is under control and my blood pressure is down too.  Plus, many of the aches and pains in my joints that have plagued me for years are now alleviated (I live almost pain free). 

4.  Lifting weights feels good and I really enjoy it.

Physical activity reduces stress by releasing endorphins, which are feel-good hormones. Although (both) cardio and strength training stimulate your body to release endorphins, your body produces more endorphins in a faster period of time when you're weight lifting.

Now that I have plowed through the painful stage of beginner (sore muscles, struggling with self-motivation, etc) and reached the intermediate stage, I really look forward to my workouts.  Instead of being a struggle, they are enjoyable and empowering.  

Finally....

I have chosen something that gives me a little bit of self-improvement each day.  It's a much better option than dissipating myself through over-indulgence, the party life, toxic relationships, over-consumerism, and expensive toys as a vehicle to self-identity.

I just want to be healthy and live a long active life.  I still have places to go, people to meet, and things to do.

PS ...... and fish to catch.