Whether in jest or with sincerity, friends can start using phrases like over the hill, long in the tooth, and on your last leg around birthday #35. As time goes on and we have more and more birthdays, those phrases can be easier to believe. What is more important to believe, however, is that it’s never too late. Waking up in the morning shows you that. While it may not necessarily be easier, staying fit while getting older is possible!
What we are sharing are more general points that can help your health in an overall sense. Of course, you’ll want to consult with your trusted physician before starting any diet or exercise program.
Go to the Gym
Be it a local one or part of a chain, the marketing for your nearby gym may not feature someone your age, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for you or that it’s not important. In fact, sessions of strength training (three times a week) as we age is key for improving bone density, increasing mobility, and building muscle strength. Either lifting light weights with more repetitions or heavier weights with less repetitions can aid on your effort to stay in shape. Your time at the gym also can expand beyond just weight training. Gyms typically offer a variety of classes, including yoga, Zumba or other cardio and strength resistant training. Incorporating time at the gym with your diet will yield better and faster results.
Approach Eating Like Lois Lane
A good reporter approaches every story first asking Who, What, When and Where? If you approach your eating habits the same way, you may find ways to make some healthy changes. We’ll work the questions backwards…
As we age, we tend to eat out more. Whether professionals who have a busy work schedule or empty-nesters who no longer have children at home to cook full meals for, dining out is frequently an easier option. While at this point, you certainly deserve to be waited on and provided a nice meal, this gives menu control over to someone else. Options at restaurants are often foods higher in fat or processed foods. On top of that, studies have shown that portion sizes at restaurants and fast food chains have increased since the 1970s. When dining out, consider taking home a portion of the meal for as leftovers. The serving size at the restaurant may be a much larger meal than you need in one seating. It’s important to consider where you’re eating to ensure you aren’t working against your health goals.
Scheduling meals it important, for a few reasons. First, you don’t want to skip meals. As we age and grow in our careers, we typically get busier (not to mention balancing families). Skipping meals can either happen accidentally or strategically. It may time and cut calories, but the calories we may cut often include nutrients we need. Also, if you put off a meal, you may end up eating or snacking close to bed time. Eating before bedtime has you consuming food right before your metabolism slows down considerably while you sleep which doesn’t help in burning off the food. You certainly don’t have to set an alarm on your phone for every time you eat, but having a good idea of a general timeline will help you stay on track.
I used to eat Taco Bell once a week at minimum, and my younger metabolism hid the fact. Now, my body would not be so forgiving of such frequent indulgences. It doesn’t mean I can’t have a tasty enchirito every now and then, but if the goal is to lose weight, I would need to choose the time to treat myself wisely (and not often).
So the question becomes, if not fast food, what is helpful to eat as we age? A good amount of protein, calcium and vitamin D are great ways to start the day. Consuming vegetables and fruits high in fiber help to slow down the release of sugar into the bloodstream and can decrease the risk of collecting extra fat. If not a natural food, look at the ingredients on the boxes and wrappers of what you currently enjoy. The more ingredients listed, the less likely it’s good for you. It’s really no different from things that have been good for you throughout your whole life; these just tend to be more important foods to add to your regular diet as you age.
Knowing who you are striving to be healthy for can be the driving force to make these small changes or to stay consistent with what you’re already doing. Your spouse, your children and your grandchildren are all great and inspiriting reasons. Ultimately, we hope you are doing this for you. Life can seem long but it’s never really long enough. These small habits can hopefully help add a little more time.
Even though after 40, our bodies experience metabolic and hormonal changes, it doesn’t mean being fit or losing weight is impossible. It just means it may be more of a challenge. The good news is that by 40, you have proven time and time again you’re up to overcoming challenges. With the help of the tip, you can do this!