August 4, 2011

Fat, Forty, and Fed Up!

Just the look on this poor woman's
face suggests to me she's looking
for a change!
Lately, I have been witness to a few of my "over-40" friends lamenting about their ever expanding waist-lines and their frustrations over their perceived lack of control.  In addition, I have sensed a underlying complacency and acceptance (are these different or the same?) of their expansion as they contribute it to the aging process.  Well, I'm here to tell ya, it doesn't have to be!

Over the last year, I have presented on fitness and fat loss for the over 40.  One of the beliefs about aging relates to the unavoidable "middle aged spread".  Another belief (and my personal favorite) suggests the inevitable slowing of the metabolism as you get older leading to even more weight gain.  Make no mistake, you CAN increase your fitness level, maintain (and increase) your muscle mass - leading to an increase in metabolism, and decrease your fatness at any age. However, as you get older the prescription changes (I remember the days when I could eat a grocery bag full of junk food in front of the TV without judgement please).

Of course, there's always
the fat loss soap. Although
this comes from the 1900's,
we still continue to sell (and
buy) this miracle fat loss cure
on the joke.
 The latest research on the subject suggests that if you want to maintain your health as you age, you only need to accomplish 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per day (give or take).  Unfortunately, (and please don't let this fact intimidate you) if you want to loose weight over 40 one must kick it up to approximately 60 minutes of continuous cardio 5-6 days per week.  This does not take into account the fabulous benefits resistance training provides the 40+ crowd.  So, in a nutshell, daily exercise for approximately one hour will (when combined with caloric restriction) lead to weight loss.  Easier said than done...right? I guess it depends on how you look at it.

If you are thinking you have to go from 0 to 60 in a week, ya, I guess it is a little intimidating. However, what if I told you that within one year you could go from 0 to 60 and improve your fitness level along with your body composition (fat to muscle ratio) .....and love what you are doing?  Is that something you may be interested in (note the used car salesperson tone to that last question.....)? I guess you have two choices; On one hand, you could continue to do what you are doing now and find yourself a year older in the same situation or you could start on this lifestyle change slowly and find yourself feeling and looking years younger next year.  In addition, you will enjoy your year, enjoy the holidays without fearing the fruitcake and Moosemilk (I don't know....some kind of alcoholic, ice cream combination that is big with certain social circles).

Well it is just have to go slow. To start, ask yourself which you enjoy most; cardio exercise or resistance training and do that one first. Start with 2 days per week and with each month, add a day until you reach 5 or 6 days per week. If you can successfully adhere to your program each month, move on..if not, start again. Next, add the other dimension of exercise (cardio or resistance) onto your existing program starting slow and adding on. For resistance training you only need to do exercises for the major muscle groups. An example program may look like; chest press, seated row, leg press - along with trunk stability exercises and a stretch.

Within one hour you could do 30 minutes of cardio, 20 minutes of resistance, and 10 minutes of stretching. The stretching is like an insurance policy for future exercise...if you don't do it, your body may break enough to keep you from it later on. This program will help you build lean tissue, increase your basal metabolic rate (BMR - the calories you burn at rest), increase your energy levels, and strengthen your cardiovascular just one hour!!!!!!
This fabulous vintage poster says
it all...we can do it!

For those that have been able to keep the weight off through exercise gets a little trickier as the years move on (damn those years).  To successfully loose the pounds or maintain what you have, you must combine exercise with a healthy diet - diet or exercise alone do not work.  From serving sizes and mindless snacking to drinking our calories and ignoring the labels, it all adds up. For example, if a daily cola drinker gave up their pop (one a day), they could loose up to 10 pounds within the year just from making that small change (of course the addiction to the caffeine and sugar may send them into the corner shaking like a baby and barking like a dog for a while...but it's worth it in the end).  Every little thing we do (or don't do) does make a difference. What we snack on, where we eat, how we prepare meals, and how much we stuff in our mouths make a difference over time. 

If you are over 40 and starting to experience some really irritating changes not all is lost. Change takes time, patience, and commitment...but completely doable. The trick is to kick those negative thoughts like, "I can't", "I'll fail again", "I can't fight aging", and the rest to the curb...the don't serve you well and will get in your way. You can do it and you will succeed.

That's all for now.

PS.  If you would like more detailed information on exercises or general exercise prescription, please email me or comment below.  Be aware that my information is basic and does not take into account special considerations or injuries. If you are wanting to begin a program I strongly suggest you seek the support and guidance of a certified personal trainer or Kinesiologist.  Happy exercise (yes it can be very happy)!

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