If you’re ready to unlearn some beliefs you’ve had for the last 30 or more years of your adult life and acquire some new habits there’s still a chance. You didn’t intentionally do anything wrong. We’ve learned more in the last 10 years about metabolism, exercise and nutrition than we have in the last 100.
What we know now tells us that it isn’t actually that the rules changed. That’s what we think, right? Suddenly what you’ve been doing isn’t working any more. The real truth is that we were too busy looking the other way at our careers and kids and parents and clubs and more. It was creeping up on us but we ignored it sometimes when we noticed but didn’t have time to stop.
Now, though, it’s a full-blown problem. Possibly for you it’s been a problem but now mortality is more of a reality. We’re approaching retirement afterall and it’s suddenly not looking like it did in our heads years ago. We want to go! We want to travel or garden or swing golf clubs and grandchildren. We want to start a second career that this time we’ll love. We’ve got places to go and people to see. Fat, however, wasn’t invited.
So where do you begin with making changes. They’ll be hard. As much as you might nod your head to the logic of what you’ll read, when you turn on the treadmill again or sit down to order dinner, you’ll fall back on your old habits. They have gravity; not unlike some of our body parts. So if you’re up for the fight, here goes.
- Start eating more protein than you thought was healthy. The Recommended Daily Allowances have never been user-friendly. Top protein researchers believe that RDAs should be renamed minimum daily allowance. They only keep us from becoming ill. They don’t promote optimal muscle maintenance, a key to staying lean and strong and keeping fat away. How much you ask? Thirty grams of protein three times a day should be your minimum.
- Start exercising in a way that helps you hold muscle. Your number one defense is weight training. The cute little pink dumbbells won’t do it, except for your small injury-prone muscles, that is. If you are healthy with no injuries and your joints will tolerate it, you want to lift a weight that becomes too heavy to do more at about 10 repetitions. Build up to that, don’t start with such a heavy weight. Focus on major muscle groups that will use your large muscles for a greater metabolism boost.
- Do your cardio exercise in a smarter way. Interval training is all the rage. We experts in strength and conditioning agree that one time a week of intervals can give you more gains than multiple times of intervals a week. Too much high intensity exercise can result in inflammation that prevents more progress. Reduce your risk of inflammation, and injury, by varying your intensity during the week. You still need some longer and more steady exercise. You should get a more challenging moderate intensity one day a week. Your interval day adds a well-rounded week of various intensities to train not strain. Yes, you can do more exercise, but rest and recovery days are required for optimal success. If you’re exercising every day and hit a plateau, you might be surprised what a day off a week will do for you.
- Sleep more. We’re hearing it all over for a variety of health reasons. One of the big ones is weight loss and maintenance. If you’re doing the first three tips above correctly, if you count those sheep for an average of 7-9 hours a night, chances are your fat loss will be easier.
Those four should have a major impact on seven collective keys that affect fat after 50. Focus on the one area you have the greatest need for change first. Then tackle the others one by one.
You can do this. Find a coach. Find a trainer. Find an accountability partner. You’ve got too many amazing years ahead. There’s never been a better time to be over 50 and we’re going to set new expectations. Let’s go!
Personal Training and Fitness expert Debra Atkinson, MS, CSCS is a barely boomer and founder of Voice for Fitness. As a wellness coach and personal trainer she provides articles, videos and up-to-date research in practical tips for exercise and nutrition that will change the way we age.