The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Staying Fit at Any Age
When the temps are in the twenties for the fourth month in a row, who wants to wake up, climb out of bed and hit the gym before 7am?
If your answer is, “Not me”, you are not alone. The more we age the more challenging it is to do the work necessary to maintain our fitness. I’m a boomer with too many friends taking multiple meds, having hip replacements, are overweight, diabetic, and flat out looking and feeling old. It’s understandable. Modern life is stressful. It takes something more than motivation to stay fit. It takes willpower. Motivation comes and goes. Our will is constant, but only if we call on it.
Assuming you have the will required to get into shape, you need a way to get started. That’s where your Guy’s Guy comes into play. And the word “play” is our first lesson. Working out to stay fit needs to be driven by both your will and a sense of “play”. You have to enjoy working out and its benefits to stick with any fitness program. I’m writing this post in mid-March and can honestly state that I know very few peeps that have stuck to their New Year’s fitness resolution. There are too many distractions, work deadlines, bad weather, and excuses available to stray from the course, unless you have that will power to succeed. Although you can call me a douche for crowing about it, I have stuck to my guns, am putting in the work, and it is paying off. And that’s why I’m writing about this. But let’s talk about you and what you can do when you are ready to get back into shape and stay there.
With that I present, The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Staying Fit at Any Age.
1. Have a goal – Although you can simply begin working out whenever, it helps to put in some thought beforehand to what you are trying to accomplish. For many it’s weight loss, for others it could be toning up. It doesn’t matter what your goal is, but it helps when you keep that goal etched into your subconscious when you are kicking off your program and when you hit that first plateau. Without a goal it becomes far too easy to find excuses to skip a day or have that scoop of chocolate chip mocha gelato. Having a goal helps you abide.
2. Start slowly – If you have not learned this by now, let me remind you that life is a marathon, not a sprint. When instituting any new fitness program, especially in the dead of winter, the key is to start slowing and build up steadily but slowly. Think about your program as a lifestyle change, not temporary punishment. You also don’t want to hurt yourself by pulling a muscle from trying to do it all in a week or two. Take your time, amigo. It’s a marathon.
3. Be Consistent – If you keep your goal in mind and begin your routine slowly while re-introducing that mind-body connection, you’re off to a good start and ready for your next challenge. That means hitting your workouts consistently. As mentioned, I cannot emphasize enough how often you will be tempted to skip days when you’re getting started. If your body can handle the changes, keep your appointment with yourself and your goal. And, you don’t have to be a slave to the regime. That’s the wrong mindset. Get into a frame of mind where you look forward to your next workout. How can you do that when it’s six in the morning and you look in the mirror and still see blubber hanging over your waist? That’s actually the point. Instead of giving up, this is the time to hunker down and remind yourself this is how championships are won. Yeah! (fist pump). Keep going and think of the payoff. You’re getting trimmer and fit and your partner is going to love it.
4. Rest – Now that you’ve turned your workouts into a scheduled routine and you’ve begun to amp up the resistance, it’s time to listen to your body and reward it with the rest it needs. That does not mean taking a week off. It might mean sleeping in on your off day or switching out weights for cardio when your body and mind are asking for a break from the iron. Rest is always good if you deploy and not exploit it. When you listen to your body and know when to give it a break or a change you’ll run like a finely tuned machine.
5. Use your food for fuel – The best fitness advice I ever received was “abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym.” If you don’t believe it, ask any bodybuilder or fitness competitor. You are what you eat and even if you work out like a dog, if you are filling up your body with bad fuel, you will have problems reaching and maintaining your goals. If you have committed yourself to a fitness regime, do yourself a favor and be careful with your intake of booze, simple carbs, and sugar. I also suggest avoiding processed and fried foods if you want to lose weight. Any boomer will tell you how hard it is to get back in shape and shed the pounds after you fall out of shape.
6. Shake up your routine – If you’re like me you probably create a routine and keep doing the same thing workout after workout. I’ve been fighting this tendency for years. It prevents me from maximizing the work I’m putting in at the gym. It’s critical to mix things up now and then. I recently discovered Dan Millman’s Peaceful Warrior Four Minute Workout and I love it. It’s a combination of 15 movements that you do in order to unlock energy and unleash your power. You can find it online. I recently begun to include it before my workouts, and if I have a rest day I put in the four minutes to run through this routine of stretches and twists. It really helps. Other ways you can break up the monotony are running outdoors instead of using the elliptical or taking a class or doing a high intensity workout now and then instead of pumping iron. The more variety of muscles you include on your workouts the fitter you become.
7. Win the mental game – It’s easy to give up when the results are not coming as fast as you’d like them to. But, don’t give up.Never give up. It’s too damn easy to quit and you’ll kick yourself when you pack it in and order that bacon cheeseburger and a couple of beers. If you want the results, you’ll need to maintain some discipline and keep up the fight even on the days you don’t feel like it. That’s how championships are won. You can do it if you want it bad enough. That’s’ up to you, amigo, but I have faith in you.
This week’s Guy’s Guy (Gal) of the Week is Harlem’s own Ida Keeling, who is 102 years old. She recentlyset a new world’s record fo0r the 60-yard dash event in the 100-104 age group at the Imperial Dade Track Classic in Manhattan.