Over Fifty? Exercise is not an Option

Okay, time to come clean and do some sharing. I don’t like being old. I especially do not like feeling old. If you have read anything in any of my Diet and Exercise posts, you know I am a big fan of walking. Exercise is so important for us all and especially the over fifty crowd.

As my Doctor saw I turned fifty he said, “The good times are over, get used to it.” I was devastated. He must be joking. I’m only fifty, I am not getting ready to go make my funeral arrangements. Once the shock of what he told me wore off, I started investigating.

It does seem around fifty is when, if we allow it we start to degrade and fall apart. It gets worse. How fast we degrade and fall apart is totally dependent on how little or much we do to keep body in good condition. It like what the caption on one of my diet and exercise cartoon posts:

“What fits your busy schedule better, exercising one hour a day or being dead 24 hours a day?” – Randy Glasbergen February 20, 1957 – August 11, 2015

I didn’t believe it then, but I am a member of the choir now. Simply put, enough can not be said about the importance of real exercise for everyone, especially for people over fifty. Think about how you feel. Everything is getting a little harder, a little more frustrating?

Standing in a static position used to be a non issue, suddenly after thirty seconds something starts to hurt? After a minute, it really gets painful! Yard work that used to be so relaxing, has taken on the proportions of a mammoth undertaking? No pun intended, but if it is strenuous yard work you are doing, you may start to feel feel you are on the way to the undertaker.

When did all this happen? Where did these pains, creaks, and cracks come from? They started the day you sat or laid down on the couch instead of going out and doing something! Little by little we tone down our activities from the mostly physical, to couch surfing.

What I have read many times in books is true. Up until the last hundred years, we had to work for our food. We had to hunt and gather. We had to walk miles and carry heavy pieces of meat back home. We had to carry all our gathered fruits and vegetables, sometimes miles back to our home. After a few days lounging around, we had to do it again.

As we grew older, we aged little – on the inside. Not like today, where it is acceptable too slowly degrade to a cane, a wheel chair, a hospital bed, and death. A few generations ago, if we did not hunt and gather, we didn’t live long enough to get old. We exercised as a life style, not for something to do.

For some people growing weak and decrepit is acceptable. That’s what their folks did, so it must be normal. In just a few generations we have forgotten, what it’s like to live a full life until almost the end and then fall apart quickly. Why anyone would want to live the life of someone in there late eighties for the last twenty years of their life is beyond me!

The More you exercise, the better life you live!

I know from repeated personal experience, if you want to feel twenty years younger in a few weeks, start walking three to four miles every day, and/or join a gym and use it. It is amazing how those painful joints, creaks, and cracks go away in a few weeks of exercise. Those heavy boxes, suddenly are twenty pounds lighter. Yard work is no longer punishment. Wow.

In short the joy in life is back! All it takes is a three week start on a life long plan of getting as much exercise as you can manage. You may feel like you have been hit by a truck when you start. If so, take two aspirin, and slow down. It took all your life to get in this bad of shape, take a few months of going slowly but steadily to get your body back a healthy state.

Find things you like to do that can be counted as real exercise. Mix weights with some walking, rowing, hiking, anything that gets your heart beating faster for more than a few seconds.

While you are doing all this, you may want to think about foods you are putting in your mouth. Just like the old computer saying, “Garbage in, Garbage out”, the food you eat effects you more now than it ever did.

I used to have pizza and beer some days for lunch and dinner, but those days are long gone. As Clint Eastwood said in one of his movies, “A Man has got to know his limits.” This applies especially with eating. I like feeling my heart beat.

Women, until menopause, it is thought (or was) have a somewhat natural immunity to bad diet and lifestyle. Men never did, it just gets worse faster over fifty. Sitting at a desk all day, typing, does need the calorie intake of a day laborer. You do not need a doughnut to start your morning. On the other hand, a day laborer over forty, should find something healthier to eat than burgers and fries.

So back to me, my come clean and share. This spring, I was walking over fifteen miles a week, and doing HIT – running and walking, feeling really good. That lasted until about the end of May. Then it started getting really hot on the walking path. Then it got hotter. A few days later, it became no fun. Baking in the sun, feeling the hot asphalt through my tennis shoes. I stopped walking because I didn’t want to be up at five to do it. – Like I couldn’t go out at eight or nine. What a sad excuse…

The end of May, June, and July came and went. By the end of July, I was starting to feel old. I hurt, the couch hurt, the bed hurt, my knees hurt. One shoulder and ankle joints were occasionally cracking as I moved. I was really feeling old. I was falling apart fast.

Three weeks ago, I had enough. I joined a gym for the whopping fee of $13.00 a month! Weight machines, stationary bicycles, treadmills, rowing machines and a shower to boot! In just a little over twenty-one days, I can’t say I feel like I am twenty. I can say I feel like I am forty again.

If I hadn’t been walking all these years, I would have thought how I was feeling was normal. Thankfully, due in part to my old doctor and his doom and gloom statement, I knew it was a small matter of exercise to knock off a few decades of how I feel.

I am working on what exactly is the best plan for the gym. Should I do cardio one trip and weights the next, or do them both on the same visit? I am not sure yet. I do know that in a month from now, I will have refined what I do and how I do it.

I want to have fun and feel young again. I want to have a low pulse rate, be as flexible as is reasonable, and be able to pick and move heavy items when I need to. In wrapping up, at any age, you define your own health and fitness. They are a package deal. The older you get the more important they become. Once you reach or drive by fifty, you have two choices.

You can choose to keep as fit and by default as healthy as you can be, or you can develop age and sedentary related problems as you slowly fall apart, living in pain while you wait to die.

While I wrote this for anyone over fifty, it applies to the younger crowd as well. Do you want to live your best live, or just survive? The choice is yours.

High Intensity Interval Training, My One Month Observations

I have been reading a lot about exercise lately. I joined a gym, and had an hour with an instructor. The hour turned out to be more of a sales pitch than anything else, but there may be a few seeds of knowledge in what I heard. The instructor holds a Masters Degree in Human Physiology, so I believe most of what he said. He lost me at the $400.00 per month trainer cost to get me looking like an American Ninja competitor in six months. I thought six months was too quick, maybe if he said seven months I would have signed up….

Between, the instructor, books and the web, I have learned exercise has changed a lot over the years. Smarter exercise is better exercise. Longer exercise times are not always smarter or better. Science seems to show almost everyone can get themselves in reasonable physical condition in as little as thirty minutes a week, as quickly as a few months.

The idea of High Intensity Interval Training is simple, once it is understood. It seems our bodies may not made for trotting all day alongside a herd of Antelope waiting for our chance to strike. The newer exercise science seems to declare we are made for reasonable movement mixed with all out spurts of action or movement mixed in.

Translated into something I understand, all out spurts of action means as little as one minute of cycling, running, swimming, cross country skiing, or performing any total body activity at the fastest possible speed. This all out action is repeated three times after warmup, with intervals of slower or recovery movement in between the all out portions.

Here is my plan using the ideas from High Intensity Interval Training:

1. Warm up. Perhaps a minute of jumping jacks followed by two minutes of walking, or simply walking about three minutes at a moderate pace.

2. Run as fast as I am able, with a goal of running all out for a full minute.

3. Slow to a walk for two to three minutes of recovery (catching my breath).

4. Run as fast as I am able, with a goal of running for a full minute.

5. Slow to a walk for two to three minutes of recovery (catching my breath).

6. Run as fast as I am able, with a goal of running for a full minute.

7. Slow to a walk for final recovery.

Exercise and feel younger, Exercise and feel better

I started using this High Intensity Interval Training exercise idea about a month ago, I could only run my fastest for about ten seconds. Muscles in my hips and upper thigh complained loudly and painfully. I thought at first I would not be able to do this as the pain was so quick and pronounced.

The pain remained for some days. The exercise reward seemed non-existent. I went through my cycles with a goal of this exercise plan every other day, or three times a week.

It is now a month or so later, and I am up to all out running all out for about thirty to forty seconds. No pain. My Recovery Walk lasts two to four minutes instead of ten or twelve. High Intensity Interval Training has a lot going for it after all. I confess I am a converted skeptic about High Intensity Interval Training.

As a baseline, I want to mention, I walk a lot. When the weather and other things cooperate, I walk somewhere around 15 miles or more a week. Running however is a whole different animal.

I do not remember having as much as jogged in the last twenty years. After 40, running was thought to cause joint problems. Initially running was where my major pain came from. I discovered I had several smaller unused or little used muscles around my lower hips and  hip joint.

Which brings me to something the instructor salesman told me which may or may not be true. As we sail past about fifty years of age, we become much more efficient at the things we do. If we are going to get up, we do two or more things because we are up.

Our body also starts to quit using non essential muscles, and even some muscles that are useful, but not mandatory in our lifestyle. Muscles start to deteriorate because we do not use them.

Setting my skepticism aside, I am sold on High Intensity Interval Training as the most productive use of limited exercise time. If you are like me and have not moved faster than a fast walk for some years, you may want to buy a bottle of your preferred pain reliever first.

Of course always check with your doctor, and read what you can find about High Intensity Interval Training to determine if this is the right exercise for you. I find I enjoy High Intensity Interval Training and the gains are fast – once the pain goes away.

Green Smoothie 30 Day Review

I am through my fourth week and entering my fifth week of Green Smoothies. What a world of difference in how I feel, and how I look. I followed up on a lot of what I read about Green Smoothies, both web based and paper based sources. Everything published in the books I have read seems to be true. The Web for the most part is true, but some sites tend to push the boundaries a little.

I have three family members drinking Green Smoothies too, as sort of a check on my observations of me. Two are experiencing  weight loss without a lot of effort. I went three days this week without a Green Smoothie. I started getting serious cravings for Green Smoothies. When my body didn’t get it, cravings for food in general started to occur. I am drinking a Green Smoothie as I type this, and the first glass of Green Smoothie has quieted the cravings.

One a side note, I had not eaten since last night. I joined someone for lunch today. Since it was breakfast for me, I had corned beef hash, eggs, and hash browns. It used to be one of my favorite meals. Today however I ate, but really wanted a Green Smoothie instead.

I was at a book store today, and a young couple was looking for a diet book on Smoothies. I told them about the book I have, Green For Life, and how good of a book it is. They started looking for it, and I mentioned that after a few weeks of Green Smoothies they would not willingly want to eat [most] Fast Food again. I could see almost fear cross their face, and they thanked me, and decided they had to leave the book store at that moment.

I find it amusing that we are so conditioned to eat meat that the idea of eating vegetables is foreign to us. I never realized how conditioned I am by the media, until instances such as a diet change to incorporate Green Smoothies enters my life. Suddenly, I have to overcome a disconcerting feeling of odd and strange as I was one of those people who thought people who primarily subsist on a vegetable diet are a little touched and certainly not healthy.

I do not think I will ever become a full fledged vegetarian, I am too old and too far gone for that, but perhaps the future will reveal a different truth. For the present though, I am satisfied that my nutritional needs are met, and most exceeded by the powerhouse drink called Green Smoothie. If I find a way to dedicate more time to eating, perhaps then I would give up meat completely.

I can say, I am more aware of ever of the thousands of animals killed daily, and the thousands of pounds of meat thrown away daily and its a real shame. I try to be mindful of my food and the fact that it died so I can have food to eat although sometimes I find myself throwing out meat, that sat in the fridge too long.

I find it personally shameful when I have to throw away meat knowing that an animal died and I wasted their flesh. Not to be taken out of context, I am not a PETA member hiding in disguise, but I prefer not to waste meat from an animal that perhaps would not have been butchered if I was more mindful. This subject of meat rages across our world every day, so take what I wrote for what it is.

On a side note, having lived in the proximity of feeding pens, I know a Cow’s last days are not all they could be. I think the way they are kept is deplorable. I think if most people saw the conditions of the feed yards, they would gladly pay a little more a pound for their beef. I think the same applies to all meats we consume. I wish there were a better way. Being mindful of the meat we  waste each day, either throwing out spoiled meat we didn’t eat, letting cooked meat get old, or my favorite pet peeve, wasting meat in a buffet. Stopping these behaviors are ways to be more mindful of a meat animals welfare.

Green Smoothies have made me feel better, period. It is not a carnivore verses vegetarian issue, or a health nut in the making story. The plain truth is I doubt the average Doctor’s ability and motivation to ensure I am in the best possible health. I am primarily an income source to my doctor. If I don’t need him, he loses money. Not to say Doctors do not care about their patients, but HMO’s in particular are out to make a profit, not free patients from a Doctors care.

I am hopefully going to retire some day, and I would rather spend my retirement on enjoying life, and not sick or in a nursing home waiting to die, wishing I was dead. I have worked too long and too hard. I want to reap any rewards waiting for me from what will be over five decades of working. Why should a Doctor nursing home take the monies I spent all my life working for when a simple diet change takes care of most health issues?

Green Smoothies are not the end all, be all. Green Smoothies are for me at least the biggest thing to come down the health and nutrition pipeline in many years. Who would have thought that a fruit and a few green vegetable leaves could make me feel so healthy, happy, and feeling so good?

I am compelled because a small part of me is not cynical of Green Smoothies to write, Green Smoothies are the most important change I have made to better my health ever! I do not know how to say it stronger than that.

Green Smoothies is a lifestyle commitment to better your own heath. You also need a blender. All it takes after these two changes is a blender and five minutes. Everyone should be able to improve their health and feel better. Eating healthier is not bad for you. Eating more vegetables is not bad for you. Taking better care of yourself is not bad for you. Eating too much of the wrong foods will kill you. What is more fun, eating right or dying early?