fitness at 40
Today seems like a good day to talk about a fitness life cycle I've seen with a lot of my friends - fitness in your 40's. (It's my birthday today, so humor me.)
Here's a story I hear pretty often:
I was in great shape when I was younger. Then, sometime in my 20's, life got too busy. Between the long hours at work, and a growing family at home, it was all I could do to get through the weeks. I leaned on excuses like "being there for my kids is more important than going to the gym" and "chasing my little guys around gives me plenty of exercise".
As the years settled in, so did the pounds. Eating more/worse than I should, year after year, along with very little exercise, led to slow but consistent weight gain. A couple-few pounds a year - not enough to make a difference, but it was there all the same.
Then one day, at about the time I turned (insert year here - 40, 42, 45, whatever), I realized how out of shape I was. Those couple-few pounds a year, over the course of 20 years, became a lot of weight, and suddenly I'm 40-50 pounds heavier than I was when (insert reference point here - I graduated college, I got married, my first kid was born, I should be, whatever).
The good news is that, once the realization is made, it's really not all that difficult to lose the weight - that is, it's easy as long as you're not in a race to shed the weight by next month! (patience, young grasshopper.)
And when you approach it with these small, incremental steps, you're more likely to be able to keep your new approach to eating and exercise with you for the next 40 years.
What's my personal story, you ask?
My story was similar to, but not exactly like, the story above. I peaked at 28 pounds over my college graduation weight, but I'm lucky - I wouldn't want to be that small again! Mine was more about the transition from being an athlete who loved competing at almost every sport, to a full-time couch potato who avoided most strenuous activity.
I had an epiphany two and a half years ago (when I was 40), and decided to get back into being active.
Since then, I've run several triathlons (an olympic-length race last month was my longest), competed in a 10-mile run, swum 2,000 meters, become adept at cross-fit, and have played some soccer (in one game of dads vs competitive boys, it felt good to be the dad who wasn't huffing and wheezing!)
You don't need to turn your life upside-down while trying to get back into shape. No need to follow a hyper-strict diet and a hardcore workout routine. In fact, biting off more than you can chew is more likely to lead you to quitting than it is to success. Remember - one, two, even three pounds a month will lead to a lot of weight loss over time.
Diet and Nutrition - Moderate your portion sizes. Cut out one or two bad offenders. Make a couple different choices during the day. It doesn't need to be extreme, just a little better, and a lot of consistent.
Fitness - Add some activity back into your life. Get your heart beating, lungs pumping, adrenaline charging, muscles working. Even if it's 20 minutes at a time, a couple-few times a week.
Slow & steady - keep working towards healthy.