ELIMINATING SUGAR: RIGHT CHOICE FOR WRONG REASON

There’s an article in the news about a family who eliminated sugar from their diet for one year and all the benefits they experienced for having eliminated sugar. They did a good thing the wrong reason. The good thing they did was to start the practice of label reading while grocery shopping. We should all be reading labels while grocery shopping.

Sugar gets the bad rap even when many times the worst problem with a food item is not the added sugar. Keep in mind that even too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. Even when the presence of sugar appropriately sends up a red flag the sugar is often not the worst culprit.

The family primarily stopped eating sausage, salad dressings, cold cuts, crackers, and bacon.

People who want to eat only food that’s good for them will either infrequently or never eat any of the above food items for reasons that have nothing to do with sugar. At the very least they should carefully scrutinize any occasional selections in these categories because those foods are mostly bad for you even if the sugar were removed.

Yes you can improve your diet by rejecting food items containing sugar but the really good choice this family was making was getting into the habit of reading food labels.

Eliminating sugar helped them identify Frankenstein foods to avoid- foods that couldn’t exist without the help of a laboratory- foods that should be avoided for multiple non- sugar related reasons.

Foods they avoided have ingredients as bad as or worse than sugar – like saturated fat, nitrates and bleached flour.

The list of non-garden ingredients for most salad dressings is so long that the print on the label must be miniscule to make room for it.

It’s a challenge to find a nutritious cracker in a regular grocery store because most crackers are made with bleached white flour.

Cold cuts are some of the worst foods you can ever eat. You can feel the fat on your tongue and teeth when you eat a bite of bologna. Bacon? Please. No one needs to be eating a slice of pig fat- sugar or no sugar.

If you decide to eliminate sugar from your diet you’ll indirectly do some good for yourself because by doing so you will eliminate most processed foods. You might even save time in the grocery store because you’ll have eliminated the need to enter multiple aisles. You’ll necessarily have to resort to fresh whole foods.

It’s true some people either can’t eat sugar or may be very sensitive to any kind of sugar in their diet. Even if you aren’t sensitive to sugar, eating too much of one thing means you’re likely shorting yourself of something else you need to be eating. Even if you’re eating organic sugar sprinkled on top of your fresh blueberries it could be bad for you because you filled up on blueberries and didn’t get other needed nutrients.

Sugar, fat, and salt have become such buzz words. The mere presence of sugar, fat, and salt in our food does not tell the whole story of what we need to know in order to choose foods that are nutritious and delicious choices.

What should we do? Do we need to be food scientists to know how to eat?

Try to eat foods that don’t need an ingredient list- food that Mother Nature created. If there is an ingredient list be sure to read it. If it’s a long list probably you should keep shopping.

The good thing about any of this is that someone somewhere is trying to be conscientious about food and proper eating. That’s a good thing.

Reading labels is a great habit and increases awareness of what you’re eating. If you want to be naughty that’s one thing. You don’t want to unwittingly shoot yourself in your nutritional foot.

Eliminating unnecessary food purchases like cookies and chips helps you better afford quality food. Organic choices are good because (if you can trust the efficacy of the label) you’ll know that it was grown without toxic pesticides or genetically engineered seeds.

Organic or not, you have a better chance of making healthy grab-and-go choices if you stick to what Mother Nature has made-whether it’s sugar, fat, or protein. Fresh is the finest food on our planet. Thanks for reading to the end!

IS OUR FOOD “RIGGED” TOO? HOMEMADE VS FACTORY FOOD

Today it seems like fewer and fewer people understand what “homemade” or “made from scratch” or “fresh” mean. These terms describe how people ate back in the 1950’s and earlier.

One could almost refer to this time in food history as the “pre-Wonder Bread” era. I remember in the early 1960’s when we first saw Wonder Bread- it seemed an amazing novelty because it was incredibly light and fluffy. We didn’t stop to think about how it got that way- that it had been stripped of all its natural nutrients.

Homemade used to mean more than just “assembled” in your kitchen- by combining pre-fab mixes and spice packets. Cookies are not homemade or made from scratch if you simply baked them in your kitchen using a refrigerated roll of factory made dough.

Made from scratch meant that no ingredient- no component of the recipe was pre-made in any way. Every single component of the recipe was a singular food item. Food made from scratch has disappeared from most kitchens today.

Today fresh seems to mean either not frozen or not rotten. Fresh is defined by those of us who grew up back then as just picked off a tree, straight out of the ground, or straight off a vine. That’s the highest meaning of fresh.

The study of linguistics tells us that language is a living breathing entity and that if people decide to change or adopt a meaning, then doing so makes that adaptation acceptable. Apparently the original definitions of the terms “made from scratch,” “homemade,” and “fresh” are outdated. Maybe these terms have met the fate of the dinosaurs. Let’s hope not.

Why is any of this important? It’s important because we don’t know all that we’re really eating or how the edible chemical ingredients are affecting us when our food is factory made rather than made from scratch.

Factory made foods have all sorts of considerations that homemade and made from scratch foods don’t have. Factory food must have mass appeal. Artificial ingredients are added to make food appear more attractive and to extend shelf-life. Flavor enhancers- flavor potentiators are added to ensure that the fat, sugar, and salt doesn’t fail to excite and ignite the taste buds of the consuming majority.

What’s wrong with that? Now food tastes so unnaturally good that the taste rather than hunger is driving the eating and we’re able to eat inordinately large amounts of food. Appetite distortion happens. Having an appetite used to mean that you were hungry. Now it means you’re in the mood to eat.

Eating when you’re hungry and stopping before you’re stuffed is no longer a guiding concept for eating. We end up eating more than we need to eat before we’ve realized it.

Even if you’re conscious about eating the proper amount of food, it’s a constant tug-o-war between appetite (the mood or desire to eat) and true hunger (the body’s need for fuel).

I suggest we focus on each of us discovering how much fuel we need- no extra-no shortage. Then we can wisely learn to discern how to best enjoy our required allotment.

When we use laboratory ingredients to improve taste, we don’t realize when we’re full because the flavor potentiators trick our body into a state of confusion. Before we realize it we’re uncomfortably stuffed- yet often undernourished by what we’ve eaten.

As a young child I watched my mother make pasta using only eggs, flour, and a pinch of salt. She made doughnuts from the same kind of flour and coated them with sugar by shaking the hot cake doughnuts in a brown paper bag. We had green beans growing in our back yard garden as well as several fruit trees. I once watched my mother catch a chicken. I’ll leave out the details on all that happened to the chicken from when she caught it running in the yard until she got it into the frying pan.

I was in a nationally acclaimed diner the other day and observed the pies in the display case. These pies looked homemade mainly because the meringue was at least five inches high.

I had to discover the truth about these pies before I indulged either money or calories on them.

My server assured me that they were made from scratch- that the restaurant pie maker came in regularly just to make the pies and pastries and that all their pastries are made in-house by hand from scratch.

I had a really hard time believing this- maybe because I spent my early childhood in the Show-Me State of Missouri. It’s so rare nowadays for a restaurant to make food from scratch- especially a large volume restaurant.

I was trying to be polite and courteous but my disbelief must have been obvious. He summoned the manager to further assure me.

To my surprise and delight the manager invited me to come downstairs to see for myself exactly where all these beautiful pies were made. I felt honored and was so excited to get a sort of peek behind the curtain.

These people were so nice- I’ll never forget how nicely they treated me. But the reality of what I saw is a disappointment I’ll never forget.

I saw their restaurant supplies- cans and cans of pre-made mixes. If their pies were truly made from scratch these restaurant supplies would have been unnecessary. I would have seen only basic ingredients like flour, sugar, eggs, fresh strawberries and fresh apples. Instead I saw giant cans of apple filling and strawberry glaze. But these individuals believed they were making homemade pies. Instead they were assembling pie on the premises. Not any part of the pies was made from scratch.

Each time I think about that restaurant experience I’m somehow saddened. These people were trying so hard and putting a lot of sincere effort and love into feeding people- all the while unconscious of how they were missing the important mark of feeding people real, whole foods.

The solution to obesity in our country could be for each of us to get in touch with our true hunger, to eliminate all artificial ingredients from our daily diet, and to eat food that is not just homemade, but made from scratch. Keep restaurant visits to a minimum- unless you have a favorite haunt that makes the food from scratch on site.

Try to eat food made from scratch. Get away from the Frankenstein foods that can only be made with the help of food scientists and their brilliant laboratories. Eat food made by Mother Nature- food that grows in a garden or hangs from a tree or bush. Learn to use spices to make your food taste great!

It’s easy to understand what has happened to our food. If you were a factory owner who had invested millions of dollars in your business operation you’d do everything you could to ensure your return on investment. So what if you throw into the recipe a few edible chemicals to ensure success? So plenty!

Factories could show more integrity and less fear by creating healthy choices instead of trying to trick us with chemical ingredients they’ve so cutely named flavor enhancers and flavor potentiators.

Granted not everything about food and farm life back in the day is better than today. We’ve gained beneficial knowledge over the years about what not to eat-like undesirable fats- but we still need lots more research about foods and edible non-food ingredients and how they affect us.

Meanwhile, let’s not forget the old school meanings of homemade, made from scratch, and fresh. We don’t have to accept a rigged food system that causes hunger signal distortion. We have kitchens in our homes.

Let’s not rely upon factories to make our food. Let’s not buy food that has been “rigged” to make sure our taste buds won’t forget it so that ultimately company executives will get richer while America becomes obese.

Eating factory made food rather than made from scratch or homemade with fresh ingredients will never be a solution to reducing healthcare costs or creating a healthier America. Do I hear an Amen?

A FOOD ANGEL ON YOUR SHOULDER: WHAT IF?

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have a food angel on your shoulder reminding you to show self-love by helping you pass up bad food choices in your moment of temptation? Probably every human being would benefit from such a reality.

There’s a comedian who has a comedy act about eating cinnamon rolls at the airport. It’s very funny. But not very well hidden are a couple significant clues about why we make eating choices that aren’t good for us. There’s mention of self-respect and sadness.

There’s an implied timing issue too, that while we’re in line waiting to make our bad choice we could possibly change our minds and decide to walk away. This is the moment when you need to listen to your food angel.

The comedian refers to himself several times as “fat.” Boldly and blatantly using the word “fat” got him loads of laughs because using the word “fat” is taboo. Instead we refer to ourselves as being big or having curves.  Euphemisms sometimes send up a red flag.

The important issues surrounding being large or being curvy have nothing to do with appearance.

I feel badly for overweight people because it’s so obvious that they’re making bad food choices on a regular basis. There’s no hiding. The slim people make bad food choices but think they’re getting away with it- or so it appears.

The important issues are the ones that allow you to consciously treat your body disrespectfully over and over again feeding it foods that are worse than just a nutritional opportunity wasted.

You know you’re too heavy when you jeopardize your joints by carrying more weight than they are designed to handle. Even a truck has a recommended maximum weight load.

It would help if all across America we didn’t have so many restaurant chains and convenience stores serving and selling us bad food.

These same restaurants could today start using their kitchens to cook up something much more nutritious while still delicious and affordable. We need convenience food creators to create more nutritious “grab and go” food. Let’s challenge them to do so!

Bad food is put in front of us at every turn. When you’re hungry it’s really hard to say no to junk- but it’s possible.

Ask your angel for help. Travel prepared. Use your handbag for more than just make-up. Your car has compartments for healthy treats. In fact, leaving food in your car takes fewer steps than dragging it all the way into the house.

Some people can go for hours without eating. Those people don’t mind feeling hungry. They actually like the feeling of having an empty stomach. Waiting to eat is less of a challenge for them.

Other people are very different. They start feeling desperate and must have food immediately whenever they feel hungry. If you’re one of these people then you’ll probably always need to have nutritious snacks readily available.

We all need to avoid eating all the tempting indulgences that we typically punish our bodies with while calling them treats.

Can you eat too much if you only eat nutritious food? Too much of a good thing is still too much. The food angel probably frowns much less when we eat too much healthy food rather than too much seriously unhealthy food. Consider unlimited cans of green beans verses candy bars of any variety.

Make friends with the imaginary food angel sitting upon your shoulder who reminds you constantly that you deserve only good things and helps you know what good things are. Your angel, your conscience, will teach you that a treat is only a treat if it serves your body well. If it’s not nutritious, if it doesn’t enhance and foster good health, the angel will remind you that it’s an indulgence and a punishment but that you deserve better.

Indulge occasionally if you must but don’t make it a habit. That’s all.

THANK GOD FOR SQUARE FOOTAGE AND HOUSEWORK!

Thank God for housework and square footage!

What do I mean? Why do I say this? I’ve come to appreciate moving about my home during the day as a beautiful way to get started on exercise. I just never had thought of square footage as fitness equipment. Then I experienced living in the cute little house! It might have been a Pilgrim house.

I lived in the tiny house for nearly 3 months. By tiny I mean 1 step from the kitchen sink to the kitchen table. It was literally a turn-around situation. Six steps max from that kitchen table- or sink-to the living room chair and probably 3-4 more from the chair to the front door. That’s not many total steps when you’re moving around any house.

There was an upstairs too- which I had thought would be a mitigating factor for the smallness of this really adorable-if tiny- house. But 2 levels did nothing to increase the number of available steps.

Never in my life have I been as inactive as when I lived in the tiny house. I didn’t change my normal exercise routine. That meant I either walked briskly for 3-4 miles or I’d do a strength workout at the gym. I estimate my strength workout took 30-40 minutes to complete. The entire rest of the day I was closer to motionless than I’d ever been for that duration of time. I’ve never been so anxious to move both my body and out of that house.

That living experience changed my life forever. Here’s why:

I’ve been guilty of taking something for granted. I used to take for granted the exercise value of moving around in the square footage of one’s home. The natural movement of moving about the house as one’s day unfolds has real value.

Nina Lomax of Body Conscience Personal Fitness in Manassas, Virginia says exercise doesn’t need to be about huffing, puffing, and jumping while sweating. If you just add-in a small variety of strength movements with light weights, you could start to become fit without making a big “life changing” deal about it.

I’ve come to appreciate square footage in a home in a new way. Once upon a time it meant luxury and privacy. Now it means an easy opportunity for movement. The kind of movement is your choice- ranging from gentle to highly energetic.

You get to do this natural type of exercise in private with no worries about what to wear or how you’ll look to others. What could be better? Try it on for size!

Thanks for letting us share our love and passion for fitness with you! Visit http://www.fithealthylady.com for encouragement and learning.

GOOD NEWS ABOUT UNAVOIDABLE SIGNS OF AGING

The good news about the unavoidable signs of aging is that they can be mitigated by the great effects of fitness.

Here’s your heads-up: as early in your life as possible learn to distinguish natural healthy aging from “avoidable deterioration”- the term we give to the “results” born of the cumulative effects of either too few good habits or too many neglectful or abusive habits held for too long.

We try to emphasize eating and exercising for the sake of good health rather than for appearance. Feeling good is way more important than looking good and the older you get the more you know how true this is.

Around 35-40 years old many of us start seeing what we believe to be signs of aging. Physical changes that show as early as 35-40 are better called avoidable deterioration. Aging in general gets blamed for far too much too often.

Once you experience the “F” word (age fifty and beyond) you will start to experience some unavoidable signs of aging- verses the avoidable deterioration that is self-induced.

In the world of food the joke is “everything tastes better with ketchup.” We humorously share our belief that “everything looks better with muscle.” Fight bulges by developing your muscles.

Extra weight supported by muscle is better than the same extra weight with no muscle. While you’re improving your eating habits in order to lose weight you can work on improving your shape by adding a healthy amount of muscle.

Vanity can be a very positive and effective motivator. Use it if it works for you. There are very few people in this world who don’t care at all about their appearance. Eating well gives you better skin and muscles make everything- including wrinkles- look better.

If you’re discouraged by what the scale tells you or by what you see in your mirror, then hide them both for a while as you go to work on your new fitness plans involving eating well and exercising regularly and moderately.

Checking too often or too soon for visible results might be the kiss of death for your fitness habits. Stick to your fitness plan for at least a month or two and then consult these “experts” if you must. Results will come if you don’t quit. It’s impossible not to get positive results- if you don’t quit too soon.

What you need to do is figure out choices you are able to make and sustain that will be effective enough to give you results fast enough to suit your demands- before you give up. Be sure to read our chapter on the many advantages of weight training.

I promise you that if you’re 35-40 years old and bad things are already happening to your body it’s not because you’re old. You’re seeing a “result” from either too few effective good habits or too many bad habits held for too long.

Regardless of your age or your physical condition when you start working on your physical fitness, you can and will improve your body. Of course the less you have to recover from, combined with the effectiveness of your specific food and exercise choices, the faster you can get positive internal and external results.

Wrinkles come to mind when we think of aging.  Certainly your face will show your age if you’re fortunate enough to reach old age, regardless of how many good habits you have and no matter how fit you remain. But wrinkles are not all created equal.

Your wrinkles will show character- an additional facet of beauty, if you lead a healthy lifestyle. Maybe you could start calling them “love lines” or “lines of distinction”. You’d look sort of weird if you didn’t have any wrinkles at all.

Lead a healthy lifestyle so that you can embrace your wrinkles.  Bulges are a different issue. Bulges don’t automatically come with age.

If you already have bulges then make up your mind to slow them down. Do damage control.

A little bit of fat on a female body looks beautiful. But if you have too much it starts hanging around where it doesn’t belong and you lose your once lovely shape.

Don’t try to pass off the cumulative effects of years of bad habits as the natural consequences of healthy aging. The two are very different issues.

Bulges and rolls, sagging muscles, immobility, bad posture, and knee and hip replacement aren’t just from old age. These issues often result from the cumulative effect of bad habits over time.

Excess should be avoided. You can eat too much and you can exercise too much too. Just be conscious of these facts. Marathon runners have a higher incidence of knee and hip replacements than the rest of the population.

It’s important to recognize that issues commonly associated with old age can be minimized, if not entirely avoided, with weight management and moderate exercise. 

Learn what it means to age gracefully so you can experience aging in the most positive way possible.

Discover what it is to become older without suffering from the cumulative effects of abuse and/or neglect. Be clear on what it means to age gracefully.

Beauty has many dimensions. Age alone can neither define nor limit beauty. When it comes to physical beauty, fitness creates beauty.

Toned muscles, good posture, healthy skin…these are some of the elements of physical beauty that you can influence or control. Youth does not own these elements.

With a lifelong fitness habit you give yourself a chance to experience aging in the most beautiful way possible.

Unhealthiness that results from abuse and/or neglect is not the same thing as aging gracefully. You will age very differently in many ways if you have a lifelong fitness habit vs. if you don’t.

Give yourself the truly priceless gift of a lifelong fitness habit.

You can easily tweak your choices and start nipping in the bud the unattractive results you’re seeing that are avoidable.

You can improve your body regardless of what age you start. The sooner you start the easier it is to get results you’ll be thrilled with.

The easiest way to minimize the effects of your habits on your body- without resorting to plastic surgery- is to never let allow your condition to get bad to the extreme. If all you need to do is shape up what you have that’s easier than dropping a lot of weight and then shaping up what remains.

What you may not know is staying in shape doesn’t take as much exercise and time (or unpleasantness) as you think. What it really takes is doing a little something for your body consistently every day, along with good habits for healthy food choices the vast majority of the time.

Avoid thinking in term of self-denial. Add good new choices instead. It’s possible to reduce bad choices as a direct result of adding good choices.

Effective exercises can be creatively incorporated into any day- regardless of your schedule or your budget.

Find out what works for you. Getting on a scale may discourage you. Instead of having your day ruined by a number, you could try on a clothing item that once fit you well. Try on that favorite clothing item periodically to check your weight loss progress.

The problem with your scale is that it can’t recognize positive internal results that start immediately- like the fact that you’re converting fat to muscle.

Most women don’t like the appearance of the back side of their thighs. Solution: take 30 seconds every day/7 days per week/ 52 weeks each year to do “dead lifts.” Using a pair of hand held weights that you keep in your bedroom do your dead lifts faithfully. Look online for instructional videos. They’ve been around for a long time. You can’t make this choice without getting good results if you don’t quit too soon. The trick for you may be figuring out how not to quit. Change the weight, change the time of day, change the attitude- whatever works for you.

From now on make dead lifts a part of your life. You’ll do them as often as you brush your teeth. If that’s the only part of your body you want to work on then fine. Chances are you’ll add another movement to your repertoire. Once you get used to it you’ll find yourself saying “this feels so good.” Soon you’ll feel muscle developing and next you’ll see results.

By the way, as I’ve been typing the words you are now reading I’ve gotten up from the computer several times to do some kind of strength movement for my arms using dumbbells. The movements feel good for multiple reasons. You can rid your body of discomfort from tension at the same time as you’re maintaining muscle. Everything isn’t about looks.

Fitness begins with consciousness. Consciousness expands into choices. Choices become habits.  Habits create lifestyle.

At 35-40 years old- even 60-65, you’re still so incredibly young compared to people who are already 80. Eighty year olds can build muscle and improve their overall health so just imagine what you can do. Don’t let your “number” play tricks on your mind. Obviously age is not the main issue.

Start now- today. No one ever says they regret becoming healthy. Don’t confuse healthy aging with avoidable deterioration.

GOOD NEWS ABOUT EXCUSES FOR SKIPPING EXERCISE

The good news about excuses for why you don’t work out is this: your excuses reveal the precise reasons you should work out.

You know your “reason” is an excuse if there’s an alternative that you aren’t taking advantage of. The most important thing about excuses is you can use them to figure out what’s really going on for you.

Let’s define excuses as reasons that help us to escape or avoid. Here’s the bottom line for fitness: regardless of which one is which, you still need to work out.

 “I DON’T HAVE TIME” is the #1 reason people give for why they don’t work out. Perhaps now is the time to drop this excuse.

If you’re breathing right now then you have time to work out. You can learn to recognize and use the time you have. You’ll need a flexible mind so you can create and accept an approach or a routine that’s different from what you formerly thought it would be.

It’s likely that you waste more time every day than what would be enough time for working out. Learn how to find time to work out by learning how to convert wasted time into productive workout time.

Excuses and reasons can be hard to tell apart. Just like with identical twins, however, once you get to know them you can easily tell them apart.

It’s important to know that a single block of time for exercise is not a requirement in order to be fit.

Working out for 45-60 minutes all at once (or in total) is not the only option that is effective. Try a “bits and pieces” approach to working out, using 30 seconds here and there throughout your day to do “a little something”. This approach allows you to utilize the smallest increments of time throughout your day for exercise.

Don’t hide your hand weights under the bed. Place them in whatever room you spend time in throughout the day at home (maybe at work too.) Consider keeping a set of hand-held weights in your kitchen and another set in your laundry room or near the TV. While waiting for the clothes to dry or water to boil you can do a set or two of something.

The cumulative effect of consistency over time can make the smallest interval of time enough to make a difference. If you were targeting a specific muscle with a strength movement that took you 30 seconds to complete, and you performed this movement every day for approximately 3 months, you would get a measurable result.

“I’M SO BUSY. I’VE HAD A LONG DAY AND I’M EXHAUSTED.” The truth is a workout will energize you mentally and physically. Energy creates energy.  Take that first step toward the door and take a walk or run. Get to the gym if you need a trainer to help you.

People get overcommitted when actually health and fitness should always come first. The fact is the greater your fitness level the more able you’ll be to fit everything you need to do into your busiest day. Dedicating 45-60 minutes to your workout could make you clear minded and energetic enough to more efficiently do all you need to do.

“I’M SORE FROM MY PREVIOUS WORKOUT.” Some people think that if their muscles are sore they aren’t ready for another workout. Actually working out using a much lighter weight or doing a slightly different movement will bring blood flow to the area and alleviate soreness and stiffness right away.

“I DON’T FEEL WELL.” Sometimes you get a big surprise. You think you don’t feel well but you do really well in your workout.

The only reason for skipping your workout that can’t be overcome is if your doctor has ordered you not to work out.

Approach each workout intuitively, making adjustments to your workout based upon how your body is feeling in the moment.

Maybe you’re mad at your boss or maybe an important relationship isn’t going well and you’re feeling really stressed. If you put all that stress into your workout it can make for a very good workout. A good body is a body that serves you well. Whatever you need to accomplish in life your body should work with your mind and spirit to facilitate your lifestyle.

Do you want or need a better body? It doesn’t need to be difficult. The first thing that has to happen is you need to set a genuine intention to become more physically fit. Then you need to review your relationship with food to determine if there is room for improvement. Soon after this step you will need to choose some sort of physical activity for your body that agrees with your spirit.

There are so many choices regarding the physical activity you choose. Don’t go overboard. Intensity and difficulty can work with you or against you.

Staying slim or getting that way and becoming healthy and strong are not unattainable goals. You don’t need to spend all your life at a gym or behave like a power lifter.

You can decide to have a better body and get one by making choices that will move you forward toward that goal- at a pace that works well for you.

We want to help you get to a place where you can enjoy working out. Keep an open-minded approach to exercise so you will always adapt your plan to creatively use the time you have.

Choosing a pace that works well for your individual taste is very important. Only you know what will agree with you. Only you know the pace that suits your body and your spirit. Find yours.

65 And On A Budget? Free Fun At The Gym

 Are you 65 and on a budget?  Are you looking for ways to have fun without spending a lot of money?

People, you can have some fun at the gym! Stay and play awhile.

Some healthcare plans for seniors include free gym memberships! My husband is over 65. His health insurance provides him with a free gym membership. My gym membership to the same club is reasonably priced at $44 dollars- and comes with no contract- but you can’t beat FREE.

True believers- those of us who exercise consistently- know how great it feels to invigorate body and mind through exercise.

By the way, since 55 is the new 65, maybe the term “senior” should not be applied until you’re 75. If you’re someone who continues to maintained a consistent moderate fitness plan-one that includes eating whole foods and avoiding processed foods- then you know what I mean.

The gym can be fabulous even though there can be negatives for some people. You may not want to be seen in your workout clothes. Maybe you don’t like to hear people grunting or there are just too many mirrors!

If there’s a secret to sustaining a lifelong fitness habit, it’s this: include a plan for working out at home.

Don’t rely on going somewhere to get exercise. You’re smart if you include exercise in your home activities.

It’s great to spontaneously do a portion of your workout throughout your day- without getting into a car or taking time to look presentable in public.

Exercise is something you can easily do while at home. Basic movements using hand weights are easy to learn and do- regardless of your ability, age, weight, etc.

Whether you work out at home or at the gym, you can improve your body through strength training- regardless of what age you start. I’ll never forget the 82 year old woman who told me she cured her balance issues by strength training with her physical therapist. She began strength training for the first time when she was 80 years old.

However- big however- I’ve never been as thankful for a gym as when I was recovering from my frozen shoulder.

With my injury I needed additional resources- multiple ways to access and work out my injured area- than what I had available at home. The gym did the job.

With the help of a physical therapist and the gym I recovered really well from my injury.

There’s a lot of fun to be had at the gym- swimming pools, movie stars, just kidding…well movie stars do go to gyms- maybe not to the one I go to…

Spend more time at the gym. Learn how to strength train. Take a swim or a steam bath. Make it social. Bring a friend. Make 55- or even 45- the new 65!

If your healthcare plan provides a free gym membership, use it. Free healthy fun is waiting for you- at the gym. You won’t be spending any extra money and healthy feels good. Hang out at the gym!

AT 35-40: AGING OR AVOIDABLE DETERIORATION?

Around 35-40 years old many of us are seeing what we believe to be signs of aging. Time for action and damage control.

Physical changes that show as early as 35-40 are better called “avoidable deterioration.” Aging in general gets blamed for too much too often.

Unavoidable signs of aging come later- maybe in your 50’s. Even those can be mitigated by healthy habits.

I promise you that if you’re 35-40 years old and bad things are already happening to your body it’s not because you’re old. You’re seeing a “result” from either too few effective good habits or too many bad habits held for too long.

Make a distinction between natural healthy aging verses the cumulative effects of either too few good habits or too many neglectful or abusive habits for too long.

You can easily tweak your choices and start nipping in the bud the unattractive results you’re seeing that are avoidable

You can improve your body regardless of what age you start. I’ve witnessed an 82 year old woman develop muscles from strength training. The sooner you start the easier it is to get results you’ll be thrilled with.

The easiest way to minimize the effects of time on your body- without resorting to plastic surgery- is to never let allow your condition to get bad to the extreme. If all you need to do is shape up what you have that’s easier than dropping a lot of weight and then shaping up what remains.

What you may not know is staying in shape doesn’t take as much exercise and time (or unpleasantness) as you think. What it really takes is doing a little something for your body consistently every day, along with healthy food choices perhaps 90% of the time.

Consistency does 2 important things:

  1. it creates the phenomenon of cumulative effect, thereby increasing the value of shorter workouts
  2. it firmly establishes a habit and is critical to sustaining any habit

Avoid thinking in term of self-denial. Add good new choices instead. It’s possible to reduce bad choices as a direct result of adding good choices.

Effective exercises can be creatively incorporated into any day- regardless of your schedule or your budget.

Find out what works for you. Getting on a scale may discourage you. Instead of getting on a scale and having your day ruined by a number you could try on a clothing item that once fit you well. Try it on periodically to check your progress. Your scale won’t recognize positive internal results that start immediately when you eat right and work out. It can’t discern that you’re converting fat to muscle.

Most women don’t like the appearance of the back side of their thighs. Solution: take 30 seconds every day/7 days per week/ 52 weeks each year. Using a pair of hand held weights that you keep in your bedroom do a great strength movement called “dead-lifts.” Look online for instructional videos. They’ve been around for a long time. You can’t make this choice without getting results. Don’t quit too soon. You may have to hide your mirror if you find yourself checking it too soon or too often.

From now on make dead-lifts a part of your life. You’ll do them as often as you brush your teeth. If that’s the only part of your body you want to work on then fine. Chances are you’ll add another movement to your repertoire. Once you get used to it you’ll find yourself saying “this feels so good.” Soon you’ll feel muscle developing and next you’ll see results.

By the way, as I’ve been typing the words you are now reading I’ve gotten up from the computer several times to do some kind of strength movement for my arms using dumbbells. The movements feel good for multiple reasons. You can rid your body of discomfort from tension at the same time as you’re maintaining muscle. Everything isn’t about looks.

Fitness begins with consciousness. Consciousness expands into choices. Choices become habits.  Habits create lifestyle.

At 35-40 years old you are still so incredibly young- young enough to recover from the effects of not having made healthy choices up to this point. Start now- today. No one ever says they regret becoming healthy. Don’t confuse healthy aging with avoidable deterioration.

BEST SECRET FOR BUSY PEOPLE: EXERCISE IN 30 SECONDS

The secret to finding time to exercise (if you’re truly busy and not simply making excuses) is this: learn how to recognize and convert your otherwise wasted minutes into exercise opportunities.

Excessive sitting is a common unhealthy working condition today-whether you work from home or travel to an office. Our need for exercise has never been greater.

Most people who don’t exercise will say they don’t have time for it. If you are breathing now then you have time to work out. You’ll become a better you if you find your will to find time for exercise.

Single minutes can most easily be used for strength training exercises mainly because cardio demands more time all at once.

Single minutes of exercise done here and there throughout your day add up significantly when you factor in the phenomena of cumulative effect.  

You’ll start to like how it feels. As you lose your resistance to exercise you’ll make schedule changes that give exercise greater priority. You may enjoy greater efficiency and the elimination of wasted time from your life.

Cardiovascular exercise is important but strength training is just as important- especially as we get older. Walking and jogging- as fabulous and valuable as they are- do very little for developing or maintaining upper body muscle.

Visible results come fastest from strength exercises- results you’ll never see from cardio exercise. You’ll also gradually and naturally speed up your metabolism as you develop some muscle because resting muscle burns more calories than resting fat.

Open your mind to possibility. Mentally you need 2 things:

  1. Find your big “why.” Underneath the logic and learning there needs to be some measure of desire to become healthier through exercise. If there’s desire then you can and will learn to recognize and find available time- because the time is there.
  2. Expand your paradigm of how exercise can be accomplished or incorporated into your day. If you believe your exercise must happen at the gym or must happen in one single block of time then this approach won’t work for you. If you think it’s not worth bothering if you don’t have at least 20 minutes then you’ll need to revamp your thinking- otherwise you’ll skip frequently- the kiss of death for your habit.

Your boss may encourage some “office fitness” strategies if you point out that exercise energizes both body and mind. Bring up the subject at the next office meeting. The more time spent at the office the greater the need for office fitness strategies.

Hand held weights could be kept at your desk or in the break room. Two or three weight increments would be better. Even with 1 set you’ll be able to do several different upper body strength movements-while sitting or standing. A variety of weight allows variety of movements.

At the office:

  • If you’ve ever had a long wait during a phone call and sat there waiting, then you’ve missed a workout opportunity.
  • If you’ve walked to the coffee pot or drinking fountain you could probably also have used 30-60 seconds to do a strength movement with your dumbbells.
  • Smoke breaks are acceptable at the office- use part of yours to do a set of your favorite movement.
  • At the beginning and end of your lunch break, take a minute or two with your dumbbells.
  • Just after you clock out and before you head for your ride, do a set of something.
  • Arrive 5 minutes early and do a couple sets. Stay for 5 minutes at the end of the day to work in another 5 minutes.

At home:

  • You’ve waited many times on the clothes washer or dryer. Have some dumbbells nearby. You can do yourself some good with 1 minute of time.
  • While you’re waiting for your food to heat you could be strength training.
  • TV commercial breaks
  • While your computer or phone reboots.
  • Dress in loose clothes so you can act upon impulsively grab a minute when the mood strikes.

Start with light weights and small time increments- especially if you hate exercise. As your body acclimates to the movements you’ll find yourself saying “this feels so good.” When you’re ready add more- but never do too much.

Make an effort but never strain. Too much difficulty creates avoidance and resistance because everyone doesn’t like the intensity of pushing themselves to their limit. Intensity must match your personal taste for it.

Underneath all of this there must be some level of desire to be or become healthy. Find your desire and find your way. Don’t let a busy life prevent good health. No excuse will ever be a reason not to exercise.

THE GYM: FITNESS HABIT KILLER OR LIFE SAVER

There’s got to be a reason why so many people don’t exercise. This can’t continue. There’s no good enough reason not to exercise. Our country does so much good for the world. It’s time we do good things for our individual selves as well. We’re a country full of good people with way too many of us in very bad shape. Our health care costs are rising while our life expectancy and quality of life are falling.

The most common reason (excuse) given for not working out is not enough time. There’s a good way to solve this problem: work out at home. If you already work out but often skip maybe you need to shorten your workout. Every workout doesn’t need to be 30-60 minutes. Even a 10-15 minute workout is better than zero minutes- especially when multiplied by 7 days each week.

“Going” to the gym takes a lot of time. The “getting there” every day may take more time than the actual workout you’ll do once you’re there. For this reason alone going to the gym can be a fitness habit killer.

Keep going to the gym if doing so serves you well but don’t rely on it. Train yourself to work out in some manner at home too. You’ll be better off for this because you’ll skip fewer workouts- increasing your chances of sustaining your fitness habit throughout your lifetime.

Few places have more mirrors and people looking into them than a gym. The presence of too many mirrors creates an uncomfortable environment for some people.

Visual reminders of how we’ve neglected ourselves can work against us. If you see something you don’t like you can use your dissatisfaction to motivate yourself to take action but everyone isn’t able to do this.

If looking into a mirror is not an encourager for you then don’t look. Positive internal results start immediately when you start exercising. Checking your mirror too soon or too often for results is like watching the second hand of a clock as hours tick by. It’s unbearable.

The gym can be a life saver when you’re injured. Chances are good you’re unable to do your usual workout. Your body is in bad shape and you need professional help.

If you’re recovering from an injury you may find yourself more thankful for the gym than ever before. This is a time when working out at home may not get the job done.

The variety of equipment at a gym provides multiple options for working out any given muscle- injured or otherwise. At home you may not have an option that works for you. You’ll find yourself thinking “thank God for the gym and my physical therapist.”

At the end of the day we all should do what is in our personal power to be healthy. Regardless of your reason or excuse there is always a way to get exercise. It all comes down to this: shut up and work out!