Mens sana in corpore sano. (Your prayer must be for a sound mind in a sound body.) – Juvenal
A few days after turning 50 years old, I received an email from the AARP offering membership.
I deleted the email along with the 20 or so that have arrived since then.
It’s not that I have anything against the AARP, or turning 50; it’s just that I’m not ready to slow down. And I’m definitely not ready to embrace the “R” word in the organization’s acronym – retirement.
My plan is to keep working, living and loving for many more years to come. And to do that, watching my diet, exercising and nurturing my mind, body and spirit all contribute to my personal guide for staying fit after 50.
It’s never too late
This fitness plan is unique to me. It considers my medical history, body weight and lifestyle. Like always, speak with your doctor or health care professional before changing your diet or exercise routine.
I’m sharing my plan to offer encouragement. Sometimes by sharing our experiences, ideas and wisdom we can inspire others to seek positive change, too.
No matter your age, if you would like to start a new fitness plan, or refine the plan you have, it’s never too late to give your mind, body and spirit what it needs to feel happier, confident and more alive than ever.
The first part of my personal fitness guide beings with I eat, and just as important, with what I don’t eat.
The word diet no longer makes me anxious because of an important concept I’ve learned: Think of diet as a noun, not a verb.
Diet as a verb is about restricting, limiting and depriving myself.
Dietas a noun, on the other hand, offers me flexibility, choice and empowerment.
So, I do have fries at lunch, but a salad for dinner. It’s about looking at my diet for the whole day and not watching every bite.
Sometimes it’s as easy as making small tweaks that still satisfy my appetite, taste delicious but are healthier. For example, having a turkey burger instead of a hamburger or eating lentil chips with a sandwich; not potato chips.
Additionally, I don’t count calories, watch my carbs or avoid sugar. Instead, I respond to what my body needs. Here’s my diet on a typical Tuesday:
- 5: 15 a.m. | Coffee and a banana before my morning workout
- 6:15 a.m. | Protein shake after workout
- 7 a.m. | A bowl of cereal before heading to work
- 9 a.m. | A morning snack consists of a protein bar and an apple
- 11:30 a.m. | Lunch is a sandwich or salad followed by a “fun size” piece of chocolate candy
- 2:30 p.m. | An afternoon snack of nuts
- 6:30 | Dinner – whatever we have is what I eat and I stop eating when I feel full.
- Before bed | Sometimes I have a couple of cookies with some milk, but not every night.
Finally, and maybe this is just a guy thing, I don’t weigh myself either – like never. I can tell by how my pants fit, level of energy and mood if my diet is on track, or not.
Looking at the number on the scale feels like a judgment. To be honest, I don’t even know what my weight should be. I just listen to what my body is telling me and then try to do what it is saying without feeling I have to do it perfectly everyday.
I’ve been on a diet for two weeks and all I’ve lost is fourteen days. – Totie Fields
Exercise helps me stay lean and keeps my energy high. More than that, exercise is my secret weapon to improving my self-confidence.
When I feel good, and feel like I look good, my confidence soars. There’s no better feeling than catching Mary Beth’s eye when I wear a pair of jeans with a V-neck t-shirt. Knowing she still thinks I’m handsome, and knowing she still desires me, is amazing.
However, with a failing knee and a packed daily schedule, finding time to exercise is difficult. To make it more challenging, Mary Beth and I cancelled our gym membership last year when we invested in a second home.
But, I think I’ve landed on an exercise routine that is easy to do and provides the necessary results. Body confusion, along with interval cardio, is right for me.
I work out five days a week, with Monday and Thursday serving as my rest days:
- On Sunday, Wednesday and Friday, I use the interval cardio method. I do a 25-mintue run beginning with a 10-minute warm-up starting at 4.2 MPH and ending at 6.5 MPH.
- After warming up, I begin alternating between 30/45/60seconds of sprinting (7.5MPH), 30/45/60 seconds of jogging (6.2 MPH) and 30/45/60seconds of power walking (4.4 MPH).
- The 30/45/60 seconds refers to the concept of body confusion. Meaning, I vary the interval cardio training during the week. For example, on Sunday I may do 30-second intervals and on Wednesday 60-second intervals.
- I approach weightlifting the same way. The heaviest weight I use is 30 pounds. Going back and forth between curls and presses, I do 20-30 repetitions per set and rest for 30 seconds between sets.
- Tuesdays and Saturdays are my long-runs days, typically 3 – 4 miles. No interval cardio on these days. Again, what works best for me is body confusion.
Nurturing my mind, body and spirit
Being mindful of what I eat is an important piece to staying healthy. Keeping my body strong is essential, too. But that’s not enough.
My 50-year-old body needs a little more these days to keep my heart beating; my mind sharp and my soul at peace:
- Finding rest
Last December I hit the wall. Working long hours seemed to steal my passion. I considered suspending this blog because I was so exhausted.
But then I remembered there was no one pushing me harder than me. By making time each day to read, watch a game or go to bed a little earlier, has made all the difference. Finding rest has rekindled my passion and energized my soul.
- Limiting alcohol
My maternal grandparents were alcoholics. My mother eventually died of the disease. And my brother fought alcoholism in his 20s, but eventually conquered it. So, I have to be careful. Limiting alcohol is an important part of my self-care. And, always, helping a brother or sister with alcoholism because we never have to walk alone.
I don’t drink during the week, I never drink alone and I don’t keep alcohol in the house. I do have a couple of beers after work on Friday. On Saturdays, I will have something to drink if my wife and I go to a party or out to dinner. On Sundays, I buy a 500ml bottle of wine and enjoy it while watching sports.
- Growing spiritually
After trying three different churches, Mary Beth and I can’t seem to find one that feels right. Instead of feeling guilty for not going to church, I rely on other ways to grow spiritually.
Writing is another avenue for my spiritual growth. I often say that writing is like medicine for my soul. It allows me to seek understanding, find forgiveness and explore the remarkable blessings of love.
The Life Inside of Me
My personal guide to staying fit after 50 is about celebrating the life inside me.
But more than that, it’s about enjoying the gifts in my life – my children, wife and the beauty of each day, with a clear mind and strong body, and for as long as I can.
If you need encouragement to start or maintain your personal guide for staying fit, just ask. It would be my honor to walk this path with you.