Wow! When I created my Facebook page, Fabulous-Fifties-A-New-Beginning, with the hopes of inspiring others my age (or any age) that it is never too late to get fit, healthy and happy, I had no idea how many 50+ individuals (I am 51 and proud!) were out there wanting and needing motivation! I was surprised at all the people that were reaching out to me to thank me for sharing information and being an inspiration to them. I am very thankful for all the interest and I believe that If I can positively effect just one person, I am a happy woman!
We all lead busy lives and it is easy to fall into the trap of both grabbing food that is quick and easy (which is usually unhealthy) and simply living a sedentary life-style. But most individuals, armed with a little basic information, a will to change habits, and some earnest determination, can make significant changes to their lifestyle and generally achieve better health and fitness as a result. I am often asked what do I eat, what type of training I do, and how do I manage maintaining both a busy career and a home. And, if that wasn’t enough, I’m now planning on competing next year in my first figure competition at the age of 52!
Here are some of my answers.
First, what do I eat?
I can’t count how many times I’ve been asked how do I stay so lean. And, I never tire of answering. I have such a passion for the answer that I probably sound like I am preaching. 🙂 The answer is a two part equation: CLEAN EATING + WEIGHT TRAINING! It is so true that it is 80-90% diet (with some genetics thrown in) and 10-20% training.
I stumbled upon the clean eating concept a few of years ago when I read a couple of books by Tosca Reno. It opened my eyes! Eating clean is eating as little processed foods as possible and when you do, make it a healthy choice. It means lean meats, vegetables and complex carbohydrates. I thought I had been a healthy eater but I realized I had just fallen into the food industry’s trap of labeling their “not-so-healthy” processed food products with generic sounding-good terms like low fat, no fat, etc. Now, I’m no certified nutritionist or expert on these matters, but when I found out what these processed and refined foods do to the body, I threw them all out! Yes, my husband and I went through our cabinets and threw away, or gave away, the gummy bears, processed crackers, baked chips, Jiffy peanut butter, white pasta , etc. etc. etc. We replaced everything with clean foods. For things like peanut butter we bought raw peanut butter, for white pasta we purchased whole grain or rice pasta, and for white rice instead bought brown rice. You get the idea! I tried not to buy too many things that came with a label, but if I did (only because I don’t have the luxury to make everything from scratch!) I found those items with healthy ingredients. This is one of the reasons I love Quest Bars so much. You almost have to be a Detective when grocery shopping- looking for those culprit sugars dancing with delight, the scoundrel processed oils, and those perpetrator chemicals lurking in the shadows. It’s a little challenging at first, but after you get better at it, it’s easier to spot and identify the usual suspects.
Although I try to eat as close to nature as possible, I too have a busy life necessitating me to purchase processed food products. But, this doesn’t mean we can’t be smart and informed about what purchases we make. Both my husband and I have each lost 20 pounds in the last couple of years due primarily to clean eating. What is stopping you? That doesn’t mean we are perfect. We eat clean about 90% of the time. I used to have a horrible sweet tooth but after eating clean for a while, it has decreased by 70-80%. Is it always easy? I wish! Eating clean doesn’t mean never having a favorite treat. No, it just means not having that treat everyday! Today I am so used to eating clean that I love my veggies and meats and I find myself much more particular about what I choose to eat. It may start as a diet plan, but in the end it’s really a healthy lifestyle!
Does everyone have to clean out there kitchen all at once to eat clean? No. You can start small by getting rid of one processed, unhealthy food and replace it with a healthy item. Our eating habits are just that……….habits! Bad habits can be broken and replaced with good habits. Do it for yourself, your children, your spouse – heck, do it for your dogs. If you have children, set a good example for them. Hopefully your spouse can join you in your healthy quest, but if not, at least fix yourself healthy foods. You’ll find that after a short while you will be healthier, feel happier, and you will have more energy to pursue the things you love most. Your family will see the positive change in you and eventually they too may want to join in. It just takes an honest willingness, a little time and patience, and your sincere and passionate commitment to make it happen. It just saddens me to see people not being the best they can be or to not be in the best health possible. A lot of diseases can be prevented with the right food choices. I would love to see more people feel better about themselves both physically and mentally! So today I eat about 90% clean. Do I indulge sometimes! Yes – I too love chocolate, but I’ve learned that moderation is the key. Moderation is actually the key to many aspect of our lives! Nothing in extremes! Look for that Balance…
My Typical Day Of Eating:
Pre-Workout Meal: Gluten free oats (I have a wheat sensitivity) with Almond Milk, blueberries, pomegranate seeds, flax seeds, and egg whites. Quest Bars too are gluten free and use natural sweeteners – Yeah! Again, it is about making those healthy choices!
Post-Workout Meal: I whip-up my protein shake which includes a gluten free protein powder, egg whites, supergreens & raw maca powders, and some Almond Milk.
Morning Snack: Usually some type of protein such as a Quest Bar or chicken breast tenders that I have usually baked on Sundays for the week. I usually include carrots or an apple with my protein.
Lunch: A slice of gluten free bread with egg white salad and some type of vegetable such as carrots. Sometimes I make a salad from home which will have chicken breast and a lot of veggies. I use olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing on my salads.
Afternoon Snack: More protein! Sometimes one of the following: a Quest Bar, an apple and a few almonds, or a rice cake with almond butter, or more chicken!
Dinner: Lean meat (chicken, turkey, pork) with brown rice or baked sweet potato and a lot of veggies (steamed brussels sprouts, sauteed broccoli, baked kale, etc.
If still hungry, an evening snack: Protein powder with some almond milk.
It is important to eat every few hours to maintain a stable blood sugar level. Getting too hungry or having your blood sugar levels out of whack can cause cravings and binging.
I drink coffee in the morning and then a lot of water throughout the day.
I also take supplements and I could go into that but this write-up would turn into a long novel!
Second, what is my workout program?
I weight train 4 days a week and do cardio training 1-2 times per week. My husband and I get up every morning at 4am and leave the house by 4:45 am to go to the gym or to the beach. He is a wonderful training partner and supporter. He helps by focusing more on our weight training regimen while I do my part by fine-tuning our nutrition plan. We are fortunate to work as a team, but this can still be accomplished alone or with the help from trainers and nutritionists.
My typical training for the week:
MONDAY – Leg day at the gym, 3-4 sets with 8-12 repetitions: seated leg extensions, leg curls, calf raises, leg press, lunges and squats, hack squat.
TUESDAY – Chest and triceps day at the gym, 3-4 sets with 8-12 repetitions: parallel bar dips, push-ups, incline dumbbell press, cable push-downs, dumbbell pullovers, dumbbell flys, peck deck flys.
WEDNESDAY- Rest or cardio
THURSDAY – Back and biceps day at the gym, 3-4 sets with 8-12 repetitions: seated cable row, lateral pulldowns, pull-ups, one arm dumbbell row, bicep curls, hammer curls.
FRIDAY – Shoulder day at the gym, 3-4 sets with 8-12 repetitions: seated front raises, seated dumbbell press, upright rows, nautilus lateral raises, pec deck rear-delt laterals.
JUST BECAUSE WE GET OLDER DOESN’T MEAN WE HAVE TO GET OLD! By:Judith K Gelman
SUNDAY- Rest day and fun!
I work abdominals every other day which consists of hanging leg raises and incline sit- ups.
My cardio is usually running at the beach in Santa Monica where I take full advantage of a set of 125 steps that go from the beach to an overhead bluff. I complete the following circuit 4 times which equals to a distance of about 4 miles: jog at a moderate pace for 1/2 mile, sprint for 100 yards, ascend approximately 125 steps at a moderate pace,
do push-ups (on toes) and then do sit-ups. Repeat this 4 times. I always like to point out to people that we all start off at different fitness and health levels and it is important to start at your ability and consult with a doctor if necessary. The point here is just to get starter! To move your body! It seems that our culture has become very sedentary with most of us sitting behind desks all day while at work, sitting in the car on the way to and from work, or by sitting in front of TV before going to bed. Consequently, it is very important to get moving and do something you really enjoy like yoga, dance, zumba, run, bike, walk, weights, whatever. Find what works for you and just be consistent with it and enjoy the fact that you have the ability to move your body! Appreciate your life and treat your body with the kindness it deserves.
How do I handle eating clean, working out and a busy schedule?
As we all know, life (work, family obligations, being tired…) has a way of getting in the way of establishing our healthy routines, so adjustments just have to be made. My mother used to always say “ go with the flow,” and she was right! Today I make every attempt to get these workouts in by being flexible with changes in work schedules, etc. Again, it’s all about finding that “balance.” I typically get up early in the morning to get my workout completed. For me, the morning is my best option. But, if work commitments or something else prevents me from my morning workout, I learn to adjust to the change – I go in the evening. Working out t is an important part of my life, so I make it work some way or another. We all get busy, but we have learn how to adjust to these circumstances that arise and to still make it work. On Sundays, I make up a big batch of chicken breast for the week and cut up vegetables. I make my husband’d lunches and my own everyday. I also look for healthy quick items like ready to microwave 100% brown rice, greek yogurt, etc. It all takes up a little more time, but it’s all worth the effort and I know what I’m eating. I also schedule in those rest days which are very important to the body and the mind. That way when I go back to my workout, I am re-energized! And speaking of maintaing that balance – don’t forget to factor in fun times that doesn’t involve training such as going to a movies, having dinner out, going to a museum, or going on a weekend trip.
How do I deal with life’s ups and downs?
As we get older it is important to make sure we stay up on our medical checkups. I want to feel the best I can feel! Recently I found out that I have a hypothyroidism which is common for women my age and I am addressing that issue. I also discovered that I have a wheat sensitivity so I am now buying gluten free products.
Also, as we get older we can become more prone to injury and to have those previous injuries flare up. It is important to stretch often and workout at a safe pace. But, we must not find ourselves using our past or present injuries as an excuse to do nothing. We can all find something to do. I too have many “excuses” that I could use but I don’t. I have a previous shoulder injury that occasionally flare up and currently I have two herniated disc in my lower back. I just recently had lumbar epidural steroid injections. My doctor said no running for about a week and go at about 50% in the gym. I will listen and follow my doctor’s advise as I want to train smart! I had these similar shots about a year ago and they worked. I could have used “bad back” as an excuse not to workout but I choose not to. For me it’s all about being smart in my approach, doing the right exercises, and keeping proper form when I do. Working out can actually make you stronger and less prone to problems. The doctors have actually told me on several occasions that were it not for my strong core (abs), my back problem would be much worse!
Another big issue for those of us in the 50+ age group is dealing with grief, At some point in our life, we will all experience grief, especially as we get older and our parents get older. What do we do with this grief? What we shouldn’t do with it is use it as an excuse to treat ourselves poorly. That will only make matters worse. Use grief to realize that life can be fleeting and we should appreciate everyday and appreciate our bodies by healthy living. Exercise is a great stress reliever! My father passed away in his sleep from a heart attack. He had poor nutrition habits and probably would still be alive today if he had eaten healthy and gotten some exercise. My mother passed away from a horrible disease, ALS, which seemed to come out of nowhere and could not have been prevented. She had always taken vitamins and read about health and nutrition. She wasn’t perfect at eating healthy but she tried. And, she walked a mile a day at the local mall. It seems that one death could have been prevented and the other was not preventable. So, what does this mean? It means to do the best you can to prevent diseases that can be prevented! We can’t prevent everything but we sure can prevent a lot. Wouldn’t it be a shame to have someone grieving over you for something you could have prevented. Treat your body well and if something comes out of the blue just realize you have tried your best and did what you could to be healthy, fit, and happy. Enjoy each day because that is all we have! Make the most of everything. Be kind to yourself and your body!
And last, what is my attitude?
POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE! Oh, and did I forget to say positive?
When you are 50+ , there are a lot of things we have to “push through” (injuries, wear and tear, responsibilities, hormonal issues, etc.).
I was at the gym a week ago or so and was on my last set of abdominal exercises…….I had to tell myself “you can do this! There are people who would love to have the physical abilities to do this!” It makes me appreciate what I have and to push through the fatigue! It is about attitude! As a kid and into adulthood, my mother was always giving me tidbits about health and nutrition. I of course didn’t always listen as do a lot of daughters! 🙂 But, now her words come back to me more and more. I feel as if she is guiding me on this quest and passion to inspire others that it is never too late to get healthy! Thank you mom! 🙂 We can all be an influence to change the world for the better. Others that see us as fit, healthy and happy may not say anything to us, but they see everything! Even the stranger at the grocery store who asks you how you stay fit, or the stranger at the restaurant who sees you making healthy choices when ordering – all are influenced by our healthy choices. The point is you never know whose life you may have influenced for the better! With each person influenced we can have a healthier nation! It is up to us!!!! 🙂 ♥
Judith Gelman is is a 51 year old Federal law enforcement officer. Check out her Facebook page at Fabulous-Fifties-A-New-Beginning!