Ahhh… Youth!

By Cherie Gruenfeld

 

While doing a trail run recently, I passed a group of six older folks. My best guess is that these “spry” seniors were in their early 60s and out-taxing themselves with a brisk hike in the hills. It was a single track, so they moved aside to let me continue my run. As soon as I passed, I heard one of them say, “Ahhh….youth!”

I was startled to hear this and quickly turned around to see who they might be referring to, only to discover it was me.

Now, what makes this story worth repeating is that I just celebrated my 70th birthday, which made me several years older than these folks who were wishing they were as youthful as I! This experience is one that I smile about whenever I relive it. And it makes me glad that I’m still “in the arena.”

 

As I’m one of those older folks, cautiously making my way through an aging process none of us will escape, here are some thoughts I can share on dealing with this. I’m not suggesting you strive to age gracefully. Rather, I’m suggesting you face it head-on and don’t let it get the upper hand.

 

-Never mourn the “old you”

That ship has sailed and wishing it back is a waste of precious time and energy. Move on. Get busy finding out what kind of game the “current you” still has.

-Don’t use age as an excuse

If you’re out there being physically active, odds are very good you’ll find yourself mixing it up with younger folks. It would be easy to beg off, saying something along the lines of, “ I’ll never keep up with you and I don’t want to hold you back.

Jump in and hold your own as long as you can. It may surprise you (and the young bucks) that your experience and wisdom will work in your favor and they’ll have trouble dropping you.

-Continue to set tough goals

Clearly, you can’t perform at the same level you could five or ten years ago. That being said, in endurance sports there are many factors other than age that come into play. So my approach is to set goals close to what I did a year or two ago. I may not nail it, but I’m sure I’ll perform better when there’s a tough goal I’m chasing. No down-side to this, as far as I can see.

-Stay strong

The biggest physical challenge as one gets older is that you lose strength. So, doesn’t it make sense to have some sort of strength program as a top priority? You’ll never regain the strength you had in your youth, but you can stay strong enough to keep on climbing big hills and hammering out time trials.

Get a doc who understands you are not your chronological age

Things happen when you’re active and you’ll occasionally need to see a doctor. If the first thing you hear is, ”At your age, you really shouldn’t be stressing yourself this way,” run (don’t walk) out of the office and go find another doc. What you need is a medical professional who understands that strenuous physical activity is your lifestyle and will make it his goal to get you back to that active mode as quickly as possible.

-Your mind does not have to age along with your body

I recently raced the 70.3 in St. Croix where the bike course includes “The Beast”, a hideously steep 0.7 mile hill that includes some 21% grades. As I was passing young, fit racers walking their bikes to the top, I realized that, although I didn’t have the stronger body, I certainly had the stronger mind, and it was hauling my 70-year-old body up the hill.

The mind is a powerful weapon. Keep believing that you’ve still got the goods and watch what happens!

 

You’ll find there are things that come with age over which you have no control. Your skin is no longer fresh and tight. Searching for your glasses becomes  a frustrating, everyday occurrence. This is just part of the process. So be it.

There are other things that come with age over which you have some level of control. You don’t have to gain weight or give yourself over to medications.  And you can continue to make your physical activities good and strenuous.

Speaking from experience, it ain’t easy, but it’s doable.

Physically, you simply have to work harder to accomplish what you used to do fairly easily. Mentally, you’ll be frustrated when your times get slower even as you’re training your butt off.

But what are your options? You can walk away and spend your time reminiscing about the good old days. Or, you can take what you’ve got today and do with it the best that you can.

 

Don’t know about you, but I’m going for option #2.


Good luck

 

Featured image source: Pixabay.com.

5 ways to age better than your father did

By Kia Zarezadeh, Sponsor contributor from HealthwaysFIT.com (Silver Sneakers)

Most of us grew up idolizing our fathers. It wasn’t just in our nature; Dad was stronger, smarter and had more know-how than we ever did. It might seem like sacrilege to suggest you  can live better than dad did. But one way to top pop is by living a longer and healthier life. Here’s five ways to age better than your father did…

Ditch diabetes

About 25 percent of Americans 60 or older live with type 2 diabetes, so there’s a good chance your father has or had diabetes. The good news is you can eliminate most risk factors by taking better care of your body. Most people with type 2 diabetes are obese, so aim to keep your body fat lower than dear old dad’s. Focus on eating nutritious, low-fat, minimally processed foods that are moderate in calories. This is especially important if you’re a woman: Weight gained after menopause can put you at even higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

Avoid arthritis

Like diabetes, arthritis carries a hereditary risk. But that doesn’t mean you have to grin and bear it like Dad. Rest, combined with a healthy weight and a nutritious diet, can help reduce the severity of arthritis symptoms. And, though it might sound contradictory to dad’s advice, exercise is great for reducing joint pain associated with arthritis. That’s because building muscles around your aching joints takes the pressure off those joints.

Photo source: Wikipedia Commons.

Photo source: Wikipedia Commons.

Take care of your ticker

Heart attacks unfortunately cost many of us a few extra years with our fathers. But heart health has come a long way in the past few decades. Now we know exercise and the types of food you eat can greatly reduce heart disease risk. When it comes to food, do better than dad and look for recipes designed to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. As for working that heart muscle into an invincible piston, try aerobic exercises that raise your heart rate while helping you burn fat.

Defeat dementia

Dementia is a bit trickier than other health problems that may have impacted your father as he aged. Not much is known about diseases like Alzheimer’s, but what we do know is leagues beyond the information available just a few decades ago. The latest research suggests everyday activities, such as walking, can help protect your memory. Of course, in addition to working your body, you should work your brain. From crossword puzzles to online games, people today intentionally are working their minds  stay sharp.

Prevent falls

How many times have you seen an accidental fall devastate the life of an otherwise strong and capable father? Of course, you can’t stop accidents from happening. But powerful core muscles and good balance can cut your chances of taking a spill. Plus, they actually can reduce the severity of injuries you suffer when you do fall. Recovery time is greatly improved in people with fitter bodies. And here’s something we’re pretty sure your dad never dreamed of doing to help prevent falls: video games. New research suggests video games can boost your balance, rejuvenate the brain and even lift your mood.

A Perspective on Spinning from Live Love Flow

By Jaime Scates Schmitz from LiveLoveFlowYoga.com

OK, now it’s time for honesty. I do not love spinning the way I love yoga. But I see it as a necessary evil. Before Live Love Flow, I operated a yoga studio for 3.5 years that offered just yoga (Mountain Flow Yoga in Madrona). Yoga all by itself was never quite enough for me. I had a spin bike at home, which I used often and I ran to keep the cardio conditioning up. As mountain biking is the second greatest love of my life, just behind yoga, the addition of a spin studio seemed logical. If I lived somewhere that riding 3-5 days a week up big hills on the dirt was a possibility, you might not find me in the spin studio. But since I have to hoof it up to the mountains with my bike packed away in the car, that’s just too many hours out of the day. So you’ll find me in the spin studio a lot! And don’t get me wrong. I LOVE the music, I LOVE the energy, I appreciate the intensity and therefore the efficiency. And well, it does make me feel AMAZING!

Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons.

Photo source: Wikipedia Commons.

Spinning is an amazing way for people who are getting older to start or complement a fitness routine:

  1. When you’re inside on a stationary bike, you’re not going to fall or get hit by a car. There’s very minimal risk of needing a hip replacement from falling!
  2. When the bike is ridden in the ergonomically correct way, there’s zero impact on the joints and it keeps them lubricated by using them.
  3. Spinning increases serotonin and endorphins so we feel amazing.
  4. The ticker needs that cardio conditioning.
  5. One of the leading contributors to aging is the decrease in production of HGH (Human Growth Hormone). Don’t get a shot; you can become dependent and stop making your own naturally. But DO high intensity interval training – we do a ton in spinning. ”High intensity burst training in which one’s heart rate bursts above their anaerobic threshold (best established by VO2 max testing) for 30 second intervals five or more times in a workout. This engages super-fast twitch muscle fibers, which release HGH naturally.”
  6. You can really go at your own pace. The teacher will set a cadence and a gear; if it’s too hard, scale back. No one’s pressuring you; it’s your ride!

So my number one goal in life is not to be super fit, super fast or super awesome on the bike. It’s to be super conscious, super awake, super alive, FREE and vibrant. I’ve wrapped my brain around how spinning supports this for me.

As we’re riding, the mind puts up a lot of resistance: it’s really HARD in the class, so the noisy mind loves to complain, to pull us onto the path of least resistance, to bitch and moan. I see spinning as an amazing opportunity to “shush” that part of my mind. If I can cultivate equanimity to that suffering and silence the mental bulls*#t to face the challenge, I win!

Spinning also teaches an amazing lesson about transcending/transmuting our drama and our trauma. I don’t want to scare anyone, but I don’t want to minimize how hard we work in there; it’s kind of nuts! However, the minute we walk out of the room we feel AMAZING and we put the story of the ride and all of the suffering it evoked into the past where it belongs. We don’t relive the ride over and over and over again the way we do everything else that hurts, i.e. heart-ache, legal battles, neglect, addiction, being “wronged” by another, failure, embarrassment, suffering etc. Nope, we hop off the bike an we pop that ride into the past.

Now THAT’s a powerful lesson in movin’ right on through, moving higher and increasing consciousness.

I do think that anyone who’s using just the spin side of the studio is missing the whole point of Live Love Flow, but heck, they’re welcome and maybe the energy that’s being created in that amazing space, sincerely dedicated to evolving consciousness will seep into their field and we’ll find them in the yoga studio.

Namaste!

A Perspective on Yoga from Live Love Flow

By Jaime Scates Schmitz from LiveLoveFlowYoga.com

When Tony first asked me to do a piece for FitAfterFifty.com I was reticent: #1, I’m not 50 or even that close and #2, I cringe a bit whenever someone refers to me as a fitness guru . . . I am not.

In response to #1, I thought ‘What the heck do I know about being fit after fifty?’ And in response to #2, barring a car falling on my child, you will probably never see me lift a heavy thing.

I pushed through resistance item #1 when I thought of my amazing parents and my cute mom, who while still vital, attractive and lovely, is seeing her body wear down. Then I thought of my friend, student and current teacher-trainee, Nancy Richards, who at 64 moves like a 30-year-old in yoga, crushes it on the spin bike, hikes, bikes and skis. WOW. I’ll take that.

I pushed through resistance item #2 because I LOVE yoga (yes it’s a work out, but at its core it’s a spiritual practice of which the work-out is a tiny portion). I’m also happy to ride indoors to stay conditioned for mountain biking (my second greatest love behind yoga) and I believe all of the research about intense cardiovascular exercise increasing HGH, endorphins, serotonin etc. – I’ll take all of that because there’s nothing that I love more than feeling AMAZING.

As soon as Tony and I started the interview I knew it was a great idea. It was an opportunity to talk about my passions to a new audience.

Watch the interview here:

Yoga

Yoga is amazing for EVERYBODY. It’s especially amazing for bodies that want to age gracefully. In yoga, we move through our entire range of motion and all of our little accessory (rarely used) muscles. We also work tremendously hard on the core, which protects and lengthens the spine. Flexibility and balance are two of the first pieces of athleticism and health that people lose as they age, and yoga helps to improve those areas as well.

We spend a lot of time upside down in down-dog, forward-folds and inversions. These poses have amazing benefits to calming the parasympathetic nervous system and they are officially working against gravity – take that sagging skin! We do work incredibly hard, doing a lot of lunges, chattaranga pushups, side planks etc. We are using our own body weight to build bone density, which is another must for people over fifty!

Photo credit: Pixabay

Photo credit: Pixabay

So that’s just a tiny list of the health benefits of yoga. But my favorite thing about yoga in its ability to invite people to age gracefully is simply the fluidity and grace we introduce.

We hold so much tension and density in our bodies because it gives us the illusion of control. We also hold all of our pain, failure, drama and trauma as little energy nodules in the body called samskaras.

Everything in the universe, including humans, flows in an energetic pattern called a tube torus. When the tube torus is open and flowing freely we are clean, clear, bright, free and alive. In nature we can see examples of clean energy patterns flowing together. Nature balances, syncs, synergizes and coalesces with itself. We are intended to synergize in the same way and our tube torus is supposed to flow freely.

Sadly, due to all of the density, tension and samskaras we hold in our bodies (as well as a lot of external influences from the electromagnetic soup we swim in and the SAD – standard American diet) our energetic patterns are generally not flowing properly. We can see in the high rates of addiction that are currently in existence (I just read that while only 10 percent of Americans are truly addicted to alcohol, a full 30 percent are alcohol-dependent). Other examples include depression, numbing with the dumbing of American TV, the acceptance of hard-core violence and soft-core porn into our living rooms every night (not mine!), environmental degradation, poverty, famine, the sex trade of children, war, genetically modified food, disease etc. By all of these things, we see that we are clearly NOT syncing with nature in the way that was our birthright, in the way spirit intended for us.

In yoga, we move through our entire energetic sphere with grace and fluidity. When we do this with a burning desire to connect to consciousness, to cleanse our habits and our patterns, to free ourselves from our rigidity, to move higher, we just might make a little progress in that 60 – 75 minutes on our mats.

There’s something about moving with fluidity and grace, the way we do in yoga that also breaks down linear thinking. It helps us confuse the mind, move in a circle, play. Einstein said, “Confusion is the brink of discovery.” When we’re confused, doing something new, and pushing our edges we create new neural pathways (we’re pretty addicted to the ones we always use, and most of those stories aren’t so pleasant). So get a little lost, get a little confused, try something new, change your brain and explore that brink of discovery!

If we all work hard on cleaning up our own energy, elevating our own vibration, bringing ourselves into greater alignment and higher consciousness, then sooner or later that nasty list from above will start to shrink and lose it’s hold over humanity.

Healthy Blood Equals Healthy Bod! How Managing Your Blood Sugars can Lead to a Healthier, Happier You!

It’s 3 p.m. on a weekday afternoon… what are you doing?

A)   Looking for the nearest coffee shop to get that extra boost of caffeine to help you make it through the rest of the work day.

B)   Grabbing a handful of sweet treats out of the office candy jar because your sweet tooth is screaming at you.

C)   Switching back and forth between Facebook, CNN, and your current work task because you just cannot focus.

D)   Struggling to keep your eyes open, telling yourself that you’ll let your “eyes rest” for 5 minutes before getting back to work.

E)   All of the above.

F)    None of the above.

We’ve all encountered the dreaded afternoon energy crash at one point or another in our lives. However, there is a way to overcome the afternoon slump! By choosing balanced meals that contain protein, carbohydrates, and fats (yes, I said fats!), you can balance your blood sugars, manage your cravings, and make it through the afternoon slump without needing an extra dose of caffeine or sugar!

Photo credit: UltimateGymNT.com.

Photo credit: UltimateGymNT.com.

Blood sugars & energy levels 

One of the reasons as to why we experience fatigue, difficulty concentrating, sugar cravings, and mood swings is that our blood sugars are out of whack. When we consume a diet that is low in fat, high in refined carbohydrates, and variable in protein (i.e. the “Standard American Diet”), our blood sugars spike, then rapidly drop, causing the aforementioned symptoms. How exactly does this happen?

When we ingest and metabolize carbohydrates, they are broken down into glucose. Glucose is then released into our blood stream to provide fuel for our cells, muscles, brain, and tissues. When we eat a meal or snack that contains a lot of refined carbohydrates with little to no fat and/or protein, the carbohydrates are rapidly digested in our system, causing a surge in blood sugar. Since chronically elevated blood sugars can be detrimental to our body, it tries to lower our blood glucose and return it to the normal range (a state called “homeostasis”) as quickly as possible. This rapid shift in blood sugar levels (from very high to very low), can leave you feeling fatigued. Thus, you end up reaching for the nearest sugar-laden treat in an attempt to reenergize yourself and bring your blood sugars back up to normal levels.

Tips for managing your blood sugars

Never fear – there are ways to prevent our blood sugars from taking a ride on a not-so-fun roller coaster ride! Consuming fat and protein along with carbohydrates can help you balance out your blood sugars.

When fat and protein are consumed in conjunction with carbohydrates, they slow down the digestion of carbohydrates and the release of glucose into your blood. As a result, your blood sugars gradually increase – rather than spiking – immediately after consuming a meal. Think of it this way: a meal consisting of carbohydrates without protein or fat is like having a car with no brakes – it’s wild, irresponsible, and can ultimately cause damage. However, a balanced meal that contains carbohydrates, protein, and fat is much safer; protein and fat act as a “brake,” slowing down the release of sugar into your bloodstream. Here are some additional tips to ensure that your blood sugars are well balanced and that you keep the afternoon sugar & caffeine monster at bay!

  • Always consume balanced meals and snacks that contain a mix of carbohydrate, protein, and/or fat. Never consume a meal or snack that solely consists of carbohydrate! Not only will fat and protein help control your blood sugars, but fat and protein will also make the meal or snack more satiating. Below are some common “no brake” meals and snacks, with options as to how to make them well balanced.

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 10.11.32 AM

 

  • Don’t skip meals (including breakfast). Start off the day on the right foot by having a balanced breakfast that contains a healthy dose of carbohydrate, fat, and protein. Studies have shown a positive association between eating breakfast and increased productivity at work. Furthermore, eating breakfast has been shown to help people successfully lose weight and achieve a healthy weight. Between meals, listen to your body and snack if you are hungry! Skipping meals and foregoing snacks can lead to bingeing and overeating the next time you eat.
  • Make sure you are getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night. As little as one night of sleep deprivation can cause unfavorable alterations in some of the hormones (i.e., leptin, insulin, and ghrelin) that are associated with regulating our appetite. Furthermore, when we’re tired from a lack of sleep, we’re more likely to choose the not-so-healthy sugar-laden snacks – rather than the well-balanced snacks listed above – in an attempt to quickly boost our energy levels.
  •  Limit highly processed and sugar-laden foods. Highly processed foods are not only high in refined carbohydrates, but they also typically high in added sugar as well. Thus, they will cause your blood sugar to spike pretty rapidly. Therefore, they are not the best choice when trying to manage your blood sugars.

Let’s hear it! What are your favorite balanced meal and snack ideas? What tips do you have for staving off the afternoon energy slump?

Life-Long Learning #2: Live Like It’s Your Only

By Lynn Turcotte-Schuh

At 35 years of age, I know I am a young contributor for a group called Fit After Fifty – but I hope I can inspire you with my perspective. “Life-Long Learning” is a collection of thoughts I have been filing away while watching the generation before me. One of the most important things I have learned about growing older is that…

View from the top, mountain hike, Lake Tahoe, CA.

View from the top, mountain hike, Lake Tahoe, CA.

#2: You need to live each day like it’s your only. (Click here to check out lesson #1)

I know the saying is, “live each day like it’s your last”; but to me, that evokes too much melancholy. It makes you think of all the things you will be losing and makes it difficult to stay in the moment. I have re-worded the phrase to something much more positive and hopeful. “Live each day like it’s your only.” If you only ever had one day to live, you would do things very differently. Here is my list:

  • I would not be bothered by the little things that go wrong, instead I would be grateful to be having experiences and would take joy in the mundane.
  • I would surround myself with people who brought a positive energy and light into my environment rather than allowing someone to drain me or bring me down.
  • I would have appreciation and gratitude for every moment and I would make sure that I spent those moments with the people that mean the most to me, doing the things that mean the most to me.
  • I would care for my body to the best of my ability to show reverence for the amazing self that I am.
  • I would dare to go outside the box and try something that frightened me a bit. I’m not talking sky diving here, but maybe striking up a conversation with someone new.
  • I would hug a little longer, kiss a bit more often, and hold my baby as tight as she would allow for as long as she would allow.
  • I would laugh, really hard, as many times as I could.
  • I would say “thank you” to the universe for giving me this one, perfect, amazing day.

Luckily for us, we don’t have only one day to live – we have a whole lifetime. Whether that lifetime lasts for 20 years or 90, would it really matter if we lived each of our days as if it were our only?

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 10.59.37 AMLynn Turcotte-Schuh lives with her family in Voluntown, CT on 14 acres of beautiful nature.  She was certified as a Health Coach in July of 2011 through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.  She is a member of the International Association of Health Coaches and the American Academy of Drugless Practitioners as well as a Team Member at Nutrisults, a company poised to help people age gracefully. 

In 2013, Lynn founded Happy Mama Wellness – an organization whose mission is to help parents model healthy behaviors in all areas of life so that our children can be the next generation of leaders in the wellness revolution.

Michelle Boyd’s Story of Overcoming Obesity

2013 is the year I lost 92 lbs. on a rigid low calorie diet and Omnitrition supplements. 2014 is the year I decided to get physical.

BEFORE

BEFORE

I’ve been a morbidly obese woman my entire adult life. I did not do any exercise except for swimming. I had long been in denial of my poor physical health. My idea of exercise was to park in the second row at Walmart. I had severe knee problems and difficulty going up and down stairs. In addition to suffering from Fibromyalgia, arthritis, and daily migraines; my most debilitating “illness” was my negative self image about the obesity. I saw someone who would never be loved or accepted. I never looked in full length mirrors, hated shopping because I had to buy huge clothes to fit my bust and thighs, leading me to special Plus-Sized shops. I even gave up wearing makeup. My self-hatred festered over and over as negative experiences replayed in my mind and self-hate verbiage constantly played.

In 2013, an opportunity to care for a terminally ill friend changed my life. Prior to her death, we shared a special moment in my truck as we took in the view of the beach. She was wheelchair-bound and commented that she really missed walking, hiking, and camping. That year, I lost 92 lbs. on the Omnitrition nutrition plan and went from a size 28 (XXXL) to size 12/14.

Even though my measurements completely changed, I still saw myself the way I used to be. Something needed to change.

In January 2014, our conversation kept playing over and over. I decided it was ridiculous that I wasn’t doing anything physical or healthy. So I challenged myself one day at Redondo Boardwalk. I learned that it was approximately 1/2 mile long. My first walk took over 40 minutes on a casual walk. The next day I decided to try 2 miles, which took over an hour. Two days later I increased it to 3 miles.

After a couple months of walking 3 miles 2-3 times per week, I noticed 3 miles did not make any difference in my body. So I pushed it up to 5 miles, 4-5 times per week. I really pushed that last mile and my legs were really sore. . After a couple months, I decided to try to jog 1 mile very slowly, to protect my knees. Success! Now I jog with my knee braces to provide extra strength.

Michelle Boyd after

AFTER

I’ve strengthened my knees up to 3 miles jogging and 2 miles walking. My walking stance is short so it takes more steps to complete a mile. But I am determined now to get my 5 miles in each day. I’ve had issues with blisters and sore feet, which have impacted my consistency, but good footwear is now making the difference.

I can walk 5-7 miles without pain. I can walk upstairs like a normal person. It is not a speedy process, but when I do it, I feel better about me. When my knees hurt, I wear the braces and I still try.

The most astounding change occurred last week when I registered for my first 5K for brain tumor research in July in Portland OR. 5K is just a little over 3 miles and I know I can do it!

I am not giving up and I refuse to listen to 35 years of self-hate tapes. I look forward to walking to clear my head, making positive affirmations, and changing my mindset. I never would’ve believed this was possible. If I can do this, so can you!

Congrats, Michelle! And thank you for sharing your story with the Fit After Fifty community!

Don’t Forget Your Diet – Ways to Utilize Paleo Principles

by Laura Tobias, MS, RD, CD & CrossFit Level 1 Trainer

Proper nutrition is an indispensable part of living a vibrant, healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, one of the most common pitfalls people make is that they put so much time and effort into working out and exercising that they slow – or even backtrack – their progress by not putting as much time and effort into their nutrition. No matter how many kale smoothies you consume, you cannot out train a bad diet.

While there are many theories and opinions out there as to what constitutes the “best” diet, the Paleo diet is one of the most popular diets on the market today. The Paleo diet is based off the diet of our ancient ancestors; it is a diet that is based around foods that were around before the advent of modern agriculture. In a nutshell (pun intended!), followers of the Paleo diet consume meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats, while eliminating grains, added sugars, dairy, legumes, alcohol, industrial seed oils (i.e., canola, soybean, sunflower, safflower, corn, cottonseed, and peanut oils), and processed foods. Sound a little extreme? Curious, but not ready to make the jump into a full-blown Paleo diet? You can still reap some of the wonderful benefits of a Paleo template by adopting some of the following core principles of the diet and lifestyle into your daily routine.

Photo from Pixabay.

Photo from Pixabay.

Make half of your plate non-starchy vegetables

One of the biggest misconceptions about the Paleo diet is that it is a meat-focused diet. Sadly, the Paleo diet does not consist of having a plate of bacon at every meal. While meat does play a significant role in the Paleo diet, it is by no means the star of the show. Non-starchy vegetables (i.e., leafy greens, zucchini, peppers, onions, mushrooms, asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc.) contain a ton of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants and have been shown to protect against heart disease and certain types of cancer. At every meal, focus on making at least half of your plate non-starchy vegetables. Bonus points if you can fit in three different colored veggies!

Photo from here.

Photo from here.

Eliminate processed, refined foods, artificial sweeteners, and added sugars

Processed foods are often nutrient-poor and can contain trans-fats, which have been linked to cardiovascular disease. We should consume natural, whole foods that support our bodies’ natural biological and physiological processes, rather than foods that have been mechanically altered in a factory. If your grandmother or great-grandmother would not recognize a certain food or ingredient, it’s probably no good! When grocery shopping, keep to the perimeter of the store; fruits, vegetables, meat, and seafood can be found in this area. The only foods to avoid in the perimeter of the store are those pesky bakery items, which always seem to be coming out of the oven as soon as I enter the store!

Photo from here.

Photo from here.

Focus on quality, sustainably raised meats and seafood

The chicken at your local grocery store has little in common, nutritionally, with the chicken our ancient ancestors were eating. Unfortunately, the majority of meat found in the supermarket has been raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (“CAFOs”). In order to cheaply and quickly produce meat, CAFOs raise and feed animals in environments that vastly differ from the animals’ natural habitats. Instead of grazing on grass, cows are now fed corn, grains, and antibiotics in an attempt to quickly fatten them for slaughter. As a result, the nutrient profile of CAFO meat differs from the nutrient profile of properly raised, pastured animals. For example, grass-fed beef has a more favorable ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids compared to CAFO beef. When possible, choose local, pasture raised meats and wild caught seafood for their superior nutrient profile. 

Photo from here.

Photo from here.

Fat is your friend!

Arguably one of the greatest nutritional mistakes of the past century was the recommendation of a “low-fat, fat-free” diet approach. When we remove naturally occurring fats in foods, we have to replace them with something else. More times than naught, fat is replaced with sugar, artificial sweeteners, or hydrogenated oils, none of which will help you achieve optimal health. Healthy fats – such as those found in coconut, avocado, well-raised meats, eggs, fish, nuts, and seeds – are satiating and nourishing! Furthermore, healthy fats are needed to support brain health, skin health, and cognitive function. A 2010 meta-analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that there is no significant evidence that intake of saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. It’s time we reclaim our health by embracing – rather than fearing – the healthy, natural fats found in foods such as eggs, nuts, avocados, coconut, meats, and fish! 

Photo from eHow.

Photo from eHow.

Exercise – get out and move daily!

Exercise can help relieve stress, improve cardiovascular health, manage your weight, improve body composition, and improve your mood. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily. And don’t forget about the weights! Strength training can help build lean muscle, rev up your metabolism, and support healthy bones. 

Manage and reduce stress

Photo from here.

Photo from here.

In this day and age, stress is pretty much an inevitable part of life. Stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, are released during stressful situations; they are the hormones responsible for the “fight or flight” response that our ancestors experienced when they were being chased by wild animals. However, in today’s stress-filled society, these stress hormones are constantly being released in our bodies. Chronically high levels of cortisol and adrenaline can lead to anxiety, fatigue, weight gain (especially in the mid-section), decreased libido, and difficulty sleeping. Reducing stress by even a small amount can have a positive impact on your health and lifestyle. Take 20-30 minutes out of your day and spend it on an activity you enjoy, whether it be curling up with a good book, taking an Epsom salt bath, going for a walk, completing a crossword, meditating, doing yoga, or whatever makes you truly happy. 

Photo from here.

Photo from here.

Sleep, glorious sleep!

Sleep is a time for our bodies to rebuild, repair, and detoxify all of our cells, tissues, and muscles. Sleep deprivation has been linked to alterations in hormones that are associated with regulating our appetite (ex. leptin, insulin, and ghrelin). As a result, we are not only hungrier throughout the day, but we can also experience cravings for sugary, carbohydrate-rich foods in an attempt to quickly boost our energy levels. Aim to get around 8 hours of quality sleep per night!

Even if you are not ready to adopt a full-blown Paleo diet and lifestyle, try incorporating one of these habits into your lifestyle. Hope these tips are helpful in your journey to optimal health!

Stronger on the Slopes, and Beyond!

By Debora Robinett 

I began attending The Bar Method Seattle-Redmond classes in November 2011, shortly after the SLU studio opened. I noticed many changes and improvements in my body within the first few months.

Debora at Whistler.

Debora at Whistler.

After a year, in December 2012, I wrote a brief testimonial about the changes in my skiing ability/strength.

“As a downhill skier for 44 years, I usually dread the day after the first ski day of the season. I don’t any longer. Despite years of aerobics, strength training, yoga, Pilates, competitive cycling, ballet, skating, running and just about every other sport known, one year of The Bar Method has left my entire body stronger than any other exercise regime, even with a torn ACL. Not only am I stronger on the slopes, but my core strength has supported my balance, upper and lower body endurance, faster recovery and joy for the sport. Thanks to all of my instructors for a superior ski season workout!”

Around the same time, my boyfriend had this to say…

“Snow skiing centers around several movements including edging, turning, and pressuring movements that are used to maintain balance while gliding down the mountain. Working out at The Bar Method adds to a skier’s strength and agility, thus improving the efficiency of these movements. When Deb started Bar Method classes a year ago, she already was a good skier. However, Bar Method has not only improved her endurance, it has enhanced her ability to adjust these movements more quickly while skiing more efficiently. Her agility has improved, allowing her the ability to adapt quickly to varied terrain, steepness, and snow conditions. Most importantly, her recovery time after skiing is minimal. The Bar Method is an excellent regimen for getting in shape, for skiing plus improving your overall core strength.”

– Joseph Claeys Level III Certification-Professional Ski Instructors Association

Then a year later, at my two-year, 400 class mark, I reflected further…

gc1“Saturday, November 16th, 2013 marks my 400th Bar Method class in just under two years at the South Lake Union Seattle & Redmond Bar Method Studios. What an amazing, challenging, body sculpting, muscle strengthening workout. Even years of ballet, aerobics, yoga, weight lifting, Pilates, skating, both competitive cycling & running couldn’t give me the results of these one-hour sessions. So what have I noticed in the past two years? Within the first few months of Bar Method, I noticed that I had dropped a full pant size as my muscle memory returned and the fat melted away. I’ve been a registered dietitian for 35 years, so my diet has always been pristine and I made no changes to it as I began Bar Method. As a downhill skier for 44 years, I usually dreaded the day after the first ski day of the season. I didn’t in the 2011 or 2012 seasons … I am also an avid golfer and noticed that my distance and accuracy improved such that my handicap was lower in the spring than any other start to golf season. Lastly, (and most importantly to me as a woman who is one year shy of her 60th birthday) are the overall anti-aging benefits of Bar Method. My personal physician remarked in 2012 how nicely my Human Growth Hormone (HGH) levels were in comparison to the previous five years. Add another year of Bar Method to my life and my levels are even higher. For all of you Baby Boomers, naturally produced Human Growth Hormone is considered the anti-aging, fountain of youth hormone. I’m old enough to be many of my fellow students’ mother but my energy, endurance and strength is that of a much younger woman. Who doesn’t want to get younger with each passing year? So thank you to owners, Luke, Bev and Maika, all of my dedicated motivational instructors and fellow Bar Method friends who have kept me coming back to Bar Method the last 400 times.”

I’ll be 60 in January 2015 so like Tony here at Fit After Fifty, I agree that exercise (and nutrition and good genes) directs biological age, which is more important than chronological age!

Life-Long Learning #1: Age Is Just a Number

By Lynn Turcotte-Schuh

 At 35 years of age, I know I am a young contributor for a group called Fit After Fifty – but I hope I can inspire you with my perspective. “Life-Long Learning” is a collection of thoughts I have been filing away while watching the generation before me. One of the most important things I have learned about growing older is that…

#1: Age really is just a number – an old adage but very true.

As a child of divorced parents, I grew up around many types of people and relationships. Some were healthy and others were not. Even among my friends there was a myriad of family situations. As I became an adult, I drew from those childhood experiences to help me realize my own path. The most influential person in this area of my life is my Dad.

My Dad and my daughter.

My Dad and my daughter.

My father is in construction; a very fit man at the age of 58 he still works a full-time construction job. Growing up, my Dad always made time and found the energy to play with us. He was the Dad that was behind us on the monkey bars cheering us on. He was the Dad that showed us all how to properly dive off the high board. He was the only Dad I can remember that could hang from the door jam with just his fingertips; and he did that last week just before he went to a rock climbing gym with my very fit 24-year-old brother and beat him up the wall. At 58, my Dad is just warming up to do all of this and more with his first grandchild.

In contrast, I distinctly remember my best friend’s father pulling into the driveway just as dinner was being served. He would sit down at the table – still in his suit – eat his dinner and then go into the living room and watch the news on television while the rest of the family went outside to play. I saw such a difference in his relationship with his children, even at such a young age. As I interact with my four-month old daughter I remember this dichotomy of parenting and am pulled quite forcefully to my Dad’s way. I strive to be just like him…even though he was a 23-year-old father, and is now a 58-year-old grandfather, my Dad has always kept a child-like joy in his life proving to me that age really is just a number.

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 10.59.37 AMLynn Turcotte-Schuh lives with her family in Voluntown, CT on 14 acres of beautiful nature.  She was certified as a Health Coach in July of 2011 through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.  She is a member of the International Association of Health Coaches and the American Academy of Drugless Practitioners as well as a Team Member at Nutrisults, a company poised to help people age gracefully. 

In 2013, Lynn founded Happy Mama Wellness – an organization whose mission is to help parents model healthy behaviors in all areas of life so that our children can be the next generation of leaders in the wellness revolution.