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How to Feel Younger

Our health is one of our most valuable assets.  When we’re healthy, we can spend higher quality time with our loved ones, can move around easily, and enjoy going out and having fun.  When we’re feeling under the weather, or have been living an unhealthy lifestyle, it’s difficult to find the motivation to do anything.

Perhaps you were in great shape in the past, but over the course of a few months, or years, your health has started to slip.  How do you go about getting healthy and feeling younger?  Use these simple strategies to put a smile back on your face and add that spring back into your step.

Adjust your Posture

It sounds simple, but even just sitting with better posture will change the way your body feels.  Straighten your back, pull your shoulders back, and keep your head up.  Learn to get in the habit of paying attention to your posture throughout the day.  To get started, it’s helpful to stand against a wall and flatten your back against it.  It’s ok if it’s difficult at first.  After years of bad posture, you’re retraining your body to maintain the form it’s made to be in.

meditation

Get Moving and Increase Mobility

Even if you aren’t an athlete, it’s important to move around each day to get the blood flowing.  Take a walk around the neighborhood.  Walk up and down a few flights of stairs.  Do air squats in the comfort of your own living room.  By getting daily exercise, you improve your circulation, heart health, digestion, and strength.  Exercise is one of the absolute best things you can do for your body to look and feel younger.

Socialize Every Day

Humans are social animals.  For our entire history, we’ve lived in communities where we have regular interaction with our peers.  In this day and age, it’s easy to live an isolated lifestyle and go through the usual daily routine.  Even if your friends and loved ones don’t live nearby, make it a point to get out and socialize every day.  Start by making small talk with the people around you.  Strike up a conversation with someone while waiting in line at the grocery store.  When in doubt, ask questions.  People love talking about themselves, and asking a question is a sure way to get the conversation going.

socializing

Eat a Healthy Diet

The food we eat directly affects the way that we feel.  When we eat a diet full of sugar, processed carbs, preservatives, and and chemicals, it leads to weight gain, moodiness, and poor health.  On the other hand, when our diet is full of vegetables, lean meats, and healthy fats, our body is able to repair itself.  We feel younger, look fitter, and grow stronger.

Feed your Body What It’s Missing

Go and get a blood test.  Often times, when we feel sluggish, it may be the result of micronutrient deficiencies.  It’s amazing how quickly you start to feel young again when your body has the proper balance of nutrients.  There’s no magic pill, or end-all-be all, but starting with a blood test will show you what’s healthy, and where you need to make improvements.

Practice Daily Gratitude

There’s an ancient Zen philosophy, that says “learn only to be content.”  It’s the secret to lifelong happiness.  Be content with what you have, rather than focused on what you want.  Practice gratitude by saying three things that you’re thankful for every day.  They can be simple.  I’m grateful for the great weather.  I’m thankful for a cup of coffee in the morning.  I’m thankful for my loving family.  See how easy that is?

gratitude

Safely Intensify Your Workout Routine

You may have found yourself at a place in your workouts where you are not feeling as challenged as you once were, or perhaps you just want to turbo-charge things and see more results faster.  If this is the case, then increasing the intensity and method in your workouts is for you.  The trick is to intensify your workout routine safely so that you don’t risk injury that would side line you and defeat the whole purpose of increasing your workouts.

Combo Training: Combo training is when you combine an assortment of aerobic exercises and resistance training. This a very demanding form of intensity training and can lead to over training and/or injury, so use caution and even a personal trainer to coach you through until you gain a safe understanding of how to proceed.

You will perform a resistance training set and follow it with a short burst on moderate intensity aerobics for 30 seconds.  You then repeat for another two sets. For example, perform a set of squats, and then do a 30 second burst of burpees, and then back to a set of squats/burpees. This cycle should be done in three “sets” (squats/burpees as one set). Combo training really torches fat and whips you into great cardio conditioning quickly. Here is a sample You Tube workout to get you started.

Supersets: If you are weight training, one method to increase intensity and strength results is known as Super Sets.  A superset is when two exercises are completed in sequence without a break in between them.  It is important to pair up two agonist/antagonist muscle groups in the set pairs.  For example: quads/hamstrings or back/chest.  This technique will noticeably increase muscle strength and result in your ability to train at higher intensity levels.

You will be more efficient if you set up agonist/antagonist stations before you begin so that once starting, you can go from pair sets to the next station with only a 30 second rest in between.  Here is a great YouTube superset workout to get an idea of what is involved.

 

Photo source, Wikipedia Commons.

Photo source, Wikipedia Commons.

HIIT Training for runners: Runners who desire to increase both speed and endurance, do so with interval or HIIT training.  It is important to already have solid base of mileage as well as speed work before starting this type of training.

Run nearly full out for 10 to 60 seconds, followed by a rest/walk (or jog) period. The rest period should be one to four times the length of the high intensity burst.  Essentially, your rest period is just enough so that you are recovered to do the next repeat at the same speed with good form.  This challenges your cardio system to get stronger and pushes oxygenated blood through your body, making it available for you muscles. Be sure you are warmed up and flexible before starting these workouts.

This same idea of HIIT training can be applied to cyclists, rowers, and even hiking.

Mixing it up challenges your body and can jump start you out of that plateau or even boredom you may have hit in your workouts.  At the very least, you will find yourself in better conditioning! Do you have a tried-and-true method to intensify your workout routine safely? Please share it in the comments area below! We’d love to hear from you and share your experience with the Fit After Fifty community.

Happy training!

Why Most Diets Fail

While many things unite us as Americans, one factor is not to be proud of… Americans are struggling in increasing numbers with body weight.  We are not just talking obesity, but just plain old being overweight. The statistics do not look good for us:

  • According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, 35.7% of American adults (aged 20 and older) are obese (BMI 30 and above) — up from about 23% in the early 1990s.
  • Two thirds of Americans claim they are on a diet, yet less than 20% achieve not only successful weight loss, but also fail to maintain the loss
  • Over the last 50 years, Americans went from 24.3% of the population classified as overweight, to over 35% currently.

Elizabeth Kolbert writes an excellent article in The New Yorker examining the why’s of how we all got here and how we have changed culturally, as a result of all this weight gain.  One subject that sells more books, supplements, and nutrition programs than probably all others combined is our collective desire to lose weight. We can look at all the reasons we are gaining weight, and Kolbert’ s article does a good job of that. But for our purposes here, we are going to understand why we tend to fail to keep the weight off.

In a very simplistic nutshell, we gain weight when we consume more calories than what our bodies’ burn off.  There are many contributing factors that make that process more of a challenge for some than others such as thyroid issues, genetic predisposition, and life style factors.

In order to be successful at weight loss, it is critical to pinpoint your pitfalls and be determined in your strategies for a successful approach. Examining our lifestyle habits and how those detract from a successful weight loss program is important to success. When we understand how metabolism works then we can make choices to improve that. Let’s examine some of the top reasons why most diets fail:

  • Looking at a diet as a temporary short term solution to a weight issue.  Those who succeed at weight loss do so with a lifestyle approach for long term health.  It is key to make dietary changes to support good health long after the weight is off
  • An inaccurate view on activity and calories burned: In order to lose 1 lb. per week, cut your calories by 500/day. Achieving that by exercise alone or diet alone is not only unrealistic, but defeating and can be dangerous. Increase both your moderate and vigorous types of exercise, track steps with a pedometer to help you take more of them, and also reduce your calories consumed.
  • Adopting too drastic or strict of a diet that triggers headaches, mood swings, irritability and brain fog.  Feeling cruddy is an indicator of a poor diet rather than a healthy one which is going to yield a lifestyle change.
  • A diet that actually lowers your metabolism: Drastically cutting back on calories and also teaching yourself to “go hungry” slows your metabolism down and throws your body into fat storage mode. Light snacking or smaller, healthy meals every two hours is a more successful approach.
  • Simplifying a diet approach to just “consume less calories”: Caloric consumption is the place to start, but failing to understand how sugars and fats impact weight gain, understand complex vs simple carbs, and not boosting your metabolism and you are setting yourself up for failure.
  • Emotional eating: this is a very complex topic, but check out this article to gain an understanding of how we subscribe emotional cues to foods can be the most powerful factor in attaining weight loss success.
  • Getting inadequate sleep: People with fewer than six hours of sleep at night increase the body’s production of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates appetite. Lack of sleep also increases cortisol levels, the stress hormone, which leads to weight gain.

Identify the “diet fails” that tend to get in the way of your weight loss success, implement strategies to counter act those, and you are on your way to success…and a fitter, healthier YOU!

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.

Get Started, Get Fit, No More Roadblocks!

This generation of boomers is the fittest and most health conscious one to hit our 50’s, yet.  Because we are the first generation to hit this season with this level of fitness, we are also the only aging generation to be facing this second half of life with more health to experience the richness life has to offer.  As a result, we are also in a unique position to challenge and change society’s misconceptions of what it means to age.  Sometimes the misconceptions are our own roadblocks and we may need a little help in getting over them.  It starts with identifying your roadblocks to getting fit for 50+:

  • Feeling self conscious around younger, fitter people at the gym. Just remind yourself you are there and making a difference in your health today!
  • Feeling intimidated with gym equipment or classes not yet tried. Keep in mind this is a great opportunity to learn something new, which keeps your brain fit, as well.
  • The “some day” syndrome or better known as procrastination.  I will get to it some day. That day is now, GO FOR IT!!
  • “It takes a lot of hard work to change my fitness level”. It certainly does, but it is well worth it!
Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons.

Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons.

Don’t let those or any other road blocks hold you back. Consider some of the following people who may inspire you in breaking down those roadblocks:

  • 100 year old Sid Cojac of Atlanta plays pickle ball twice a week and works out the other 5 days of the week.
  • Seniors are starting second careers as personal trainers. The percentage of people over age 55 attending a personal training conference sponsored by IDEA Health & Fitness Association, a worldwide organization of fitness professionals, more than doubled from 2004 to 2011 — up to nearly 11 percent from 5 percent.
  • 71 year old Annette Larkin of Florida has astounded people with her agelessness, looks 40 and credits raw food and a meatless diet with her amazing health.
  • Needing an adventure for her 60thbirthday, Ginny Benware of Portland quit her job and hiked the Pacific Crest Trail.

If you are just getting started or contemplating getting started with a workout plan, keep it simple and manageable and focus on the four building blocks of fitness to get you over those roadblocks:

  • Breathe! Take just 30 minutes a day to participate in an activity that makes you breathe hard.  This increases your endurance and cardio levels.  It just has to be intense enough to raise your heart rate, but not so intense that you can’t hold a conversation while doing it.
  • Build muscles! Any kind of strength training with weights, exercise bands, kettle balls, or suspension training with your won body weight will build muscle. This also builds bone density and balance; all of which reduces your risk of falls.
  • Get Balanced!  Core fitness is a phrase all of us have heard about.  This popular fitness approach revolves around exercises that challenge your balance and core stability.  No gym is needed to do balance training activities. Brush your teeth standing on one leg, raising the other slowly and you will increase your balance and core stability.
  • Stretch and Flexibility!  As each year passes, we are all losing flexibility unless we are actively doing something about it.  Flexibility and balance are closely related.  Your balance is helped as you gain flexibility.  Regular stretching gives you more freedom of movement and reduces muscle soreness and possible injuries from exercise.

Once your fitness plan includes the four basics, the sky is the limit to what you want to do and where you want your new life of fitness to take you.

Vacation Fitness: Maintain Your Fitness Regimen on the Vacay!

You have been working hard during your workouts, making good choices with nutrition and work-life balance, and you have seen improvements in your health over the last year. But then vacation and summer months arrive… with that comes schedule changes, opportunities to eat out, celebrations and gatherings. All of that is good and important, but can oftentimes make it difficult to keep up your normal healthy routine. It takes some advance planning and determination to succeed, but you CAN go on vacay and keep your commitment to fitness alive with a vacation fitness regimen.

First of all, don’t just give up and tell yourself you will pick things up once vacation is over. The summer months can be a series of mini-vacations, and that can mean a couple of months of no workouts if you just throw in the towel. You have worked so hard to get to where you are and backward slides can be discouraging. Be realistic and accept that it may be difficult to maintain your regular routine; but promise yourself to allow for an “adjusted program”. As with most things worthwhile, it is a mindset.

Tour vacations can mean schedules from morning to evening, but there are ways to sneak in more activities than you think. Here are some tips to make your vacation successful from a fitness point of view, as well as the sight-seeing side of things:

  • Do some checking around online before leaving home. You may be surprised to find a wide variety of workout facilities beyond just the hotel’s bare bones treadmill. Many fitness clubs, studios, and even personal trainers offer special arrangements for out of town travelers. Local parks have jogging trails and some lakeside facilities offer stand up paddle board yoga!
  • Your home gym may have sister gyms in other cities and for a nominal fee, you can take advantage of the services.
  • Photo credit Flickr user mikebaird

    Photo credit Flickr user mikebaird

    Think like an adventurer! Make sure one or more days of your vacay include a bike, kayak, scuba, or surfboard rental. Consider trying a totally new physical sport or experience since livin’ it up is what vacation is all about.

  • Pack along resistance bands in your suitcase. You can get an amazing full body workout with these things! Add a killer ab session, a jump rope and you are covered!
  • Don’t forget your workout togs and shoe options. This way you have removed any reasons to avoid workouts.
  • Make a diversion! As you are seeing the sights, take the long way around, or get off the tour bus completely and do it on foot. Find the closest hills or stair climb and make that a part of your route.
  • Paddle in the pond! Most hotels have at least a small pool. Even if you are not on a beach vacation, take along your suit and get some laps in or a full body water workout.
  • YouTube-it! The sky is the limit with just about every type of workout video for you to follow along with in your hotel room.
  • Ditch the rollers. Roller suitcases, that is. Pack all your essentials in two cases and carry balanced weight to and from your flight, hotel room, etc. This makes for a great upper body workout in the same time you would spend in transit, anyway!
  • Pedometer-it! Get a pedometer and/or fitness tracker to keep yourself aware of steps and activity level. This awareness will likely cause you to choose more active options and make better meal choices.
  • It’s all in the family. If your vacation involves visiting family and friends, instead of always gathering over food and drink, make walking dates to catch up and get some movement at the same time. Even casual hikes at nearby scenic destinations will make your visit that much more treasured.

The options are endless and the change of pace may just make you adopt some of these as a part of your fitness plan even once you return from vacation-land. It’s not an obligation, but an opportunity for adventure!

Stay Motivated and Reach Your Summertime Fitness Goals

Well, we’re finished with June and maybe you are not finding yourself where you expected to be when you first set your fitness goals a few months back. Perhaps your momentum has, well, lost speed?  If so, or you just need an extra boost to keep pushing toward your fitness goals, we have come up with some pretty good tricks to stick to the bathroom mirror or add to that nifty fitness app on your phone.

  • Put out your workout clothes and gear the night before.  The first thing you see when you wake up helps you to remember and keep on track as well as pushes the excuses aside.  Keep your ankle weights in the bathroom and yoga mat set out in front of the TV with the DVD in and ready to go. These visual reminders send strong messages to your brain and help you to keep workouts a priority.
  • Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons.

    Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons.

    Use goal setting/fitness sites and let your convictions drive you.  Keep to your weekly exercise goals and you donate to your favorite cause; fail to stay on track and donate to a cause or politician you do not support. On Stickk, a site to help you stay faithful to your exercise goals; you pledge the amount and cause depending on your budget and goals. On Plus 3Network, you choose goals from a previously set list of corporate sponsors and if you meet you goals, they pay to the charity you signed up to support. Just knowing that your progress and success benefits those causes that matter most to you will keep you accountable.

  • Re-think your mental hurdles. Take time to make a list of the phrases you typically tell yourself when you are sabotaging your workout routine.  Then turn each one around with a new, positive approach. Have the new ones ready for when you are tempted to dwell on your old mental hurdles. “I am too worn out at the end of my work day to head to the gym.” Re-think it to: “I am tired, but a workout will energize me and I will sleep better tonight after getting in a workout!  Or, “It is taking me forever to see any results!” Re-think it to: “Each day I work out is one more day of building my heart and also bone density; two things I cannot see but are happening…the visual changes will come!”
  • Invest in your workouts.  Not having the right clothes and gear can provide roadblocks to staying on track with workouts. When you spend the money for great looking clothes and gear you make an emotional investment as well a financial one and it keeps you involved.  Cool looking workout clothes and fun new gear makes the workout more fun, anyway!
  • Join an online workout tracker or social networking site.  This can provide social support when done via FaceBook or other social networking sites.  Online fitness trackers help with a sense of accountability. Fitness magazine provides a free tracker. Chronicling your workouts and progress provides support and accountability and you are less likely to skip when others are cheering you on. If you don’t want all your “friends” on Face book looking in on your workouts, start a group page or event and begin inviting those you know that would be interested, and they can invite those in their community.  Before you know it, you will have an army of support and encouragement behind you.

“Believe in yourself and all that you are.  Know that there is something in side you that is greater than any obstacle” Christian D. Larson

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!