Even though everyone likes to say that 50 is the new 30 these days, it might not always feel that way when you wake up to hot flashes, stiff joints, back pain and/or just general fatigue. But let’s face it; you haven’t made the perfect lifestyle choices over the years…none of us have. Everything from sports to sun exposure to poor eating habits takes a hard toll on our bodies over the span of 20-30 years.
So what’s changed? In a nutshell, your metabolism has slowed down, which causes your body to produce less of those critical hormones that are associated with youth. I tell my clients every single day that unless you’re willing to start moving around like you’re 25 once again, then no diet or specialty serum on Earth can effectively reverse the aging process.
And that really stinks, but it’s the honest truth.
Fortunately for all of us, there is a fairly easy way to ease your body back into its thirties once again. That’s the good news. The bad news, however, is that you’re going to have to start giving me about 45 minutes of your day for some light exercise, plus a little bit of control over your grocery shopping habits.
No matter if you’re a soccer mom, a business executive or a former Olympic athlete, out bodies start slowly losing muscle mass in our late thirties. In response, our waistlines receive a signal from the brain to start stocking up on extra calories so we have the energy to build that muscle mass back…which is a problem if you’re sitting at a desk all day after a 45 minute commute.
Walking is the New Jogging
So here’s what I want you to do, starting today- get outside and go for a walk. Recent studies have shown that briskly walking a mile can actually burn more calories than jogging, running or sprinting for the same amount of time. Walking also places minimal stress on the body so it’s an activity you can build on easily in the weeks and months ahead.
Here are a few tips for you. If you’re stuck at work all day, get in the habit of eating lunch at your desk and using the official break time for walking around your office complex. In fact, other women are probably already doing that, and exercise is always more fun in groups. If you’re a stay at home mom, then head to a local park daily. You’ll make “walking friends” in no time.
Note- feel free to substitute 30 minutes of daily walking for swimming or dance. All are excellent low-impact cardio workouts that pay huge dividends over time.
Stretching is the New Strength Training
Before you hop in the pool or head off around the block, I want you to spend a solid five minutes stretching your arms, legs and torso. Not only does this increase blood flow to those areas and drastically reduce the chances of injury, but it also helps you maintain a full range of motion in your joints and it keeps your muscles toned. I recommend for all of my clients to spend five to ten minutes stretching every single morning, another five to ten minutes before exercise and another five minutes before bed. Combined with 30 minutes of walking, there’s your full 45 minute workout for the day.
Now, feel free to take up Yoga, Tai Chi or any other form of meditation or exercise that combines stretching- there’s definitely not a “best answer” for this category. As long as you’re getting your 15-30 minutes in daily, you’ll be able to minimize arthritis pain down the road and stay active much later in life.
Healthy Eating is the New Diet Fad
I can sit here all day long and lecture you about never eating foods like pizza, ice cream and donuts, but the fact of the matter is that all of us will give into temptation more often than not. And that’s perfectly okay- you’ll never hear me tell anyone that you need to eliminate carbs, stick to a strict calorie intake or to try out the newest diet fad. Dieting does not work as a long-term solution because we don’t live in glass houses.
So instead, here’s everything you need to know about proper nutrition. First, get in the habit of eating a healthy breakfast at least five days a week. It can be some yogurt, granola, fruits, oatmeal or whatever you can fit into your schedule. And for lunch, I’m giving you a free pass to eat almost anything you want…as long as it’s cooked to order (not processed) and not saturated in grease or hot fudge sauce. Then for dinner; aim for small portions of fish, chicken or lean beef, plus some healthy veggies.
Alternatively, you can have a big breakfast and a healthy lunch, because these two meals are pretty much interchangeable. You do want to get the bulk of your calories in during the early parts of the day though, and avoid those sweets and carbs closer to bedtime. Also, sodas are literally killers to our midsections- you’ll gain an average of 3 pounds of fat per year from two sodas per day.