Okay Mom... Okay Dad... I assume that one of your kids or grandkids have given this series of articles to you. In Part I, I made a promise - here's a part of that article.
"The next time you see one of your kids or grandkids, look deep into their eyes and know that they would give anything to have you around for five, ten fifteen, or even twenty more years than they might if you don’t make some changes... So take that look into their eyes… into their hearts and listen for that inner voice. If you will do that and make a commitment to begin a journey toward a more fit lifestyle, I promise that you will experience changes that will transform your life."
So, time to put down the remote, get off the couch and commit to "being there" for your children and grandchildren. Here are some beginning steps you can take: (Notice we're talking "steps", not "leaps," or even "giant steps. Trying too much too soon will insure a boomerang effect - you will land right back on the couch!) These steps have worked for a number of people I've worked with over the past few months.
1. Compare yourself to YOU! This has to be your program. It does not matter what anyone else can or can not do. If you can only walk 25 steps today, then your goal is to first reach 30 steps and go from there. One of the most significant causes of an unfit lifestyle is impatience with ourselves. We compare ourselves with everyone around us and conclude that we need to go from 25 steps to miles overnight. The miles will come - but miles are not the problem - it's more steps you need. Basic principle here? "It does not matter where you are right now - what matters is the direction you are headed. Keep heading in the direction you are headed right now and you WILL reach your destination. Just make sure the destination is aimed at fitness and not ill health.
2. Get a handle on the three legs of the stool that will provide a foundation for a fitness lifestyle. Nutrition, endurance, and weight training. These three legs of the stool are critical from our earliest to our latest years.
3. NUTRITION: In reading and researching all kinds of data on nutrition, I've come up with an A, B, C, scheme that boils down a lot of information into simple principles. A = ALWAYS eat breakfast. Skipping breakfast slows down your metabolism, sets you up for overeating later in the day, and reduces your energy level. B = BE AWARE of nutritional labels on everything you eat. Frankly folks - we've been scammed by the food culture. I highly recommend the "Health and Wellness" area of AARP's web site. It's at: http://www.aarp.org/health/ (While you are there, you can order a free copy of a physical activities workbook.) C = CARBS are essential to a healthy lifestyle. Trying to eliminate carbs from our diets is a sure fire way to mess up the body's efficiency. And while you are at it, drink more. (Water that is) Most Americans are mildly to severely under hydrated.
4. ENDURANCE: Begin wherever you are and increase your activity level gradually. If you are not exercising at all, begin to walk a comfortable distance. Add what you can each day or each week. (Remember you are your own competition.) It is more important that you begin some activity like walking and do it every day than it is to accomplish great distances right off the bat. The key is discipline - or as Nike says, "Just do it!" Every day. Five minutes a day - then ten - then fifteen. You need endurance or cardiovascular work to slowly build your energy level.
5. WEIGHT TRAINING: You might be saying, "Who me - lift weights?" (See, you are picturing someone like Charles Atlas - Bet our kids don't know who that is!) Weight training means to begin a regimen of lifting weights - even if you start with 1 lb. dumbbells. I recommend that you get a book like "Basic Pumping Iron" by Grant Breese and Dean White. It's published by Barnes and Noble Books. It has a section in the beginning with considerations for older folks who begin a weight training program. (Hey - this book on your coffee table will be a huge signal to your friends about the new direction you are planning for your life!) Weight training in nursing homes has yielded amazing results.
6. Write to me. Seriously. Send me a note and tell me something about yourself and your desire to make some changes. I will answer every email and do my best to give you some clues about getting fit based on where you are in your fitness level today. It is less than two years since I could not get the 100 yards from the parking lot to my office on the second floor without having to sit down and catch my breath. Today? Well, I have to tell you... getting carded by a kid at the department store when I asked for my senior discount? as the credit card folks say, "Priceless!"
So can you do it? Of course you can - like I said, write to me.
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