Discover your Exercise Style and Stick With It!

First find something that you love to do . . .

Find something you love to do. It’s fun and it’s good for you!

In our last post you took a quiz to discover your ideal diet.  Here are a couple of quizzes to help you discover your exercise style and stick with it!  All it takes is finding something you love.

When I was 30, my husband and I moved to New Hampshire.  I did no exercise at all.  In fact, I got a side ache when I tried to walk only a short mile home after dropping my car off for service.  The whole thing was made worse by living through my first New Hampshire winter after living in Texas.   I mostly stayed under the covers reading books and eating peanut butter sandwiches.  I gained over 20 pounds that winter!  As the weather began to warm, my fit next-door neighbor took pity on me and invited me to take a walk.

We began slowly, just walking around the neighborhood, but soon we were walking five-miles-an-hour through the lovely New Hampshire countryside.  The walking made me feel good.  It gave me energy and a sense of control.  The conversation that I shared with my new friend as we walked made it even more fun. That simple invitation to walk led me to fall in love with exercise.

Soon, I joined a gym and added classes and working with weights to the mix.  Over the next 38 years, I’ve engaged in many kinds of exercise, but all of it has been fun.  I only do things that are fun for me. That’s the point.  We need to find things we love to do.  That way, we’re in it for the long haul.  I still do some kind of exercise six days a week.

Exercise is the best medicine . . .

Here’s another success story.  Dixie and I have a friend named Jim who retired and wanted to learn a new sport.  So he took up tennis, playing several times a week.  At his prior yearly physical, he had been told that he had high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar.

After six months of playing tennis, but doing nothing else different, Jim went back to the doctor where he discovered that his blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar were all within the normal range.  When he told his physician that the only thing he’d done differently was to play tennis, the doctor said maybe he should get a racket and take up the game too!  It turned out that playing tennis was the best medicine.

“TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY. IT’S THE ONLY PLACE YOU HAVE TO LIVE.”  Jim Rohn

This isn’t about holding your nose and doing something awful that is good for you.  It’s about finding something you love to do and enjoying it most days of the week.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Dance by yourself or in a class (line dancing, ballroom dancing, tap dancing, ballet, aerobics, Zumba).
  • Walk briskly with a friend or with your spouse or by yourself.  Walk around your house during commercials.
  • Jog or run.
  • Take an aerobics class.
  • Explore Yoga or Pilates.
  • Swim or just walk or run in the pool.  It’s great for your joints.
  • Take a hike.  Enjoying nature makes this all even better.
  • Go for a bike ride.
  • Hire a personal trainer and develop a personal workout.
  • Begin lifting some weights.  Even cans out of your pantry will work.
  • Buy an exercise video and do it in the privacy of your own home.
  • Find an exercise program on television and do it three or four times a week.
  • Join a running group and begin to train.
  • Consider kayaking or canoeing.

    Learn to Tango! Dancing is great exercise.
  • And here are a few more . . .

  • Learn a new sport.   Golf?  Bocce?  Shuffleboard?  Pickle Ball?
  • Play tennis.
  • Walk the golf course.
  • Do something again that you used to enjoy.  Racquetball.  Volleyball.  Softball.
  • Train for a race.
  • Walk your dog.
  • Take a spin class.  You can go at your own pace and it gives great fitness results.
  • Find a new winter sport – skiing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing.
  • Try out rock or wall climbing.
  • Join a fitness challenge.  It’s a great way to stay motivated for a set period of time.
  • Take a Boot Camp class.  Some people love them!
  • Subscribe to a fitness magazine.  It will inspire you.
  • Keep a fitness journal.  How far did you walk, run, ski, and swim?  How did you feel?
  • Set some measurable fitness goals.
  • Reward yourself – not with food – but perhaps with a new workout outfit or some particularly nice golf balls.

Then stick with exercise for the long term . . .

 Once you’ve found something – or many things – you like to do, keep doing them.  You’ll see benefits within a very few weeks.  Amazingly enough, older people who begin exercising gain more benefits than those who are younger.  Aside from the obvious health benefits, you’ll gain a sense of pride and accomplishment from taking charge of your health.  Here are some things to help you stick with it.

  • Bring a friend along.  It’s always fun to do something together.
  • Make it competitive.  Some people enjoy exercise more when it’s part of a competition.
  • Join a team.  Once you’ve made that commitment, you’re required to show up.
  • Use music or podcasts to inspire your workouts.  Studies show that listening to music while running, for instance, makes exercise seem easier.
  • Join a gym or your local YMCA.  You’ll have some skin in the game, and you’ll make friends in the classes, as well.
  • Create a fitness journal to chart your progress.
  • Reward yourself with something big if you do something big.  When we finally stopped smoking, we went on a cruise!

Let us know about your own journey toward fitness!  We’d love to share it.

Pam

writers@richlyaged.com

Finding Your Ideal Diet and 10 Tips for Weight Loss Success

Finding your Ideal Diet

Dieting success is 80% diet and 20% exercise.

There are plenty of diets out there.  Just check out those magazines as you wait in line at the super market.  Every magazine has a diet on the cover.  It’s our national obsession.   I saw one this week that guaranteed a 38-pound weight loss in one week!

Let’s see, there’s the low-carb, high-fat, the low-fat, high carb, the Mediterranean, the every-other-day diet, the no-sugar diet, and too many more to count.  The truth is that they all can work, though I’m leery of that 38-pound claim, but the real secret is to find the diet that works for you.

I’m not going to describe them all here, but check this link to see the most successful diets of 2017. They all sound good to me in theory, but how do they work in the real world?

What Works in the Real World?

I hadn’t seen my friend Annie for several months when she hopped out of the car for a tennis match looking a svelte 26 pounds lighter!  She said she had decided simply to count calories – 1400 a day.  And she could eat whatever she wanted within that range – including two drinks in the evening.  That number of calories satisfied her and made the weight loss easy.  She’s also very active – playing tennis several times a week and walking every day.

Almost the same thing happened when I met my sister-in-law for lunch after not seeing her for a time.  She’d lost 22 pounds with Weight Watchers while working with a personal trainer.  Weight Watchers is her go-to diet.  It always works, and she looks great.

Dixie’s daughter, has had great success with a protein shake and nutritional program, again coupled with an ambitious weight-lifting program.  She’s lost more than 60 pounds and kept them off for more than three years.  She looks better in her 40’s than she did in her 20’s.

All three of these women found a particular diet that worked for them, and although they lost weight in different ways, they shared some common habits of successful dieters.  Here are some tips that can help you on your way.  All of these ideas come from Prevention Magazine.  Here’s a link to the complete article. 

Ten Tips for Weight Loss Success

Start with a Positive Attitude

This isn’t about what you can’t eat and you can’t do; it’s about how you choose to eat in a healthful way.  Definition is everything.

Plan

This will probably help you more than anything.  Consider what your week is going to be like and make sure you have the food and snacks that will make the week easy for you.

If you have a particularly busy week, maybe you could cook several meals on Sunday afternoon and they’d be there when you get home.  Also, if you have good snacks already organized, you won’t get too hungry which can destroy your best intentions.

Eat Breakfast Every Day

Most Americans don’t eat a good breakfast.  If you eat at least 250 calories of good protein, fat and carbs in the morning, you’ll be less hungry all day.

Drink Up

Make sure you drink enough water throughout the day.  Often we mistake thirst for hunger and would be satisfied with a tall glass of water.

Write It Down

There’s something about writing something down that makes us feel accountable.  If I have to write down that 200th chip, I’m less likely to eat it!

Slow Down

It takes about 15 minutes before our satiety response kicks in, so if we scarf down our entire meal in 10 minutes, we don’t even know we’re full.  This is a hard one for me.  I’ve tried all kinds of things – putting my fork down between bites, chewing every bite at least 20 times, even talking more.

I remember being told at a Weight Watcher’s Meeting once not to put something in my mouth while I still had something in my mouth.  I was surprised to find that I almost always put the next bite in before the first bite was gone!  If you’re going to eat a treat, take at least ten minutes to do it.

Breathe or Count Away Your Cravings

Try a few calming breaths or count to 100 until the immediate craving is gone.

Ditch your Baggy Clothes

It’s really easy to overeat when you wear those comfy sweats!  A tighter waistband makes it more difficult.

Don’t Get Too Hungry

Keep some good snacks around.  Have some veggies already cut up or buy them that way.  Eat before you go to the party.  Don’t starve yourself.

 

Finally, try adopting the 80/20 rule.  If you make good, nutritious, choices about 80% of the time, you’re going to succeed.  You don’t need to be perfect.

 

Good luck with finding the diet that works for you.  Here’s a quiz to help you find your best approach!

We’d love to have you share your successes with us.

Pam

writers@richlyaged.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take Control of Your Diet: Develop a New Mindset

The dreaded scales. Yikes!

In our search for optimum health, we began by talking about exercise, but research shows that it’s mostly what goes into our mouths that determines our weight.  We’ve got to take control of our diet, but that’s easier said than done.  You probably already know lots about dieting. You probably know the calorie and carbohydrate counts for most foods you eat.  Maybe knowledge isn’t the secret here.

You’ve heard the one about the two women who walk into any group.  One says, “I just finished my Ph.D.   Everyone says, “Oh, that’s nice. Congratulations.”  The other woman says, “I just lost 20 pounds,” and the whole room comes alive.  “How in the world did you do that?  Tell us exactly what you did so we can do it, too!”  Those 20 pounds are the Holy Grail of weight loss.  And just about as elusive.

Maybe what we need to do is think about dieting in a new way.  Let’s stop thinking about the pounds and start thinking about the process.  Let’s consider the brain before we tackle the belly.  Before we begin to explore the best diets (which we’ll do in our next post), let’s look at these seven ways to think thin – to create a new mindset that will put us in control and lead to success.

  1. Start from a positive place.  Take some time to see yourself as you’d like to be.  Don’t start by chastising yourself for the “wobbly bits” that you don’t like.  Just concentrate on how you’d like to look and feel.  Maybe you have some photos of a time when you were happy with your weight.  Put them up as a reminder.  Spend some time really visualizing your success, and be patient with yourself.  This isn’t a race.
  2. Set some small goals for yourself. Make them measurable and attainable.  Here are some suggestions from Katherine Zelman from WebMD.    Pick one or two and get started.  Order a side salad when I’m out rather than fries.  Eat five fruits and vegetables every day.  Walk 30 for minutes five times a week.  Switch from cola to water.  Drink alcohol only on weekends.  Eat low-fat popcorn rather than chips.  These goals are positive rather than negative.  They put you in charge.
  3. Ask for support. That is why groups like Weight Watchers work so well.  They make you part of a community.  But it doesn’t need to be something formal.  Ask your spouse or a friend for support in your journey.  Studies show that it helps.
  4. Plan how you’ll reward yourself. Break your weight loss into mini-goals.  After losing five pounds, give yourself a pedicure or a new shirt or a movie or any of the things you like – but not a donut!

    Use your breath to change your mindset.
  5. Use your breath to set your intention. Aleisha Fetters offers this novel suggestion in her article for shifting your mindset for better weight loss.  She tells us to slow down for ten minutes every day, lie on our backs with one hand on our belly and one on our chest and simply breathe in for four seconds and out for six seconds.  This simple action lowers the stress response, helps us to focus,  and ups our chances for success.
  6. Realize that food is just food. It’s neither good nor bad.  Spinach isn’t superior to chocolate.  If you want the occasional cookie or glass of wine.  By all means have them.
  7. Treat yourself kindly – like you would a good friend. I’ll always give my friends a break if they fail in some way, but I’m pretty hard on myself.   Adopt the new mindset and do your best, but don’t beat yourself up if you have a bad day.  Just start over the next day.

“Food is not a reward, and exercise is not a punishment.  They are both ways of caring for your body and helping you feel your best.  You deserve both.”  Laura Cipullo, author of “Women’s Health Body Clock Diet.”

I’m working on my mindset.  Good luck with yours!  We’d love to hear your experiences.  Next time we’ll explore the major diets of 2017 and the habits of successful dieters.

Pam

writers@richlyaged.com

Optimum Health – the Key to Vibrant Longevity

Overview

As part of our exploration of positive aging, we’ve just finished a series on building extraordinary relationships.  We know that concentrating on those we love yields strong benefits of happiness in this time of our lives.  But there’s something else we need to concentrate on – and that’s ourselves.  We’re responsible for creating optimum health – the key to vibrant longevity.  All we need is a plan!  Let’s start with exercise.

Take control to create optimum health and vibrant longevity

What does exercise do for you?

 If there were a pill that would help you manage your weight, improve your health, reduce your stress, make you look and feel better, and possibly live longer, would you take it?  Of course, you would.  Although there’s no pill that will do all that, there is a simple thing we can do each day to gain those benefits.  It’s called “exercise,” and it can be the fountain of youth for retirees.

Regular exercise provides a myriad of health benefits to everyone, but especially to seniors.  It improves blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, and cognitive function.  It lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s, obesity, heart disease, and colon cancer – to name just a few.

It improves our mood and gives us energy, and it may even make us live longer.  According to Dr. I-Min Lee of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard professor,  a middle-aged person who gets the recommended 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise – defined as the level of brisk walking – can expect a 1-to-7 return:  seven extra minutes of life gained for each minute of exercising.

Protect your pocketbook by protecting your health.

If that’s not enough to get you off the couch, consider your pocket book.  In order to prevent spending much of our retirement savings on health-related or medical expenses, we need to invest in a healthy lifestyle and avoid being sedentary.

If we want retirement to be a time not to slow down – but to explore new adventures, we need our health.  It’s worth more than gold.

And it’s never too late to begin.  Health benefits can be gained into the 90’s and even beyond.  Just get started.

Embrace Healthy Living

Begin by making a commitment to working toward a healthy lifestyle. Our health is largely a result of our own decisions.

According to a groundbreaking study on Successful Aging sponsored by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, only 30% of how we age can be attributed to our genes.  The remaining 70% is determined by our lifestyle choices.

A life of television watching has its consequences.  We boomers do like our TV. According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than four hours of TV every day (or 28 hours a week.  That’s two months of nonstop TV watching per year.  In a 65-year life, that person will have spent nine years glued to the tube!

Moving toward optimum health doesn’t have to be done all at once, and it doesn’t require drastic changes.  Instead, it means taking a series of small, incremental steps toward the healthy life you seek.  Like the legs on a three-legged stool, this kind of lifestyle rests on three supports:  solid nutrition, regular exercise, and a reduction in stress.

What about diet?

Eat right for optimum health

Since our metabolism slows as we age, we need less food to make the energy we need.  That’s why so many seniors suffer from creeping weight gain. The addition of only a pound a year can result in a significant and unwelcome change in our bodies by the time we retire.  The National Institute of Health recommends that we choose nutrient-dense foods like fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, and poultry, rather than calorie-heavy foods like candy and chips.

That’s easier said than done, especially when it seems that almost everything we do revolves around food and drink.  Exercise can be the saving grace here!  The NIT also recommends getting 150 minutes a week of physical activity.  That sounds like a lot, but it’s easier than you think and will be discussed in detail in this chapter.  Somehow it’s easier to take a walk when you realize you can trade it for a bit more food.  We’ll be talking more about diet later in this series.

Controlling stress is important!

Exercise can also help to reduce the stress we all deal with every day.  Aerobic exercise causes the release of endorphins that help us feel better.  People manage stress in all kinds of ways, so you’ll need to find what works best for you.  It might be learning to meditate or practicing yoga, or it might just be getting outside to enjoy nature or sitting quietly to reflect on the good things in your life.  We’ll explore some of the options for controlling stress in this series.

The good news is that you are in control.  You can take charge of your health at any age and make adjustments to create optimum health and vibrant longevity.

We hope you’ll join us in this part of the adventure!

Pam

writers@richlyaged.com

 

Create great relationships with friends and neighbors

 

It’s a healthy choice. Choose friendship for positive aging.

Creating great relationships is simple but not easy.  It requires taking the focus off of ourselves and putting it on the person opposite us.

Our last several posts have dealt with various types of relationships that include significant others;  in-laws, siblings, children and grandchildren.  Now its time for a few words about friends and neighbors.

Why all this attention to relationships?

More than just getting along with people, enjoying extraordinary relationships enriches life and retirement in the most wonderful way. Research shows that a positive social life with lots of friends make aging a happier phase.

Listed below are a few basic reminders that I know you are familiar with but bear repeating:

Listen.

Really listen.  Pay attention to what the other person is saying without formulating your own response.  Don’t start talking about yourself until you have responded to the speaker’s interests.  This is much easier to say than do.

Think before you speak.

Is what you say going to hurt someone?  It’s better to return the soft word rather than the sharp jab.  I can remember shopping with a friend when a clerk was downright rude.  I started to make a sharp retort to her when my friend said, “It’s really busy in here.  I’ll bet it’s hard to work today.”  The clerk made an immediate about face, apologizing for her rudeness and what could have been an unpleasant, negative situation was completely turned around by the soft word.

Be respectful.

Good manners are not out of style.  Simple phrases like “please” and “thank-you” show people that we care enough about them to show respect.  Treat everyone as if they are equally important – because they are!

When you remember that happiness is a choice, you are in the driver’s seat.
Be life-affirming to those around you.

Pam’s mother used to come and visit in the summer when her children were young.  She stayed a month, and by the time she left, Pam felt better about everything and saw her whole life in a more positive light – marriage, children,  home – everything.  Her mother was a person who made all those around her feel better about themselves. Decide to be that kind of person.

Build people up.

Offer encouragement and support, kindness and praise. You don’t need to be insincere or phony but there’s something about most everyone that is worth complimenting.  It’s just as easy as criticism and much more effective.

Accept yourself & those around you as they are.

Be who you are and take responsibility for the choices that you make.  I can reach out, or I can be selfish.  I can be kind, or I can be mean.  I can be accepting, or I can be critical.  Those are choices I make, and I will have to live with the consequences of those choices.  The only person I can really change is me.

Agree to disagree with those who have different opinions.

Our closest friends hold completely different political opinions than we do, and we’re both pretty passionate about them. That hasn’t been a problem for us because we know that disliking an opinion is not the same thing as disliking a person.  I know that our friends love America and want only what is best for this country, just as we do.  We just see different ways of getting there.  Respect and compromise are essential to extraordinary relationships.

 Stop comparing yourself to others.

We’re all different. Those differences contribute to our uniqueness.  Jealousy and envy are corrosive elements that bring only damage. Would you really want to be one in a batch of clones?

Reach out to others.

Almost everyone has felt shy, nervous, and insecure at some point or another.  Be alert to your surroundings, and if you see someone looking that way, rescue him or her with an open-ended question.  You never know; you might develop a wonderful new relationship.

Disengage from toxic and negative relationships.

If you have done everything you can to create an extraordinary relationship, and it is still sucking the life out of you, give it up and reclaim your life. Interactions with people who bring only negative energy are harmful and should be avoided as much as possible.  If you must see that person, do it as infrequently as possible.

 Be positive.

Welcome others with a smile.  It makes you more approachable.  Focus on happy things that make you feel good.  After all, that’s what retirement is all about!

 

Retirement is wonderful. It’s doing nothing without worrying about getting caught at it—Gene Perret

Dixie

writers @richlyaged.com

 

Reconnect with your Spouse: Making your Marriage Survive Retirement

 

There’s lots of togetherness in retirement!

If you read Dixie’s last post, you’ve been remembering why you chose your partner.  That’s a good place to start.   If you want your marriage to survive retirement, you’ve got to reconnect with your spouse.

Retirement is a wonderful time, a time to be celebrated, but it’s also a time that takes some getting used to – much like that first year of marriage when we learn to make the enormous leap from “me” to “we.”

But for some reason, we expect a period of adjustment to marriage but not to retirement.  Maybe it’s because most of us have spent a lot of years in a pretty consistent routine – raising kids, going to work, and handling the myriad number of chores and obligations required to do both those things.  We think the relationship we’ve forged over the years will just go on in this new and free format, only we’ll be on vacation all the time!

For better or for worse, but not for lunch!

Unfortunately, experts know that the changes accompanying retirement can wreak havoc on a marriage.  The statistics involving divorce at this period are pretty grim: since 1981, there has been a 16% increase in the divorce rate among couples married 30 or more years.

There might be a bit too much togetherness during those first few retirement months.  And when both spouses have worked at jobs where they were in charge, there may be a difficulty in giving up that authority!

“Thank you dear for finishing my sentence.  That’s exactly what I would have said.” –  Wife of a retired husband

Sometimes couples have simply stopped working without really making a plan for their retirement – not a financial plan, but a life plan!  They may feel overwhelmed and baffled about what they’re going to do for the rest of their lives!  But it doesn’t have to come to that.

The good news is that couples who make it through this passage (just like all those other passages encountered in any long-term relationship) come out the other side stronger and happier.  Most couples eventually find that this time is one of the sweetest times in life.

How do we make it sweet?

  • Start by making a conscious commitment to the relationship. Tell yourself that your spouse comes first.  Before your grown kids.  Before your grandchildren.  Before your friends.  Before anyone.  When a major decision comes up, ask yourself, “Is this good for the relationship?”
  • Give yourselves space. You don’t have to be joined at the hip.  In fact, it’s important to have some interests of your own.  Find some new hobbies or spend more time on the ones you already have.  You’ll be more interesting to your partner when you have something special to share about your day.  My husband just started a part-time job at the golf course.  He comes home full of stories about new people and new activities.
Be sure to have a couple of good hugs every day!
  • Create a ritual for yourselves as a couple. Have coffee together and read the paper each morning, share a cocktail before dinner, or take a walk each evening after dinner.  This is a time each day when you know you’ll be concentrating on each other and talking.   My favorite time of day is early morning coffee with the newspaper!

More ways to reconnect!

 

  • Express appreciation for your partner. Tell him why he’s great and tell other people in front of him!  Everybody likes to feel appreciated.

 

  • Don’t ignore your sexual relationship. Work on being intimate.  Make a date for sex or give each other a massage or just make sure to have a couple of decent hugs each day.  Physical contact is important.  It makes you feel loved.

”Explore one another. You might like what you find.”  Unknown

  • Spend time with mutual friends. Reaching out to other people enriches your life, not just by giving you an excuse to get out of the house to do something, but by providing perspective on your own relationship.

Establish a new routine.  And remember to laugh.

 

  • Create a new routine for chores.  I can remember my grandmother and grandfather arguing over which direction the handle of the tea kettle should point!  Instead of fighting over the correct way to wash the dishes or make the bed, divide the responsibilities for chores in an equitable manner and then let your partner alone.  And say thanks!  My husband does the vacuuming.  And I don’t.  I think that’s fabulous.
  • Establish separate territories in your house. When I was doing research for this blog, I thought this was a weird idea.  Especially since we live in a tiny house.  Then I realized  that Bob spends lots of time in his man cave on the lanai (that’s a porch in Florida), and I spend a lot of time in my office corner of the bedroom.  We  wander in to see each other from time to time, but we both have our own space.  It works.

 

  • Keep a sense of humor. Laughter greases the creaky wheels of life, and flexibility is the key to happiness!

 

The good news here is that couples tend to get happier the longer they’re retired.  If you expect a period of adjustment, you’ll find that you can work together to create a wonderful retirement life.

Pam

Writers@richlyaged.com