Have You Evaluated Your Workout Program Lately?

Have you thought about the time you put into your workouts each week? Are your exercises efficient, effective, and geared towards your goals? Many people perform the same workouts mindlessly week after week because it’s comfortable and familiar. If you want to stay healthy and strong, you may want to re-evaluate your fitness program.

Do not start your workouts without a goal or workout plan? A fitness plan can ensure that you have a well-rounded program that includes stretching, weight training, and cardiovascular work. If you do random workouts each week, you run the risk of overtraining some body parts and neglecting other areas, putting you at risk for muscle imbalance and injury.  Consider creating a fitness plan to help you schedule your workouts, add accountability, and help you incorporate variety into your fitness routine.

Plan your workouts at the beginning of the week and make sure to include cardiovascular work 2-3 times per week, weight training 2-3 times on non-consecutive days, and flexibility training 3-5 times per week.

Are your workouts structured to help you attain your goals or are you blindly going through the motions each week without results?

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It’s important to evaluate your current fitness routine and determine if it’s working for you or against you. Crosstraining is vital for health and longevity. Our bodies thrive on new activities that challenge us to change our normal routines. When you constantly perform one activity and neglect other muscle groups, you are setting yourself up for plateaus and overuse injuries. If you’re still doing the same routine you were doing last year, it’s time to tweak your program to include cardio, strength, and flexibility components.

When evaluating and setting up your program, ask yourself these five questions:

1. Does my program include resistance/weight training, cardiovascular work, flexibility, and balance (stabilizer) work?

Many people perform their favorite weight training workouts, go to the same group fitness classes, or do the same elliptical or treadmill routines week after week. Body builders, dancers, yogis, runners, professional athletes, or anyone who performs the same activities each week are more prone to muscle imbalance and overuse injuries.

Consider hiring a personal trainer to design your program if you need professional advice. If you don’t have sufficient knowledge of what exercises to do or an understanding of proper form and technique, your workouts will be ineffective and increase your risk of injury.

A certified fitness trainer can create a well-balanced fitness program by considering your goals, current fitness level, and assessing any areas of weakness. For example, if you are a runner, you may have tight hamstrings and weak quadriceps, which can lead to poor performance and injuries. A trainer can suggest you incorporate other activities, such as yoga and weight training to improve hamstring flexibility and increase strength in the quadriceps.

Therefore, it’s vital to include resistance training, cardiovascular work, and stretching into your current routine. Also, don’t forget to incorporate balance exercises to help strengthen your stabilizer muscles and joints.

Per runtastic.com

Many people, when starting their fitness journey, are drawn to the machines at the gym that are only isolating a single muscle at a time. This is really common and, the truth is, we don’t really know any better. We think we are “supposed to go to the gym” and we see all the machines when we get there – it makes sense, right? Wrong! The truth is, the foundation of your fitness routine should be stability and balance training in order to activate and strengthen the core and the many stabilizing muscles, improve coordination, decrease the risk of injury and work to eliminate overcompensations that probably have developed over time.

2. Do your workouts contain an appropriate warm-up and cool down?

A proper warm-up is essential to help prepare your muscles and joints for a more intense workout. Neglecting the warm-up can lead to a pulled muscle, strain, or other injuries. Your warm-up should include movements you will be doing during your workout. Therefore, begin your warm-up at a slow pace and gradually build up the intensity over a period of 8 to 10 minutes. For example, start with a slow-paced walk, transition to a faster pace walk, and then a jog.

The cooldown and stretch are just as important as the warm-up. A proper cool down allows your heart rate time to return to normal. Stretching will help elongate the muscles, improve flexibility, and help promote better muscle recovery.

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Always allow for at least a 20 to 30 second stretch for each muscle group at the end of your workout.

3. Do you evaluate your progress and change your program periodically?

Make sure to monitor the progress of your fitness program. Consider starting a fitness journal to set goals and track your progress. A journal is a great way to monitor improvements such as increased strength from lifting heavier weights, improved endurance when running, or participating in an intense Crossfit workout.

Change your workouts approximately every six weeks to create muscle confusion. If you constantly do the same activity week after week, your body becomes adapted to your routine. You will develop strength that is specific to the exercise you are doing. However, repeated use of these same muscles and joints can lead to overdeveloped muscles in some parts of the body and weak underdeveloped muscles in other areas. Muscle confusion is simply changing your workouts on a consistent basis to prevent plateaus and adaptation.

A good time frame for changing your workout routine is every 4 to 6 weeks. For instance, if your current weight training workout is heavy weights, you could switch to increased reps and lighter weights the following month. If you are a runner, you could do long runs for 4 weeks and then switch to a month of shorter and faster interval runs. This creates muscle confusion and is great for increasing overall fitness and performance.

Being able to visualize your goals and progress on paper is a great motivational tool to help you get progressively stronger and increase your fitness level.

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4. Does your weight training program address all the major muscle groups: Chest, Back, Biceps, Triceps (all three heads), shoulders ( ex. medial, lateral, and anterior deltoids), quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, core, and lower back (erector spinae). I hear many clients tell me they want a six-pack and they only want to work abdominals or men who only care about a big chest and biceps, but neglect their lower body. However, it’s important to work all major muscle groups to stay strong and injury free. Check out the following link for setting up a well-balanced fitness program:

Per Weight-lifting-complete.com

8 Reasons for Building a Balanced Body

Here are 8 reasons why you MUST focus on building a balanced body:

  • Prevents injuries
  • Symmetrical appearance that is more pleasing to the eyes
  • Improved posture
  • No muscle imbalances in size
  • No muscle imbalances in strength
  • Prevention of aches and pains
  • Get stronger faster because all muscles are strong and contribute to overall strength
  • Build muscle faster due to greater strength and targeting all major muscle groups

5. Do you evaluate your exercise selections in your workout program? Or could some of your exercises be on this video “Most Dangerous Gym Workout?”

Some exercises may look cool but – is it appropriate for you ( age appropriate and fitness level)? Is it safe and effective or is there a better alternative? Always evaluate risk versus reward.

Per The Foundation Personal Training

Enter-trainment”

Unfortunately the current fitness climate is hot for something I call enter-trainment. Much of what we see in the gym is fueled by social media. You only need to look through any fitness feed to see a multitude of handstands, olympic lifts, human flags, couples squatting each other, 1000 rep challenges etc etc.

Better to be safe than sorry and stick with the basics to avoid injury. There are countless safe and effective exercises that will help you reach your goals.

For more information on crosstraining, check out my blog: Crosstraining is important for overall fitness

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When Exercise Crosses The Line

 

 

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“Every single thing has a balance and the moment we overdo that balance something has to give and we are punished by fate in one way or another
 Ilwaad isa

I first heard about rhabdomyolysis in an article about the dangers of CrossFit workouts. Exertional Rhabdomyolysis— “sometimes called exercise-induced rhabdomyolysis —  is one of many types of rhabdomyolysis that can occur, and because of this, the exact prevalence and incidence are unclear.”   

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The Mayo Clinic reports other types of rhabdomyolysis occur from trauma to the muscles due to automobile accidents, snake bites, drugs, alcohol, and performance-enhancing supplements.

During extreme exercise exertion, a breakdown of muscle can result in the myoglobin(contents of the muscle cells) leaking into the bloodstream; this can lead to kidney failure and possibly death.  Exertional Rhabdomyolysis is often associated with dehydration, overheating of the body such as exercising in high temperatures, and heatstroke.

Although rhabdomyolysis is considered a rare occurrence, I’ve known two people who have been hospitalized with it related to their participation in CrossFit workouts.  Exertional Rhabdomyolysis can occur with any kind of extreme conditioning program such as CrossFit, boot camp classes, military or football training. Other program examples could include,  high reps of one single muscle group in a short period of time AMRAP (as many reps as possible), or high reps that focus on the “eccentric” part of the exercise, and also prolonged exercise without recovery.

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Some Common Symptoms include:

  • Extreme muscle pain
  • swelling of the muscle
  • extreme weakness
  • dark colored urine

Per Priscilla M. Clarkson, Ph.D. SPORTS SCIENCE EXCHANGE

“Generally, this syndrome is brought on by the performance of unaccustomed, excessive, repetitive exercises such as push-ups and squat-jumps. Rhabdomyolysis can also occur after strenuous recreational activities such as marathon running, hiking, or performance of excessive strenuous exercise during the first days of a new training program. Mild cases of rhabdomyolysis do not require hospitalization, and individuals recover within one week. However, in certain individuals, rhabdomyolysis can be severe. The combination of heat stress and rhabdomyolysis can produce acute renal failure, which, in rare instances, can result in death. The few individuals who have developed severe rhabdomyolysis generally have never shown any prior symptoms. These individuals may have a latent, sub-clinical muscle disorder that predisposes them to the most negative consequences of rhabdomyolysis. For strenuous exercise in the heat, precautions such as adequate fluid intake and acclimatization are critical. All exercise training programs should start with mild to moderately intense exercise and should progress gradually. These safeguards will not only prevent subsequent muscle pain and optimize performance, but they may also save lives.”

Therefore, remember to exercise caution when participating in advanced training methods. Evaluate the instructor’s qualifications and the appropriateness of the workout for your particular fitness level. Make sure the instructor is certified and understands program design; one that includes the entire body rather than one specific muscle group. Additionally, always make sure to consistently hydrate before, during and after exercise. 

And above all- LISTEN TO YOUR BODY; always use common sense when performing intense exercise programs and allow for appropriate recovery.

Flex Friday Workout & Fuel

 

It’s a beautiful, sunny day and I just finished my Interval Barbell class. So nice to be back to my normal routine of teaching after a six-week hiatus. Although it’s nice to take a break to help prevent burnout, I miss the positive energy, the music, and most of all the class members. Here’s today’s class: Warm-up 7 to 10 minutes run

Pushups-  20 Reps/ 3 Sets

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Chest Press – 20 Reps/ 3 Sets

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Mountain Climbers – 20 Reps/ 3 Sets followed by Plank (One Minute)

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Clean & Press – 10 Reps/ 3 Sets

 

Barbell Biceps – 20 Reps/ 3 Sets

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Tricep Dip – 20 Reps/ 3 Sets (Weight plate optional)

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Plank Jacks – 20 Reps/ 3 Sets

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Final stretch and recovery fuel

Take a look at these great post workout snack ideas

 

Healthy Veggie Pizza Toast

Here is my new pizza toast creation.  I came up with this yesterday after coming home from the gym.

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I was starving and had not eaten lunch. I opened the fridge and scanned the contents and noticed the organic sharp cheddar I had just bought at the grocery store.  I was anxious to try it so decided I would make a slice of cheese toast.  Although that sounded like a good choice, I thought about how I could increase the nutritional value and make it more filling.  Luckily the spinach and cherry tomatoes were right by the cheese in the fridge so that inspired me to try a pizza recipe. The picture below is the toast before they were placed in the oven. This pizza toast turned out so delicious, I’ve already had it three times this week. So here’s my quick, easy, and delicious healthy veggie pizza toast.

Healthy Veggie Pizza Toast

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Ingredients:

Organic olive oil cooking spray

Organic bread

Organic Fresh spinach

Organic Cherry tomatoes

Organic garlic and oregano seasoning (optional)

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Turn oven on broil.  Take two slices of bread and spray lightly with olive oil spray.  Lightly sprinkle the bread with garlic and oregano.  Layer fresh spinach leaves (I removed stems).  Add sliced cherry tomatoes and thin slices of organic sharp cheddar.  Place in oven and broil until golden brown and cheese is bubbly. Enjoy

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Easy Cafe Mocha Recipe Brew & GO

“Coffee and chocolate—the inventor of mocha should be sainted.”
Cherise Sinclair, Hour of the Lion

I always look forward to my early morning coffee experience but in the past disliked the time it took to brew and the waste of making too much coffee. I love to start my day with a fresh, hot cup of coffee to get me energized for a quick, morning yoga flow. However, sometimes I’m short on time and don’t have the luxury of time to sip and savor my morning brew.

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I was so happy when I discovered the Black & Decker Brew N Go.

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It brews delicious, hot coffee in less that two minutes. And to top that off, you can take it with you in an insulated cup that keeps it hot on your drive to work. Although I normally love my coffee black, I experimented with adding some flavor to my morning brew. Here’s what I came up with:

1 heaping tablespoon of Charleston Coffee Roasters Organic Sumatra coffee

A (Black & Decker) Brew & Go cup of filtered water

1 tablespoon of organic hot cocoa

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1 teaspoon of cinnamon

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2 tablespoons of organic coconut milk

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This recipe is so quick and simple. Put 12 oz of filtered water in your Brew & Go cup and pour the water in your coffee maker. Add one tablespoon of coffee to the filter. Once you’ve added your water to your coffee maker and your brew cup is empty, add cinnamon, cocoa mix and coconut milk to your brew cup.

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Now simply place your cup in the coffee maker and brew. Your delicious hot steaming cafe mocha will be ready in less than two minutes. ENJOY!!

Also, if you drink a lot of coffee like I do, check out my article:

Healthier Coffee With These Four Tips

Which Way Should I Go?

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“Cat: Where are you going?

Alice: Which way should I go?

Cat: That depends on where you are going.

Alice: I don’t know.

Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

 Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Where are you going in life? Are you on the right path?  It’s an important question to ask yourself and you may be surprised at the answer. Without purpose or direction we become stagnant and feel empty.  Have you considered what you value most in life?  If you don’t know, then you may end up on the wrong path.

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It can be a challenge in our busy lives to achieve balance when it comes to family life, career, and health. However, if you don’t know where you’re going, you may find yourself at some point in life, full of regrets.

Stop spinning your wheels and write down an action oriented plan with specific goals that will help you live your best life.

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In an interesting article by James Clear  The Four Burners Theory , he reports:

One way to think about work-life balance is with a concept known as The Four Burners Theory. Here’s how it was first explained to me:

Imagine that your life is represented by a stove with four burners on it. Each burner symbolizes one major quadrant of your life.

  1. The first burner represents your family.
  2. The second burner is your friends.
  3. The third burner is your health.
  4. The fourth burner is your work.

One of the most frustrating parts of The Four Burners Theory is that it shines a light on your untapped potential. It can be easy to think, “If only I had more time, I could make more money or get in shape or spend more time at home.”

One way to manage this problem is to shift your focus from wishing you had more time to maximizing the time you have. In other words, you embrace your limitations. The question to ask yourself is, “Assuming a particular set of constraints, how can I be as effective as possible?”

For example:

  • Assuming I can only work from 9 AM to 5 PM, how can I make the most money possible?
  • Assuming I can only write for 15 minutes each day, how can I finish my book as fast as possible?
  • Assuming I can only exercise for 3 hours each week, how can I get in the best shape possible?

This line of questioning pulls your focus toward something positive (getting the most out of what you have available) rather than something negative (worrying about never having enough time). Furthermore, well-designed limitations can actually improve your performance and help you stop procrastinating on your goals.

Consider writing down a small goal for each area of your life that you feel needs improvement. Here are some ideas:

Relationships–  Take time each day to tell your loved ones how much you care for them. Set restraints on social media and use that time to spend with your family. Get in the habit of giving hugs more often. Read books, play board games, or put puzzles together with your children each week. Try and set up a consistent schedule to call your parents, siblings, and friends. Create special memories!

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Career-  This is a biggie! We all need to make money to live but if you hate your job, you will most likely be miserable. Let’s face it, we spend a lot of time at work so it’s vital to find something that is compatible with your family life. Also, if you have small children, you will regret working 60 or more hours a week. That’s precious time away from loved ones that you will never get back. Consider your options for another job with better hours or maybe a work from home option. Set a goal to improve this area of your life by determining the pros and cons of your current working situation and where you can make small positive changes.

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Health-  This is an area many of us end up sacrificing due to time restraints. However, it’s easy to set just one or two weekly goals that can make a substantial difference in your health.  Number one is the food you bring into your home. Learn to make healthier food choices when shopping for groceries. It’s important for your children to learn the relationship between their health and what they eat.  Take them shopping with you and let them make their own grocery list of healthy food choices. Restrict splurges on fast food to special circumstances or occasions. Additionally, consider how you can add activity into your day?  Ride a bike or walk to work if that’s an option.

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Set your alarm an hour early and get your workouts on your calendar.  Even a ten minute workout once or twice a day can make a difference. Determine specific days and times each week for physical fitness and stay consistent. You will never regret this.

Consider what you value most in life and make a plan to make sure you take the right path. Because if you don’t know where you’re going than it doesn’t really matter.

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Friday Motivation Ten Minute Abs

I love teaching my Friday weight training class and try to put a different spin on it every week.  Class will start with total body weight training and then I plan to finish with this quick and effective ab routine.  Do this three to four times per week and tweak your diet with a specific goal to drink more water and eliminate processed foods. You’ll be surprised how quickly you start to see results!

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ABS/ CORE CIRCUIT –

Perform each exercise for one minute and try to complete entire circuit 2x

1.  Glider Plank Walk & Knee Tuck –This is one of my all time favorite.  To work the abs efficiently you need to engage the stability of the core.  This is done with gliders but you can use small towels under your feet or your socks will work to allow your feet to slide while performing the exercise. Perform this exercise for 1 minute

 

2.  Burpee + Four Mountain ClimbersI love this exercise.  It works the entire body and the mountain climbers really challenge your abs/core. 

Perform this exercise for 1 minute

 

3.  Up Down Plank – This exercise is tougher than it looks.  Try leading with one arm for thirty seconds and then change lead arms to complete the minute.  Modify on your knees if needed.

Perform this exercise for 1 minute

 

4.  Plank Jacks With Knee Tuck-  Love this but it’s a tough exercise for one minute. Challenge yourself!

Perform this exercise for 1 minute

 

5.  Pilates Double Leg Stretch–  Pilates is an amazing way to get your abs into shape and your core strong.  Try this for 30 seconds, hug your knees into the chest and recover for 10 seconds and then finish with 20 more seconds of the exercise.

Perform this exercise for 1 minute

 

Stretch, Recover, and Hydrate

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Try my easy, healthy, green juice to help to hydrate and recover from your workout! Two Ingredient Healthy Juice

Aging With No Filter

I’ve officially been calling myself a “snow bird” for the past several years.  My husband and I travel to Florida during the winter months each year to escape the cold weather and enjoy some quiet time at the beach.

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Although I thought I would be bored to tears and miss home; I’ve learned to embrace this time in my life.
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Now that I’ve accepted the fact that I’m considered a “senior” and a snow bird, I’ve found myself reflecting more on the aging process.  It blows my mind that in two years I will be sixty!?! Where has the time gone??  I still feel like I’m only in my forties and have to remind myself often that I’m now falling into the DREADED categories of: senior, geriatric, old lady, over the hill etc.  Yes, if you live long enough, not only will you have to deal with gray hair and wrinkles,  you will most likely be subjected to ageism.  Merriam Webster defines

Ageism:

Definition of ageism 

prejudice or discrimination against a particular age-group and especially the elderly

 

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Sociology In Focus reports:

Becoming older is a privilege denied to many,” the saying goes. But, are you excited about getting older? When I ask my students this question they often say things like, “No way!” and follow with a list of negative stereotypes describing older adults as sick, unhappy, slow, and sexually inactive. How do so many of us, including myself, come to this conclusion?

The aging population (i.e., individuals 65 and over) around the world is growing. In the U.S. alone, one in seven persons is now an older American, and this number is expected to double by 2060. As we’ve previously discussed here at Sociology In Focus with other concepts (seasonstime, etc.) aging is also socially constructed.

A Youth Obsessed Society

The U.S. has often been described as a youth obsessed society. Some have argued that aging is a fate worse than death. During 2014, nearly 13 billion dollars was spent on plastic surgery with the bulk of procedures performed on women 40 and older. The sale of anti-aging skin care products is also a booming business. U.S. consumers now spend more on anti-aging medications than on drugs for disease. Clearly people are feeling pressure to maintain their youth.

It’s no wonder that once we pass the ripe old age of thirty-nine, many of us turn to desperate measures such as Botox and plastic surgery. Therefore, along with our shrinking self-image comes a multitude of other potential issues such as an increased risk for health problems and immobility.

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  Heidi Godman Executive Editor,  of the Harvard Health Letter  reports:

Loss of mobility, which is common among older adults, has profound social, psychological, and physical consequences. “If you’re unable to get out then you can’t go shopping, you can’t go out with your friends to eat dinner or go to the movies, and you become dependent on other people to get you places. So you become a recluse, you stay home, you get depressed. With immobilization comes incontinence, because you can’t get to the bathroom, you can develop urinary infections, skin infections. The list goes on,” says geriatrician Dr. Suzanne Salamon, an instructor at Harvard Medical School.

The cascade of negative effects that comes with immobility can often be prevented or limited, according to a review in today’s JAMA. Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham looked at dozens of mobility studies published over the years. They discovered common factors that lead to loss of mobility, such as older age, low physical activity, obesity, impaired strength and balance, and chronic diseases such as diabetes and arthritis. Less common red flags included symptoms of depression, problems with memory or thinking skills, being female, a recent hospitalization, drinking alcohol or smoking, and having feelings of helplessness. Individuals with one or more of these factors is at risk for immobility.

 

A greater risk of health issues and immobility reinforces the importance of optimizing your health as you get older.  For this very reason, I’m fortunate to be employed in the health and fitness industry that requires me to stay active and make healthy food choices.

However, along with that comes a increased focus on body image by my peers and clients.  It’s common to see images of young, muscular, fit people in health and fitness magazines, fitness infomercials, and television ads etc.  Furthermore,  most of my co-workers, and clients are in their early thirties and forties. Therefore I’ve begun to question how do I continue to work in the health and fitness industry at this stage of my life. How do I fight to keep up with a society that is consumed with youth, appearance,  and selfies?

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As a fitness instructor I constantly hear women comparing themselves to others, complaining about their age, scrutinizing their bodies, appearance, and fitness level.  Over the years, I’ve seen many resort to plastic surgery for breast implants, liposuction, face lifts, and Botox.  I on the other hand have decided against any nips, tucks, or enhancements.  I know it’s crazy, but I’ve accepted that I’m getting older and I’m determined to age gracefully the “good old-fashioned way!”

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At this stage in my life, I’m surprised that I find myself comfortable with my appearance, my body, and my fitness level.  I actually have more self-confidence than I ever had in my 20’s, 30’s or 40’s. My goal is to simply age with style and grace.  I plan to take care of myself by simply exercising and making healthy food choices.

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Simply put, my goal is to promote healthy aging.  I truly believe “age is just a number.”  Your lifestyle, food choices, and activity level play a huge part in how you age. The picture below is a picture of me and my dad when I was in my thirties.

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This is me age 35

Now fast forward twenty years to my current picture below at the age of 58. Yes I have wrinkles around my eyes and I look older but that is a part of life.  My point is that many people simply stop taking care of themselves as they get older.  It’s typical to slow down once your children are gone and we transition from a busy work career and family life to empty nest and retirement.  It’s this sedentary lifestyle and poor food choices that causes rapid aging, weight gain, and increased risk for disease.

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Although many experts report that losing weight after forty will make you look older, the truth is weight gain makes you look older.  Quite often as we age, weight accumulates in the mid section, which can put strain on the heart, muscles, and joints.  Ultimately these lifestyle choices increase the risk for heart disease and diabetes. The key is to maintain a healthy stable weight as you age.  It’s the yo-yo dieting and the drastic weight loss that causes the face to look drawn and appear more wrinkled.

 

So how do we maintain good health and a more youthful appearance as we age?  How can we live life in our golden years without filters, Photoshop, and going under the knife? As much as we would like to believe in magic weight loss pills and procedures. There are no tricks; these methods don’t work.

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We all age and no amount of liposuction, face-lift, Botox, or weight loss gimmicks are going to make us look twenty again. Learn to love yourself, your wrinkles, your age, and your life experience.  The answer to aging with no filter is simple.  All you have to do is work hard, eat right, and don’t give up.

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For more tips on aging gracefully check out my article, Age Gracefully With These Five Tips