Your health is your most valuable asset

We believe that your physical health is the greatest tool you have to help you overcome the challenges of life. I am not downplaying the role of mental, spiritual, or social health. As Exercise Physiologists, we have spent our careers working with individuals to build, or in most cases rebuild, physical health to reach personal goals and improve quality of life. The reason for this blog is the significant lack of quality health and fitness information that we consistently discuss with our patients. We do believe that knowledge is power and we would like to give people the power to help themselves live healthier and happier lives.

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Keep your weekend from ruining your progress

Maintaining your health and fitness routine can be challenging, but it seems the weekends are where we can lose steam or even regress. During the week when you’re working, you have specific habits that tend to keep you on track. Get up by 5am, eat a healthy breakfast, walk the dog before you head into work. At lunch maybe have your prepared meal, then stop by the gym before you head back home. Once you are home, have family time, eat a healthy dinner, and in bed by 9am to read before starting another day.

It can be much easier to stay on track during the week, but by Friday, we are ready to relax and unwind. But this can mean many things to people, unfortunately it means doing the opposite on the weekends. Sleeping in for starters, going out to breakfast with friends, binge watching Netflix, then going out for drinks in the evening. Herein lies the problem – all the hard work you have put into the week in watching your weight, can go right out the window by the end of the weekend.

Here are 10 tips to keep the weekends from during your progress.

1. Don’t be so restrictive during the week. Because by the weekend you feel the need to overcompensate by increasing your calories, adding trigger foods, and possibly going overboard. Aim for a better balance throughout the whole week, not just Monday through Friday afternoon.

2. Bank calories during the week (-100kcal Monday-Friday). Try to decrease your calories by 100 each day during the week. That way you go into weekend with a slight deficit that will help offset the caloric increase on Saturday and Sunday.

3. Try tracking your food just on the weekends to see if there is a large increase. Plan ahead for your weekend activities. Plan your calories around a party or event or going out. Make sure your other meals are significantly smaller to make up for the added calories during the event (don’t have two full meals plus overeat on the day your event is happening). You need to go into your weekend with a meal plan, it doesn’t mean you have to be very restrictive, plan to have a single larger meal on each weekend day so that you account for it in your total calories. This way you do not end up with 2 days of excess calorie intake that limits your progress.

4. Have a small protein shake before you go out. This will help so feel fuller so you don’t consume as many calories when hanging with friends or family.

5. The 1 for 1 ratio. If you drink, have 1 water for every alcohol drink or have low calorie drinks that contain more ice so you don’t drink your calories or get dehydrated.

6. Eat more fruit or veggies that contains water. This can be a great way to snack between meals or while socializing and it will increase how full you feel.

7. Share. If you have an appetizer or dessert, try to share it with somebody else (these calories can be more than the meal itself). You could always share a full meal to reduce your total caloric intake, and skip the bread basket when you go out.

8. Keep your meals light during the day. If you know you’re going to have a big dinner, don’t consume as much at breakfast and lunch.

9. Get out early and go for a walk or workout. Try to do a fun activity, outdoor hikes, or outdoor festival where you will be moving for several hours. This will still help burn calories while enjoying the day.

10. Always keep your eye on your why. Set mini goals, write stuff down, and organize yourself for the weekend. Don’t let the moment derail you from the future you want.

You need to go into your weekend with a plan. It does not need to be the detailed meal prep that fits your busy week, but an idea of your activity level and eating schedule. Try not to go into it mindlessly eating whatever is in front of you. After a hard week we use weekends as small celebrations, or parties to offset the week. But overeating at every meal, not moving all weekend, drinking too much, or snacking on the couch watching football all afternoon will end up reversing all the hard work you put into the week. Start with 1 or 2 items next weekend, and see if you start Monday off feeling better, lighter and more on track for your goals.
For more daily information like and follow us on Facebook and check out how we can help you reach your health and fitness goals on our website at www.achievingfitnessafter50.com.

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Exercise and stress: Start moving to manage your stress

I truly believe that exercise helps me keep my optimism on life. The challenges of life this past year and the resulting stress associated with it may have me in a bad place if I did not exercise consistently. The recent passing of my father after a battle with cancer has reminded me of the truth in this statement. I did not always look forward to waking up early and going to the gym or doing the exercise itself, but I definitely felt much better afterwards.

It is that time out of my mind, working my muscles that always helps bring me around to better possibilities for the future. If you are feeling stressed by current conditions or situations that do not seem to have a good outcome looking forward then I recommend some type of exercise (it really does not matter what kind, just along as you move your body).

Physical activity helps me take my mind off my worries. The repetitive motions involved in exercise promote a focus on your body, rather than your mind. By concentrating on the rhythm of your movements, you experience many of the same benefits of meditation while working out. Focusing on a single physical task can produce a sense of energy and optimism. This focus can help provide calmness and clarity.

Some people notice an improvement in their mood immediately after a workout. Those feelings don’t end there, but generally become cumulative over time. Chances are, you will notice increased feelings of well-being as you stay committed to a consistent exercise routine.

How does exercise make you less stressed?

We’ve all read that exercise lowers levels of anxiety, depression and stress. But how exactly does it do that?

Exercise attacks stress in two ways, according to Matthew Stults-Kolehmainen, Ph.D., a kinesiologist at the Yale Stress Center. Raising one’s heart rate can actually reverse damage to the brain caused by stressful events: “Stress atrophies the brain — especially the hippocampus, which is responsible for a lot, but memory in particular. When you’re stressed, you forget things.”

Exercise promotes production of neurohormones like norepinephrine that are associated with improved cognitive function, elevated mood and learning. And that can improve thinking dulled by stressful events — some research even shows how exercise can make you smarter.

In fact, many researchers believe that improved communication could be the basis of both greater reserves of the neurochemicals that help the brain communicate with the body and the body’s improved ability to respond to stress. The American Psychological Association reported:

[Exercise] forces the body’s physiological systems — all of which are involved in the stress response — to communicate much more closely than usual: The cardiovascular system communicates with the renal system, which communicates with the muscular system.

And all of these are controlled by the central and sympathetic nervous systems, which also must communicate with each other. This workout of the body’s communication system may be the true value of exercise; the more sedentary we get, the less efficient our bodies in responding to stress.

Exercise is not just about aerobic capacity and muscle size. Exercise can improve your physical health and your physique, trim your waistline, improve your sex life, and even add years to your life. But that’s not what motivates most people to stay active.

People who exercise regularly tend to do so because it gives them an enormous sense of well-being. They feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories, and feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives. And it’s also powerful medicine for many common challenges.

Exercise and Stress

Ever noticed how your body feels when you’re under stress? Your muscles may be tense, especially in your face, neck, and shoulders, leaving you with back or neck pain, or painful headaches. You may feel a tightness in your chest, a pounding pulse, or muscle cramps. You may also experience problems such as insomnia, heartburn, stomachache, diarrhea, or frequent urination. The worry and discomfort of all these physical symptoms can in turn lead to even more stress, creating a vicious cycle between your mind and body.

Exercising is an effective way to break this cycle. As well as releasing endorphins in the brain, physical activity helps to relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body. Since the body and mind are so closely linked, when your body feels better so, too, will your mind.

Exercise and Depression

Studies show that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication—but without the side-effects, of course. In addition to relieving depression symptoms, research also shows that maintaining an exercise schedule can prevent you from relapsing.

Exercise is a powerful depression fighter for several reasons. Most importantly, it promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being. It also releases endorphins, powerful chemicals in your brain that energize your spirits and make you feel good. Finally, exercise can also serve as a distraction, allowing you to find some quiet time to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression.

Exercise and Anxiety

Exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment. It relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, and enhances well-being through the release of endorphins. Anything that gets you moving can help, but you’ll get a bigger benefit if you pay attention instead of zoning out.

Try to notice the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, for example, or the rhythm of your breathing, or the feeling of the wind on your skin. By adding this mindfulness element—really focusing on your body and how it feels as you exercise—you’ll not only improve your physical condition faster, but you may also be able to interrupt the flow of constant worries running through your head.

Exercise and PTSD and Trauma

Evidence suggests that by really focusing on your body and how it feels as you exercise, you can actually help your nervous system become “unstuck” and begin to move out of the immobilization stress response that characterizes PTSD or trauma. Instead of thinking about other things, pay close attention to the physical sensations in your joints and muscles, even your insides as your body moves. Exercises that involve cross movement and that engage both arms and legs—such as walking (especially in sand), running, swimming, weight training, or dancing—are some of your best choices.

Outdoor activities like hiking, sailing, mountain biking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, and skiing (downhill and cross-country) have also been shown to reduce the symptoms of PTSD.

Other benefits of exercise

Sharper memory and thinking. The same endorphins that make you feel better also help you concentrate and feel mentally sharp for tasks at hand. Exercise also stimulates the growth of new brain cells and helps prevent age-related decline.

Higher self-esteem. Regular activity is an investment in your mind, body, and soul. When it becomes habit, it can foster your sense of self-worth and make you feel strong and powerful. You’ll feel better about your appearance and, by meeting even small exercise goals, you’ll feel a sense of achievement.

Better sleep. Even short bursts of exercise in the morning or afternoon can help regulate your sleep patterns. If you prefer to exercise at night, relaxing exercises such as yoga or gentle stretching can help promote sleep.

More energy. Increasing your heart rate several times a week will give you more get-up-and-go. Start off with just a few minutes of exercise a day, and increase your workout as you feel more energized.

Stronger resilience. When faced with mental or emotional challenges in life, exercise can help you cope in a healthy way, instead of resorting to alcohol, drugs, or other negative behaviors that ultimately only make your symptoms worse. Regular exercise can also help boost your immune system and reduce the impact of stress.

How much exercise do you really need to feel a difference?

It’s probably not as much as you think. You don’t need to devote hours out of your busy day, train at the gym, sweat buckets, or run mile after monotonous mile. You can reap all the physical and mental health benefits of exercise with 30-minutes of moderate exercise five times a week. Two 15-minute or even three 10-minute exercise sessions can also work just as well.

A recent study in the UK found that people who squeeze their exercise routines into one or two sessions at the weekend experience almost as many health benefits as those who work out more often. So don’t let a busy schedule at work, home, or school be an excuse to avoid activity. Get moving whenever you can find the time—your mind and body will thank you!

So now you know that exercise will help you feel much better and that it doesn’t take as much effort as you might have thought. But taking that first step is still easier said than done. Here are some common barriers and what you can do to get past them.

Feeling exhausted. When you’re tired or stressed, it feels like working out will just make it worse. But the truth is that physical activity is a powerful energizer. Studies show that regular exercise can dramatically reduce fatigue and increase your energy levels. If you are really feeling tired, promise yourself a 5-minute walk. Chances are you’ll be able to go five more minutes.

Feeling overwhelmed. When you’re stressed or depressed, the thought of adding another obligation can seem overwhelming. Working out just doesn’t seem doable. If you have children, managing childcare while you exercise can be a big hurdle. Just remember that physical activity helps us do everything else better. If you begin thinking of physical activity as a priority, you will soon find ways to fit small amounts in a busy schedule.

Feeling hopeless. Even if you’re starting at “ground zero,” you can still workout. Exercise helps you get in shape. If you have no experience exercising, start slow with low-impact movement a few minutes each day.

Feeling bad about yourself. Are you your own worst critic? It’s time to try a new way of thinking about your body. No matter what your weight, age or fitness level, there are others like you with the goals of getting fit. Try surrounding yourself with people in your shoes. Take a class with people at a variety of fitness levels. Accomplishing even the smallest fitness goals will help you gain body confidence.

Feeling pain. If you have a disability, severe weight problem, arthritis, or any injury or illness that limits your mobility, talk to your healthcare provider about ways to safely exercise. You shouldn’t ignore pain, but rather do what you can, when you can. Divide your exercise into shorter, more frequent chunks of time if that helps, or try exercising in water to reduce joint or muscle discomfort.

Many of us find it hard enough to motivate ourselves to exercise at the best of times. When we feel depressed, anxious, stressed or have other mental or emotional problems, it can be doubly difficult. This is especially true of depression and anxiety, and it can leave you feeling trapped in a catch-22 situation. You know exercise will make you feel better, but depression has robbed you of the energy and motivation you need to exercise, or your social anxiety means you can’t bear the thought of being seen at an exercise class or running through the park. So, what can you do?

Start small. When you’re under the cloud of an emotional disorder and haven’t exercised for a long time, setting yourself extravagant goals like completing a marathon or working out for an hour every morning will only leave you more despondent if you fall short. Better to set yourself achievable goals and build up from there.

Focus on activities you enjoy. Any activity that gets you moving counts. That could include throwing a Frisbee with a dog or friend, walking laps of a mall window shopping, or cycling to the grocery store. If you’ve never exercised before or don’t know what you might enjoy, try a few different things. Activities such as gardening or tackling a home improvement project can be great ways to start moving more when you have a mood disorder—as well as helping you become more active, they can also leave you with a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Be comfortable. Whatever time of day you decide to exercise, wear clothing that’s comfortable and choose a setting that you find calming or energizing. That may be a quiet corner of your home, a scenic path, or your favorite city park.

Reward yourself. Part of the reward of completing an activity is how much better you’ll feel afterwards, but it always helps your motivation to promise yourself an extra treat for exercising. Reward yourself with a hot bubble bath after a workout, a delicious smoothie, or with an extra episode of your favorite TV show.

Make exercise a social activity. Exercising with a friend or loved one, or even your kids will not only make exercising more fun and enjoyable, it can also help to motivate you to stick to a workout routine. You’ll also feel better than exercising alone. In fact, when you’re suffering from a mood disorder such as depression, the companionship can be just as important as the exercise.

Just for fun. Pick fruit at an orchard, boogie to music, go to the beach or take a hike, gently stretch while watching television, organize an office bowling team, take a class in martial arts, dance, or yoga.

Get a Coach. Having the outside accountability is a great way to start and maintain an exercise program. Initially, some individuals will find reasons to put off exercising, but will be reluctant to let someone else down, especially if they have an appointment. Accountability to someone else can help you start down the path of exercising.

These tips can help you find activities you enjoy and start to feel better, look better, and get more out of life. When you are ready for an exercise program, motivation, and accountability, please visit our website and see how we can help you on your road to health.

For more daily information like and follow us on Facebook and check out our custom designed exercise programs on our website at www.achievingfitnessafter50.com.


7 Secrets to Lifelong Exercise After 50

The key is in factors that you already control.
Most mornings you will find Diane, 65, at the gym starting her day with a workout. She has always performed some form of exercise, although very sporadic, she has now worked to be more consistent in her routine.
Diane doesn’t have to make herself go to the gym; it has simply become part of her lifestyle. And anyone over 50 can make the transition from sporadic workouts to a more committed routine. The key to becoming a lifelong exerciser has less to do with access to a gym and more to do with factors that you can control.
Here are seven ways you can start working out — and stick with it:
1. Schedule It
Most people who are regular exercisers self-regulate their time to include exercise as part of their normal day. If you find that you are never able to find the time, then scheduling an appointment for exercise will help you be more consistent. This requires actually blocking off time in your calendar and treat it like a medical appointment since it will improve your health.
While working out in the morning increases your chance of sticking with it, choose a time that works for you. Some people prefer midday workouts, while others are more consistent with late-afternoon sessions. The best time for you to workout is when you will be the most consistent.
2. Create Your Support Network
Research shows that having a workout partner makes you more likely to stick with an exercise program. Some people will prefer to take exercise classes for the camaraderie and social support instead of exercising by themselves.
Talk to your significant other and friends other about your intentions and get him, her, or them on board. You may find that some of your friends have similar goals and together you can help each other reach them.
Diane has belonged to the same gym for more than 20 years and has made longstanding friends there. When she was younger it was only about exercising, but later the social part of the gym and the friends there became a source of enjoyment.
3. Increase the Intensity
It may sound counterintuitive, but pushing yourself a little harder than normal can increase the pleasure you derive from exercise. A recent study published found that increasing the intensity, doing a more challenging workout that includes intervals as opposed to steady-state cardio, can increase the amount of enjoyment you get from your workout. And when you feel good after the workout, you’re more likely to want to keep doing it.
4. Get Outside
Do you hate working out in a gym? Then don’t do it! Get outside and go for a hike, a run, a swim, play tennis, ride a bike, go standup paddle boarding. Anything that is a better fit with your lifestyle and is physical exertion is still exercise.
There are so many opportunities to exercise. At this point in your life, you can make yourself a priority. We traditionally think of exercise as doing something for 30 minutes or longer, but even 10 minutes is fine. Try new things and see what you enjoy. Enjoyment does help with adherence over time.
5. Protect Your Body
Regardless of what you choose to do for exercise, it’s important to include range-of-motion activities on a regular basis. That might be taking yoga once a week or doing flexibility or stretching exercises several times a week. This will help reduce your risk of injury and help you maintain your mobility as you get older.
Also, 2-3 days of strength training every week. For women especially, I always encourage strength training. This make sure you have the strength to continue to do the everyday tasks you may now take for granted.
6. Develop Intrinsic Motivation
People who exercise for extrinsic reasons, like to lose weight or to look a certain way, aren’t as likely to stick with it as those who have intrinsic motivation, which is doing exercise for its own sake. Being mindful about your workouts, paying attention to the feeling of moving your body and the satisfaction you feel at the end of workout, can help develop this inner motivation and stick with exercise after the earlier goals are long gone.
7. Invest in Your Health
Everyone is looking a magic pill to make them look and feel better. Exercise has the ability to affect you physically, emotionally, intellectually and cognitively. It’s not something you have to work hard to do! You have to figure out how to incorporate it into your daily life so you’re able to do the things you want to do and have the quality of life you want. Exercise is one of the things that will allow you do that.
Make exercise a part of your lifestyle. When you finish a workout you feel great. There’s no other way to put it. So why would anybody stop doing things that make them feel good?
For more daily information like and follow us on Facebook and check out our custom designed exercise programs on our website at www.achievingfitnessafter50.com.


Every Woman Needs a Strong Heart

Cardiovascular Disease (example: Heart attacks) is the number one cause of death for women in the U.S, causing 1 out of 3 deaths each years. That is approximately one women every minute. By now we are all familiar with the standard markers of a heart attack, but those symptoms vary based on gender. Women have vastly different signs and it is imperative that we are aware of these indicators.

This really hit home a few years back when my next door neighbor, Carol, had the flu. At the time Carol lived directly across the sidewalk, so I was used to seeing her come and go every day to work. I hadn’t seen her for 2 days, when an ambulance pulled up and took her away on the gurney. Flummoxed, I went over and spoke with her daughter. Turns out Carol, 51, a full time school teacher, suffered a massive heart attack 2 days earlier. Her symptoms were stomach flu, weakness and joint pain. She thought she had the normal flu, stayed home to wait it out. However by day 2 her symptoms got worse, including shortness of breath. By the end of the day she called her daughter, who came over and immediately called the paramedics.

Turns out that she had a heart attack, didn’t realize it, stayed home for 2 days, accruing more damage. What made this impactful to me was the damage was irreparable. Carol was unable to go back to work. She lost her job, and she lost her condo. She now lives with her daughter to help take care of her. Had Carol been aware of the symptoms of a heart attack for women, it made have changed her response, and changed her life!

Women mistakenly attribute heart disease symptoms to arthritis or musculoskeletal problems, anxiety, or emotional upset. Women may also ignore their symptoms because from an early age we have learned to bear pain from menstrual cramps, pregnancy and childbirth. As a result we tend to deal with pain or discomfort with little or no complaint, much longer than a man would. As we saw with Carol, ignoring her symptoms was devastating.

The signs and symptoms of a heart attack vary based on gender. But some common early warning signs are shortness of breath and sudden fatigue. Angina, which is called a heart cramp, is more often in women a dull, aching discomfort frequently beneath the breastbone rather than sharp, crushing pain more common in men. Women don’t show textbook symptoms, instead they may suffer from indigestion or GI fullness. Abdominal discomfort or nausea and vomiting is another pattern for women as well as dizziness, unexplained lightheadedness, or even blackouts could be symptoms of an impending heart attack. Other traditional symptoms of heart attack in women include; chest pain or pressure, back discomfort, pain or tingling of jaw, elbow or arm, threat tightness, indigestion, disproportionate sweating with activity.

Data from landmark Framingham investigations suggested that overall women have a higher incidence for a silent heart attack. Many women can recollect a day they did have a symptom, but they failed to attribute that symptom to a problem with their heart – usually because it was vague, mild, or atypical.

No one is completely immune to heart disease, however this is probably the disease over which we have the most control, especially in terms of prevention. A healthy respect for your cardiovascular system can be a springboard to a whole new level of health, vitality, and longevity. With proper nutrition, lifestyle changes, exercise, we are able to prevent and recover from heart disease. Prevention before intervention.

Top preventive tips for women:

1. Change your diet

There is no question about it, you are what you eat. Fruits and vegetables should be the main stay of your diet, along with whole grains, healthy fats and lean protein. The Mediterranean or the Anti-inflammatory diet are great, and you will be doing your heart a big favor modifying your nutritional habits.

2. Exercise

The evil twin of obesity is a sedentary lifestyle. The two often go hand in hand. Research has validated the positive effects of exercise on health. You don’t have to become an elite athlete to reap the benefits. Start small and easy with activities, consult an expert, and realize that’s easier than you think to begin an exercise program.

3. Manage your stress

A high-risk lifestyle is now considered a risk factor for heart disease. Stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol can weaken your cardiovascular system. Try restorative yoga or meditation to manage your stress.

4. Stop smoking

Smokers die from heart disease almost three times more often than they die from lung cancer. Smokers have twice the risk of heart attack as non-smokers. Smokers are also more likely to experience sudden cardiac death. Get in a program, seek professional help and guidance, to quit smoking.

5. Lose weight

Being overweight holds a greater heart disease risk for women than it does for men. An eight year study from Harvard Medical School found that among obese women, up to 70% of their coronary artery disease was the result of being overweight. You are considered obese if you weigh 20-30% more than your ideal weight. This means that if your ideal weight is 125lbs and you are 25 pounds overweight, you are considered obese. Women tend to be more overweight than men, which raises the risk of heart disease.

6. Get your blood pressure checked

High blood pressure or hypertension is more common in men early in life, but after the age of 55, more women than men develop it. In the US, an estimated fifty million adults suffer from hypertension. High blood pressure is a major cause of heart attack, stroke, and congestive heart failure. Normal blood pressure should be less than 130/less than 80. Borderline BP 140/90. High BP is more than 150/95.

7. Get your cholesterol checked

Higher than normal level of cholesterol in the bloodstream is a risk factor for heart disease. The two most important types when it comes to heart disease are known as Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) and High Density Lipoprotein (HDL). You want a low LDL and a high HDL, so together they work together to constitute healthy cholesterol levels.

Total Cholesterol (MG/DL)
Desirable less than 200.
Borderline 201 – 239.
High more than 240

LDL (bad) Cholesterol
Desirable less than 130
Borderline 130 – 159
High more than 160

HDL (good) Cholesterol
Very Protective more than 90
Protective more than 50
Moderate risk 36 – 49
High risk less than 35

8. Get you blood sugar checked for Diabetes

Cardiovascular disease is a major complication of diabetes. The cardiovascular effects of diabetes occur more frequently in women. Twelve million Americans are afflicted with diabetes, and another twenty-five million are at risk of developing this condition. All diabetics have a higher than normal risk for heart disease, and for women their risk is three to seven times higher than non-diabetic women, in contrast to men who face a death rate of two to three times higher than non-diabetic men. Diabetes is a powerful risk factor, so take control of a with exercise and dietary habits.

9. Family History

Genetics has long been implicated in heart disease, and the more first and second generation blood relatives you have with heart disease, the higher your own risk will be. Families have more than just genetics, they share beliefs, attitudes, habits, and behaviors. (example: having a parent who smokes, drink excess alcohol or eat fried foods). This can either protect you from developing heart disease or predispose you to increased risk. It is still possible to modify your genetic predisposition, it begins with incorporating healthy lifestyles and choices.

With this information women can be more engaged in their own health and their heart health. By sharing the personal story of my neighbor Carol, I hope that women will take this knowledge and insight to rebalance their lives. Every woman, if armed with the right information, can make her own choices in her health care, and her heart care.
For more daily information like and follow us on Facebook and check out our custom designed exercise programs on our website at www.achievingfitnessafter50.com.


Second Guessing Lifestyle Choices

My father passed away Thursday morning after a 9 month battle with stage 4 stomach cancer. Looking back at his lifestyle and eating choices, many people will say that his early death was inevitable based on his weight and Midwestern eating habits. Plenty of fried foods, pies made with lard in the crust, only real butter, and no food lacking in sour cream or gravy for added flavor.

I remember years of discussions trying to convince him that grilling is better for you than frying foods, and how butter and salt are not major ingredients to be added to every vegetable. The idea of moderation in eating was simply an idea that was pondered, you ate until you’re full. Most of you will see this and quickly agree that his lifestyle significantly contributed to his death. But, like most things in life, it is not that easy.

The foods we know have changed.

Many food items have significantly changed over the decades without changes to the taste. Early on, food items were actually made with, well food. Technology had not progressed to the point of artificially producing ingredients for many foods on the market. This improvement in food technology allowed manufacturing companies to spend less on the ingredients while having a more consistent supply source. They no longer had to wait for seasons to change or the crops to come in, they simply made more artificial ingredients to meet demand.

But artificial ingredients do not process through our bodies the same way as real food. The human body has over 500,000 years of evolution breaking down real food into vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to fuel our bodies. We do not know how or if these artificial ingredients can be correctly used by the body for fuel. I know that even a little too much spice wreaks havoc on my stomach, I do not want to know what a couple hundred chemicals that I cannot pronounce are doing to my system.

Quality vs Quantity

Almost everyone still buys food based on quantity, not quality. Watch any fast food or restaurant commercial and you will see that the selling point is more food for less money. We never ask how good that food is for your body, what benefits will I gain from eating this? We focus on what extras we are given (never mind the added calories) for the same price that we would pay elsewhere. It is not about what is right for our body, but how much excess can we get.

This system of has led to us consuming hundreds and even thousands of extra calories per day that our bodies cannot use for fuel, so it stores them as fat. And then we repeat this cycle again tomorrow. And still we wonder how the 40+ different diet plans came into existence.

The reward system

Growing up, we went to Dairy Queen once every other week, if we were good. That last part could change on the way to Dairy Queen or even in the restaurant, depending on how we acted. Eating out was a rare treat and earned based on merit. Later in life we find ourselves eating out based on lack of time, emotions, and even boredom. We even arrange our eating schedule based on our television viewing.

And yet, with Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) allowing us to record shows and play them back anytime while skipping commercials, you would think that more people would take the time to have a home cooked meal first before settling down to binge on their favorite viewing pleasure. Sadly, I do not see most of us going back to home cooked meals. Eating out is the new norm and the home cooked meal is a reward that few people ever see.

The Aftermath

No one can really say what caused my father’s cancer. I know the pain he suffered, the loss of ability to do the things he wanted, and the years of his life that we will miss.
I believe that if he would have made better lifestyle choices that he would still be here. Not just the simple choices of more vegetables and less ice cream. But the more difficult choices of taking the time to cook your own meals, use real food, and not allowing boredom or emotions to dictate your weight.

Many people are slowly eating ourselves to death while making sure that they don’t let a deal on more food pass them by. These added calories (and pounds) take a toll on the joints, the heart and cardiovascular system. They rob us of self-confidence, physical ability, and most importantly, time. Time enjoying life, traveling, spending with friends and family. Seeing how many wonderful things the world has to offer.

Everyone knows how to eat healthy, and still so many people are looking for a quick fix to the best nutritional intake. We now have so many food choices that the most difficult part is figuring out how to go back to the old ways. Real food, cooked by you, with a few spices for flavor, and in the company of friends and family.

Don’t allow the easy day-to-day choices to limit your life. The time you save now in short cuts may cost you later.

For more daily information like and follow us on Facebook and check out our custom designed exercise programs on our website at www.achievingfitnessafter50.com.


6 Fitness Secrets You Should Know

Getting in shape seems simple: Exercise, eat healthy, keep at it for an undisclosed period of time, and at some point you see the results.
This does not happen the same for everyone. While genetics, coaching, past exercise or sports experience, and your life outside the gym all play a role, there are some facts that usually are not discussed when someone is looking to get in shape.
Here are six of the lesser-known facts about getting fit that may surprise you:
1. Sweat is not indication of effort
Two people completing the same workout will find that one may sweat profusely while the other may barely glisten, though both may be working out with the same intensity.
Very fit people tend to sweat faster because they’re able to hit higher workout intensities sooner. But some unfit people also sweat a lot, so there’s no hard and fast rule. Your hydration level, temperature of the gym, humidity level, and even genetics also play a role. Either way, how much you sweat doesn’t necessarily mean you’re working hard or vice versa.
2. Your recovery is just as important as your exercise
Your body does not become stronger when you exercise, it becomes stronger when it recovers from exercising. Proper sleep, nutrition, hydration, and muscular/soft tissue massage (or lack thereof) can all impact your results. Plan on a minimum of one day completely off. As we age it may take longer than one full day to recover, so take an extra day if you feel you need it.
Your body needs recovery time, pushing your body every day or doing too many high-intensity interval training workouts can result in injury or overtraining, which will keep you from reaching your goals.
3. You may not feel sore until two days after your workout
The enthusiasm of starting a new program and wanting to see results causes many people to push too hard initially. It’s better to start with less repetitions and/or weight and progressing gradually as your body changes. You will most likely feel sore when start a new workout, but the brunt of muscle soreness may not hit you until two days after your workout. DOMS, short for delayed onset muscle soreness, is believed to occur as a result of microscopic damage to muscle fibers during exercise.
DOMS most likely occurs when force is applied to the muscle during its lengthening (eccentric) phase. Examples would be the lowering phase of a bicep curl or even jogging, since the thigh muscles lengthen while the leg brakes against your body’s momentum. A light workout or foam rolling helps loosen up and increase blood flow and can ease DOMS.
It’s a misconception that the soreness is due to lactic acid build-up. Lactic acid is out of your body an hour after exercise, which is also why it’s a good idea to do a cool-down when you’re done, to help get out the lactic acid.
4. Exercise machines do not fit everyone
Exercise machines fit roughly 70% of the population. Using an exercise machine without adjusting for your body size can lead to reduced results and the increased risk of injury.
You have to adjust the machine to fit your body size in order to achieve the results.

You want to line up the machine so your joints coincide with pivot points of the machine (usually indicated by a red dot), your feet are flat on the floor (if you are seated) and the pads rest comfortably against your body. Charts can be found on most gym equipment illustrating proper positioning.
If you’re unsure of yourself, elicit the help of a certified fitness professional to make sure you are using the equipment properly. Improper use, including incorrect positioning of a seat, padding, platform, bar or weight that is too heavy can all lead to injury.
5. It takes time to see changes
The first 4-6 weeks of an exercise program will cause neuromuscular changes to happen that will see your body become stronger without physical changes to your appearance. This the initial stage of training is where your nervous system adjusts to the new demands placed on it with exercise. After the initial stage of training the body will start to make physiological changes to continue to adapt to the workout program.
Unfortunately, many people give up in the first 2 months of a program, right before they’d see results they want. Make sure to commit to at least 3 months of an exercise program so that you can see your body change.
6. You can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet
Some people will tell you that exercising alone is enough to make a significant difference in your body. However, it is too easy to consume far more calories than you could ever burn off in the course of a day. Expecting to see results when you’re eating too much or too much of the wrong foods such as fast food, is not likely to happen. If you want to lose weight and see results, you must get your diet under control.
Unhealthy food choices not only make you less likely to lose weight, but you may also feel sluggish and less motivated to stick to your exercise goals.
For more daily information like and follow us on Facebook and check out our custom designed exercise programs on our website at www.achievingfitnessafter50.com.


5 Exercises to Quit After 50 – You can still keep fit and avoid injuries if you follow these rules

Working out the same way in your 50s as you did in your 20s or 30s sets you up for pain and problems. Our bodies change as we age and muscular strength, bone density, flexibility, and recovery time make injuries more likely as you age if you don’t adjust your workout.
Your risk of injury will be greatly decreased by eliminating some exercises altogether.
My professors always taught that there are no bad exercises, just a lot of exercises used incorrectly. People are built differently and have varying levels of fitness. Make sure you have the flexibility and range of motion to be able to perform every exercise using proper form. Increase weight and repetitions incrementally over time to ensure you are able to handle the new stress.
In general, experts suggest avoiding the following exercises if you are over 50:
Heavy Leg Extension machine
This exercise involves extending the legs up out in front of you with resistance in front of your ankles while in a seated position on a machine. It isolates the quadriceps in front of the thighs and placed a significant amount of load across the knee joint.
This machine puts an unnecessary stress over the knee cap area, causing wear and tear in the knee joint. I still have some clients use this machine with light weight (less than 30 lbs) and perform the exercise single leg at the end of the workout, but never heavy. This can be a great rehab exercise or one of the worst single exercises for your knees if you use too much weight.
Instead, use squats, or wall sits to strengthen the same muscles without the risk of injuring your knees.
Pull ups or pull downs behind the head
This exercise works primarily the back muscles in addition to the biceps and shoulders. Behind the neck pull ups or pull downs places tremendous stress across the shoulders and rotator cuff tendons. Since rotator cuff injuries are very common after age 50 due to the lack of elasticity and strength, this exercise is not a good choice.
Safer and equally effective alternatives include pull ups or pull downs in front of the head, stopping the bar at the chest. Make sure to also utilize a horizontal row exercise or machine to also strengthen the muscles that support the back of the shoulders.
Sit ups
Sit ups have been one of the worst exercises for your lower back for decades. Yet, many people (including the military) continue to use this exercise for abdominal strength. The military is finally looking to replace sit ups due to the increased rate of injury for troops. They are studying planks as a better alternative to the injury prone sit up.
When we talk core strength, we mean 3 areas (abs, lower back, and obliques) and most people only focus on the first one. Balance out your workout with exercises that will strengthen the other 2 areas. Which leads us to the next exercise.
Flutter Kicks
This is also a staple of the military and many fitness fans that only focus on the abdominal section of their core. This exercise places a significant load on the abs and even more load on the lower back that you have not been working to strengthen. It will work your abs, but usually at the cost of your lower back.
Again, balance your core routine. Any exercise that places a load on your core means that your lower back is supporting musculature. If you lower back is not capable of handling this load, you will end up with a lower back injury, and a lifetime of lower back problems.
Good Mornings
This is meant to be a back-strengthening exercise that involves placing the weight behind your head while bending forward from the waist with your legs straight and knees locked, where you use your lower back muscles to pull yourself back up. This move can cause issues for you if you have any type of lumbar (lower back) instability or stenosis.
Stick with a whole body exercise like deadlifts that will strengthen your back, glutes, hamstrings, and even upper back. The body does not work well placing a load against isolated muscles across a single joint. The body works by spreading the load out against multiple muscles and joints. Isolation is great for rehab and body building, but not to build functional strength. If utilized incorrectly or with too much load, it causes injury.
Any exercise that you perform should have a purpose (i.e. strengthen specific muscles or movement patterns). Performing exercises that do not directly relate to your goals is a waste of your time and increases your risk of injury. Start with lighter weights using combined motions, such as squats versus single joint movements like leg extensions, that are not as functional.
For more daily information like and follow us on Facebook and check out our custom designed exercise programs on our website at www.achievingfitnessafter50.com.


DASH Diet: A Comprehensive Beginner’s Guide

Below is a great article by award-winning journalist Alicia Doyle. She has written thousands of articles about inspirational people, events and organizations that have a positive impact on the community and world at large. It was originally published in Highya, https://www.highya.com/articles-guides/dash-diet-a-comprehensive-beginners-guide, and is being republished here with their permission. Please check out their website that is an awesome online community that is revolutionizing how consumers research products.

The DASH diet, which incorporates fruits, vegetables, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products, can promote weight loss, lower blood pressure and other benefits, according to experts.

Proponents of the DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, say that taking on this lifestyle can decrease blood pressure, weight and cholesterol levels by cutting back on the amount of sodium from food and drinks.

The DASH diet was developed specifically to help people lower high blood pressure, and is promoted by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, a part of the National Institutes of Health, which claims that a DASH diet is healthy for most Americans – and can be healthy for the entire family.

This guide takes a comprehensive look at the DASH diet, including what it is, foods you can eat and food you should avoid, the overall benefits, and how to get started.

We’ve gathered input from two experts for this topic, including an exercise physiologist with more than 25 years of experience ranging from basic fitness instruction to working with members of the U.S. Olympic team; and a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator in Southern California.

Keep in mind that this article is not intended as medical advice. Before you decided to try the DASH diet, talk to your medical provider, first.

What Is the DASH Diet?

The term DASH means Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, and it cuts back on the amount of sodium from your food and drinks, explained Dr. Annthea Fenwick, an exercise physiologist and owner of Achieving Fitness After 50 in Nevada City, California.

“This healthy diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products,” explained Dr. Fenwick, adding that the DASH diet includes whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils while limiting sodium, sweets, processed foods, sugary beverages, and red meats.

As a fitness expert with a Ph.D. in Holistic Nutrition, Dr. Fenwick has used the DASH diet with clients for many years with great success.

“It has helped them lower their blood pressure to the point of no longer needing medication to maintain normal levels,” she said. “They have lost significant amounts of weight and overall improved their health with this diet program.”

Different Kinds of DASH Diets

Researchers funded by National Institute of Health’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute developed the DASH diet to prevent and treat high blood pressure, said Ruth Pupo Garcia, a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator who works at Adventist Health White Memorial in Los Angeles.

“Some DASH plans are slightly lower in sodium recommendations, but basically they are very similar,” Garcia said. “The DASH diet can be accommodated for vegetarians as well.”

The DASH diet is recommended for people who want to lower blood pressure, “but it’s also a great option for anyone who wants to adopt a healthy diet,” Dr. Fenwick said. “It can aid in weight loss because it emphasizes eating whole foods that are naturally low in unhealthy fats and added sugars, as well as moderate portions.”

According to Dr. Fenwick, the 2 primary forms of the DASH diet will vary slightly depending on your health needs:

Standard DASH Diet: This plan limits sodium consumption to 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day.

Lower-Sodium DASH Diet: This version calls for limiting sodium consumption to 1,500 mg per day.

DASH Diet Benefits

Since the DASH diet includes more nutritious foods that are lower in fat, people also lose weight, said Garcia, adding that the overall benefit is reduced cardiovascular disease.

According to Dr. Fenwick, the benefits to following the DASH diet include the following:

Long-Term Potential: The diet offers variety and is easy to follow as a lifelong dietary choice.

Lower Blood Pressure and Improve Healthy Cholesterol Levels: Studies have shown that people who stick to this diet can lower their blood pressure and — when eating low-fat rather than high-fat dairy — also lower their LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol, according to a study published in February 2016 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

A Reduced Risk of Certain Diseases: A stronger heart can result in improvements of other aspects of your health, such as kidney function, blood sugar management, and eye health. Following the DASH diet may also reduce your risk for stroke, the NHLBI notes.

Improved Management of Type 2 Diabetes: According to an article published in the journal Current Hypertension Reports, when paired with a weight-loss plan and exercise regimen, the DASH diet may result in reduced insulin resistance, which is the hallmark of type 2 diabetes.

Weight Loss: The DASH diet works by limiting not only salt, but also saturated fat and cholesterol, both of which can contribute to heart disease; and by increasing foods that provide fiber, protein, and other nutrients.

“Important to note is people who want to lower their blood pressure should combine the diet with other healthy lifestyle approaches to managing hypertension, such as getting more exercise, losing weight, and cutting back on alcohol consumption,” Dr. Fenwick recommended. “Quitting smoking is also crucial for lowering blood pressure and maintaining good heart health.”

Scientific Studies of the DASH Diet

There are hundreds of studies that have reinforced the benefits of the DASH diet, according to Dr. Fenwick, who added that this is the eighth consecutive year that DASH received top honors in U.S. News and World Report, ranking among nearly 40 diets it reviewed.

“This year, however, that ranking was shared with another – the Mediterranean Diet,” Dr. Fenwick said. “The Mediterranean diet gets its name from the region where this well-balanced pattern of eating was inspired. It’s similar to the DASH diet in that it includes an abundance of whole grains, vegetables, beans, nuts and fish.”

Garcia noted an NHLBI-funded study of more than 400 adults with pre-hypertension, or stage 1 high blood pressure, found that the combination of a low-salt diet with DASH substantially lowers blood pressure.

“In the study, persons who had the highest blood pressure or most severe, had the best results,” Garcia said.

Are there Side Effects with the DASH Diet?

According to Dr. Fenwick, there are almost no drawbacks to the DASH diet.

“Some people may not like the fact that is does not say exactly what to eat every day, instead it offers overall guidelines for you to develop your own eating plan,” she said.

Additionally, it can be difficult to adjust to eating as much fiber as the DASH diet recommends.

“It’s a good idea to gradually add high-fiber foods, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, to your diet and drink plenty of water while doing so to help avoid bloating and physical discomfort,” Dr. Fenwick advised.

For those who wonder if the DASH diet is dangerous, Garcia said “not at all,” adding that the DASH diet is recommended by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the American Heart Association, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and the U.S. guidelines for the treatment of high blood pressure.

“And it’s healthy for the whole family,” Garcia emphasized.

If there was a “con” associated with the DASH diet, Garcia said it’s not being applied by many Americans living with pre-hypertension or hypertension.

“Some experts believe that the recommended foods aren’t as accessible as fast food and processed foods,” Garcia said. “For example, it may be much easier and convenient to attain a fast-food meal than a green salad with berries.”

Who Should Avoid the DASH Diet?

Individuals with renal disease, on dialysis and on certain blood thinning medications should consult with a doctor or dietitian before applying the DASH diet, Garcia advised.

The DASH diet is actually high in potassium, Dr. Fenwick said.

“For most people, that helps their kidneys regulate blood pressure more efficiently,” explained Dr. Fenwick, adding that people with advanced kidney disease may need to limit the potassium with this diet.

“If you’re gluten intolerant, you need to modify a bit, but there are plenty of gluten-free, healthy grains, including buckwheat, quinoa, millet, and wild rice,” Dr. Fenwick suggested. “If you’re lactose intolerant, yogurt and other dairy products may not be right for you, so consider calcium-fortified soy milk, almond milk, and other such products.”

And despite the fact that most people eat way too much salt, certain individuals will actually need more, she added.

“Competitive athletes and people working outdoors in the heat will need to add sodium to this diet,” Dr. Fenwick recommended. “People that suffer from low blood pressure will also need extra salt.”

How to Get Started with the DASH Diet

The DASH diet calls for a certain number of servings daily from various food groups, Dr. Fenwick said.

“The number of servings you require may vary, depending on how many calories you need per day,” she explained.

You can make gradual changes, Dr. Fenwick noted.

“For instance, start by limiting yourself to 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day – about 1 teaspoon,” she said. “Then, once your body has adjusted to the diet, cut back to 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day – about 2/3 teaspoon. These amounts include all sodium eaten, including sodium in food products as well as in what you cook with or add at the table.”

Garcia said in general, people can start to incorporate more salads and vegetables in their diet by starting by consuming more vegetables that they already like.

“Also starting to cook without added oil and fat is recommended, for example try baking or grilling instead of frying,” Garcia advised. “Choose fruits that are in season, and try fruit instead of dessert after meals.”

Foods You Can Eat on the DASH Diet

Dr. Fenwick provided the following list of foods that a person can eat on the DASH diet:

Grains: Breads and cereals, especially those mad with whole grains such as oats, barley, rye, or whole wheat. Pasta, especially when made with whole grains. Brown rice. Low-fat, low-sodium crackers and pretzels.

Vegetables: Fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables without added fat or salt. Highly colored vegetables, such as broccoli, greens, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.

Fruits: Fresh, frozen, canned (in fruit juice), or dried fruit.

Dairy: Fat-free (skim), or low-fat (1%) milk. Nonfat or low-fat yogurt. Nonfat, low-sodium cottage cheese. Nonfat and low-fat, low-sodium cheese.

Protein: Fish, especially fatty fish, such as salmon, fresh tuna, or mackerel. Lean cuts of beef and pork (loin, leg, round, extra lean hamburger). Low-sodium cold cuts made with lean meat or soy protein. Skinless poultry. Venison and other wild game. Unsalted nuts and nut butters. Beans and peas. Low-sodium meat alternatives made with soy or textured vegetable protein. Egg whites or egg substitute.

Fats and Oils: Unsaturated oils (soybean, olive, canola, sunflower, and safflower). Soft or liquid margarines and vegetable oil spreads. Salad dressings (nonfat or made with unsaturated oil). Seeds. Avocado.

Other: Herbs and spices to add flavor to replace salt. Unsalted, low-fat snack foods, such as unsalted pretzels or plain popcorn. Fat-free or low-fat sweets, such as maple syrup, jelly beans, hard candy, or sorbet.

Dr. Fenwick offered the following example of a typical meal on the DASH Diet:

3 ounces of turkey meatloaf
1 small baked potato topped with 1 tablespoon each of fat-free sour cream and low-fat cheese, and a chopped scallion
1 small whole-wheat roll
Cooked spinach
1 peach

Foods to Avoid on the DASH Diet

Dr. Fenwick said the following foods should be avoided on the DASH diet:

Grains: Baked goods made with hydrogenated fat or saturated fat. Any grain foods that are high in sodium or added sugar.

Vegetables: Canned vegetables (unless they are low sodium or salt free). Pickles and vegetables packed in brine, such as sauerkraut or olives. Fried or breaded vegetables. Vegetables in cream or butter sauces.

Fruits: Fried fruits, fruits in cream or butter sauces.

Dairy: Whole and 2% fat milk, cream. Cheese (except for nonfat or low-fat, low sodium types). Processed cheese products. Foods made from whole milk or cream (such as ice cream or half-and-half).

Protein: Canned or smoked meat or fish. Marbled or fatty meats (such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs, regular hamburgers). Whole eggs and egg yolks. Poultry with skin. High-sodium lunch or deli-meats (such as salami). Canned beans (unless they are low-sodium or salt-free).

Fats and Oils: Solid cooking fats (shortening, butter, stick margarine). Tropical oils (palm, palm kernel, or coconut oil).

Other: Salt, seasoning mixes made with salt. Soy sauce, miso. Canned or dried soups (except for low-fat, low-sodium types). Bouillon cubes. Ketchup, barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce. Jarred or bottled salsa (homemade without salt is fine). Sugary drinks (such as soda or fruit drinks). Snack foods made with hydrogenated oil, shortening, or butter. High-sodium snacks foods (chips, pretzels, salted nuts). High-fat, high-sugar desserts. High-fat gravies and sauces. Premade foods (boxed pasta mixes, frozen dinners, and so on) if high in sodium or fat.

Alcohol: Women, no more than 1 drink per day. Men, no more than 2 drinks per day. One drink is 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1½ ounces of liquor.

DASH Diet for a Vegetarian, Vegan or Someone with Cancer

Vegetarians will need to adjust their protein intake away from animal products to the other recommended protein sources, Dr. Fenwick advised.

Garcia said a vegetarian may substitute animal proteins with low fat plan protein substitutes such as tofu, tempeh or beans.

“Vegans will need to make the above adjustment in addition to removing dairy and eggs,” Dr. Fenwick said.

“Cancer patients have shown good results with the DASH diet because it is low in red meat, rich in fruits and vegetables, emphasizes low-fat dairy, and has plenty of whole grains and limits fats and oils.”

Garcia added that a diet high in nutrients and anti-oxidants, such as DASH, “is also considered anti-cancer.”

Additional DASH Diet Tips and Factors for Success

Dr. Fenwick offered the following tips that can help with the success of the DASH diet:

Add a serving of vegetables at lunch and at dinner.

Add a serving of fruit to your meals or as a snack. Canned and dried fruits are easy to use, but check that they don’t have added sugar.

Use only half your typical serving of butter, margarine, or salad dressing, and use low-fat or fat-free condiments.

Drink low-fat or skim dairy products any time you would normally use full-fat or cream.

Limit meat to 6 ounces a day. Make some meals vegetarian.

Add more vegetables and dry beans to your diet.

Instead of snacking on chips or sweets, eat unsalted pretzels or nuts, raisins, low-fat and fat-free yogurt, frozen yogurt, unsalted plain popcorn with no butter, and raw vegetables.

Read food labels to choose products that are lower in sodium.

Diet changes take time, said Garcia, who recommends trying to add vegetable and fruits to your favorite recipes, and consider alternate cooking methods.

“Start small and cook for the whole family, so that the changes are sustainable,” Garcia advised. “For example use a grill instead of frying foods. Try adding spinach to your soup. Cut up fruits and have them accessible instead of a plate of cookies.”

Dr. Fenwick recommends starting out by making adjustments slowly, following the recommended food guidelines.

“They will quickly find that the DASH diet will allow them to enjoy good, healthy, wholesome food,” Dr. Fenwick said.

Final Thoughts

The DASH Diet is simple to follow by removing the items that we already know are unhealthy, Dr. Fenwick said.

“You do not need to remove food groups or make drastic changes to live a healthy lifestyle,” she emphasized. “Eat the foods that you know are healthy, stay away from the processed and packaged junk, and enjoy real meals.”

The DASH diet has been one of the best diets in America, as stated by the U.S. News and World Reports, Garcia said.

“However, people must take a diet, even DASH, as a new lifestyle change rather that a temporary diet plan.”

Eating more fruits and vegetables and reducing fat in the diet is always favorable, Garcia added.

“We must consider that as far as food, our environment is toxic, and most Americans will end up with Heart disease – the #1 killer,” she said. “Keep fast food to a limit, eat more plant based foods and get some physical activity.”

 


3 Rules for Fitness After 50

A funny thing happens to our bodies as we age: Our body doesn’t respond to exercise as it did earlier in our life. Fatigue, muscle and joint aches and increased injuries seem to happen with greater frequency.

Unfortunately, it’s not your imagination. It is a normal consequence of aging. In fact, some of the “standard” fitness rules no longer apply, at least not in the same way as they did in your 30s and even 40s.

Most people have a health goal as they age to be both “physically and mentally independent” rather than fit into a certain jean size. Everyone wants to feel better in their own skin so they can enjoy their leisure time with children/grandchildren, travel with ease of movement, or perform optimally in their careers? The trick is to attach “meaning” to your fitness goals and do the work, step by step.

You are the only one who can make and keep yourself healthy, not your doctor. Your doctor can assist you, but its 95% you. Even when surgery is involved, the outcome is more dependent on you than it is your surgeon. The surgeon makes the healing possible but if you don’t follow through with your share of the work, the surgery will fail. If you get knee surgery but don’t do any rehab other than what they force you do to in those six post-op sessions, then your knee will never be 100% and it is your fault, not your surgeons.

Rule 1 – Work Smarter Before Working Harder

Just a few tweaks to your exercise choices can make all the difference. Exercises that utilize more muscles burn more calories, and tend to also hit the larger muscles like legs and back. Hiring a trainer to run you through these more complex choices for just a couple of sessions can put you on a road to much greater progress and be worth the money in the long run….(maybe have one less bottle of wine a week to make up for it!!)

Talk To Experts – Guess work is the worst thing you can do when you exercise: it leads to poor results, and a lot of wasted time and money. If there’s a question you don’t know the answer to, just ask a pro.

Drop Your Ego – Nobody cares how much weight you lift. Nobody is watching and nobody is tracking. What does draw attention is terrible lifting technique. Lifting well beyond what you can handle just to look good in front of other people is pretty much the same as tattooing “I’m insecure about my strength” on your forehead. If you can’t bench, squat, deadlift and curl with immaculate technique, it may be time to drop down a weight, develop authentic strength and come back to lift heavier another day. If it really is respect you’re after, that’ll be how you earn it.

It’s You vs You – Never be disheartened by the progress or condition of others. Everyone has their own genetic make-up, their own goals and their own challenges. All you need to concentrate on is being a little bit better than you were yesterday.

Get Compound – Never substitute tried and tested compound exercises in the name of isolation or the latest exercise craze. The classic exercises have earned their status because they’ve been tried and tested over time. Be sure that your strength training program includes some of the following exercises such as: squats, deadlifts, barbell rows, lunges, and presses.

Have A Plan – Every time you exercise, you need to have a plan. You should know exactly what exercises you are going to perform, for how many sets and how many reps you are aiming for. Without this you will waste time and possibly select the wrong exercises. The same applies to nutrition: every day you should know how many calories you need to consume.

Rule 2 – Speed Is Your Friend

Going for an easy stroll with a friend may be a good way to get fresh air, but it won’t do much for calorie burning. Continue cardio for its heart health benefits, but focus on intervals since interval training for 30 minutes versus moderate, continues exercise decreases belly fat. Moderate cardio does not.

Interval Training – Interval training involves alternate bouts of higher intensity cardio with “rest” or easier periods. Intervals create an “after burner” effect called EPOC, which stands for “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.” That’s a state in which your body continues to burn a higher rate of oxygen and calories after you’ve finished your workout. How many calories and for how long depends on the intensity of the intervals.

Additionally, research shows that interval training can burn more calories during exercise, which in turn will lead to a higher percentage of fat calories burned.
At low intensity exercise, your body uses mostly fat calories. At high intensity exercise, the body uses mostly glucose or carbohydrates. Because interval training is a combination of moderate and high intensity exercise, a greater percentage of fat and total calories are used.

Jump Around – Plyometrics used to be called “jump training.” It’s a technique that you can use in many different ways. Every time you land from a jump, your muscles get a stretch. That gives your next jump even more power. The combination of stretching and contracting your muscles whips them into shape.
You won’t do plyometrics every day, because your muscles will need a break from all that jumping. If you’re not active now, you may need to start working on your basic fitness first and later have a pro show you how to do the moves, so you don’t get injured.
It’s a fun alternative to an everyday strength-training workout that boosts your muscle power, strength, balance, and agility. You can either do a workout based around plyometrics, or add some moves to your usual routine without giving it an entire session.

Rule 3 – Consistency Triumphs In The End

With all the advanced training principles, dieting secrets and magic bullet supplements at our disposal, the people who really succeed in fitness are the ones that keep things simple and consistent. Great workout after great workout and clean meal after clean meal will trump any genetic or synthetic advantage over time. Decide where you want to be, take the first step and don’t stop until you achieve it. Honestly, it really is that simple.

Your health will change with age, but you have a choice in how it changes. My professor used to always state, “The human body responses to the forces placed against it. The more you do, the more your body is able to do. And the less you do, the less your body will be able to do. When you challenge the body, it grows stronger. And when you fail to challenge the body, it grows weaker.”

I learned that to successfully reach a fitness goal you need to plan your workout and then work your plan.  Your body is too important to guess how to make improvements.  Write down your goals, talk to an expert on how they can help you reach those goals, and get to work(out)!

For more daily information like and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and check out our custom designed exercise programs on our website at http://www.achievingfitnessafter50.com.

 


I don’t respect anyone who has lived an easy life.

“A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials”, this was stated by the philosopher Seneca 2000 years ago, and it is still true today.

Throughout history, life has never been easy. We will all battle against adversity and life problems. Some more than others. Life has a way of grounding us and then kicking us when we are down. The challenge is to be resilient against the battles of life.

I left home at 17 and joined the military because it was the only way that I could see to escape an unhappy childhood that left me very angry (my father still does not care to have a picture of me up at his home). At 18 I was living in a foreign country that I did not speak the language. From there I deployed to other countries for the better part of 3 years before returning to the US to a small, isolated base. After the military there was a lot of moving around, failed relationships, failed business, and homeless for a short time, not to mention health and financial problems.

Many of these were not separate events, they overlapped causing times of high stress that made me question what my future would be. Exercise has always been my primary source of destressing from these situations. I believe that exercise has made me more resilient to the challenges of life and it has shown me that I have control over myself in times of doubt.

What is Resilience?

How people react to extreme adversity is normally distributed. On one end are the people who battle against Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, and even suicide. In the middle are most people, who at first react with symptoms of depression and anxiety but within a month or so are, by physical and psychological measures, back where they were before the trauma. This is the definition of resilience. On the other end are people who show post-traumatic growth. They, too, first experience depression and anxiety, sometimes exhibiting full-blown PTSD, but within a year they are better off than they were before the trauma. These are the people of whom Friedrich Nietzsche said, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

The key to getting over the challenges in your life is to build your inner reserves well before you’re in a failure situation. Knowing that failure will happen, no matter how hard you try to prevent it, will give you a better perspective on understanding your mistakes without letting them devastate you. A mistake can be unpleasant, embarrassing, and even costly, but the resilience you develop to prepare you for those inevitable times will allow you to draw even more fulfillment from when you succeed.

Resilience is the process of adapting in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.

Research has shown that resilience is ordinary, not extraordinary. People commonly demonstrate resilience. Examples of this response are the many people affected by the September 11th terrorist attacks and Boston Bombings and the individuals’ efforts to rebuild their lives.

Being resilient does not mean that a person doesn’t experience difficulty or distress. Emotional pain and sadness are common in people who have suffered major adversity or trauma in their lives. The road to resilience involves considerable emotional distress.

Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviors, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed.

Resilience does not mean that you will never have doubts about yourself. Resilience does not mean that you will never be depressed. Resilience does not mean that you will not have fear or apprehension.

Resilience means that you will not give up on you. Resilience means that you will keep trying to work through the problems (some days more than others). Resilience means that things don’t always work out as we hope and plan, but that can also lead us to new opportunities and new happiness.

Military Bootcamp is a series of stressful situations that are meant to transition you from civilian to military life in a quick and efficient manner, while building resilience that you will need on the job. We have many sayings for adversity in the military, “The only easy day was yesterday,” is common in the US Navy SEAL Teams. Yesterday is considered an easy day because it is over, you have survived the challenges to move on. In times of hardship, you have to focus on living day to day (or even hour by hour). Getting through the day can be a major accomplishment. We also say, “Embrace the suck”. The challenges are what make us better. Face it, put on your game face and rise to the challenge instead of allowing the challenge to defeat you.

While resiliency is normally built over time, it’s not too late to develop it now. Everyone has some kind of resiliency built within, but with varying degrees of strength. To say that an individual has great coping skills is one thing, but to say that an individual is resilient takes it to an entirely different plateau.

How do we build resilience?

Make connections with other people. Good relationships with close family members, friends or others are important. Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience (it is NOT a sign of weakness to accept help, it is part of the path to resolve the problem). Some people find that being active in civic groups, faith-based organizations, or other local groups provides social support and can help with reclaiming hope. Assisting others in their time of need also can benefit the helper.

You can’t change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Avoid seeing predicaments as insurmountable problems. Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a little better. Note any subtle ways in which you might already feel somewhat better as you deal with difficult situations.
Accept that change is a part of living. Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.

Move toward your goals. Do something regularly, even if it seems like a small accomplishment, which enables you to move toward your goals. Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable, determine what is one thing I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?

Take decisive actions. Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive actions, rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away.

Look for opportunities for self-discovery. People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss. Many people who have experienced tragedies and hardship have reported better relationships, greater sense of strength even while feeling vulnerable, increased sense of self-worth, a more developed spirituality and heightened appreciation for life.

Nurture a positive view of yourself. Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience.

Keep things in perspective. Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.

Maintain a hopeful outlook. An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear.

How the Exercise helps develop Resilience.

“It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness,” Seneca.

Weight lifting is the perfect metaphor for building resilience. We say that the body adapts to the loads or challenges placed against it. Your body adapts to the way you train it. The success of setting goals to lift more weight and then accomplishing the task translates to the ability to overcome challenges in other areas.

In the gym, you must continually challenge yourself with progressing difficulty to get better and grow. Your muscles respond to new challenges by gaining strength. Same with your mindset. With each new challenge there’s growth, and this incremental growth begins to snowball like compound interest.

Elite military schools have 70%, 80%, and at times even 90% drop out rate. Some people may argue that the standards are too high and we need to reduce them to have more trained special operations forces. But they would be incorrect. These troops are pushed beyond what they believe their breaking point is, for a reason. Decades of combat have shown that these individuals need to have the resilience to face the challenges placed before them. How do you develop this level of resilience? By facing adversity. There is no easy way. But, most people simply won’t do it. They’ve never trained to have a resilient mindset. These schools have developed over decades to provide our troops with the mental and physical resilience to face overwhelming challenges.

In day to day life, all you have to do is be a little less hesitant, a little less fearful of challenges and change, and a little more willing to question assumptions and your abilities. You can achieve amazing things. And exercise can be your proving ground. When you achieve a new personal best in the gym, it helps prepare for new fear trials in life.

Your brain is always watching you and judging the type of person you are. When it sees you attacking the gym consistently day after day, month after month, it’s more likely to believe you and support you when you attack something new in life.

Athletic Strategies

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re probably right,” was famously stated by Henry Ford. It highlights how important self-belief is to accomplishment.

In athletics we teach that visualization and self-talk are valuable tools to help you achieve your goals. What you tell yourself can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. So show and tell yourself a story of success and accomplishment.

Visualization

When you repeatedly imagine performing a task, you also condition your brain so that the action feels familiar when you go to perform it; it’s as if you’re carving a groove in your nervous system. Envisioning success can enhance motivation and confidence.

Imagery can be a great tool the next time you have set your sights on a goal. Here is how to put it into effect.

Use all your senses. Mental imagery is often referred to as visualization, but it’s not limited to the visual. What are you smelling, hearing, and feeling? You should be so immersed in a mental image that it seems as if it is actually happening.

Be the star, not the audience. Imagine performing the activity from your own perspective, don’t watch yourself as if you’re viewing a movie.

Focus on the positive. Think of reaching for an apple instead of visualizing passing up the peanut butter cups. Researchers suspect that this tack may be more effective because it’s easier to see how close you are to a new goal than to gauge how far you are from old habits.

Imagine every step. A 2011 study by scientists at McGill University, in Montreal, found that when told to eat more fruit, people who envisioned every step of the process (reaching for it, biting into it, enjoying it) were more successful than those who only generally thought about eating more fruit.

Self-Talk

Often, the pattern of self-talk we develope is negative. We remember the negative things we were told as children by our parents, siblings, or teachers. We remember the negative reactions from others that diminished how we felt about ourselves. Throughout the years, these messages have played over and over in our minds, fueling our feelings of anger, fear, guilt, and hopelessness.

Positive self-talk is not self-deception. It is not mentally looking at circumstances with eyes that see only what you want to see. Positive self-talk is about recognizing the truth, in situations and in yourself. One of the fundamental truths is that you will make mistakes. Expecting perfection in yourself or anyone else is unrealistic. To expect no difficulties in life, whether through your own actions or sheer circumstances, is also unrealistic.
When negative events or mistakes happen, positive self-talk seeks to bring the positive out of the negative to help you do better, go further, or just keep moving forward. The practice of positive self-talk is often the process that allows you to discover the obscured optimism, hope, and joy in any given situation.
“The bravest sight in the world is to see a great man struggling against adversity”, Seneca.

Underdog stories have been popular throughout time. The story of David and Goliath always comes to mind. Rising up against a significant challenge and emerging on the other side victorious. Blockbuster movies that show the hero facing an impossible enemy, or normal people breaking the cycle of actions that have taken them to their limits always evoke an emotional response because we can relate to the feelings. If the movie showed someone with an easy life that never struggled, it would fail at the box office because we would not respect that individual nor feel anything for them.

The American Psychological Association gives this analogy of facing life’s challenges:

Think of resilience as similar to taking a raft trip down a river.
On a river, you may encounter rapids, turns, slow water and shallows. As in life, the changes you experience affect you differently along the way.
In traveling the river, it helps to have knowledge about it and past experience in dealing with it. Your journey should be guided by a plan, a strategy that you consider likely to work well for you.

Perseverance and trust in your ability to work your way around boulders and other obstacles are important. You can gain courage and insight by successfully navigating your way through rough waters. Trusted companions who accompany you on the journey can be especially helpful for dealing with rapids, upstream currents and other difficult stretches of the river.

You can climb out to rest alongside the river. But to get to the end of your journey, you need to get back in the raft and continue along your path.

Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience.

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