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?
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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)!

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Building better bone strength

My mother was a beautiful, tall, vibrant women. She had a passion for travel, making jewelry, and gardening. Now, she is a shell of her former self. Her body is riddled with osteoporosis. She always looks down because her spine no longer allows her to stand up straight. Because of the pain she no longer travels, makes jewelry or any of her former hobbies. Her passion is gone, her love of life is gone, and it brings tears to my eyes every time I see her. This degenerative disease has lead me on my lifelong passion to help other women stay strong. Our bones were meant to last a lifetime. However the current epidemic of poor bone health stems directly from our lifestyle. We have come to expect poor health as part of the aging process. My aim of this article is to encourage women (and men) to build better bones, to keep passion and love of life through strength, and not end up like my mother.

Bone fulfills many functions in your body:

Bone gives the body form, rigidity, protection, and locomotion. There are 206 bones in the body and they are the hardest of all tissues. As such, they give form and rigidity to our bodies, allowing us to sit, stand tall, and walk.

Bones serve as an incubator for the red blood cells. Each second, our body produces 2.4 million red blood cells. These red blood cells are produced inside bone, in the nine ounces of bone marrow are body contains. Bone is an active manufacturing plant.

Bones serve as the mineral bank for the body. Ninety-nine percent of the body’s total calcium is stored in the bones, 85 percent of the phosphorus, 60 percent of the magnesium, and 35 percent of the sodium. Bones store minerals, keeping them available for use anywhere in the body. The level of blood calcium, for example, must be kept within a very precise range. Essential functionality from your heartbeat and nerve transmission, depend on precise blood calcium levels. When levels drop, a myriad of reactions occur aimed at drawing the calcium from the bone and depositing it into the blood. If more minerals are taken out of the bone than deposited back into the bone, the end result is thin, weak bones.

In the United States more women have osteoporosis than men do, and osteoporosis is held to be largely a disorder of women. However this may be more cultural than genetic. For decades women believed you could never be too thin. We are embroiled in a thinness mania, young and old, following misguided attempts at maintaining lower weight. It is virtually impossible to consume the nutrients required for bone maintenance, much less bone growth, on a low calorie diet. Under nutrition causes osteoporosis in young and old alike. Women were also told that nice girls don’t build muscle mass. It was taught that it is not proper to exercise heavily enough to build visible and defined muscle mass. Strong muscles are a good indicator of strong bones and it takes strenuous activity to build strong muscles.

Osteoporosis is not just a dreadful disease that randomly strikes some of us. Excessive bone thinning and the development of weak bones does not occur without due cause and this is often associated with poor lifestyle choices. Lifelong patterns of poor eating, smoking, surgeries and medication, excessive stress and little exercise. Never before have we been so physically inactive, eaten so much processed food, spent so much time indoors, taken so many drugs, or exposed to a vast array of pollutants. I believe that our sedentary lifestyle ranks number one as a major cause of osteoporosis.

Physical activity builds bone at all ages and bone mass maintenance is a natural response to load placed upon the body (i.e. weight training). Exercise is absolutely essential for optimum bone development in the young, and without it aging bone regeneration is limited. Nutrition alone cannot bring about maximum peak bone mass or maintain optimum bone mass as we age. Exercise is not an option. If we build muscle, we build bone. Conversely, if we lose muscle, we lose bone. Skeletal strength correlates directly with total muscle mass, and individual bone strength generally correlates with the strength of the muscles. Women with stronger back muscles have stronger vertebrae and stronger hip bones. Less fit people have both less muscle mass and less bone mass just as they have less aerobic capacity. Weight training is a very effective way to build muscle mass. The more weight-bearing exercises yield greater bone benefits. Less strenuous activities like walking can help to maintain bone mass, but generally more vigorous activity is needed to actually build bone. All things being equal, the more strenuous the activity, the more bone built. Among women at menopause and beyond high intensity strength-training exercises done only twice a week over a year yielded detectable increases in spinal and hip density.

Start by developing a strong, comprehensive bone-building strength training program. There is never a good time to slack off. The exercise component should be regular and rigorous. If you do not currently exercise regularly, begin slowly and build up exercise time and endurance. However judging the adequacy of your personal exercise program is often difficult.

Here are 4 tips to improve your bone health:

1. Consistently exercise at least three times per week. Three times per week is a minimum to maintain bone density. If you can exercise more that 3 times per week, even smaller 10-15 minute sessions, you can add to your bone strength.

2. Exercise vigorously enough to increase aerobic capacity, as well as strength. You have to challenge the body in order for it to change. If the exercise you are currently performing is not challenging you, why would you expect your body to change and become stronger, leaner, or healthier?

3. Work your posterior (back side) with 3 exercises to every 1 (anterior side or front) exercise. Back extensor strength correlates well with spinal bone density. Example exercises would be pull-ups, lat pulldowns, bent over rows, squats and deadlifts, to name a few. Most people focus on the muscles they see when looking in the mirror, forgetting that the muscles on your backside support your body, spine, hips, and shoulders.

4. When beginning a strength training program one should seek professional guidance. We often see individuals start too fast with the intention of quick results, instead of focusing on long term fitness with a progressive program. Each one of us is an individual with different needs, goals, injuries, and challenges. Set yourself up for success with a plan to achieve your goals.

Finally, remember a house built on a weak foundation will not stand. Nowhere is this more true than in the area of your bone health. A strong foundation for lifelong healthy bones must be built in youth and maintained in adulthood. Exercise, together with proper nutrition, a life-supporting lifestyle, can help build and rebuild bone density at any stage of life. Hopefully, you are ready to commit yourself to making these healthy changes!

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8 Easy and Healthy Lifestyle Changes

Many people approach health with the all or nothing extremism that can potentially derail your attempt at making lifestyle changes. Start with gradual changes that can get you closer to your overall goals. Here are 8 changes you can implement to improve your health. Pick one and after you have been consistent for 3 weeks, then pick another one. Normally it takes 3 weeks for a habit to become a permanent behavioral change.

1. Kick up your exercise
2. Reduce your sugar intake
3. Drink more water
4. Decrease processed foods
5. Limit your intake of red meats
6. Manage your stress
7. Aim for 8 hours of sleep
8. Be kind to yourself

1. Kick up your exercise – According to the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine, we should be exercising 150 minutes per week. While this may sound like a lot of time, it equates to only 22 minutes per day. This includes strength training at least twice a week. Find an activity you enjoy and make this your routine. This could be a Zumba class, a CrossFit workout or an exercise program at home. The benefits of exercising are numerous and lead the way with increased longevity and vitality.

2. Reduce your sugar intake – The World Health Organization advises no more than 10% of your total calories should come from sugar. However in the last 30 years sugar consumption has increased by 30%. When you take into account drinks loaded with sugar, processed foods with excess sugar and sodium, or the availability of bakeries on every corner, it’s no wonder sugar consumption has increased to 22 teaspoons per day on the average.

3. Drink more water – Water is in every cell of our bodies. Our bodies are composed of 60-70% water. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, and decreasing immune functions. It can dry out your skin, hair and every area of the body. The human body can go 2-3 months without food, but can only go 2-3 days without water. Aim for half your body weight in ounces per day ( ex: 100lbs = 50 ounces). Instead of consuming beverages with high calories and sugar, drink water. Rule of thumb- don’t drink your calories.

4. Decrease processed foods – Processed foods have so much sugar, sodium, and artificial chemicals you can’t even pronounce. The nutrient value is extremely low compared to vegetables and fruits. One medium package of M & M’s equals approximately 500 calories whereas it would take 8 apples to get 500 calories. Staying away from junk food is a real challenge but in the long run will contribute greatly to your well-being.

5. Limit your intake of red meats – Limit your intake of red meats. According to the American Cancer Society a high intake of red meats is linked with prostate, breast, colon and other cancers. Going vegetarian for a few meals can help. Having a good source of lean proteins is important, but it’s not always necessary to get it from red meats.

6. Manage your stress – High levels can take it’s toll on the body and wreck havoc with your immune system, endocrine and hormonal systems and eventually lead to increased ability to store fat. Whether you take 5 minutes each morning to breathe deeply, do a yoga class or go for a walk out in nature, you need time to meditate and contemplate.

7. Aim for 8 hours of sleep – Not getting enough sleep is very stressful to the body. When sleeping your body is in recovery mode. It builds muscle, repairs and renews. If you are not getting 7-8 hours a night your body is unable to recover properly, which could lead to weight gain, illnesses or injuries. Exercising and healthy eating is a major contributor to sleeping well throughout the night. Keeping the room digital free, dark and cool also contributes to a good nights sleep.

8. Be kind to yourself – As humans we are always striving for perfection. When we hit below our goals we gravitate toward self deprecating behavior. We can become critical, engaging in negative self talk. We need to be kind to ourselves and accept setbacks not as failures but as opportunities to learn and re-evaluate. If you fell off the nutritional bandwagon, then allow yourself 3 days to regroup, then get back on track and start again. Lasting change takes time. Know that missteps are normal and forgivable.

The secret of a healthy lifestyle to getting in shape is really about how you will live in the future. The changes you make now will determine the quality of life you will have 10 years from today. Health and fitness isn’t about getting in shape in 21 days and then you are done. True health is about laying a foundation now for a quality life in the years yet to come.

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5 Exercises Women over 50 should be doing Every Week!

As we progress along the age line, and some of us transition hormonally, it is imperative to exercise and eat healthy to minimize the spread of our waistline, our decreasing metabolism, and thinning of our bones. By now we know we must strength train, but with the plethora of information bombarding us daily, it’s hard to discern what is valid and reliable information, versus what is spamming and discreditable.

Training women for over 30 years, and having firsthand experience with what is appropriate and safe for strength training, I’m going to give you my top 5 exercises every women should do on a weekly basis.
1. Deadlifts– These are a great compound movement that requires many postural muscles to activate. Women we tend to round forward as we age and this is due to a lack strength on our backside (hips, lats, rear delts and hamstrings). We also suffer lower back problems from many years of bending down and/or bad posture. To combat this we need to strengthen our back side, and deadlifts is the best way to address this area.
Goal: Deadlift your own bodyweight!
2. Pull-ups– Most women want to do a pull-up but traditionally lack the upper body, back and grip strength. Pull-ups addresses this issue perfectly while strengthening your lats, rear delts, rhomboids and a tremendous amount of core! Start with a Lat Pulldown machine if you are just beginning or perform assisted pull-ups using a machine. The preferred exercise is using a band to assist you and gradually work your way off the bands.
Goal: 10 pull-ups unassisted!
3. Planks on the Physio ball– These are traditional planks, but add another element to the equation by performing on the stability ball. Dr. Stuart McGill, World expert on lower backs, states that this is the single best core, lower back strengthening, and rotator cuff exercise to be done. Place your forearms on a Physio Ball and have your feet together while holding the plank position.
Goal: Make small circles with your shoulders (both directions) while planking, and do this for a total of 5 minutes!
4. Single Leg Reverse Lunge on the Val slide– Single leg work is of the utmost importance for women. If you have any differences between your limbs in strength or an asymmetry, this is a risk factor for an injury. Working single leg or arm will address any imbalances you may have and reduce your chances of getting hurt later. This exercise requires tremendous core strength, balance and agility, as well as hip and glut strength. This exercise gives you so much bang for your buck. Val slides will provide instability that forces additional supporting musculature to engage as you are performing the exercise.
Goal: Hold a 25lb dumbbell on the arm of the working leg!
5. Side Band Walking –A great exercise for working the hip abductors, and gluts. For women this area tends to very weak, which can lead to knee and back injuries. By walking with the band above your knees, you also work a lot of core (QL- for lower spine stabilizing). This exercise seems to be the weak link for most women, and when performed weekly can make a tremendous difference in hip and knee stability, which means less knee problems or lower back complaints. Start with walking side to side with the band located above the knee. There are different strength bands, so use what is appropriate for your level of strength.
Goal: Walk 4 steps to the side, 4 steps front, 4 steps to the other side, and 4 steps backwards forming a box for 4 minutes.
Our bodies change as we age and the need to maintain strength and stability will help ensure a more active and enjoyable later years. Many women want to travel and see the all of the beauty that this world has to offer, but so many are limited by their physical abilities later in life. While the exercises listed are not the easiest, they are the best exercises women should be performing. If you cannot perform these exercises now, it is a goal to work up to them. If you can perform some or all of them, then try to reach the goals listed. They will challenge you, but that is the only way that our bodies improve.
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Debunking the myths of women lifting weights!

When I started weight training in the late 1970’s there were all these stories I heard about women lifting weights. The sad thing is a lot of women still believe these myths today. I wonder who started these myths. Were they created to keep women from getting strong? Keep us out of the gym, and in the home? Well we may never know the origins of the myths but let me put them to rest for once and all.
Myth Number 1: Women will get big and bulky if they lift weights.
If you are strength training, you might gain muscle, but you need to eat healthy to look firm, toned, and have more muscle definition. Women do not have enough testosterone to naturally increase their muscle size to that seen in some magazines. Even most men who have 10-30 times more testosterone than women have a hard time increasing their muscle mass. With a proper strength training program women will get stronger, leaner and fitter, but not bigger or bulkier. The women you have seen in bodybuilding competitions, live in the gym training up to twice a day, and also most have supplemented with testosterone to increase their size. A woman will not look like a man as a result of lifting weights, period!
Myth Number 2: Women should be careful lifting too heavy.
How many times have I heard someone suggest to get the box for me because it’s too heavy for a women! Or are we too fragile and will get hurt if we lift something heavy? If you are new to lifting then you start off easy and slowly work yourself up to lifting heavier and heavier. If you slowly progress as with any other sport, you can build up strength and not get hurt. It’s absolutely absurd that women can’t lift heavy, we just need progression. Just recently a women (Stefanie Cohen) deadlifted 507lbs for 3 reps and she was only 125lbs. Now that is strong!
Myth Number 3: Women will get all the benefits they need from just doing aerobics classes or cardio machines.
Seriously! This was always the message for years. Unfortunately, many women still believe this ludicrous statement. Your body only adapts to the forces imposed upon it, in others words you will build up your heart muscle, but do nothing for your lean muscle mass. Nothing for increasing your metabolism in the long run. Nothing for adapting to different movement patterns. Nothing for your strength to lift kids, groceries or suitcases. Cardio use to be king, but now strength training is king, and cardio is queen. Now with properly developed strength training programs you can get the metabolic effects, the muscular strength and endurance, and if it’s designed correctly improve your mobility. Research has shown that total body resistance training enhances your total fitness profile by increasing strength in upper and lower body muscles and improving muscle performance, thereby increasing cardiovascular capacity way more than aerobics classes alone can do.
Myth Number 4: Women should do the exact same program as men.
Women have different builds than men, and men have a different distribution of lean body mass than women. Men have stronger upper bodies and leaner lower bodies, women have less musculature in their upper bodies and carry more body fat in our hips and stomach. Therefore, women do need different programs, and we have different goals than men. We don’t need to isolate our biceps or do bench press forever. But that doesn’t mean we need to lift lighter, easier weights. Women need a program designed specifically for them, taking into account their goals and needs, past injuries and limitations, and body composition (nutritional) challenges.
I have spent the last almost 40 years fighting against these myths, constantly educating women, and quietly demonstrating the benefits of lifting weights and lifting heavy! I have educated my students in college classes about these myths, hopefully empowering younger women to pursue strength training and any sport she desires. I have lectured to my older clients about the benefits of balance and strength training. I even lament to my mother in law about being strong and functional for all her upcoming trips. My motto has always been and will always be: be strong physically and you will be strong mentally. This is what has helped me throughout my life, #liftheavyweights #strongisthenewbeautiful

If you need help making changes to your health or have any questions or comments, please contact us.
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A woman’s history of weight training

I started weight training when I was 15 years old. My parents got me to join their gym in the late 70’s, which at the time had men days and women days. Women weren’t allowed to train with men. We had special weights for us, that were usually painted pink. Most of the women would do super high reps so we wouldn’t become masculine. At the time of joining the gym my father got me a trainer who luckily showed me how to lift with heavier weights such as doing squats and pull-ups. I even competed in a bodybuilding contest, that was more of a figure contest. I even won Ms Southwestern, received $300.00 in cash.

I enjoyed the weights for no other reason than it helped with my swimming. I had joined the swim team in the 10th grade, and the coach had the guys lifting weights. So I figured if this would help them get better at swimming, wouldn’t it help me get better and faster. Absolutely! I started winning all my events.

My collegiate undergrad years, women and men were allowed to train together (but women still lifted light weights), for fear of getting too muscular, looking like a guy, or lord forbid, losing your femininity. Women weren’t doing too much in the weight room in the eighties. You were seeing more women athletes, but not many. More women were doing aerobics, low and high impact. Women loved doing abs, but couldn’t do a push-up or were willing to try.

However I was used to lifting heavy, doing squats, pull-ups and bench press! My first boyfriend at UCSB even dumped me when I signed up for a weight training class. But it didn’t deter me from my passion of weights. I hired on at the local gym, taught weight training on the arsenal of machines, aerobics and began to take classes in kinesiology. I loved weights, and I loved the strength that it gave me, mentally and physically.

Upon graduation I applied at a tennis, swim and exercise club. In the early nineties women still didn’t lift weights, only super light for thousands of reps, still fearful of the same old myths. I don’t want to get big and bulky, I don’t want to lose my femininity or the weights would slow me down for my sports.

I started competing in Natural Bodybuilding contests. I thought this would be good to enhance my credibility as a personal trainer. But women were starting to take steroids. It was so obvious which women were taking them, they were highly muscular and very large. They would highlight these women in all the magazines at the time, perpetuating the myths that all women will look like these women on steroids, if you lifted weights. Believe me you cannot get that big or bulky unless you take steroids, period. Unfortunately it took many years before women began to realize this. And to this day a lot of older women still believe this myth! I did win Ms California and Ms Junior USA, which had more to do with my symmetry from swimming. I began personal training when only celebrities like Madonna had trainers. It was so frustrating to train women who wanted to look good, but so fearful of weights. Thank god for Linda Hamilton, in the movie Terminator, was shown doing pull-ups and looking lean. Women were slowly becoming more interested, even though I was constantly educating them of the benefits of weight training!

Since that time I realized that I couldn’t receive much creditably as a personal trainer with just my bodybuilding accolades, so I enrolled in Graduate school and received my Masters in Exercise Physiology. Even then I was asked to teach aerobics, where the men got asked to teach weight training, track or swimming. I became certified as Strength and Conditioning Specialist along with many other certifications to improve my knowledge of exercise. I went on to get a PhD in Nutrition because of the relentless questioning about how to lose weight, how to get leaner or how to reduce my belly fat!

If you fast forward, I am still training clients, educating women about the physical and mental benefits of being strong, doing 10 pull-ups and dead lifting greater than my own weight.

Weight training my whole life has kept me resilient to all the criticism about getting too big, too slow, too masculine or only dumb people lift weights. Weight training has allowed me to stay focused in the fitness industry where only men use to always tread. Weight training has allowed me to follow a lifelong passion of exercise, nutrition and wellness! Being able to walk into a weight room and lift more weight than the guy next to me, has always put a smile on my face!

Let me just say this to all women, it is imperative you get strong! Get strong for more functionality, get strong for better balance, get strong to travel all over world and feel great, get strong because being physically strong makes you mentally strong! Get strong because it keeps your metabolism high, get strong so you can be more resilient to change and get strong because it keeps your mood elevated! Get strong because you sleep better and get strong because then you are no longer invisible! Get strong because you need a voice and you need to be heard!

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