Warning: I will not be politically correct and focus on the ‘four foolproof steps to fitness’. No sirree! I see plenty of “fit” people at the gym that would probably dread putting on a bathing suit. This is about how to lose those extra pounds that are covering up those strong, toned muscles. Let’s not kid ourselves – are you happy being fit if you are significantly overweight??? Wouldn’t you want to look your best whether you are 16, 60, or anything in between? YOU CAN.
Four simple steps:
- USE YOUR BRAIN – This is the most important step to stay on track. Have you really decided that you want this? Can you visualize it? It all starts in your head, understanding why you want to get in better shape, why it is important to you, how it will make you feel, and how it could change or improve your life. It is your brain that will stop you from reaching for that bag of chips, it is your brain that will allow you to deliberately make the right choices when you are in a weak moment. But you must first DECIDE what you want and be committed to your goal. Are you? Like any other goal in life, change doesn’t happen overnight and it’s definitely not easy – but once you make up your mind there is a wonderful feeling knowing that you are in control!
- MAKE EXERCISE A HABIT – To boost your metabolism, to burn more calories, to be toned at any age: you must exercise on a regular basis. Make it a part of your life as natural as walking the dog, grocery shopping, brushing your teeth. Don’t decide day to day if you feel like it or not. No excuses! Just do it. I generally hit the gym six days a week, at 5:30am, with Peter. Believe me, a few years back I never thought I could go to the gym without having coffee first, but I tried it and it’s really not so bad. It’s actually good to get it out of the way and have our evenings free…and while it certainly is great to have a partner to go with, if Peter can’t go or I am away on business I still exercise. (See above pic, at gym in NYC while away on business) It has become a routine, one that I know contributes to staying in shape after 60.
- FIND AN EXERCISE ROUTINE YOU CAN TOLERATE – Maybe you like to run. Maybe you like Spin Class. Maybe you enjoy free weights. There are so many group class options as well as routines you can do yourself, just keep trying them until you find your niche. Truth be told, other than Zumba (which I no longer attend because of my work schedule) I really don’t ‘enjoy’ any exercise. What I do these days – what I can tolerate – is a combination of free weights and the elliptical machine. Weight training and aerobic are both important for different reasons, so good to have the variety. I look at the clock when I arrive, and probably every 5 minutes! (Is it over yet?) Squats, sit-ups, shoulder exercises, triceps, are all part of my routine. I get my heart rate up, I sweat, and I am done in 45minutes. Yay – coffee time!
- EAT LESS – Hugely important: What you put in your mouth matters more than what you do at the gym. While food options in grocery stores and restaurants are improving in terms of offering healthy choices, it is still very easy to overeat. Portions are often more than double than what you really should be having. Just because something is “healthy”, this does not mean it is low in calories or carbs. (Grain bowls!!) Salads are not all created equal – many salads are worse than having a cheeseburger! I firmly believe in enjoying what you eat, but always pay attention to portion and indulge selectively, not regularly. My favorite low-cal snacks: ‘Skinny Pop’ popcorn, edamame, and roasted shishito peppers!
Next month I will be hitting the beach in a bikini at the ripe old age of 60 – determined to look better than I did last year! In addition to the ‘four steps’ I have also been doing ‘dry January’, a first for me. The experience thus far has been quite surprising – stay tuned in early February for the full story and whether I made it through the whole month!