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Middle Age Crazed

 

Does this scenario look familiar? 

You were a stud/babe in your early 20s. Pumping iron and/or jogging three miles daily yielded six pack abs and firm, toned forms. You were a fanatic about what you ate, although you did drink too much, but hey, you were 25! 

The years rolled by and now your children are studs/babes in their early 20s -- and even more fanatic than you were about pumping iron and jogging three miles every day. (These kids aren't drinking!) Unlike your couch potato peers, you exercised steely control and stuck to your healthy low sugar, low fat, lots of fruits and veggies diet. 

The kids grew up but you grew out. How did that happen? 

Welcome to middle age. It's almost impossible to avoid the extra avoirdupois as you start having multiple 29th birthdays. Aging is cruel in all forms. For me, it is most cruel in the weight loss arena. 

Here's the problem: Older people burn fewer calories because your metabolism naturally slows down as you grow older. 

One solution is to eat less than you did when you were 20. How much less? Nutritionists at Tufts University in Boston calculate we fossils must eat 100 fewer calories a day per decade to continue to enjoy our 20 year old silhouette. (That's 100 fewer calories in your 30's, 200 fewer in your 40's, 300 fewer in your 50's, etc.) 

Or, you can work out harder, aerobically burning more calories. But this tack is just as daunting. 

Here's the ugly reality, based on research by Paul Williams, PhD at the University of California. He studied the height and weight records of about 5,000 runners between the ages of 18 and 49. His computer program calculated that for a man to prevent gaining one ounce from his 20th birthday to his 50th, he would have to increase his running distance by 1.4 miles EVERY WEEK. That's a total of 14 extra miles a week every 10 years! 

Let me do the math. At 18, this man looked great jogging 3 miles 4 times a week, for a total of 12 miles. By his late 40's he would have to run 54 miles a week to maintain the same weight. 

How about working out differently? Weight training can tip the scale in your favor. 

One of the reasons metabolism slows as the years go by is that we naturally lose mucle. Humans lose almost 30 percent of their muscle tone between age 20 and 70.  

Muscle cells -- the mitochondria, to be exact -- are the locale where the body turns fat into energy. This is really valuable real estate if weight loss is your goal. 

Weight lifting, of course, builds muscle, no matter what your age. Tufts University researchers report weight lifting twice a week for 40 minutes can increase your basal metabolic rate by 10 to 15 percent. 

You can buy free weights or join a gym for the resistance machines. Many health clubs are now offering weight lifting classes as part of their aerobic line up. At Bally's I teach a class called power pump, which uses barbells. We work each muscle group 4 minutes straight using a variety of counts (2-2; 3-1; pulse, etc.) There's a one minute break between each muscle group. (I'm a certified AFAA aerobics instructor.) 

When I use free weights, I like to do three sets in a pattern developed with great success by friend and customer Jim Warren of Portland, Oregon. The first set I use lightish weights, like 5 pounds. Then I do the exact same movements using 10 pound weights. Then I go back to the 5 pound weights for the third set. The real muscle building takes place during this third set, when those 5 pound weights feel a lot heavier than they did during the first set! 

Of course, weight lifting will only mitigate some of the ravages of time. No matter what you do, the only people who look 20 are the kids who are. However, you can feel better about your health when you get on the scale and still see the needle inching up. 

Muscle weighs more than fat, so scale weight becomes an inaccurate measure of success. Look in the mirror instead. Try to slip on those pants shoved to the back of the closet. The button will tell if you've made progress. 

P.S. Weight lifting also improves mood and is the best way to fight osteoporosis. 


Freud once said ignorance is no excuse for dumb behavior. In the Meltdown interpretation of those words, ignorance is a choice we make to prevent ourselves from making difficult changes in our lives even though we really know better. Now you have no excuse not to get healthy!  


"How long will it take to get thin?"
A.A. Milne in “Winnie The Pooh”

 

This matter is copyrighted. That means you have the right to copy it ... as long as you credit me and/or Meltdown International Inc.. Let’s educate the world!!!

 

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