Anti-aging has become a really hot topic the last decade and everyone (especially us baby boomers) is trying to figure out how to age better than previous generations have. We want to look, act, and feel young, don’t we? I sure do!
This is one of those subjects that is near and dear to my heart and since I have had questions and suggestions over the years about sharing my fitness routine with all of you, I am finally going to do that. Since working out has been a big part of my lifestyle over the years, I’ll start at the beginning. When I turned 25, I decided that since I was young and my body was as good as it was going to be naturally, I knew that I needed to take care of it, so I made it a point to join a gym and started working out. That began my fitness journey, which I’ve never stopped to this day. So, just for the record, I have been working out for over 30 years, so a big part of my anti-aging secret is just that. Time and commitment to working out will take you very far over the years. I’m comfortable hanging out in gyms and they are familiar to me.
Now, in case you think that I think I’m all that, I don’t have a perfect body, far from it. I’ve never been happy with everything about the way I look (you either, huh?). I’ll tell you what I don’t like since we’re talking: All the women in my family have bird legs, thanks to my dad’s side of the family. If we all lined up next to my dad, you would see where we got our legs from. I also have cellulite and a tendency towards saddle bags, thanks to the ample child-bearing hips from my mom’s side of the family. Oh, and buxom, I am not. My sister got mine and hers too, so these are the things I would have changed, given the choice. But, overall it could be worse!
I think we all have things we’d love to change, but, for the most part, I’m good with how I look and how God made me. Good thing, we can’t change the basics, can we? I do think there is a lot we can do though to stay in shape and age gracefully. That’s always been my goal, to age gracefully. I will also tell you that I’ve never had a weight problem (don’t hate me!). I know so many women do and I totally feel for you. I have friends who have struggled with their weight their entire life and I can’t imagine how hard that must be. I was blessed with good genes, but I do think that working out for many years has contributed to my high metabolism. I am 5’8” tall and the most I’ve ever weighed is 140. Right now, I’m right at 125, which is the lowest I need to be. I usually stay around 130. I know how fortunate I am, believe me. I thank God for good genes from my parents, since weight problems are not something I’ve had to deal with in life.
Getting older is not easy, as we all know. Things start sagging and drooping and you look in the mirror and say, who is this person and where did she come from? The lines and wrinkles are there, the jawline gets slacker (ouch that’s hard to watch!). Hate how aging affects my face and body, but what are you gonna do? We all have to deal with it.
At 56, I feel pretty good about myself and I know the 50’s are to someone 70, like a late 30’s person is to me. We look back 10 to 20 years and see how young that age was, even though we didn’t think so at the time. Age is a relative thing. We all have to make that leap to the next decade and it’s not exactly a fun process. I dread those birthdays ending in 0, because I know I’ve just reach another big milestone. But, as “they” say, it’s better than the alternative.
So, how do we stay in shape as we get older?
There are so many ideas out there, but I’m going to share what I’ve done over the years with you and maybe it will give some of you the inspiration to just get up and get moving. I totally believe that moving and staying active is the key to aging gracefully. If you don’t move, you’ll lose momentum and burning calories and staying active is the biggest age fighter there is. Sit all day and you’ll feel sluggish and tired. Get up and move and you’ll have more energy. At least it has worked that way for me. And the more I work out, the more I want to keep working out. It works, people, it just does! Just look at my parents. They are a great testimony to not sitting down and totally staying active after retirement. They are so much better for it at their age now and that’s a huge part of why they are in such good shape. They’ve never been to the gym in their life, but just staying active will do the same thing.
One of the best things I do is walking outside. It’s fun, gets you outdoors and you can do it with a friend.
One of my best friends, Vicki, and I walk fairly often at a local park nearby. It’s a great way to get outside, catch up on what is going on in each others lives and it’s almost like a therapy session. Win-win all around!
This is a great little park in Kennesaw with a one mile walking track that goes through the woods. We usually do 3 miles and it takes about an hour, walking and talking. I also have Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield park really close to my house and I love going over there and walking and hiking up the mountain. I’ve been going there for years and it’s a great place to hang out and get exercise. We are very fortunate in this area to have some wonderful parks to enjoy.
As I mentioned, I’ve been a gym member since I was 25 and have only taken off a year or 2 from a gym in all that time. I didn’t join a gym right away when I came back home to Atlanta, but waited until I knew where I’d live before committing, but once I had my house, I found a gym not too far away. Gyms are great for having all the resources you need to stay in shape: Weight machines, free weights, and cardio equipment. I use them all and have my own little routine. I don’t lift heavy weights, but just concentrate on doing upper body and lower body exercises that keep me toned. Many women are intimidated by gyms and working out around men. It doesn’t bother me a bit, since I’ve been doing it for so long.
Lifting weights is one of the best ways to change your body that I think every woman needs to consider. It really tones up those muscles and I’ve been lifting weights for over 30 years too. You don’t have to lift heavy weights at all! I really love free weights more for toning arms, that has been what I’ve used for the most part to get my arms in shape and keep them in shape. Let me just say, I’m a little bit of a snob when it comes to toned arms. I just have a thing for nice toned arms and have vowed to keep mine in shape. I can’t stand that flabby flapping in the breeze skin that hangs down under the arms and so that is one of those things that I have to do for myself. Arms are my thing, what can I say! I want to be able to keep wearing sleeveless clothing without wanting to hide my arms. Many women think if they work out with weights, they will get bulky muscles. Not true at all! It takes a ton of working out just to get toned. You will not get huge muscles!
Here’s a good breakdown of upper body exercises I found online, so take a look at these if you are interested in getting started. I don’t do all of these, but some of them. There are tons of websites online that you can look at for so many different weight training exercises. Here’s another website with some good upper body exercises.
Here are the main things I do for my upper body/arms and these are old school weight routines. I usually do 3 sets of 10 for each exercise:
Bicep curls (15 lb. free weights or 30 lb. barbell)
Tricep extensions (5 lb. weights) or 20 lb. bar for triceps (skull crushers)
Lateral raises (5 lb. weights) I do front and side moves on this
Chest Press (30 lb. bar)
Back extension (weight machine, about 50 lbs.)
Shoulder press (10 lb weights straight up and down)
Weight machines are also good for toning and I do several of these for legs. There are many to choose from so I’d suggest if you join a gym, get one of the trainers to show you how to properly use the machines. They all do great things for toning your body.
For legs I do several leg machines: Quad extension, hamstring, inner and outer thigh and I also do 2 sets of lunges across the gym and back to help tone the legs.
You don’t have to join a gym either, there are many things you can do at home to work muscles, like push-ups, sit-ups, squats, that just use your own body weight to tone, so don’t use the lack of a gym as an excuse NOT to work out.
There are so many ways to workout these days. My sister and brother-in-law do Crossfit, as do my niece and her hubby, which is a great workout routine that isn’t boring. It’s cross training exercises, with high intensity training and they don’t do typical weight lifting, although weights are used some. It’s more of an all over workout using all muscle groups and they change it up every day for something new. Lots of situps and pushups, burpees, and sprints, pull-ups, and so many things that keep them fit. I’ve been to Crossfit a few times and it’s fun and hard, but more expensive than I want to pay, so I just stick to my traditional gym routine.
It doesn’t matter what all you do, it’s just a matter of doing something…get moving!
Get up and move and burn those calories. Diet is important too. I really try to eat healthy for the most part and many days I do. My sweet tooth gets me in trouble and I can’t pass up sweet treats, so I usually don’t keep a lot at my house to tempt me. I get plenty when I go to my parents to eat, they have the sweets around all the time.
My routine is usually getting to the gym about 3 times a week. I do my weights and try to do about 20 minutes of cardio, which isn’t a lot, but I am not trying to lose weight, so that seems to be enough for me. I hear new things all the time about how much cardio to do and how many days a week to workout. I think everyone has to find their own comfort zone with a workout routine, so find your sweet spot and stick with it. I try to do something 3 to 4 days a week. I walk outside too when I can and get to the gym about 3 times for weights. There are also high energy DVD’s that many of my friends do, like the 30 day Shred. I have never tried it, but it would probably kick my butt.
Not to mention, renovating a house will burn some calories! That kicked my butt last summer, so this summer is a little easier.
I’m probably most proud of my arms and I sort of enjoy showing them off in sleeveless clothes. I’ve worked 30 years for these guns and I’m happy to have them! I have found too that even when I wasn’t hitting the weights for a year or so that my muscles kept their memory and came right back when I got back to working them out again.
I really hope this helps motivate some of you to get out there and exercise. It really is another of my passions and I can’t imagine not doing anything. No, I don’t always feel like going to the gym or walking, but most of the time I just do it anyway and I always feel better for it. Having a fit body is worth working for and I’m so thankful to be able to get up and move and stay in shape. I hope to hit 60 gracefully in a few years and not miss a beat. Sure, I don’t have as much energy as I did when I was 35 or 40, but I just keep going with the energy I do have. That’s a lifetime goal of mine, to keep on aging gracefully.
And I want to tell you that it’s never too late to get started! Even if you’ve never worked out in your life, don’t let that stop you. Get up and do something!!
How about you? Are you trying to stay in shape and do you have a regular exercise routine? Tell me about it in the comments! I’d love to keep this conversation going and hopefully do more posts on Health and Fitness, since that is something that we all have an interest in.
Remodeling a house is one thing, but I want to keep on remodeling myself too!