To follow up with my previous post on what I eat, here is a bit of my exercise history and the lowdown on how I stay fit these days. Keep in mind that I exercise for muscle strength, body composition, endurance and mobility. But mostly for enjoyment and to enhance my appearance!
I do NOT exercise to lose weight.
Though I was active as a child and hiked a lot in my twenties, I never formally “exercised ” until I was 28. I started working out in a gym to support a morbidly obese friend (how sad that we both thought exercise would help her to lose weight!) and became addicted to working out. My life was feeling pretty chaotic at the time and the gym was the one place where I felt like I had some control. Not a bad thing, but ultimately not sustainable.
I started out at two days a week, and six years later, I was at the gym 6 days a week; 45 min of StairMaster or elliptical and 45 min of weight training, alternating lower and upper body. While I definitely built some muscle and endurance, I also started having niggling knees problems (too much stairmaster!) and shoulder twinges.
Fortunately, I moved to rural Scotland and didn’t have a car! The nearest gym was 20 min drive away and my gym buddy would only go twice a week, sometimes only once. I decided to get some dumbbells and did an abbreviated workout at home and lots of walking/biking around the village where I lived. Interestingly, I didn’t lose any fitness, but my niggling pains went away. In fact, I felt better and had more energy by working out less.
During this time, I became a personal trainer (age 36) and started working with clients in my small community. Without access to a gym, I taught stretching classes and bodyweight resistance classes. My clients were invaluable in teaching me that exercise regimes needed to match the client’s goals and lifestyle; it wasn’t my job to help them try to look like some idealized athlete.
Fast forward to now. At 50, I need a fitness plan that allows me to hike, bike and dance easily, as well as play with our active doggie and my sweet husband. I don’t need huge muscles or lots of endurance, but I do want to look good in a slinky dress (and naked!) Most of all, I want to spend the minimal amount of time to maintain this precious body of mine–a body that needs to keep on feeling good and moving easily for at least another 50 years!
What I do:
Daily: 1-2 hours of gently walking the greenbelt/hiking in the hills/biking around town. I focus on enjoyment and duration, not speed.
Weekly: One, 15-20 min session of free weight and bodyweight training at home, in my bedroom. I do a version of this workout.
Monthly: 1-2 hours of barefoot freestyle dancing.
I have been able to regain the muscle mass I lost when I was recently unable to exercise for a few months, (due to an elbow injury.) I am able to do all the activities I like with ease. As I drop my last few pounds of excess body fat, I can see my muscles, am unveiling my abs and am close to rocking that slinky dress. Give me another month or two & I will post some pics! In the meantime, my measurements are 35-26-36 at 5’6″.
Because I am not doing hours of cardio, I am not overstressing my joints or spiking my cortisol, so dropping my belly fat is easier.
Again, what works for me is matching my exercise to my goals. You can do the same!
Let me know if I can support you in your fitness journey. I offer Skype sessions anywhere in the world. You can contact me here.