The prospect of “getting back into shape” often sounds like a daunting one.
Although I spent many years “training for life” and mountain bike racing, things changed when I hit my late 40’s. Gone are the days of taking “being fit”, for granted. Now it has become an effort to regain and retain fitness.
Where to begin?
Find some physical activity that you enjoy and DO IT!
1) Have goals!
I believe that having goals, ranging from short term to mid and long term are the key to success.
For example my daily goal is to stretch every day.
That may sound pretty easy, but unless I make a point of it, it is easy to make excuses not to!
My second daily goal, is to get some kind of exercise.
Depending on the schedule of my “mid or weekly” goals will determine what that level of activity might be.
My “long term” goal is an annual one, being fit for long hikes in steep terrain, ready for hunting season.
In the beginning of the year I began with daily walks within my immediate area, sticking to easier trails without many hills. Once I felt pretty good with the loop, I would speed it up, taking note of the time.
2) Keep a log!
I have kept a log for many years, stemming from my race training days.
I find that it helps to track my progress as well as my weaknesses. I use an excel spread sheet as it’s easy to add columns, easy to read and add pages to.
Below is an example:
3) Keep bumping up your goals!
The key to getting better, at anything is to bump up the goal once you’ve conquered the first one.
For example: Once I felt pretty comfortable with my “beginning” hiking loop, I started to add on extra segments, making the hike longer. Once I started to feel stronger, I added on a few hill climbs. The first couple of times it was difficult, my breathing was hard and my legs felt weak, and I had to stop once or twice during the climb. But perseverance prevails, and by the end of the month, I was able to almost run up the hills, then “rest” backing off to a walking pace at the top.
Once my stamina and legs got stronger, I got on my mountain bike, and once more, started with an easy loop, extending that loop when I felt I was decreasing the time enough (I strap my heart rate monitor or watch with a timer onto my handlebars), then added hill climbs.
It has taken me about 2 months, where I have now added more distance (three times) and added an extra hill climb (twice) onto the original bike loop.
The next step:
In the beginning of this month I hiked a moderately steep trail, though a longer one, taking time to recover before I took on a much steeper, though shorter trail the following week. My “days off” might include a short walk or short bike ride pending how my body feels.
4) Listen to your body!
When I was younger, my motto was “no pain no gain”, to the extreme!
Today having mellowed in my years, my motto has also mellowed. I will push but not to the extent that I won’t be able to exercise for the rest of the week, or too hard and cause injury to myself or just totally emptying the tank causing me to take too much time off to recover and start from scratch again.
My new motto is:
“ Ride to ride another day!”
(Or “ hike to hike another day”, or whatever…)
5) Rest and Recover!
In the past I was able to sustain a high level of energy for an unlimited amount of time… years to tell you the truth! These days I realize that it is so important to rest and recover. Take a day off to recover from an endurance day, but do not fall into the trap of letting that day last a week! If you leave exercise out from your schedule too long, it will be harder to start again.
6) Eat healthily!
I have put this at #6, but really it should be at the very top of the list.
If you start out with a healthily fed body, it makes everything else easier.
I have lived by this motto ever since I can remember:
“You are what you eat”.
Refrain from eating processed foods!
I suppose everyone has their own idea of what healthy eating is. In the past when I was training, I was pretty much a vegan. I didn’t eat anything processed, no sugar nor fats, no white flour, no alcohol, no caffeine. I had extremely low body fat to the point where some of my peers thought I was ill, though I was also extremely strong and had a very high endurance level.
Living like that though made it pretty much impossible to eat out or enjoy a dinner party.
I had spent a huge portion of my life in the “training for life” mode, but now I have decided it’s time to not feel guilty about having a beer in the evening, or indulge once in awhile with a baked goodie.
In saying that, there are ways you can “have your cake and eat it too” so to speak, in making informed choices!
*Make good choices!
It’s summer time, and it’s nice to have a cold bevy at the end of the day.
Instead of store bought ice cream, I make frozen fruit sorbets. ( See recipes for more info!)
I have a garden for fresh veggies, many which I harvest in the fall and freeze for winter use. I choose veggies with the most health benefits, such as kale, beets, & spinach.
I am part of our local “gleaners list”, a group who is called upon during fruit season, to pick “unwanted” fruit within our community. Last year, I picked several hundred pounds of apricots and spent a week canning. (Sugar free and thickened with ground chia seed!)
I hunt for “free-range, all organic, all natural” meat, and purchase some local all naturally cured pork from a local farmer.
In this blog, I will continue to post about foods that I have researched as being “above average” in the health benefits area, and will also post some recipes which include those foods. I hope that you will find some of this information useful. Please feel free to forward any questions or comments, or information you wish to share.