By Guest Blogger Paula Jager, CSCS
The jury is in. From my 10 week experiment to see whether the 11 pounds of fat I had gained over the winter was the result of aging and being post menopausal or lifestyle I have to say that while many factors will influence it- lifestyle rules.
I exceeded my goal of 115 lbs and 12% body fat. Final weigh in was 113.5 lbs and 12.1% body fat. Let me say that while this is a bit of an extreme it was something I chose to do because I competed in fitness for a number of years and wanted to see if I could achieve a similar look at 51 years of age. I only wish I knew in my competitive years what I now know about nutrition and exercise. This was achievable with very little sacrifice. But isn’t that usually the irony of youth?
In my particular case I was simply eating too much. Did I keep track of calories? Yes, I needed to see where I was in order to know what to change–what to adjust. Will I spend the rest of my summer calculating macronutrient ratios on Fit Day? No, but I have an excellent idea now of what a reasonable portion is. Enough food to sustain activity and fulfill satiety but not to the point of gluttony; there’s a fine line there. And if I find myself overindulging and packing the pounds back on I will revisit that process for a week or so to rein my self in otherwise we will get out of control again. It’s an educational tool to be used appropriately.
Did I exercise? Of course I did; I would be in soft and sorry shape if I didn’t lift heavy things and move on a regular basis not to mention unhealthy and moody. But I do so in a hormonally intelligent manner. If anyone thinks they can eat as much as they want–even of the right foods and not exercise without ill effects they are delusional. Traditional man ate reasonable portions of the right foods or maybe a little more when it was available and less when it was scarce. One thing he didn’t do was sit all the time. He moved a lot–everyday; he would lift heavy objects, chase wild game, at times run for his life and not at the pace seen by many plodding on a treadmill in an air conditioned gym. His efforts were short and intense not mild and excessive.
Did my body react differently than it did at 25 or 35? Yes it did; I was somewhat unhealthy at that age but the only thing I had to do to get lean was stop eating candy at night for a couple of weeks. Well, not quite that easy now but common sense would expect that. It requires a little more effort at this age, a little more discipline, you can’t get away with as much anymore–life takes a cumulative toll on the body and the skin is not as forgiving or quite as smooth and taut. I’m not one to dabble in cosmetic surgery or toxic botox for the purpose of trying to preserve youth. Not for me; it is what it is and I accept the fact that I will never, ever look 25 again. I will however look, feel and be the healthiest and best I can be at whatever age I am. I am thankful that life has been as gracious and forgiving as it has to me.
Calories and activity are only a part of the equation along with genetics, age, gender and metabolic individuality. Certain people are faced with medical challenges that others are not and these things will make this process different for what each individual is able to achieve but in general and for most people. . .
The verdict stands: if you want to look and feel your best and be your healthiest at any age–eat right and move your arse.
So what now? Maintenance. I will settle in at what I consider my set point weight / body fat–around 115 and 15%. I will eat reasonable portions of the right foods, continue to exercise, get enough quality sleep, expose myself to sunlight on a regular basis, spend time with nature, family and friends and indulge in reasonable ways.
And now it’s time for a well deserved indulgence with my hubby on our anniversary. Our favorite: about a 6 oz portion of a grass fed bone in ribeye, 4 oz white potato w/ 2 tsp raw butter, fresh green salad with homemade dressing and I think the ice cream maker just stopped. A sensible portion of vanilla made with raw cream, farm fresh yolks and maple syrup. Every night? No, maybe once a week. IMO, maintenance is living with the 80/20 rule. Part of life is letting go and enjoying food centered times with family, friends and lovers. It has to be sustainable in order to work and work well long term. Life is good.
Paula Jager CSCS and Level 1 CrossFit and CF Nutrition Certified is the owner of CrossFit Jaguar.
Her exercise and nutrition programs yield life changing results