Let’s face it, the past few years haven’t been easy for many of us. We all found ourselves suddenly in circumstances way beyond our control. Everything got canceled; our entire way of life was disrupted. For some of us it was very difficult; others fared well. Fitness for many of us, declined. Add in aging, for many of us, it was the perfect storm. So what might fitness look like now?
Step 1: Show up
You have to show up. It won’t happen if you don’t get there- wherever that might be. For me, my favorite fitness is CrossFit and I can argue why! It’s functional, it’s designed to use all three metabolic pathways and is constantly varied, so it works. However, if I don’t go- I don’t do the workouts, obviously it won’t work. Additionally, there are so many studies that show how good weight lifting is, especially for aging women and bone health in the shadow of declining hormones.
Step 2: Be humble and safe
Make sure you get the stimulus of the workout. We are not all CrossFit-Games-type competitors. Some are and the coaches know. But, if you’re like me, you aren’t. Guess what? That’s okay! You can get the same result by listening to your body and your coaches. There’s no trophy for doing a workout prescribed if you risk injury or illness. Your coaches can scale and modify any given workout so you get the exact stimulus as even an RX or RX+ athlete. It’s okay.
Step 3: Be diligent in your own health care
As we age there are changes that happen. It is often hard to accept. My perspective on aging, especially as a woman, is not for the faint of heart. Make sure you do the things necessary to take care of yourself outside the gym. That may mean Physical Therapy to deal with bone, joint, muscle issues. It might mean making appointments with specialists or your family doctor. For some, maybe it’s counseling to deal with all these crazy changes. CrossFit is such a great community. You will be supported. It’s not like some of those big impersonal globo gyms; people care. Other athletes are happy to see you work and will support you! Be your own advocate.
Step 4: Eat well
Ah, our modern diet has been the demise and undoing of so much of our fitness. Did you know most of “fitness” and creating a healthy body happens in the kitchen? In the CrossFit Level One courses we learn a little about nutrition. It’s simple. Shop the perimeter of the store vs. the aisles. Get fresh fruits and veggies, good quality proteins, and GOOD fats from nuts and seeds. Avoid sugars and processed foods- It seems easy, but we are tired and busy and therefore susceptible. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of quick dinners and take out. We may need to seek help in adjusting the percentages of our macros and calorie intake. Go to a nutritionist and speak with your coaches.
Step 5: Sleep
A lot happens when you sleep, such as your body repairs, restores and rests itself. Allow yourself to unwind. Consider the effect of blue light (phones, tablets, tv’s, etc) There’s no award for overworking and not getting adequate rest. Us older athletes may need more sleep. (I do) We May find that our engines are slower- like an old classic car vs. a brand new mustang. It’s also okay; it’s necessary. Listen to your body.
Step 6: Hydrate.
Water. There’s no substitution for H2O. Your body is mostly water, so drinking water is imperative. Fad diets will recommend different amounts, but I’ve had most success with 1/2 my body weight in ounces. There are many long term health benefits to staying hydrated. Drink your water!
PS: it’s good for your skin too!
I hope to see you in the gym. In the end it boils down to maintaining our independence and overall health. We want to be able to reach, stand and sit independently as we age. So let’s age gracefully and athletically. Show up. Be humble. Be diligent. Eat Well. Rest. Hydrate