Ahhh exercise – you and I have a tumultuous past. Actually, who am I kidding? I never exercised in my youth. It was more non-existent vs tumultuous.
I was always around 110 lbs, but never with any muscle. I didn’t exercise. Unless you count cheerleading in high school – but far from competitive cheerleading now. Maybe I did a cartwheel? And a round off? For sure the splits. All cheerleaders in the 80’s could do the splits, right?
That was the extent of my athletics and the extent of my exercise.
In my late 30’s, I finally decided to get into shape. I was learning how to live without smoking so I had to do something positive rather substitute smoking with food (which many people do)! I actually started jogging. This exercise thing felt great!
In comes illness in my early 40’s – 3 years of it. My daughter, then me, then my husband. That darn snowball effect. Exercise had to take a back seat while I dealt with all this sickness, but I did do yoga!
After I had my thyroid removed in 2011, I needed to recover before I could get a good exercise program together. Learning to live without a thyroid took a bit of time. And on top of that, my weight went up and down like a yo yo. Actually, it did that for many years in my 30’s before I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I could never understand why, seeing as I was always a consistent weight before the birth of my second child. That piece will be left for another blog…lack of health self-awareness is what I had back then.
Eventually, I joined a Pilates studio, and continued with some yoga. I was feeling pretty great. Then I injured my achilles tendon and that was it for another stint while I recovered from that.
So here I am now. Just turned 50, and it’s coming up to 2 years since I’ve been working with a personal trainer at a private gym. I am a different person now as it relates to exercise. I am strong AF. This actually has very little to do with my weight. Maybe it allows me to take in more food without weight gain. But, at this point in my life it is pretty much mostly diet and my medications that control my weight. The exercise makes me feel great both mentally, and of course, physically. My primary goal with exercise is to build some muscle before menopause and look and feel great in my clothes!
I work with a trainer that knows my body. She knows my age. She knows my health history and she knows what to do to help me achieve my goals. We work together 2 days a week for now, but I work really hard those 2 days. I have struggled with adrenal fatigue (at some points pretty severe) ever since I had my second child, so I am cognizant of this, and don’t overwork myself to stress my adrenal glands. Don’t use this as an excuse. Women with adrenal fatigue can still exercise, but you have to be smart about it.
What have I learned? That you HAVE to move beyond 40. I am not talking about just walking; and even power walking isn’t enough. I am saying you HAVE to challenge yourself whatever that movement might be. Walking is great, but you need more after 40. Walking my dog is an adjunct to my exercise program that is more challenging (and my dog walks FAST). If you don’t move, like really move, after 40 and especially by 50, things will start to “crack”. Bones will ache; movement will be tougher. Bones will become brittle. For women, once that estrogen significantly lowers after menopause, there are other risks if you don’t move including heart disease.
According to the World Health Organization:
“Sedentary lifestyles increase all causes of mortality, double the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity, and increase the risks of colon cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, lipid disorders, depression and anxiety.”
I’m not trying to scare you into exercising, and by all means personal training might not be for everyone. What I am saying is that you must challenge yourself to feel good and balanced later in life. Our bodies are designed to move. A sedentary life is a life where you can expect problems. Move. Just move. And feel that resistance. Feel that it ain’t easy like Sunday morning and you’ll know that you’re doing your body good.