Guest Post, Dr. W on How to Stay Fit as We Age
Practical ideas for fitness as we age by Dr. Sven W., MD
It stares you in the face. You stand in front of that mirror and you realize, it is bigger than you are. That button on your pants won’t budge and is tighter than it ever was.
No question about it. Sure the pants came out of the wash and that’s the explanation. That isn’t it. That waistline is wider.
I exercise like the experts recommend, five times a week, minimum 30 minutes, and usually closer to 60. I spin, I run, I ellipticise. Sometimes, I think those pedals are going to fall off that spin bike but I do not lose any weight. In fact the opposite, I have gained on that regimen.
I get asked this question by clients and patients and worse, I see it on myself. I have been a spin instructor for years and am witness to the phenomena that despite daily and weekly exercise efforts hardly anyone loses weight. Those Lululemons keep their stretch.
This exercise “dilemma” has been addressed by physiologists and kinesiologists a lot smarter than me and yes there are answers. Some are complex. However, the new mantra is that exercise is great for fitness, agility, depression and anxiety but NOT for weight loss. Let’s see if we can break it down into logical terms and then see what can do about it.
You spend 55 minutes on that bike, literally pedaling your heart out. Calories expended according to the meter 650. Reached 14 METS. Heart rate 80-90% max for 30 minutes. Mission accomplished. Fit as Tom Cruise. So what do you do? You make that simple calculation that I now can allow myself 600 calories and keep the change. Right? We all do it.
First, those calculations dreamed up by the manufacturers of bikes and treadmills are way off, anywhere from 50-100%. They were calculated in the ideal on some type of logarithm that only the designer understood. Hey! That cannot be. The company swears by it. Sure so you will keep buying and using their machines.
So you order that bagel with low fat cream cheese (scooped of course). Next problem is how exact is that calorie counter for bagel and spread? Would you ever buy it, if you really knew what it is worth?
And worse, even though you are intent on only half that sesame, poppy, everything crescent, you convince yourself that working so hard deserves a couple of bites from the other half. Just a smidgeon. Why? Because exercise stimulate appetite. It turns on all sorts of chemical signals that bombard your brain and peripheral muscles with the message. Reward yourself! Reward yourself for that effort with a little plus. You cannot “help” it. Those triggers and signals are already set in motion when you walk off that treadmill. Then you have to deal with that psychological siren that screams, “you deserve it all for working so hard”. Days and weeks go by and that button gets harder to close.
Anything I can do about it?
Recent studies have shown that if you make a change in the makeup of that reward you can lose weight. Most of us have that craving for carbs after that work out. They make up 60-70% of that meal or snack, with fat and protein falling behind. If we can reverse those ratios, increase fat content (will make you feel fuller) and increase that protein significantly (may even add some muscle mass) you will lose those extra pounds and breathe easier.
How can I do it?
Get basic tips from the trainers in the gym. Consult a nutritionist, ask your doctor for a referral to a competent dietitian or from a good diet guide and see the difference.
- Eat at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, daily. Choose lean high-quality proteins like egg whites, poultry, lean red meat and protein supplements.
- Keep your carbohydrates low to moderate when trying to lose weight. Good, fiber-rich carbs include oats and whole-grain bread.
- Drink at least a gallon of water per day.
- Have some fats in your diet. Drink 3% milk instead of 1%. Same with cottage cheese. Have olive oil on a salad instead of diet, low fat dressing. You will feel fuller.
You will always have that drive to eat after exercise. But let’s do it smarter. Remember those triggers are already in place. Let’s learn to work hard but stack the system in your favor.
You can do it.
Next time we will talk about what to do before that exercise class. What to eat and drink?
Praise the Lord for the gift of dark chocolate especially before exercise.