When I was younger, I was consumed by workout regimens. I trained like I was obsessed, but that isn’t how I am now. Today, I’m a reasonably healthy 50-year-old woman who prefers to hike, practice yoga, jog, and ride my horse through the back woods of the Key Peninsula in Puget Sound, Washington. I believe that walking, hiking, biking, swimming, and any other low impact activities are the best choices for people who are overweight, recovering from an injury, or are older adults in need of more exercise.
When I was admitted into a treatment facility for drug abuse and alcoholism, I immediately began to participate in the weekly yoga classes that were offered there. It wasn’t long before I experienced the benefits that yoga offered me. When I returned home, I continued to practice yoga regularly because it relaxes me, forces me to focus on my body and my breathing, has rewarded my muscles with greater flexibility and helps build core strength. Yoga has also relieved physical pain caused by injuries in my past and the onset of the aging process.
When I was dismissed from the facility, I was ordered to report to a bail bondsman who attached an alcohol sensory bracelet to my right ankle. I was ordered to spend the next six months on house arrest instead of reporting to jail. This worked out really well for me because the bracelet allowed me to remain on my five acres where I kept my horses. I have a track in my backyard that is the size of a football field. It is there that I continued to hike round and round, three times a day, after each meal I ate. After my weight began to drop, I started to jog the track with my dogs. I also could ride my horses around the track, so I did that too. I made the most of my house arrest! Today, I make the most of each opportunity I’m given.
In the winter when it’s wet and cold outside, I go to a health club and workout with light weights. I walk on the treadmill too, even though I find it to be terribly boring. I find that I’d much rather spend my free time enjoying nature and the outdoors. I’ve also noticed that as I’ve become more mature and grown in my wisdom, that I prefer to participate in activities that bring me satisfaction physically, but also feed my spirit.
It would be my recommendation that you find activities you enjoy and do them regularly, even if it’s only for a short while at a time each day. The important thing is that you are consistent and don’t give up. As I’ve aged, I have found that I no longer feel much desire to be the best at everything. I don’t need to compete with the younger athletes. It’s not important to be the fastest runner, or the strongest lifter. The important thing to consider is that you do it! If you need to start out slow, take it slow. When you are ready and feel the time has come, increase the length of your activity as your endurance becomes stronger. Only you know what’s right for you. And unless you are training for a competition, remember that exercise does not have to hurt to work.
There may come a time when you feel you need assistance putting a training program together. If so, find a trainer willing to design a workout around the activities that are right for you. Or, create your own program. Mix it up! You don’t have to do the same thing every day. In the beginning, walking may be the one activity you can do. As you become stronger, you can add other activities to your schedule. If you prefer to train in a gym, then do it.
Studies have shown that when you participate in different activities on different days, like with interval training, you confuse your muscles and they must adapt to the new activities by getting stronger and quicker. Different physical activities are also good for your brain function. If you practice an activity that requires you to engage your mind to accomplish it, your brain gets some exercise, too. I’ve noticed that when I go hiking on deer trails uphill, I get an amazing physical and mental workout. The reason for this is, if my mind was not consistently engaged, I’d fall and hurt myself. Therefore, I engage my awareness and must carefully choose where I place my feet and utilize my arms for balance. Because the trail is narrow and unclear at times, I must be fully prepared for any obstacles in my way. I prefer to walk or hike uphill because the muscles of my body are forced to work harder, my heart pumps stronger and my breathing must be even and efficient to carry me.
Many exercise enthusiasts who train hard, say that diet is the #1 key ingredient for fat loss, coupled with a consistent training program which focuses upon aerobic and anaerobic conditioning. I believe this is true for the majority of people attempting to burn fat and lose weight. Over the years, I’ve seen many exercise fanatics do well at physical conditioning, yet fail at fat loss because they didn’t make the necessary adjustments in their diets. Therefore, when you begin your training program, look closely at your diet. Your diet could be the key. Just because you’re exercising, doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want.
As you begin to burn fat and drop the unwanted weight, you’ll find that you’ll be able to do a lot of activities that were once hard for you before. This is a very cool thing and it will make you feel really good about yourself. I remember when I was finally able to bend over and tie my shoes without holding my breath. That felt so good! Or, how about being able to turn around in your car seat to put your seat belt on?
After I lost 100 pounds, people who knew me before when I was heavier, did not recognize me. It was strange, but it made me happy inside because I knew they didn’t recognize me for a good reason. I wasn’t fat anymore and I looked good and felt good, too!
I remember one evening that first summer after I lost the weight, and I was jogging. I came over the hill towards home and saw out in the distance this incredible sunset. At that moment, I thought about one of my favorite movies, “Forrest Gump“. I was reminded of the scene where he’s jogging through Arizona and the sky and the water become one together. I became very emotional and full of joy and gratefulness. I thanked God for giving me back my life. I thanked Him for releasing me from my bondage of fat and depression. I thanked Him for giving me the opportunity to move like I did when I was younger. And, I thanked Him for saving me from who I had become. You see, when I made a conscious decision to change my life and lose the weight, I had to change everything about myself. I said a silent prayer and I asked God to help me change. Today, I believe He did. Thank you Lord.