Confession: I’m nearer to the end of my 40s than the beginning of my 40s. In fact, it won’t be long and I’ll be talking about fitness in my 50s. Gulp. But I have a goal of still running races in my 80s, or maybe even my 90s, so I need to focus now on setting the framework for that. I want to make sure my body is as strong as it can be now, so that fewer injuries happen later. Here’s what I’m going to create a functionally fit and healthy body heading into my 50s.
- Use those muscles – In our 40s, we start losing muscle mass. There are plenty of studies showing this loss, but there are also studies that show that it is possible to maintain or even regain some muscle mass as you age. The key? Weights. I’m not a trainer, so I’m not going to get into the heavy weights versus lighter weights issue. I’m just going to say that if all you are doing is cardio, it’s time to shake things up. I personally started following the Faster Way to Fat Loss program last year and, despite slacking after the Marine Corps Marathon this year, I am way stronger than I was.
- Eat enough protein – Remember those muscles we are trying to build? They need protein. I would much rather eat all the carbs. All of them. But I know that my body needs more than just bread to keep the muscle mass that I’ve built.
- Watch the mindless eating – I have two teens, one of whom is pretty much constantly eating. Around here, there seems to be food being consumed at pretty much all hours of the day. It’s hard to not grab a snack every time one of my boys does, but, umm, a 40+ year old woman should not eat like a 15 year old boy. Just sayin’.
- Add more gentle exercise and functional fitness to my plan – I confess: I love to run and I usually run 5 days a week. I don’t plan to stop that. However, I’ve been using my exercise bike or a rowing machine each week to supplement all the running. I also try to move more when I’m working (I work from home with no bathroom on the main level, so if I drink as much water as I should, I need to walk the stairs LOL). All the little bits add up to more movement, more calories burned, different muscles used, all of which are good things.
- Listen to my body – Yeah, we all have more aches and pains than we used to, but sometimes those pains are trying to tell you something. Sometimes that means just take it easy for a day or two, sometimes it means you have an injury brewing. Better to listen and catch something early than to end up with something that sidelines you for a while. For the first time ever, I’m not jumping back into running post-injury. I’m slowly building my mileage and most of my runs are at a super slow pace. Sometimes it drives me crazy to run so slowly, but I know that my body is thanking me for not pushing it too hard or too fast. I’m on the eight month training plan for the Marine Corps 50K…
It’s funny how sometimes I still feel like I’m in my 20s. And then I look in the mirror or move the wrong way and I’m like “oh, yeah, not in my 20s anymore.” There are definitely some benefits of aging – I have a lot fewer f*&%s to give than I did when I was younger – but I want to do my best to be that lady setting records in her 90s.