I, like many people, never think of myself as growing old. Growing old is for “other people.” Thank goodness my family has great longevity, reaching between 88 and 90. My family does stay young at heart as well. Age has never been a barrier to anything we want to achieve. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t until a short while ago that I still thought I was invincible.
I was the ultimate athlete. There was nothing I could not do. When it came to sports, I wanted everything and I had to succeed – from running track, playing tennis and dancing, to cycling, swimming and bodybuilding. Just like Superwoman, I felt so powerful. Imagine that!
Then reality set in. Death and taxes are inevitable. But, according to my all-time favorite poem “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley, I knew I had to take control.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul.
When I stopped competing, I heard so many horror stories about out-of-shape retired bodybuilders as well as other retired athletes. So, I started looking back at some of the greatest athletes of my time. After their retirement, there were many I could not recognize. It was then that I took a vow that I would always stay in shape. The thought of being totally out of shape and out of control scared me, just as much as the poem “To an Athlete Dying Young ” by Alfred Edward Housman (1859-1936). My God, how could an athlete die young? We are invincible!
Well, since I cannot control the inevitable, I will try to give myself the best ride until the end. Now I have come the long way around to say that maintaining proper diet, exercise and weight training will not guarantee a long life, although it may extend it. However, it will definitely guarantee you a better quality of life. So you have to draw a line in the sand and say, “This is how I want to live.”
You need to give yourself the following markers for good health or before you know it, you will be out of shape!
My first marker is my weight. I weigh myself every morning before breakfast. I have a five-pound range I must stay within. If I go one pound over, I cut back and tighten up my diet and increase my cardio. Conversely, if I start to look drawn and I am losing lean mass, then I have to step up my diet by adjusting the amount of my protein/carb intake, food, supplements and training.
My second marker is my cardio regimen. My goal is to do cardio seven days a week. However, my range is between five and seven days of exercise. When I do not get enough cardio or training, I become sluggish, which is my signal to get back on my program.
My third marker is proper supplementation. I know I do not always eat as much as I should for being as active as I am. Therefore, when I catch myself missing a few doses of a specific supplement, I put myself in check and get right back on schedule.
I always have more energy when I follow my scheduled supplement program, diet and exercise. Other than basic vitamins, some of the best supplements for an aging athlete are L-Arginine, which has anti-aging properties; Creatine, Glutamine, Coenzyme Q10 and Omega fatty acids.
People simply do not become out of shape overnight; it creeps up on them just like old age! One day you look in the mirror and wonder who is looking back at you. It is the result of repetitive improper eating (poor diet) and lack of exercise. The majority of people who are out of shape claim it is because of a medical condition, but it is actually the opposite. Improper diet and lack of exercise may cause a serious medical condition.
So say what you want, but that is the truth! Come join me, draw your line in the sand and set your own markers for good health and stay in shape at any age.
Here’s to your success!
Linda Wood-Hoyte, Life Coach & Fitness Expert
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