If you haven't read Part-1 yet, click here. If you have then you know, that as a master age athlete and coach, I do not believe in the “No Pain – No Gain” philosophy.
This article isn't for everyone. I am making a few assumptions about you. I am assuming you have a job you need to go to most days. I am assuming you have family and other responsibilities you need to manage and attend to. So your reality is that if you can manage to fit it any exercise in that the down time caused by an injury is more than a little distraction. It's enough to derail the whole "be healthy", "take care of myself" project. I get it. I live it and coach clients through it every day. With Lesson #1 Don't Get Hurt, in the back of our minds, lets move on to Lessons #6-10.
Lesson #6 The Mind Must Be Engaged
I have lots of very smart and self motivated people who pay me to tell them to do things I know they could do on their own. Why would they do this?
- For some they don't want to have to think about what they are doing.
- Others have busy lives and full schedules.
- Many are high achiever that want to maximize their efforts in all areas of their life.
They all have different reasons for delegating the "thinking" part to me. And I am fine with that. I do it in other areas of my life. But while I will let them get away with not be mentally engaged in the decision making of the routine and exercise, I most defiantly make sure they are mentally engaged for each exercise. I need to make sure they are fully present and mindful for three important reasons: 1) I don't want them to get hurt using band form. 2) We are practicing movement for real world carryover (lesson #3). I don't want them practicing sloppy movement and brining that into their real world encounters. 3) Finally, by being present and mindful during their workouts they have the ability to create a time of moving mediation.
It is ok to use exercise as an escape, but make sure you are present enough not to get hurt or miss out on the benefits of being there.
Lesson #7 Nutrition is 90%
Most people fall into the trap of "eat less and exercise more" when they are trying to lose a few pounds and put some spring back into their step. They see this as a 50/50 split of diet restriction and exercise. It isn't 50/50 and this line of thinking is doubly dangerous for people over 40. Why double? Because they, "Remember when....." They remember when all they had to do was start running 3 miles a day after work and the weight just dropped off. They remember when all they had to do was stop eating desert for a few weeks and their weight returned to normal. They remember when..... You get the picture and if you are over 40 I am sure you have your own version of completing that sentence.
So with this remember when mentality they make a few simple diet changes and don't see results. Then increase their amount of exercise to fast and get injured. Now hurt and not seeing results they, double down and exercise through the pain, restrict their diets even more, only to see minor changes. Exhausted, in pain, and feeling deprived they reside to the belief that being fat and in pain is part of the natural aging process. It isn't!
You can not exercise your way out of a bad diet. 90% of effective fat lose and increases in physical energy and mental clarity come from the foods you eat and don't eat. To maximize fat lose and energy levels you need to create the right hormonal environment . Fine tuning your diet is the fastest and most effective way to to do it, period. If your are going to double down on anything, double down on creating a new diet that puts you in a optimal hormonal state, not exercise. Develop a system of eating and fasting that you enjoy and fits your lifestyle. Trust me, your waistline and knees will appreciate it.
Lesson #8 Rest and Recovery are As Important as a Training Session
You're not 18 any more. Your body isn't the growth hormone factory it once was and all those nagging injuries start to add up. I am not saying that you can't have hard and intense workouts. What I am saying is that your body is going to demand longer recovery periods from them. Be smart, only plan 1-3 hard training sessions a week. Use the extra time to work on mobility issues, muscle imbalances, and YOUR DIET.
Lesson #9 Learn the "Tricks of the Trade"
If you are going to make the effort to take care of yourself, make the extra little effort to learn the "tricks of the trade". What I mean is that don't just go through the motions, get on the elliptical for 30 minutes, do some stretches you remember from high school, assume that just because you can jog/run a 10k that you know all there is to know about the skill of running. Spend the time in self-study, go to a workshop, hire a coach, talk shop with friends and family who have more knowledge than you. I am not saying that you need to become a master level athlete or coach, but I am saying that you will never regret mastering movement and your diet. Don't be content just showing up and working hard, work smart. And if you are working with a coach that is content just putting your through the motions and not willing to teach you the "tricks of the trade", find a new coach who is. You and your effort deserve it.
Lesson #10 Remember Lesson #1
Lesson #1 - Don't Get Hurt. It's easy to get caught up chasing goals and distracted by life and push yourselves to far. For what? You're not 18 any more. It's time to let the ego find a place that compels you in a meaningful and productive way. Continue to work hard, find new boundaries and grow, but not at the expense of injury and dysfunction. Respect and care for your body where it is and it will take you to where you want to go.
The most important thing that I want you to take away from this two part series is this; It doesn’t matter if you have a competitive athletic past or if you currently have two left feet. You can dramatically improve your physical well-being and performance at any age! The truth is Father Time does catch up with all of us. However, the rate of physical decline that has become accepted as part of the “normal” aging process by many of today’s healthcare practitioners is far too low! With some thoughtful guidance you may not be able to reclaim your youth, but you can rejuvenate and invigorate your mind and body with a little thoughtful guidance and discipline.
Before I go I want to share with you two more inspiring examples of people who have decided the “norm” is not for them. I hope they inspire you to take Lesson #4 to heart and establish your own personal elevated "norm".