When I see those intense boot camp style workout programs in infomercials on television I think to myself, “Unless you’re under 50 who can do these? More importantly, why would anyone want to do them regardless of their age?”
The level of intensity shown in those commercials isn’t necessary to get fit and toned. And I’d propose that it isn’t healthy for people over 50 and especially over 60, 70, and beyond. I’m no doctor, but I do have a healthy amount of common sense.
Infomercials that talk about “quick” weight loss, washboard abs, or beach bodies, present their program as the single solution. I’ve never seen much discussion during them about establishing a truly healthy diet and lifestyle. But then again, I haven’t watched any of those infomercials all the way through.
There are no miracle programs or pills that will give you a 39-year-old appearance throughout your life. Diets are short-term quick fixes. Boot camp workouts are also short-term quick fixes. Can you imagine yourself doing a boot camp style workout in your 60’s, 70’s, and beyond?
The solution is simple. Most people know what it is. The solution is making permanent lifestyle changes that include a 100% healthy diet and a comprehensive but sane exercise program. A comprehensive program would include resistance, abdominal, and aerobic exercise.
I made the transition from animal-based to vegetarian foods in a few months. The way I did it was simple. The more I learned about animal-based “foods” in comparison to plant-based foods the healthier my diet became. I started out reading books. Then I discovered many eye-opening documentaries (list on this site) that inspired me to become a vegan (100% plant-based) almost overnight.
My decision to join a health club was an event. Becoming a person who worked out regularly was a process. The changes I noticed in my body (internally and externally), skin, and attitude inspired me to stick with it.
I started going to a health club occasionally in my late 30’s. By my mid 40’s I was working out off-and-on 3 days a week. After I put together my own inexpensive home gym, my workout consistency, frequency, and efficiency increased dramatically!
With a home gym, I could apply the energy I saved by not having to drive to the health club and fight the crowd through a circuit, to my workout at home. Including drive time, my workouts at a health club took me about 90 to 120 minutes on good days. Today I can easily get through a workout in 20 to 30 minutes. If I’m in a hurry, I can get it done in 15 minutes.
Here’s the exercise program I intend to do for the rest of my life, although I may have to reduce the weight and pace as I get older. I’m now well into my second half.
- Resistance – Free weights (home gym), 23 exercises, 420 repetitions, 3 days/week.
- Abdominal – 9 exercises, 350 repetitions, 3 days/week.
- Aerobic – Power walk (cool weather) 1-3 miles or swim (hot weather) 40-50 laps, 6-7 days/week. (During cool weather, I occasionally power walk twice a day – morning and at sunset.)
I was shocked the first time I added up these numbers. Although I was a fairly good athlete in my youth, I was never a jock. So this level of exercise hasn’t been a lifetime practice. So if I can do it, considering how “unwisely” I lived the first half of my life, anyone can. For more information on this topic read: Self Improvement & Fitness After 50.
Here’s all you need for a home gym.
- Adjustable multi-purpose workout bench. Used for resistance (free weights) and abdominal exercises.
- Two sets of dumbbell free weights. One set for exercises requiring heavier weight and one for those where a lower weight is appropriate. Having two sets prevents having to change weights, which is very time-consuming.
- Hand grips. For strengthening hands in particular, but also forearms.
- Tiny MP3 player with belt clip. Listening to music you love will keep you fired up. Load it with all the songs that have inspired you throughout your life. I have songs from the 60’s through current on mine.
I got my workout bench, 1 set of dumbbells (2nd at a garage sale), and hand grips at Walmart. Total cost: $102. (estimate).
Here are a few books that can help you develop an effective workout routine that fits you!
- The Complete Guide to Walking: For Health, Weight Loss, and Fitness by Mark Fenton
- The Complete Guide to Training with Free Weights by Graeme Marsh
- The Great Dumbbell Handbook by Andre Noel Potvin
- 101 Ways to Work Out with Weights (For Women) Cindy Whitmarsh
- Smart Girls Do Dumbbells by Judith Sherman-Wolin
Here’s the full list of books I recommend in this category.
If you have never worked out using free weights or machines, then joining a health club might be a good starting point for you. It definitely was for me, as I knew nothing about working out when I began.
Here’s what you can get with a health club membership.
- Instruction on working out properly to gain the most benefit and avoid injury.
- Club employees can help you get started.
- Club members will often point you in the right direction. You can also gain knowledge by observing the fit ones.
- Personal trainers will give you intensive instruction over a predetermined period for a fee.
- Access to an array of state-of-the-art resistance (weighted) and aerobic (walk, run, step) machines. There will also be an extensive range of free weights.
- Access to a variety of free and paid classes from aerobic to self-defense.
- Inspiration by being around many other health and fitness enthusiasts. You’ll definitely pick up a vibe that will motivate you.
Here are some things you will “not” get from a health club and a few things you should avoid.
- Motivation to workout regularly. The willpower to go to the health club three days a week will only come from you! A club membership and a monthly fee will not magically give you the incentive to go to the gym.
- Abundant opportunities to meet women/men or make new friends. You’ll become comfortable and familiar faces may acknowledge you, but for the most part, people are there to workout, not socialize.
- Avoid going to the club at peak hours. The highest traffic is just before and after work. Difficulty finding a parking space and wait times to use machines can be frustrating. I usually went at 4-5 am or just before lunch at 10-11 am. Evenings normally have a steady stream of people, and a late night workout can make it hard to get to sleep.
- Keep your hands away from your mouth, eyes, and ears. You do this to avoid picking up germ, cold, and flu bugs. Wash your hands immediately after working out, just before you leave, and when you get home. Wear flip-flops in the shower. This may sound excessive, but if you consider the handprints and body fluids left on gym equipment, you’ll see the logic.
How do you get motivated to eat a healthy diet and work out regularly? It’s really quite easy. Here are the secrets.
As I mentioned earlier, the more you learn about the benefits of healthy eating and the damage that unhealthy eating causes, the more inspired you’ll become. To get yourself to exercise, imagine the trim and fit body that you want in vivid detail. That will get you started. The key is to force yourself to begin each workout. Once you do, then your motivation will start to build during each session and as you complete each week and month.
If you have any health concerns, it’s important to discuss your plans with your doctor before you begin any new diet or exercise program.
Just remember that motivation follows “after” you get started. The best approach, in the beginning, is to have a “no excuses” attitude that forces you to work out as though you were your own drill instructor or personal trainer. Once you begin to see the results, you’ll be inspired to go further. Soon you’ll be on autopilot.
Here’s another technique you can use if needed. You’ve probably heard of the “carrot and the stick” motivation techniques. The carrot pulls you toward where you want to go with positive inspiration. Imagining the body you want, as I suggested earlier, is a pull or carrot method. The “stick” pushes you with negative forces like fear of loss such as loss of health, respect, or a partner. For the purposes of getting yourself to eat right and exercise using the “stick” method, you’d picture yourself facing open-heart surgery, fat, and alone.
I strongly recommend only using the “stick” method occasionally when you need a kick in the butt. Using this powerful technique too often can lead to depression and a self-fulfilling prophecy. The danger is that these negative thoughts will lead you to the outcome you envision as described by the Law of Attraction and many other New Thought principles.
Spend the majority of your time envisioning and experiencing your life as though you have already reached your fitness goals. In other words, start “feeling” the way you will once you achieve your goals “now” so you’ll have the motivation you need during the journey. You’ll also bring about the outcome you want and avoid the one you don’t by doing this. 🙂