These past months of social isolation have affected us all in a variety of ways, with health and fitness not the least among them. Self soothing with comfort food seemed like a good idea at the time, but if you kept it up for as long as I did, you already know where this post is going.
When we began Covid isolation back in March, I was already about 7 pounds beyond my ideal weight, and had been for a few years. Somewhere along the way I got used to the number on the scale and considered it to be at the top of the range for ‘acceptable’ weight.
At the beginning of Covid, we were having glorious weather in South Florida and being outside happened naturally. Most days were filled with physical activity, and I was not worried about the additional ‘comfort calories’ consumed during those first couple of months.
They were easily offset by physical activity and I maintained my weight. Go me!
As the heat and humidity of summer set in, adapting my fitness routine to indoor activities became a challenge. I told myself that all was well, but my body had other ideas. It is basic common sense that a reduction in exercise and continued consumption of comfort calories spell trouble. Time for action.
The plan was straight-forward – stop eating everything you want, whenever you want it! The change began with a modest diet of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein, no alcohol and no sugar. Those last two were the hardest! Exercise consisted of walking two miles on the treadmill, three times per week and water aerobics on alternate days.
After just two weeks of ‘dieting’ (apx. 1200 calories per day) I saw results, and slacked off the exercise thinking it wasn’t necessary to the goal of loosing a few pounds and besides, it was making me feel tired. I lost 12 pounds in six weeks, which sounds like a victory, but it wasn’t. A noticeable decrease in muscle mass was evident along with the weight loss.
What I Did Wrong
Thirty years ago, a low calorie diet and light to moderate exercise would have been sufficient to achieve my 10 pound goal, but at 65, there is so much more to consider. Our bodies need resistance training at any age, but especially over 50. Most restricted calorie diet plans encourage weight training at least 3 – 5 times per week. The benefits of resistance training include increased metabolism and muscle retention – both which aide a healthy weight loss.
Beyond metabolism and weight loss, there are a lot of health reasons to include resistance training in your routine. The excerpt below mentions many of them and if you would like to read the entire article, click on source below the quote.
“If your workout doesn’t include strength training, you’re missing out. Strength training helps ward off age-related muscle loss, keep your bones strong, promote mobility, prevent falls, and combat depression and cognitive decline.”source
My approach for the past two weeks has been to slightly increase my calorie intake (energy in) and significantly increase my workout routine (energy out). I will continue adding back good calories (and maybe a few bad ones) until I find a combination that achieves my long-term goals.
- 30 minutes biking (outside)
- 30 minutes inclined walking (treadmill)
- 10 – 20 minutes rowing machine
- 10 minutes free weights, weight bands, or yoga poses
Getting a full-body workout in one to two hours per day, without subjecting myself to possible dehydration, is important, given my history. Adding some calories back to my diet have helped to increase my energy level and I already feel stronger due to the combination of cardio and resistance training. Hopefully, it will be just the ticket to get me through these last few hot summer weeks.
I feel good about the weight loss and I like my ‘new number.’ But, most importantly, I am proud of myself for admitting that ‘ageing’ was just a convenient excuse for accepting a mindset without challenge. Age is not a free pass, it’s a wake-up call.
How about you? Has your relationship with food and exercise been altered by Covid19? And, do you use your age as an excuse to accept status-quo instead of trying?