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Its Easier To Maintain Fitness Than To Rebuild It.

Sep 26, 2020

How many times have we looked at celebrities well into their 50’s and 60’s and “wow’d” at how healthy and youthful they look. I’m not talking about having a face that looks 22, I’m talking about a lean, trim physique and a glow to the face that exudes youth. For example Bruce Springsteen turns 64 this week—and he looks great. Helen Miren, Jane Fonda, Christie Brinkley to name a few. And who can forget the incredible vigor of Jack Lalanne?

They all must be doing something right to look and perform as they does in their 50-s and 60’s.

What are they doing right—and how can we replicate their success.

Celebrity Role Models. These are great performers in the history of their respective fields. They exercise and watch what they eat. They find places to exercise when the logistics are not ideal. And they have connected with their fans on a long-term basis. If you look at almost anything that has been written on healthy aging, they are examples of what to do and how to age well. Now granted we can all say that they have more time and money to facilitate a healthy lifestyle, and yes that may be true. But facilitating a healthy lifestyle is a choice and a commitment which actually requires little or no money. All you have to do is decide that it is a priority.

I think the basic premise is to Keep it Simple. If you can’t follow a plan consistently, eventually you will give up. Your program should be sustainable for years and years. Compliance is key. And you don’t need a lot of time for it, you just need to make time for it that is not negotiable. For example, Springsteen has been following a simple fitness program for the last 30 years. He alternates running four to six miles with strength training every other day. He also watches what eats and is mostly vegetarian. Incredibly, when you consider the entertainment world, he has been able to stay away from drugs. He also finds places to exercise when he is on the road.

  • Stay consistent. Its easier to maintain fitness than to rebuild it. Springsteen works at his music just as he maintains his health. Through habit, he appears to have avoided major creative or physical lows over many years. Maintenance is key and requires much less energy and lifestyle change as getting back into shape every year for vacation, an event, or beach season. And it costs a lot less money too. Get yourself in shape and then stay there with some activity that keeps up your strength, flexibility and endurance and one that you enjoy.
  • Find a place and time to exercise even when traveling or when your schedule is busy. You don’t need a gym to maintain your fitness. There are many things you can do with no equipment, no space, and little time—Calisthenics are old school but they have stood the test of time. Anyone can fit some fitness bands into their suitcase. If you have a plan before hand you won’t be lost without a strategy. One hour walk at 3.5 mph burns 300 calories. Follow that up with 25 pushups, 25 dips and 100 sit ups, and 100 lunges and you’ve just had a total body workout in 45 min that required nothing.
  • You don’t have to be a nut about diet, but it helps to watch what you eat—especially starting in your 40s—so aging doesn’t become a long and slow fade. IF you don’t have the discipline to stay away from the processed foods, just make it a policy not to buy them altogether. No harm no foul.
  • Sleep – Being a mother of three, this is where I often fail. But you burn about 15% less calories when you sleep less than 8 hours a night, and sleep repairs the damage done to your body with exercise. So if you want your exercise to count….sleep.
  • Weigh yourself weekly. And don’t care about the absolute numbers. If you want to care about a number, find an accurate measurement of your body fat. That’s a great number to care about. Weight measurement is important in a relative sense if you can’t tell without it that you have gained 5 lbs. If you monitor your weight you will see when it is creeping up and you can nip it in the bud. It is much easier to get back on track after 5 lbs of weight gain than 10.
  • Exercise is great. But being fired up about your job is also important to staying engaged and happy. Sometimes, though, what you don’t do is as important as what you do. At some level, the mystery of Springsteen is how he resisted all the temptations associated with money and fame that have destroyed so many people. Think about balance and preservation. You have one body….treat it well EVERY DAY.

Find a positive vision and pursue it. There are a lot opportunities to pursue things that have little meaning yet take up an enormous amount of your time. Choose ones that are worthy of your time which is limited and valuable. One that brings out the best in you and those around you and don’t look back.

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The Wellpath by Dr. Jamé Heskett
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