I’ve never been one to fuss over my age, it’s just a number, and I’ve always had the mentality that you are as old as you feel. I have to say that I’m feeling pretty young these days. Now that my health is in check, I’ve switched over to a whole food/plant base lifestyle, and I’m able to run again, life is great! Of course, there are always stresses of life that we have to deal with (sometimes out of our control) but it’s all about taking it in stride.
I just turned 45 years old this past June and for some reason I feel as though I’m in my 20’s again. I can still fit into those clothes I wore in my twenties and thirties and in fact, I’m even slimmer now. I never step on the scale unless I have to visit the doctor because the number doesn’t mean anything to me even though it’s a good tool to measure how far you’ve come. I don’t count my calories as everything I eat is whole food/plant base, and my energy level is larger than life. What’s the secret? There is no secret!
Many people are looking for a quick fix diet to drop some pounds, get on board with the next big fitness craze to get into shape (I don’t have a problem with this as long as they don’t risk an injury), without realizing that it doesn’t have to be this hard. Life is meant to be simple and lived to the fullest. No matter what age you are, you can live your best life but you have to make the decision to start. Getting fit and staying fit is a lifestyle and not a 6 week or 6 month process. Here are some tips to get you thinking of how to keep your health journey simple and be fit and fabulous at any age.
Keep it Whole Through Nutrition
I don’t know how many times I have said it, but a whole food/plant base lifestyle offers so many benefits such as weight loss, fighting against diseases like common cancers, diabetes, CHD, creating more energy for ourselves on a daily basis, and so much more. We live in a protein obsessed culture where we are brainwashed from a young age to obtain certain nutrients from particular foods. For example we are told that we can only obtain protein from meat, calcium from milk, and amino acids from fish, when we can simply get all of these nutrients from other foods, healthier foods. The science and research backs up a whole food and plant base lifestyle to decrease your weight and to keep it off permanently.
Foods obtained from the ground and/or a tree are the simplest way to get nutrients into our bodies quickly and we can obtain a surplus of nutrients through vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes. When you think of how much fat is in meat, poultry, milk, and other dairy products, the calories add up and over a period of time your weight goes up. On average, the typical North American diet consumes a minimum of 30% of their calories from fat with most diets being well above 40% of fat. A whole food/plant base lifestyle only consumes approximately 10% of their calories from fat with the remaining calories coming from 70% carbohydrates, and the remaining 10% protein. Yes 10% protein! That’s all our bodies really need.
Other foods to avoid in a whole food plant base lifestyle are oils (there are no health benefits in oil as its refined, it’s been stripped from all of its nutrients, and it’s very high in fat), processed foods such as junk food, and refined sugar found in foods such as white bread and white pasta. The calories from consuming oil are very high so why would you waste using oil in your diet if it simply has no nutrients? By cutting out all of these foods, you are saving on calories and in return obtaining more nutrients from plant base and whole foods.
Cooking with these foods is also simple as you don’t require a lot of ingredients to cook up a fantastic dish. You will have a much better appreciation for these foods and how they taste by simply not covering them up with processed ingredients such as oil and refined sugar. Many people think it’s too hard to switch to a food lifestyle like this as they will spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking. If you plan ahead and get organized you can reap the rewards. So let’s look at the benefits of eating whole foods from a health perspective:
-Our energy level increases from the amount of carbohydrates we take in from the type of carbohydrates we consume such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans which provide vitamins, minerals and fiber for our bodies,
-Our weight decreases due to the small amount of fat we consume through foods such as nuts and seeds which again provide us with a surplus of nutrients,
-Lower rates of cancer as animal foods have been linked to some common cancers
-Lower your cholesterol as plants contain no cholesterol
Keep it Simple with Exercise
Being a trainer of 25 years, I have trained a lot of people who simply just don’t like exercise. I have trained in several different gyms as well as on my own and the number one reason why people hire a trainer is to lose weight. My advice to anyone wanting to lose weight is to enjoy the activities you chose to lose your weight. If you don’t like what you do, the odds of you sticking with it are slim. Many will stay with a particular exercise program or class because they see the results of weight loss or muscle tone but when the body simply doesn’t produce anymore results, they give up and stop working out. Staying fit and healthy is a lifestyle not a short-term goal. Many people think they have to go to a gym to feel better about their bodies, gain more energy, or lose weight. I’m here to tell you that you don’t. Your options are endless.
For those of you who don’t enjoy going to the gym or if you simply don’t have enough time to drive to a gym, keeping it simple with your workouts is what I recommend. So what do I mean by keeping it simple? Well, don’t feel like you have to go out and buy a treadmill or a weight set in order to lose weight or tone up. If you feel you require a few key pieces of equipment to keep some variety in your program, then do so. Don’t spend thousands of dollars on equipment that you will never use again.
In previous blog posts I have provided you with some simple circuit programs to get you started to see how easy it is to get a workout in without purchasing any equipment. So here are some ideas to keep in shape without purchasing any equipment:
- Run (you can run slow, fast, interval training, hill training or mix it up).
- Cycle – yes you have to purchase a bike but it’s something that you can use simply for a workout or for leisure time (remember you are still burning calories on a leisurely bike ride).
- Swim – if you live in a colder climate, you can take advantage of swimming at a local swimming hole or public pool or go indoors during the winter (the cost is minimal).
- Functional style exercises such as squats, lunges, sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, burpees, step-ups (using a park bench).
- Go to your local playground and use the equipment.
- Go for a hike and strap on a backpack with some weight to help burn some extra calories.
- Find a set of stairs and run up and down them continuously.
I could go on and on with ideas but the equipment is right in front of you everywhere you go, which is yourself. These are simple, effective ways to help burn calories and tone up your muscles and most of all, it doesn’t cost you a penny.
Life is short so keep if fun by living it up! Having a positive state of mind is a great way to slow down and prevent the aging process. Lower the amount of stress in your life by aiming to have a healthy lifestyle. This can be achieved by performing stress relieving activities such as exercise or simply walking outside in a park. Happy people have healthy bodies. Enjoy your workouts outdoors with a friend or family member or even get your own group together to workout. If you enjoy what you do, you will see the pounds come off, gain more strength, and tone up those muscles.
Much of our health is directly associated with what we eat. If we take good care of ourselves and eat right we increase our chances significantly of living healthier, longer lives. Take a cooking class that focuses on whole and plant based foods or host a party where everyone brings a different meal to sample and exchange recipes. Who doesn’t love to eat!
Our emotional wellbeing is overlooked when we are trying to achieve a healthier lifestyle. Being active and eating right are factors that we can easily change but our mental state is the key to feeling better about ourselves.
Art and I are both in our forties and we feel the need to cherish our good health and fitness and encourage others to do the same. We both stay active through team sports and participating in activities that we both enjoy. Sometimes it’s all about balance but having fun is the key to how you exercise and live your life. Think twice to what you put into your bodies as whole foods are the key to fighting disease and slowing down the aging process. Live the life you’ve always dreamed of by laying down a foundation of a fit and healthy body.
Stay healthy & have fun!
Art & Maureen