This post is a reminder that exercise alone will not make you healthy; you have to eat right. Take a look at the recipes I found at EatingWell.com.
Guest blogger, Nancy Thompson, from JustaBackpackandaRollie, takes over as we continue our look at active senior citizens and what motivates us to keep going.
As anyone who knows me will tell you, I have traveled all over the fitness map. Sometimes there’s a plan. Other days, not so much. But, I have learned from experience that setting a long term goal that is a real stretch (pun intended) is often the motivation I need to keep up my exercise or walking practice. It works for me. Every time.
Way back when I was a young 49 year old mostly-couch-potato, I read an article about Team in Training and marathon walking. Intrigued, I explored this opportunity to train with a team and walk or run in marathons all over the world – and raise money for a great cause. Fortunately, I tend to jump without worrying about the details like “how far is 26.2 miles anyway”? With the goal to walk the Honolulu Marathon for my 50th birthday, I signed up. I walked every day starting with two miles that first week and ending my last training walk with a 22 miler from my front door in Lake Oswego to my sister’s house in Hillsboro, Oregon. Two weeks later, I was on a plane ready to take on the full 26.2 in Honolulu. And I did it. And I never walked another marathon again.
But I did keep on walking. Usually by myself. Until recently, this was the typical evening conversation at our house. Me: “Honey, want to go for a walk with me?” Hubby: “Umm, No thanks.”
But that all changed exactly one year ago when I began hatching my plan to do something memorable for my 65th birthday this August. I wanted to walk the last 65 miles of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela (The Way of St. James) in Spain. I discovered a walking tour company, Marly Tours, who provide support for those of use who do not want the full Pilgrim experience (carrying everything on your back, sleeping on the ground and/or sleeping in hostels with 300 others in bunk beds). I was so excited about this idea that my enthusiasm spilled over onto my husband. Suddenly, he wanted to join me on walks. Starting last Fall, we began planning our weekends around walking or hiking. We have explored most of the City of Portland Oregon on foot and we’ve recently branched out to local hikes. I posted about one of my favorites The Ten Falls Hike recently on my blog JustaBackpackandaRollie. These days we do 8 to 10 miles on Saturday and then another 6 or 8 on Sunday. Always with a stop for lunch. We call it jogging for doughnuts.
Not too bad for a couple of almost senior citizens. On the Camino, we’ll be walking our 65 miles over 5 days. The 6th day is only 4 km so I’m not counting it. We don’t know the terrain, but I’m told to expect everything from country lanes to farmers fields to hill climbs to city streets. We walk 15 miles the first day! Then we get up and do it again the next day, whether we’re ready or not. Whether we’re tired or not. Whether our feet hurt or not.
I can’t wait to get started!
Setting this long term and very large goal, has changed our lives. We walk every day. Hubs joined the gym. We walk for entertainment. We enjoy our time together. We’re active people again and I don’t see that ending anytime soon. In fact, we’re already thinking about walking through England or Italy next.
See you on the trail!
Nancy Thompson blogs about exploring retirement and the world with just a backpack and a rolling suitcase. She is a blogger, travel writer and a retirement re-inventor. One of her essays was recently published in 65 Things to Do When You Retire: Travel from Seller’s Publishing. You can follow Nancy at http://www.justabackpackandarollie.com
We all need to take part in the events in and around our communities. Participating in these events, either by being a part of the organization, or by attending as a spectator, keeps us informed on what’s happening in our world.
Here are a few happenings around the globe where senior citizens have taken advantage of staying active:
NEW YORK: Poughkeepsie Journal, Senior News: Free tour days on the Walkways Offered
UNITED KINGDOM: Todmorden News, Words Translate into Trips for Town’s Senior Citizens
INDIA: India Today, Delhi Government Plans more Recreational Centres for Senior Citizens
LAS VEGAS: Las Vegas Sun, 10 Activities Senior Citizens Can Do This Summer in Las Vegas
What’s going on in your corner of the world? Let me know about which activities are most important to you. Please leave a comment.
[DISCLAIMER: This post was scheduled for JUN 01; however, technical difficulties created a delay in the process. OKAY! I was the technical difficulty. I procrastinated with doing the research, which put me late into the morning before getting started with the writing, and then my granddaughter’s ballet recital was at 1:00. After that there was shopping and eating; before I knew it, it was past my bedtime. So here I am at 6:00 AM on Sunday, trying to get two posts in before noon. I got this!]
My mother, God bless her, made a statement recently that made me catch my breath. She told her friends, “My children are all Senior Citizens, now.”
WAH? When did that happen?
Once I hit 50, I began to realize I was getting old. Mentally, I felt half my chronological age, but physically, I noticed the changes. I felt the onslaught of hot flashes (I prefer the term “power surge”), my skin began to sag and look dry, no matter how much lotion I slathered on, and my hair was thinning.
I was in denial for a long time. I didn’t bother to change my lifestyle. I kept doing the things I had always done: exercising sporadically, drinking alcohol more than occasionally, and maintaining my constant diet of M&Ms and Diet Coke, fast food, and fatty snacks. I was overweight, but not obese, so I figured when I was ready, I would work off the excess pounds and everything would be fine.
Recently, I made a post about setting goals and holding yourself accountable. I’ve been working toward those goals, but I’ve never had the discipline to actually be a competitive athlete until I began fulfilling one of my goals: to run a 5k in every state in the United States. In the past year, I have competed in two 5K road races, and plan to complete several more before the year’s end. It’s something I started doing with my younger daughter.
I’ve always been athletic, but never competitive. When I ran (more like walked) my first 5k, I had just recovered from a nasty sinus infection and bronchitis. My time for completing the race: an impressive (not) 47:00 minutes. Although I came in ahead of about 100 other competitors in my age group, I was still 300 runners behind first place. I swore I would train for the next.
While searching online for a training program, I ran across this list of rules for training for a 5K over at http://www.triradar.com. [source: www.triradar.com/training-advice/olympic-coaches-8-golden-rules-of-training] These rules are flexible and doable.
The term “GOLDEN” got me to thinking. Since I am now a “Senior Citizen” (Thanks Mom), I qualify to compete in the Golden Olympics, the Olympic games for senior citizens. So I did some more research. Turns out, the minimum performance standard time for women in my age group is just under 25 minutes. For men, it’s under 20 minutes. I have a lot of work ahead of me. The rules from Triradar.com are a good place to start.
Simple rules for training:
1. Be consistent – I have been consistently inconsistent with my training, now’s the time to fix that.
2. Plan to peak – I have coached youth sports, so I know this to be true. Every athlete reaches a peak performance level, and then will plateau. You want to peak when your performance counts the most.
3. Train with gradual overload – this goes along with being consistent. Start light and work your way up to a slight overload of your physical ability. This will increase your stamina and strength without making you overly sore in the process.
4. Train all year – Enough said.
5. Set attainable goals – I can’t run a 5k in under 25 minutes if I haven’t been able to run one in under 40 minutes. So I need to set goals of trimming off a couple minutes every time I train, until finally, I’ve reached my ideal time.
6. Get basic nutrition right – This one’s been tough for me. I love junk food. But, I love being healthy even more, so I’m a work-in-progress where nutrition is concerned.
7. Take recovery seriously – There’s no shame in resting a day, or reducing the intensity of your workouts. Don’t make yourself sick trying to be healthy.
8. Train your weaknesses, race to your strengths – This one is tough. Basically, you need to train the areas that you need the most help in succeeding. If it’s easy, then you don’t need to train that aspect as often. If something is difficult, you need to spend more time doing it so that you can get better.
Aging doesn’t have to be synonymous with getting old. Sign up to compete in the Golden Olympics, meet new friends, and share your experiences about aging with those who have chosen to stay active in their senior years.
Take action to become healthy. The sooner you do this, the happier you and your family will be. It’s worth the effort.
You are in control of your health; stop making excuses and take action!
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