Lifestyle

Healthy steps can result in being fit at 50

By Stephanie Norton-Bredl and Bruce deJong

For The Courier-Herald

Dear Stephanie and Bruce: I am six months away from my 50th birthday and want to be in good physical shape. In my glory days I could run, jump and lift better than most; however, I let myself go and now can do less than most. Even worse, my wife has been frequently watching the movie “Magic Mike” and staring at her hot firefighters calendar. Please provide recommendations to help me get back in shape and reclaim my wife’s gaze. Mike, age 49.5

Dear Mike: Congratulations on the decision to make some healthy changes in your life. It sounds like you have a couple of concerns: 1) you are missing the athletic you of your past and 2) you are not feeling terribly confident at this stage in your life. It’s never too late to reclaim your physical fitness and health. You may have to come to terms that you will never be 20 again but 50 can be pretty darn good.

Let’s start with defining your goal of being fit. For some it may mean scoring within the America Medical Association ranges for biometric studies which can be found at this website. These biometrics focus more on your overall health and measure cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure and body mass.

For others it may mean scoring within the acceptable range for the physical fitness requirements of most law enforcement officers which can be found at the Public Safety Testing's website. This test measures ability for a 300-meter run, push ups, sit ups, and a 1.5-mile run. You might be looking for a more personal goal such as losing 20 pounds and feeling more healthy, or being able to play league basketball again.

Setting a clear goal will keep you motivated to achieve it.

Changing your lifestyle can be complicated so we recommend breaking down your goals into to small achievable steps and to keep it simple. One method is to identify one new behavior that you believe will help with making progress toward you goal and commit to doing it for 21 days. Most people will adopt a new habit after 21 consecutive days of practicing the new habit. Continue to adopt positive behavior changes every 21 days as you establish a pattern of marching toward achievement of the goal.

For example, if you are changing your eating habits, adopt one new change like taking your lunch to work instead of eating out or stalking the vending machine to better manage your diet. If you are increasing your physical activity, find activities you enjoy and will keep you interested for 21 days. Commit to adopting the new behavior until it becomes a familiar routine or your “new normal.”

Also, consider who might be able to help support you in making these changes. Maybe there is a friend who would like to take up jogging with or your spouse would like to take a cooking class with you. Inviting friends and family who have a desire to consistently make healthy choices helps to ensure your success. Be sure to acknowledge and celebrate each successful step as that will help you feel more confident, both with the healthier body you are creating but also with your ability to continue down that healthier path.

Best wishes for your continued success. Please let us know if you would like assistance in creating an exercise plan.

Stephanie Norton-Bredl is the health and wellbeing director at the Auburn Valley YMCA and may be contacted at snortonbredl@seattleymca.org. Bruce deJong is a group exercise instructor at the Auburn Valley YMCA and may be contacted at bruce@bicyclebootcamp.com.

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