54 and Not Afraid to Take Off My Shirt
A look at how I try to look and feel my best!
Let me just say, I love being 54! The old adage is "you're only as old as you feel." That goes for physically as well as mentally. It's great to have a youthful mindset, however, if you're out of shape and overweight, you're missing out on all of the great opportunities your mind has planned for you. Let's be honest, missing out on memorable experiences because of something you have the power to change would just suck.
There was a time, back in the day, that I'd hit the gym three to four times a week. My goal during that time was to get as big as I possibly could. To achieve this possibility, I relied on fairly heavy weights, not much cardio, and eating as much protein as I could shove into my mouth. This wasn't some grand plan I formulated, in fact, it's Muscle Building 101, and when I set my mind to something, I'm going to do it! Not only did I succeed, I also managed to do it with pretty good success. Mind you, that was while I was in my 30s and 40s. Some people's bodies will let them continue training like that for well into their 50s and 60s, not mine. I had to come up with a new game plan to stay in shape, keep my weight down, and most importantly, stay healthy. So far (knock on wood), I've found what works and it's simpler than I ever could have imagined!
Walking through my 50s has felt like a walk through my own period of enlightenment. Namely, my body had news for me: weights, in general, were not going to fly any longer. These things called tendons, joints and ligaments had been beaten up enough and they weren't going to take it anymore! OK, I'm smart enough to know when my body is telling me something, and it was clear it meant business! But now I had a problem, no weights meant I had to find an alternative so that I'd be able to maintain my shoulders, chest, and arms, as well as keep myself in a size 34 waist. Hey! I'm 205 lbs; 34 isn't too bad! Now all this may seem a tad vain, but it's nice to be able to wear tailored shirts and Marc Anthony slim cut jeans. Hence, "you're only as old as you feel."
I'm sure you're all wondering what this magical workout formula is that I'm so proud of. Believe it or not, pushups are the key to strong shoulders, tight pecs, and well-defined triceps. Now before you close the page, hear me out. There's a process to this that works superbly for me. Best of all, it will only take a few minutes out of your day.
Before I get into that, there's that part of the body called your stomach. As you get older, it tends to be less forgiving to foods high in fat and calories. This is where smart eating, NOT DIETING comes into play. Diets have never worked for me because I love all food! So although I watch what I eat, I still put Half and Half in my coffee. I also still eat burgers, pizza, and whatever dessert on the menu I want. The key is, I don't make a habit of it. The same reason doing push-ups consistently will work wonders for your body, is the same reason why eating crap every day will make you look heavy and out of shape. Make eating right the norm, but never, ever deny yourself something that you really want to eat. This is why strict diets may be a short term fix, but they rarely last because if you're miserable in what foods you eat, you'll give up and head right back to comfort foods. Remember: eating should never be confined to a diet instead, making healthy eating choices is a lifestyle.
Now back to pushups. For one, they are gender friendly. Next, there is a variety to choose from. For example, I still incorporate knee pushups into my daily routine. There are also other variations that you'll add once you gain some strength and drop a few pounds.
Most people place their hands on their shoulders, then raise up and down while being on their toes. This is the most basic way to do a pushup, and it works!
The variations are the placement of your hands under or outside of your body.
- Forming a triangle with your thumbs and forefingers together will directly impact your inner pecs and triceps.
- Go slow, steady and focus on inner pecs and triceps.
- Moving your hands outside of your shoulders will work your shoulders, outer pecs and back muscles together. How far apart you go will depend on your comfort level.
- Keep a tight core, focus on shoulders, back, and outer pecs.
Any and all push-ups should be done with a focus on contracting your stomach muscles. This is not easy in the beginning, but like everything else, your core muscles will strengthen and it will begin to feel natural.
When I began this routine, I'd do one set of each type of push up every day. This worked out pretty well, but then to shake things up a bit, I now do three sets of one type each day. Honestly, the number of reps I do will depend on how I feel that day. I'm a firm believer that you will not feel great every day, so on those days, go easy. It's when we make ourselves miserable that we quit; I'm not a quitter!
If you need to start your routine on your knees, then that's what you should do. If you can only do three of each type, then do those three. There are NO RULES! Instead, always remember that consistency is the key to success. This goes for eating right, doing your pushups, and the final piece to getting in shape, jogging or walking.
I would love to jog, but because I wanted big legs and a nice butt when I was young, I over did it on heavy squats and now my knees have revolted against me. Looking at the glass half full, I can still walk just fine.
I do tech support for the Post Office website so I'm on the phone 8 to 10 hours a day. I also happen to live 70 miles from my job, so I'm in the car three hours per day. That's a lot of sitting on my ass; a recipe for gaining weight. So, I work my eating around my breaks and use my lunch time to get up and increase my heart rate with a solid paced walk. Again, I try to do it every day, but if I can't, I don't sweat it. I just make sure I'm back at it the following day. On my days off, I stay away from the couch and keep myself moving. Even shopping is better than watching TV because at least you're up and moving around.
Any doctor or nutritionist will tell you, if you burn more calories than you take in, your weight will go down. It really is that simple and it's something to always keep in the back of your mind when making food choices. When going for that extra push up, think of it as burning more and more calories with each rep. Challenge yourself with success!
For those that think I forgot about the glutes, Booty, butt, or whatever you choose, I have not! However, I will save that for another long winded blog.
If I sound like push ups really get me excited, they don't. Being 54, healthy, fitting into my clothes, and having the energy to hang with my two boys that are in their 20s, is what excites me! Trust me, it'll excite you too! We've only got one chance at this thing called life, so be healthy and enjoy every second of it!