Common Sense Approach to Fitness

I’m a 54-year old woman living in menopause.

I have a shocking secret to tell you: Not ever in all my adult life have I exercised “5 times per week” like so-called experts tell you to do.

Years ago the New York Times offered this alternative guideline: to exercise for 150 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. Or for 175 minutes of moderate exercise each week.

Dr. Chatterjee in his book How to Make Disease Disappear lists a 15-minute HIIT (high intensity interval training) exercise routine you can do in your home.

A couple of years ago in the New York Times a champion track-and-field athlete wrote a column. She vetted that when she changed the frequency and intensity of her workouts (shortened them) she had better results.

I can vouch for this because I lift weights 2x per week for 45 minutes total in each session. I train harder because I have a limited time to do so.

Shortening my exercise routines has made all the difference.

Lindsey Vonn the Olympic gold-medal skier in her book Strong is the New Beautiful also empowers readers in this regard.

Vonn believes you’ll love to exercise when you find The Fitness You.

This can be salsa dancing or bike riding or gardening or swimming.

The key factor is to get moving and keep moving throughout the day.

I found my Fitness Me when I started to lift weights. Strength training was the number-one activity that toned my body and sharpened my mind.

To readers everywhere I say: put down the diet books. Find the exercise you like to do and keep doing it as long as it helps. Find something else to do when it better suits you.

At 54 years old I can no longer work out for an hour at a time in each session. I”m more of a sprinter not a marathoner in terms of exercise.

If you think you’re a “failure” because you don’t live up to the standards that so-called experts preach to everyone in America: think again.

I’m here to say that listening to what your body needs and paying attention to the signals your body is giving you matters more than what an expert says who hasn’t met you.

In the coming blog entries I’m going to report on other changes I made living in menopause.

The science backs up these habits.

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Cereal Killer

I wanted to write about a specific change I made that turned everything around.

Just say no to boxed cereal for breakfast. I would even say not to buy any food “product” that comes in a box. Especially not frozen boxed lean cuisine that is allegedly healthful or a frozen choice passed off as a smart one.

Making one tiny change has made all the difference for me.

For over 4 months I’ve been scrambling organic eggs and organic veggies for breakfast.

The health coach I hired had zoomed in on my granola mush morning habit (pour milk in bowl; eat in five minutes) as a culprit in my lack of energy.

Ever since scrambling the eggs and veggies it’s true my mood has improved.

At the same time I changed up the frequency and intensity of my exercise routine.

For over 9 weeks I’ve exercised in the morning in my apartment 2x per week for 40 to 45 minutes total each session.

I’m 54 years old and living in menopause. For over 8 years so far I’ve been lifting weights at the gym and now at home.

You want to be fit and active at mid-life the secret is to do strength training to build bone and maintain your weight.

Since April when I started having the new breakfast food I’ve lost 8 pounds. I most likely lost the weight because of the exercise routine as well.

The older I’ve gotten I can no longer exercise for an hour in every session. The trick I’ve found too is to have my personal trainer create a new routine for me to do for 8 weeks. After this I meet with the trainer again to get another new routine. And so on. And so on.

Because the exercise routine changes every 8 weeks this is partly why I lost the weight.

I want to end here by telling readers: step away from the cereal box aisle.

It takes me longer to scramble eggs and veggies in the morning. I dice the peppers and cut up the broccoli florets in advance on Sunday night. This makes it quicker to cook the breakfast in the morning.

Yet the results have been phenomenal: I feel better having eggs to start the day. And starting to exercise in the morning has been the best wake-up call too.

This said I’m not a fan of obsessing over the number on the scale. I feel better at 8 pounds lighter. Yet it’s not my goal to lose any more weight.

The trick is to know that your weight might have a set point or a range of weight numbers at which your body feels better and is fitter.

I’m not a fan of thinking you should weigh 127 pounds if you’re currently at 205 pounds on the scale.

More than how much you weigh it’s your health habits that will determine how you feel in your body if you ask me.

Is any kind of cereal really the best breakfast to start your day off with? I think not.

In the coming blog entry I’m going to talk about what I think is a common sense exercise plan for a woman living in menopause.

 

Being More With Less

My new favorite blog is Courtney Carver’s.

She is the woman who edited her clothing choices to 33 items used every 3 months.

I’ll link to her website at the bottom of this blog entry.

Her latest writing is about the Italian ethic of Dolce Far Niente or sweetness of doing nothing.

I’m proud to be Italian American.

Before Carver scheduled time every so often to do nothing in her own words she:

“Ran at an unsustainable pace, multi-tasking my way through the day and enjoying or being present for very little of it.”

That’s exactly what happened in my own life.

Everything changes when you go through “the change.” This is no exaggeration.

Sometimes you need time by yourself to rest and recharge your batteries.

I get what Carver is saying.

More imperative is what she outlines as the Truth:

“Recognize the difference between nothing and numbing.”

“Escaping your busy life with substances and activities that help you numb out does the opposite of intentionally doing nothing.”

Right said Courtney.

In coming blog entries I’m going to talk about my own strategies I’m adopting as a way to Be More with Less.

My new mantra is Go Slow to Move Forward.

Rush, rush, rushing around isn’t good for a person’s mental health. Slowing down and pacing yourself is the solution.

Coco Chanel told women to look at ourselves in the mirror and take off one thing before leaving the house.

I say remove one item from your to-do list before you leave the house in the morning. Better yet remove two items.

Women shouldn’t have to keep doing double the work to only wind up getting half as far.

Won’t you join me and Courtney Carver in enjoying Dolce Far Niente–the sweetness of doing nothing?

Be More with Less blog

Making Changes at Mid Life

Last week I used the last shred of dough to hire a Health Coach.

Her fee was customary and not at all exorbitant for health coach services.

The coach quickly figured out that I needed to change up my eating plan:

I’m to cut out carbohydrates like any kind of grains. I’m to buy full-fat plain Greek yogurt instead of 0 fat yogurt. I’m to add protein and healthy fat to my breakfast and lunch meals.

Out, out will go the granola, and the pasta of any kind except only rarely as a treat (once a season as opposed to weekly.)

Eggs are perfectly fine to have for breakfast. I buy the organic eggs and scramble them with organic mushrooms, diced peppers, and broccoli.

At mid-life I buy and cook mostly organic food. It tastes better. It doesn’t have cancer-causing pesticides. It’s cheaper than paying medical costs when you become ill.

Alas, lifestyle choices are often the culprit in ill health at mid-life and beyond.

I’m lucky that as a young kid I always detested cigarette smoking so didn’t take up this awful habit.

In my Flourish blog I’ve talked about how the food we eat can impact our mood.

Emotional distress can cause physical fatigue too according to a doctor.

At 50 and beyond–even starting at 40 and younger–it pays dividends to make your health a priority.

Living in health and harmony can enable you to live longer if you ask me.

I also think that making conscious choices at mid-life is the way to go. Instead of acting or reacting on autopilot not aware of what you’re thinking doing or saying.

At 50 and beyond there can be a lot of stress. Some of us might be acting as our parent’s caregiver.

It can also be quite a shock when we realize we need to make changes to sustain our health as we get older.

In the Flourish blog is where I will continue to talk in detail about fitness and nutrition.

In here I would like to talk about practical lifestyle changes.

The coming blog entry will be devoted to managing your wardrobe better to ameliorate your health.

Who really needs 100 sweaters?

Do What Makes You Happy

The International Women’s Writing Guild used to ask its members in their newsletter: “Who are you?”

Who you are can change as you get older.

Your orientation to life can change post-illness.

Self-growth and even fun can be had in doing new things to shake up the doldrums.

I’m not the same person I was when I was 22. Heck–I’m not the same person I was when I turned 50.

Are any of us the same self we were in our twenties?

That’s the beauty of living life: we can change elements of who we are as well as adopt a new persona outwardly.

I’ll continue in this blog entry to talk about setting goals at mid-life to become happier and healthier.

My new favorite role model is an ordinary mental health peer who ran in and completed the New York City Marathon this month.

Even people in wheelchairs compete in the marathon and cross the finish line.

This gives me incredible hope.

I’m 53. My goal is to run on the treadmill.

To this end I was tested on a treadmill at a Jack Rabbit running shoes store.

I have a neutral foot stance so I bought a pair of blue Brooks shoes with light blue trim.

Though I don’t want to start taking an antidepressant you should not hesitate to pop a pill if you need to do that to feel better.

I will start to report again in the Flourish blog on fitness topics.

In here I want to uplift and inspire you that it’s not ever too late to take up a new hobby or sport at mid-life.

Exercise is rightfully an adjunct mental health treatment.

Why wait? The future is now.

Set a goal. Find a support buddy to help you achieve the goal. Be a support buddy to your goal mate.

You might think: “I’m too old to…”

Nonsense. I went to graduate school with a woman who was in her seventies. No kidding.

I didn’t start lifting weights until I was 46. Before then I hadn’t lifted one 5 pound weight.

So Just Do It:

Take up running, go back to school, remodel your bathroom, find the love of your life.

Do whatever would make you happy.

 

My Too Crazy Dream

Seriously. I watched the Nike ad. There’s nothing controversial or offensive about it. You can view it on YouTube.

How could people want to boycott Nike after watching the video?

Why are people who haven’t gone to a gym and haven’t exercised a day in their lives up in arms about the positive empowering message voiced in the video?

Now I can no longer hold the delusion that so-called normal people in America are actually sane.

Why are people affronted that Colin Kaepernick is using his voice to make a difference?

As usual, it’s the people whose faces are a whiter shade of pale that are in opposition anytime a courageous individual advocates for social justice.

Sales of Nike products rose 31 percent after the Kaepernick video was aired. I too intend to buy a second new pair of Nike training shoes.

Yes, I know of what I speak because I lift weights at the gym every week.

The Nike video is incredibly inspiring and uplifting to me of course because it reminds me of the time when I was told my dream wasn’t possible to achieve.

In 1988, I was told the best I could expect was to collect a government disability check for the rest of my life and live in public housing forever.

I didn’t buy that snow job for myself then. I don’t buy what people are still selling today about recovery being an impossible dream for others.

The Nike ad tells viewers not to want to be the greatest athlete on your team or the greatest in America.

You should be The Greatest Athlete Ever.

In this regard the goal for those of us living in recovery isn’t to have succeeded despite having schizophrenia.

My goal is to be The Greatest Christina Bruni Ever.

Your goal should be to be The Greatest ___________________(fill in your name) Ever.

The schizophrenia, whatever your illness is, has nothing to do with this.

To end this blog entry I’m going to quote Colin Kaepernick from the Nike video:

“Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy. Ask if they’re crazy enough.”

 

The Number on the Scale

I want to write about how following trends in fashion is a mistake.

Not every item of clothing offered in stores or online will fit and flatter every person’s body. This shouldn’t deter us. In the Bobbie Thomas book The Power of Style she has a section on determining your body type and the clothing choices that will flatter it.

Now Loft and Banana Republic online have Plus sizes as well as Petites. It has been a long time coming for this victory.

Repeat after me: the fit of your clothes is what counts not whether the clothing is popular this season. Going to a tailor for alterations will perfect the fit of your clothing.

If you’re in a store trying on clothes refrain from attempting to squeeze yourself into a smaller size because it’s “your” size. Size doesn’t matter: only the fit of the clothing item does.

To wit: I have four different sizes of pants and jeans hanging in my closet.

It’s also a mistake to rely on a single number on the scale as a barometer of how healthy you are. Some experts believe each of us might have a “set point” where our body stays in a certain weight range.

This is undoubtedly true. I’ve been lifting weights for over 7 years so far and I’m the same weight I was as before I started this intense exercise regimen.

The difference is I dropped one pant and skirt size because I gained muscle.

If you think you have to be or should be “skinny” that’s a mistake too.

I’ve excoriated Bethenny Frankel in here before for writing a book that claims you can be skinny forever.

It might not be realistic to want to weigh 127 pounds when you weigh 200 pounds now. Even losing just 10 or 20 pounds to start can be perfectly fine if you ask me.

Improve your health by exercising in some fashion and you’ll feel better even if you don’t lose a significant amount of weight (according to research).

Thinking in terms of having “functional fitness” is the way to go.

I’m happy that I’m fit, energetic, and can carry packages home from a store.

Yes–I’m not naturally thin. I’m “thin” because I exercise and eat mostly healthful food.

In my twenties I used to be 20 pounds overweight. By changing what I ate, seeing an M.D. that had a private nutrition practice, and starting to exercise consistently, I lost the weight in six years and kept it off.

You’re going to be miserable if you aspire to be “skinny” because a reality TV housewife star tells you it’s possible to do this by adhering to her latest scheme.

I’ll end here by telling you: relax. You shouldn’t feel or be made to feel guilty or ashamed because you’re not a certain acceptable number on the scale.

When I was 20 pounds overweight in the 1990s, I wore nothing but Esprit mini skirts.

So there–your weight shouldn’t deter you from dressing in style.

Buy clothes with the perfect fit or that can be made perfect with tailoring.

Doing so you’ll look and feel like a million bucks.