The short answer is no. It’s never too late to improve your overall level of fitness. Is your new year’s resolution to lose weight every single year, and you still are no closer to achieving the level of fitness and wellness you desire? Well, it is possible to improve your body and overall health, even if you are older. Older adults can see plenty of benefits from working out, like the prevention of muscle loss and osteoporosis. You can also decrease your chances of getting diabetes or heart disease. Of course, always talk to your doctor about beginning a new weight loss or strength-building program. Here are some factors to consider when trying to get in shape later in life.
Adjust Your Expectations
Your body, mind, and lifestyle are just not what they used to be, so you need to have realistic expectations for how quickly and how completely you can get into shape. Losing one to two pounds per week is what most experts agree is a reasonable amount of weight loss. Thinking that you are going to lose five pounds each week is unrealistic and will only set you up to feel discouraged. Also, using a tape measure to track inches rather than pounds is a better way to see if you are losing weight in the right places. Make sure to write down your goals, your starting weight, goal weight, starting measurements, and goal measurements. Also, don’t forget to take a “before” picture to see how far you’ve come when you do reach your weight-loss goals.
Come up with SMART goals for your fitness objectives. Write them down and check back periodically to see how you’re doing. Tracking your progress will lead you to success.
- S = Specific: Make your goals very specific. For example, losing a certain number of pounds, or fitting into a particular pair of jeans.
- M = Measurable: Be sure that you can measure your goals – in pounds, inches, weight lifted, minutes of working out, etc.
- A = Achievable: Is this fitness goal something you can achieve?
- R = Realistic: Can you realistically do what it takes to reach your goal?
- T = Timely: Set a specific due date for your goal.
Get Your Food Under Control First
It’s best to get your way of eating under control first if you want to lose weight. Once you have a solid foundation of a diet that works for your body, personality type, schedule, and food preferences, you can slowly add more exercise. Of course, exercise is excellent for your body and your mind, but it is not the fastest way to lose weight. Also, when you start a new exercise program, you are likely to have an increased appetite. If your diet has a good foundation, you will be able to make better choices and avoid overeating.
Find a Workout Buddy
Work out with a friend or join a community-based program. People are much more likely to stick to their fitness program if they have some accountability. Besides motivating each other to show up, a workout partner can help you to keep your form on point. You might also be more likely to try different types of workouts if your friend is up for stepping outside of the traditional workout box with you. It’s also safer to work out with a friend, especially if your workouts take you off the beaten path. And, let’s face it, it’s simply more fun to have a friend by your side while working out.
Work Towards a Goal Event
Do you have a favorite charity or local organization that puts on 5k or 10k walks or runs? These are excellent opportunities to set a goal and do some good in your community at the same time. Having a more long-term goal might keep you motivated enough to meet your smaller, short-term goals of working out each week. Also, you will be working out for the greater good, and you can choose a charity that is close to your heart to really make a difference and lose weight at the same time.
Make Working Out a Habit
Moving should be just as much a part of your day as brushing your teeth and taking a shower. Even if you don’t have a scheduled work out each day, make sure to add a little movement to your daily routine to make fitness a more significant part of your life. Prioritize your fitness program to reach your wellness goals. Prepare the night before your workout by putting it on your calendar and setting out your workout clothes so that everything is ready to get going.
Address Your Stress
Think you’re not stressed out? Guess again! There’s almost no other factor that can sabotage your wellness goals like stress. Research shows that when we have a lot of stressors in our lives – like overwhelming work responsibilities, dysfunctional relationships, family issues, financial woes, and general day-to-day anxiety – we produce more circulating cortisol. This stress hormone that would be beneficial if we were trying to out-run a lion can wreak havoc on our metabolism if we are producing too much of it too often. Find out what your key stressors are and address them head-on. Try meditation, yoga, deep breathing, talk therapy, or a massage as antidotes to stress.
Some scientifically proven ways to quickly reduce your level of stress are:
- Go for a short walk.
- Breathe deeply.
- Try visualizations or guided imagery.
- Put on some soothing music.
- Watch a funny video clip.
It is better late than never when it comes to improving your level of fitness. No matter how old or out of shape you are, there are steps you can take to increase your chances of success. Start by setting realistic, attainable goals and come up with a plan to reach them. Feel free to seek professional guidance from a nutritionist or personal trainer. Finally, be sure to consult your healthcare provider when beginning any new workout program or diet.