I took a long and hard look at myself in the mirror and saw that all the work I had done so diligently in the 80s in building a strong core has disappeared. In my mind’s eye I thought I still had some remnants left in the deep muscle tissue but hey, who am I kidding. And something started happening to me in my late 50s.
I put on weight, found myself losing my balance and generally felt that my muscle tone was not like it used to be. The idea that this decline must be accepted because it goes hand in hand with aging got me feeling sad and on the verge of depressed.
I considered going to work out in the gym a la 1980s but even Jane Fonda has come out with a series of new work out books that lend a revised slant on how to keep trim, strong and upbeat.
The keyword here is strong. Strong today has become the new fitness trend for women. We don’t want to get skinny, we want to be fit and enhance our natural physique.
Thirty years’ ago the popular trend was to strap yourself into a Nautilus machine and let the unit help guide you in your efforts to lift weights in gradually increasing poundage. I usually ended up spending what seemed like half my time readjusting my seat height and angle so that I got leverage at the right points on my body. I never really found this approach much fun and just grit my teeth and accepted it as a necessary evil.
Today, when I work out in my CrossFit box I don’t have time to grit my teeth since I’m focusing on learning the right technique for playing in the playground. Our “playground” consists of free weights, rings suspended at the end of straps, ropes, medicine balls, kettle bells and just the bare basics of learning how to use them. The keyword here is “free”. You are free to combine an endless assortment of exercises while using these “toys” to build strength and stamina. You get to fathom your body’s capabilities and as a bonus, you even get to meet that person inside of you who’s been waiting a long time to feel empowered and good about themselves.
Lately, I am noticing that I stand a bit taller and look forward to my Tuesdays so I can start my three day CrossFit classes for that week.
It has been about four weeks since I first started at CrossFit Chilliwack http://www.crossfitchilliwack.com/. Two days’ ago I noticed some small progress already which has me psyched. And I haven’t even started to supplement with practicing at home yet!
I can crouch down a bit more with my squats and step up to a higher level on the step up exercise with a little less shakiness. When I think about doing these that Mental Ice Block is starting to melt. As small as these advances are they represent the beginning of a journey of steps that will take me to a new destination called Well Being. It feels just a little less daunting this month.
Health experts all confirm that this new lifestyle of lifting increases your confidence and self esteem. The many great benefits to strength training include the following:
Use it or Lose It
If you haven’t already noticed it, your lean muscle mass will naturally diminish with age so by building strength in your muscles you will decrease the amount of fat in your body. When the muscles are toned you have better balance and will be less inclined to lose it and ultimately, fall. Strong muscles protect the joints from injury and boost your stamina so you won’t tire as easily. (Do you find yourself taking more cat naps lately?)
It’s Time to Age Gracefully
Aging gracefully means fewer falls and injuries and exuding a confident persona paired up with a toned body. You do not lose your femininity when you gain strength but you DO lose those ugly sagging parts instead.
Routine exercise makes doing daily tasks much easier so you are less dependent on others for help in daily living. Throw the garbage out yourself instead of asking someone else to do it! It’s just another toy in the playground.
The facts are that strength training 2-3 times weekly for 2 months will help you gain 2 lbs of muscle and lose 3.5 lbs of fat. This looks like a pretty good trade off.
It also helps to develop strong bones by stressing them, increasing bone density and decreasing the risk of osteoporosis.
Instead of taking meds, lift some weight instead. You can manage chronic conditions like arthritis, depression, diabetes and obesity much better so why not get addicted to a few pounds of iron rather than dangerous drugs? In the end your attention span will thank you for it.