By Cathy Risling
When I was pregnant with my son, I put on 9 lbs. Yes, friends, you read that correctly.
Before you peg me for a health nut, read on. It took several heartbreaking years to get pregnant so when the doctor said I was pre-gestational diabetic, I followed his lead. I exercised after every meal, cut out all sweets and greatly reduced carbs. Sodas and wine were replaced with glasses and glasses of water. I lived under the threat of insulin if I didn’t keep my numbers down.
This resulted in a healthy baby and a happy mommy who weighed significantly less at childbirth than she does today, eight years later.
I have learned an important lesson since: There is no weight loss without exercise and no amount of exercise will reverse the effects of poor eating habits. It’s that simple.
As we age, it’s hard to lose weight and have less energy. Our metabolism slows. We tend to be less active at a time in our lives when healthy living should be most important. According to the National Institute on Aging, regular exercise and physical activity can reduce the risk of some diseases and chronic conditions such as arthritis, heart disease and diabetes.
Unfortunately, finding time to exercise and eating healthy can be a difficult act to balance. Here are a few tips I have found that help keep me on track.
Redefine date night. Hit a local hiking trail or challenge your husband (or friends) to a game of tennis. Forget the coffee; catch up over a hearty walk around your neighborhood. The easiest way to avoid exercising is to plan to do it alone. When you commit to someone else, chances are you won’t flake out.
Carry snacks. I have to admit, I’ve never had a French fry I didn’t enjoy. It’s my go-to snack when I’m starving away from home. And I’ve starved a lot when in a hurry. Avoid the fast food lane by reaching for a healthy snack you can keep in your car, briefcase or purse.
Plan your meals. We’re all in a hurry and no one knows that better than food-to-go places. Take the weekend to plan meals for the week, shop for those items and have them ready to prepare. If you want to avoid poor choices, don’t put them in your fridge.
Think weightlifting and a young, tan, bulky Arnold Schwarzenegger may come to mind.
We all want to be healthy yet most of don’t want the over definition. So we shy away from the weights and do our 30 minutes on the stationery bike or take a Pilates class.
While these are both great forms of exercise, we may be missing the benefits of lifting weights. Weights firm muscles. They make us stronger. They can help us become lean. And all of this can be achieved without looking like Arnold.
Following are some common misconceptions about weight lifting.
• Weightlifting bulks us up. It takes a lot more than lifting weights 10 minutes a few times a week to look like a body builder. At the top of that list is increased calorie intake.
• Weightlifting works on muscles not fat. While a healthy diet is our best defense when it comes to shedding pounds, lifting weights increases metabolism, which in turn leads to reducing body fat.
• Weightlifting is too hard. Remember the 1920s image of the guy with the sleeveless body suit doing the Steinborn Lift with hundreds of pounds on his barbell? That was then, less is now. Health experts say that as long as you practice three sets of three reps and rest a couple of minutes in between—that equates to less than an hour a week—you’ll benefit.
• Weightlifting hurts my achy body. Researchers have actually found the opposite to be true. According to the Mayo Clinic, strength training can help improve balance, increase bone density and manage chronic conditions like arthritis, back pain, heart disease and diabetes. And what’s good for the body is also good for the mind, according to Mayo Clinic doctors.