Part Three (I think) in our Patreon-Supporter-requested series on weight loss, maintenance and fitness as we age
I've lost track. Doesn't matter. At this point as the stories roll in I am happy to put some words around them and publish, there is such value.
This latest is from JennyB, a fitness pro in America's northern neighbor. At my request (I sent her your questions from your comments) and my additional thoughts, here are her answers. I add that I wanted to address the majestically unfair compulsion to want to look like a fitness pro as we age, which kindly, for many of us isn't likely, but for all of us, once past fifty, look. Let's be fair to ourselves. We can look pretty good but feeling good is better.
To that then:
Lots to unpack here. Let me tell you about my background-degree in physical education, movement specialist and NCCP level Three Cycling coach ( national team ). I will be soon celebrating 25 years of exploring wellness and sports performance. I’m a wellness practitioner and enjoy working on a team with a dietitian. If it sounds like a diet, I’m against it. My approach to nutrition is “good better best” food choices.
Abs are made in the kitchen- this is body building diet culture! Abs and better yet, core strength are built in the gym along with most sport and outdoor life pursuits. Stay clear with shaming food and “clean eating” as it is not a sustainable action. Disordered eating can be life threatening. Fast results fade fast and will fuel body shame or body dystrophia.
The trainer (or us-JH) should look a certain way- yikes! This is something I continually face as an ectomorph body type trainer. People constantly ask me if I even lift weight? I’ve won bike races, passed the firefighter testing and love hauling tractor tires but yet, I have to continually prove my credibility and strength. There are four types of bodies*, and all four look very different but not limited in capacity. There was a female athlete and many time olympic medalist for both winter and summer sports here in Canada who was constantly body shamed and questioned by the media and public. Her competitive performance physique, was higher in body fat. Her muscles were strong not “ripped."
My ex-husband was a national champion gymnast with 2% bodyfat during competitions. He was also of Guamanian descent. Pacific Islanders often can be immensely powerful, but the subcutaneous fat covers the striation of the muscles. Such people, to Jenny's point, are harangued by coaches who should know better. Some folks will NEVER get cut up-JH
Low body fat is ideal- this is dangerous! Women need to have a certain level of body fat to protect energy systems. Too low (under 10%) can compromise health- immunity, brain function and hormone function. A range of 20-30% is healthy for women, and lower for men at 15-25%
(Please note; research shows that first, body fat moves around on us after a certain age, then, depending on our food and exercise habits, it can build up or show up in places we'd prefer not to see it. That said, fat is an organ as critical as the lungs and heart, and if we have too little of it, as Jenny says we can severely compromise our health. A too-thin man or woman who has a heart attack late in life is more likely to die of it than someone with a bit of padding. It's there for a reason.-JH
Also my buddy Frank, above, can't put on muscle and size to equal shorter and thicker body builders. What he has accomplished is amazing. But as a classic ectomorph, he is ever challenged to put on bulk. The above was from his competition last year.)
Aging makes it impossible to lose weight-Hormones have a vital role in our body and definitely present a challenge!! First of all, we are currently in a very stressful world crisis (2020-2022) which produces more cortisol (stress hormone) in our bodies, making it more difficult to lose weight and in-fact, gain more easily.
Healthy coping tools and outlets are essential for weight and stress management. Secondly, aging does bring on major life changes. It is wise to have trust in your family doctor and also track your blood work- hormones, lipid profile, blood sugar along with blood pressure to notice major changes in health.
To this point about the family doctor I am going to add a comment from fellow Medium writer Maria Rattray, with her permission:
... I went to a new doctor recently for a very small matter. But he was having me submit to every test under the sun. I responded by saying that I take no medication, walk every blessed day, lift weights, and stretch, and didn't want to be checked out. But he said something similar regarding age and bodies needing medication.
My response was that I was planning never to use drugs, and to that end, did lots of exercise and ate only good food, that is, NO JUNK FOOD.
But no. We HAD to do the tests. He was determined.There again, so was I!
'Do you know what?' I said. ‘I need a different doctor.' And with that I strode out of his room.
He was 30 years my junior, with a paunch, and I will bet my life that he does NOT exercise. (co-author bolded for emphasis)
My kind thanks to JennyB for this. She's got another right on the heels of this addressing hormonal changes as we age, most particularly for women. Please stay tuned.
I love Maria's story. It echoes another Saga comment where the author said that the doctor works for the insurance company, not for us, and that the client knew more about nutrition than the doctor. THAT IS TERRIBLY IMPORTANT. As you and I age, we are tasked with not only managing our aging process, but also increasingly protecting ourselves against predatory and very unsafe doctors whose personal bottom line is more important than our bottoms.
These are just some of the reasons I do this: I want us to be smarter in these ways (exercise and nutrition) than our doctors. When the medical community starts looking like they work out and eat well, and THEIR health markers are something to look up to, then perhaps I will change my mind. Until then, I am going to manage much of it my way. That doesn't mean don't listen to your doc; it means find a good one.
*Please see this: