An Active Lifestyle is Possible at Any Age

An Active Lifestyle is Possible at Any Age

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I think we really get down on ourselves when we mess up and then we backslide all the way. Try to find something positive. It doesn’t matter what your starting point is, you need to be ready to say, ‘I am done with doing this to myself.’”

Patricia Ebaire

Patricia Ebaire is not just a success story; she is an inspiration to others who believe that older age must certainly translate to struggle. Many of us pair the idea of aging with stiff joints, loss of flexibility, and general aches and pains. Yet, Patricia is here to show us how wrong that notion can be 

Patricia shared her story with us with the hope of encouraging and motivating others to believe in what they can do. “It’s never too late and you’re never too late,” she says. 

We believe in her message and are grateful for the opportunity to share it. This is her story: 

How Patricia Started on the Path to Fitness

Up until about 4 years ago, Patricia was sure that her health was fine. She had always been fairly active and at a healthy weight, so it never seemed of critical importance to monitor her weight very closely. I thought everything was going great and didn’t think much about having gained 5 pounds a year over the course of the last 10 years.” That’s 50 pounds over the total time period. However, when thinking about it on a yearly basis, 5 pounds hardly seems worth noting. Yet, a few years ago, the results of her blood work told her it was time to make some changes. That was her wakeup call. 

Developing Change and Structuring a Routine

Exercise

With the guidance of her doctor, Patricia adopted some new health goals. Ideally, she hoped to exercise 40 minutes a day. Her actual routine looks more like 2-3 days a week. “It’s an ongoing challenge,” she says. She knows what her ideal fitness regimen would be, but she puts in her best and is satisfied knowing that she does everything she can. 

This is perhaps where most people begin to give up. If they are unable to maintain the very specific regimen they had in mind, they begin to feel a sense of failure that drives them away from their goal. Patricia’s optimism tells her she can just try again the next day! Despite her fitness plan looking different from the initial goal, her progress continues because she does her best to exercise every single day, even if that only amounts to 10 minutes of brisk walking. 

To be fair, her Tuesdays and Thursdays are highly active. On Tuesdays she can be found taking a strength and toning class, teaching yoga, and then playing Pickleball, a sport that merges the elements of ping pong, tennis, and badminton. On Thursdays, she swaps her strength and toning class for weight training and then goes on to yoga and Pickleball. 

“At first, I didn’t think my food choices made an impact because I wasn’t feeling bad.” 

Nutrition

“The other thing I needed to adjust was my diet,” Patricia explains. I knew I had to change how I ate carbs, veggies, and protein. What I wasn’t into was balancing it all. Incorporating the new changes meant “giving up things I was eating too much of. At first, I didn’t think my food choices made an impact because I wasn’t feeling bad. I never used to count carbs and calories in my whole life, but I decided I was NOT going to take a medication. I added fiber, ate less salt, and ate foods with fewer preservatives. Once I did that, eating enough became a challenge because carbs used to be a huge part of my caloric intake and I had to cut that down. But I tell myself every day that each day is a new start. So, even if I backslide a bit, I feel like I can try again the next day.” 

We know that, for many people, adjusting nutrition can be a serious effort. We like to ask people who have done it successfully, what their biggest challenges were and how they overcame them. This was Patricia’s answer:  

Balancing the whole thing was my biggest challenge. I started carrying all my snacks with me so I would never be at the mercy of what food was available at the time. I also always used to look at nutrition labels, but I look at them with a different eye now. I think to myself, Do I want one piece of cake or do I want a couple of meals? If I really get a craving, for example with pound cake, I cut one piece of cake into 8 pieces and I call them “Patricia bites,” so I take a nibble and I SAVOR it. 

Weight Loss Was the Added Benefit Not the Primary Goal

Patricia’s favorite thing about being active was not the weight loss of 54 pounds. “That wasn’t even intentional,” she says. “I just wanted to do what was better for my health.” Her favorite thing was the newfound energy!  

I feel like I can do anything any time. I forget that I’m 66 because there is nothing that I’m not able to do. I live on a second-floor apartment and I can carry 6-8 grocery bags up those stairs at a time. I love the energy! Before I lost the weight, I didn’t even realize how lowenergy I was. 

If You’re Struggling to Believe That You Can Accomplish What Patricia Did:

It’s easy to fall into the habit of thinking that a person succeeded because they have something in them that you don’t. To that, Patricia says I think we really get down on ourselves when we mess up and then we backslide all the way. Try to find something positive. It doesn’t matter what your starting point is; you need to be ready to say, I am done with doing this to myself.  

When it comes to sticking to a new routine, Patricia reminds us that there are so many choices in terms of exercise and food! Choose an exercise you like by trying many of them until you find one that makes you smile. “It’s the same with food. Maybe you do not like cabbage, so try spinach, or kale, or other greens. The fact that there are so many choices, means that you can find healthy foods that you like and build a healthy diet around those choices. 

In Moments of Doubt

When you experience a moment of doubt, Patricia shares that it’s important that you don’t beat yourself up over what other people are doing. “Pat yourself on the back for what you’re doing. Wherever you are is a great place. Don’t ever make your place a bad place. Your effort means so much more than what the other person is doing because their muscles have been doing that for years. Your muscles are trying to get there! 

Ultimately, her message to any generation is that “it’s never too late and you’re never too late. It’s okay to start over the next day, so it’s okay to mess up because you can start over.  

Do you have an inspirational story you’d like to share with us? Email us at blog@lafitness.com for a chance to be featured in an upcoming post! 

For grammatical correctness, length, and clarity, minor edits – none of which alter the original or intended meaning – have been made to the quotes provided. 


Recommended Reading

What to Do When You’re Eating for Two | QA

What to Do When You’re Eating for Two | QA

Question:

My husband and I are thinking about having a baby, what is a good nutrition guide to follow when pregnant?

-Misty

Answer:

How wonderful! Why not follow a smart pre-conception diet now? Laying down a good nutritional foundation means that you’ll not only increase the likelihood of conceiving but also of a healthy first trimester – for you as well as the baby. Get hubby on board, too. 😊 

Many “conception diets” recommend that half your plate be from fruits and vegetables, a quarter from whole grains and a quarter lean protein, which agrees with USDA’s Choose MyPlate guidelines. If you’re trying to get pregnant, drinking reduced or whole fat milk is correlated with normal fertility, but not 1% or skim (non-fat). Consume healthy plant-based fats like avocado, nuts, olives and coconut oil in moderation. Limit refined sugar, red meat and foods containing trans-fat. 

As many women don’t know they are carrying a baby until several weeks into pregnancy, taking a prenatal vitamin with 100% RDI of folic acid (400 µg folate equivalent) and iron (18 mg) is advisable. Many produce items (notably spinach, asparagus, Brussel sprouts) have the B-vitamin folate, necessary for early neural tube development. Dietary sources of the important blood mineral iron include meat, fortified cereals, beans, and dark green leafy vegetables. 

During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, follow your obstetrician’s advice and that from established and trusted institutions such as The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), and The US Office on Women’s Health (OWH). 

You’ll need extra fluids, nutrients and calories as your pregnancy progresses. In the first trimester, folate and other vitamins and minerals are crucial for proper neural tube development, so a good prenatal vitamin is key. Strictly avoid alcohol during this time.  

The second trimester is when you start to expand blood volume and increase maternal stores while your baby grows rapidly from the size of a nut (3”, 1 oz.) to a football (12”, 1 lb.) while developing all of its organs and features. About 2 additional cups of fluids are needed per day. Adding around 300 extra calories from healthy foods with adequate calcium and iron will support this growth.  

In the last trimester, your baby is filling out to full-term weight. This is when you are truly “eating for two, ” although in terms of energy, you really only need an additional 200 calories on top of your 2nd trimester needs. 

Sources: 

  1. Eagleson, H. (n.d.) The Fertility Diet: What to Eat When Trying to Get Pregnant. https://www.parents.com/getting-pregnant/fertility/what-to-eat-to-get-pregnant/ Accessed 1.10.2020 
  2. Mayo Clinic Staff (2018, April 13) Prenatal Vitamins: Why They Matter; How to Choose https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/prenatal-vitamins/art-20046945 Accessed 1.10.2020 

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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Recommended Reading - Q+A

Successful Weight Maintenance – How Do People Do It?

Successful Weight Maintenance – How Do People Do It?

 

It’s hard enough as it is to lose weight, and the more we learn, the more we find how many factors stack up against our efforts to maintain our progress. A review of the literature on weight loss maintenance and weight regain has narrowed down the potential reasons for why keeping the weight off is so difficult. To help us understand why weight maintenance is tough, it helps to consider what makes it successful to begin with. 

What Makes Weight Maintenance Successful? 

According to this literature review, successful weight maintenance is associated with: 

 

  1. Greater Initial Weight Loss 
    • The more weight you lose at the start of your weight loss efforts correlates with how well you can keep your total weight loss off. 
  2. Reaching a Self-Determined Goal Weight 
    • There is potentially a psychological benefit to setting a goal and achieving it that helps you maintain the results of all your effort. 
  3. Having a Physically Active Lifestyle 
    • This can be understood to mean that those who lose weight strictly by dieting will have a harder time maintaining weight loss than those who also incorporate physical activity into their lifestyle. 
  4. A Regular Meal Rhythm That Includes Breakfast and Healthier Eating 
    • Numerous studies have already determined that individuals who eat breakfast are more likely to control their weight,1 so we’re not at all surprised by this one. 
  5. Control of Over-Eating and Self-Monitoring of Behaviors 
    • The ability to practice self-control and to monitor our own behaviors is not a natural skill. It takes practice and will-power to master our involuntary impulses. 

These 5 items are all things you can do. You can work for greater initial weight loss, you can add physical activity to your lifestyle, you can change your nutrition habits.

The following factors also contribute highly to successfully maintaining weight loss, but they are not as easy to manipulate.

According to the same literature review, part of your success is also owed to:

  1. Your Internal Motivation 
    • This is perhaps the reason most of us struggle to start with or stick to plans that we think will be difficult to accomplish. 
  2. Your Level of Social Support 
    • It’s not just a matter of having a support system but a question of how easily you turn to them when you need support. 
  3. Better Coping Strategies and Your Ability to Handle Life Stress  
    • Poor coping strategies can involve eating in response to negative emotions and stress.2 
  4. Self-Efficacy 
    • This is the belief that you can do the things you set out to do. 
  5. Autonomy  
    • This is the ability to make your own informed decisions. 
  6. Your Ability to Assume Responsibility 
    • How well do you take-on tasks that are presented to you? 
  7. Greater Psychological Strength and Stability 
    • How effectively can you check-in with your emotions, recover from setbacks, and recognize maladaptive behaviors? 

In this list we can see how much our psychological, social, emotional, and environmental situations all contribute to our overall ability to care for our health. We haven’t even touched the biological factors that make our individual endeavors more difficult. The bottom line is, there is never ONE reason why you are struggling with maintaining your weight loss. 

Why We Regain Weight

Now that we can clearly see the common factors among those who are successful, we can easily run through those lists and identify which factors are playing a part in our personal struggle. A lot of it is founded in our ability to adhere to certain routines and to new habits. An equally important piece comes in the form of our emotional and psychological strength and the type of support we have.  

What Can We Do About It?

If all these things are tied together, it seems that a person would need a life that is perfect in all ways in order to achieve and maintain their goals. However, we know that no one has a perfect life, and yet there are successful people everywhere. How do they do it and what can we learn from their success that we can apply to our own approach?  

The answer to that is attempted in “Keep the Weight Off” articles everywhere. Everyone has their own idea of which approach works best. Yes, there is some cross-over, but a lot of the advice typically goes back to something along the lines of “watch what you eat” and “do more exercise.” However, if any of the above factors mean anything, the real answer should be something only you can determine based on your individual circumstances. 

Take some time today to think through areas in your life that, if improved, can help you set a foundation for success. A strong foundation can make the difference you need to get where you’re trying to go. 

We invite you to share what you plan to tackle to increase your total wellness and to establish a stronger base. Let us know in the comments below! To read our dietitian’s advice for Slow Weight-Loss, How to Handle a Weight-Loss Plateau, or How to Calculate Your New Calorie Limits After Weight-Loss, click the links to read the QA’s. For more articles like this one, subscribe to our newsletter to receive monthly highlights from the LA Fitness blog! 

Sources  

  1. Davis, Jeanie Lerche. “Lose Weight: Eat Breakfast.” WebMD, WebMD, 31 Aug. 2010, https://www.webmd.com/diet/obesity/features/lose-weight-eat-breakfast#1  
  2. Elfhag, K., and S. Rössner. “Who Succeeds in Maintaining Weight Loss? A Conceptual Review of Factors Associated with Weight Loss Maintenance and Weight Regain.” Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 10 Jan. 2005, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467-789X.2005.00170.x 

Why You Should Practice Some Self-Love

Why You Should Practice Some Self-Love

We often write about how to achieve your fitness goals, how to eat well, and how to keep motivated through it all. Today we’re pausing to recognize how amazing you are for keeping the fight. It’s not always easy to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle and there are a lot of temptations out there that aim to tear us away from our goals.  

With so much love floating around, Valentine’s Day is the perfect reminder to love ourselves and the bodies we’re in. 

This Valentine’s Day show yourself some love and remember that: 

Your Body is Beautiful

Your body is beautiful, and your nutrition and fitness goals exist to keep it healthy. Regardless of why you hit the gym, the track, the pool, or the nature trail, the fact that you show up deserves applause. It doesn’t matter if you’re there to get shredded, to feel amazing in your swimwear, to regain mobility after injury, or to improve your ability to carry out everyday tasks. You are looking after your body and that’s what makes your effort worth it! 

You are Trying Your Best

We all skip work out days from time to time and we all have cheat days when it comes to our nutrition. We know we can do better and we try again. Sometimes we don’t believe we can, and we give up. It’s only human to experience self-doubt and to falter, especially when the road is long or difficult. Even if it takes a while, you eventually try again. That’s the part that matters! If you’re struggling with thoughts that tell you “I can’t do it,” read our article on How to Stick to Your Resolutions to learn how to combat destructive thought processes. 

Slip-Ups Aren’t Always Your Choice

Sometimes life happens. We get ill, we receive a diagnosis that affects how we can eat or exercise, we can’t afford to buy the healthier food option, we must dedicate our energy to care for others, or we just don’t have enough time. It’s good to recognize that sometimes external factors are imposing their will. Your best option may be to establish “a new normal,” and build a routine with, instead of around, your environment.  

It’s also good to take up new ways to care for yourself. It isn’t all about eating right and exercising. Caring for yourself also means that you:

Take Time to Yourself

We don’t realize how necessary this is until we desperately need to rest and recharge. If you commit some time to yourself every so often, you can significantly reduce the buildup of stress and tension. This can be as little as 10 minutes a day. Silence or turn off your phone and disconnect from the world briefly. It feels amazing when you know your time is protected and for this piece of your day, no one gets to ask anything of you.

Make Sure You’re Sleeping Enough

Our mood, energy, and patience all rely on our sleep. It can be a lot harder to manage small inconveniences, let alone larger problems, when we haven’t slept enough. Now add the fact that our circadian rhythm tends to fluctuate naturally with the changing seasons, and our sleep cycles are thrown even further off course. If you pay more attention to your sleep, you might find that your willpower is stronger along with your ability to stick to your goals. 

Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries is a big deal! Do you ever feel taken advantage of, like your kindness is used, or like others know you can’t turn down a request? So, you’re always the one driving the carpool, always the one picking up the tab, always the one taking the tasks or shifts no one else wants at work (this is assuming you would rather not do all these things).

Without boundaries, your physical and emotional energy can drain fast! It’s good practice to start saying “no,” or to work on not feeling obligated to give a full-length essay with MLA citations explaining why you need to say “no.” Setting healthy boundaries can improve relationships with others and can really benefit your own mental and emotional health, making you more capable of devoting your energy towards your personal wellness goals.  

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

By now we should be well-aware that everyone is different and that this is a good thing. Imagine if we were all the same; how incredibly frightening. It’s understandable why we imagine a standard of what’s attractive, what’s beautiful, what’s fashionable, and what’s socially acceptable. Every group of people will construct their own ideals.

However, there is a reason we ask for personalized nutrition and personalized fitness advice. Our bodies are naturally different, and what works for one person may not work for another. Differences in body type alone can mean that even if two people follow the exact same fitness and nutrition regimen that their bodies will look completely different, even at their healthiest. So, don’t compare yourself to anyone else, because the healthiest version of you may not look like the healthiest version of someone else! 

Share your thoughts on how you practice self-care in the comments below! For more articles like this one, subscribe to our newsletter to receive monthly highlights from the LA Fitness blog! 

How Baking Can Help You Build Good Habits

How Baking Can Help You Build Good Habits

February is Bake for Family Fun Month! Aside from yielding delicious baked goods, baking can help families build stronger relationships, improve communication, and teach valuable lifelong skills. You might be wondering, how?  

Well, building healthy skills and habits is a process that starts at home. Group activities, like baking, easily involve family members of all ages and skill-levels and create a space for productive teamwork. All it takes to get started is a quick web search for a healthy recipe, and the willingness to clean up a few spills. 

Here is how baking with the family (or with friends who may as well be family) can be good for teaching and learning healthy habits and goal-setting skills: 

Relationship Building 

Baking allows for creative expression, and you’d be surprised by what you can learn from observing a person’s artistry. In fact, certain types of therapy use art as a way to help children and even adults express emotions, fears, and internal struggles when they’re too difficult to put into words. Working on something that channels our creative side helps us relax, and a relaxed state-of-mind is great for bonding and relationship building. 

A good support system is key when setting goals or developing new habits. Learning to bond with others can help establish new and nurture existing support systems. 

Improving Communication 

“Pass the salt please!” Remember what we said about modeling positive behaviors? It helps others understand what we mean when we say “please be polite” or “please be considerate” if they have an example of what that looks like. When you’re baking, you might say something like “I know your hands are full, but when you have a second can you help me pour the flour?” A statement like this one considers the other person’s current position and gives them room to respond when they are ready. Imagine if the statement was “help me with the flour.” You might get a response like “Can’t you see my hands are full?!” 

Good communication helps us consider how others might receive the things we say. Being able to listen to how our words come across can help us reflect on goals we set and recognize when they sound unrealistic. 

Teaching Lifelong Skills

Baking is a science and it’s often precise down to the minute. It’s great for learning and mastering concepts like: 

  • Timing – Each recipe will vary and one additional or missing ingredient can affect baking time. 
  • How to Estimate – How much is a pinch, really? 
  • How to Follow Instructions – Have you ever missed a step and had to improvise? 
  • Mathematics – Maybe the instructions will feed 8 but you only want to feed 4. Now you need to divide the amount of each ingredient in half. 
  • Chemistry – Food changes when it’s exposed to heat, and that’s all Chemistry! 

When it comes to setting goals, these concepts come into play too! Imagine you have a weight loss goal. You’ll be considering the timing of your meals, recovery drinks, and workouts and altering them to match your changing schedule. You may need to estimate a meal’s calorie count or follow a prescribed nutrition plan or workout regimen. You’ll probably also do plenty of math to track calories, inches lost, and to calculate your BMI. All of this becomes easier when you practice with activities that incorporate these skills. 

Ready, Set, Bake!

Next time you’re stumped for activities to do as a family, unpack your aprons and pull up a good recipe. Your baking day can lead to some positive and healthy skill-building! For some healthy cookie recipes, check out these 8 Waistline Friendly Cookie Ideas. To stay informed with our fitness and nutrition articles, subscribe to our newsletter to receive monthly highlights from the LA Fitness blog! 

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