At 50, I quit smoking (for the 20th time), retired from my life long career in nursing/hospitals, and immediately had started into menopause.
One of those items alone can throw a woman into obesity. I took on all 3.
And I gained almost 50 pounds.
When I had finally had enough, I started to research weight reduction. I bought a jump rope. I bought the book: Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution “the low carb approach that has helped millions lose weight and keep it off”.
I started to read that book.
He talked about carbohydrate as the culprit. Not fat. As a nurse working in a major cardiology hospital, we had believed the culprit for heart disease and obesity was fat intake. Dr. Atkins described the physiology of digestion and metabolism. He said that coronary artery disease had been almost unheard of before the beginning of the 20th century and diet consisted of lots of fat, even saturated fat. What happened then? Sugar. It became plentiful and CHEAP. Sugar, the simplest of carbohydrates. We eat way too much of it.
At any rate, he convinced me he was right. We started that diet. It worked! I was losing! Fast at first. Then slower. Eventually I lost all 50 pounds.
Next, I wanted to tone up and get my body moving again.
I researched free weights. In my heart I’m a cheap skate. So no gym. Been there, done that when I worked at the hospital. I never got there consistently.
I searched for ‘how to’ books and found one I really liked. It had the research studies I loved that showed this would work. The book: Strong Women Stay Young by Miriam E. Nelson, PhD
She described the studies she was involved with at Tuft University. Until the 1980’s it was believed that as people age, they normally lose muscle. Additionally, the exercise studied primarily was aerobic. For the first time researchers worked elderly volunteers in their sixties and seventies at higher intensity than ever done before.
The outcomes were astounding and shattered myths about aging. “Younger athletes trained with weights almost as heavy as their maximum because low intensity workouts didn’t make them stronger. Why would older people be any different?”
In just 12 weeks the muscles these men worked on became 10-12% larger and a whopping 100-125% stronger!
Next they tried this approach on the frail elderly. They took the program to a nursing home. Six women and four men volunteered to work out with the researchers. Ages ranged from 86 to 96 years old. All of them had at least two serious chronic diseases, including heart diseases, diabetes and osteoporosis. Most relied on walkers or canes and several had leg muscles so weak they couldn’t rise from a chair without assistance from their arms. Three times a week, for eight weeks, they faithfully came to the exercise room and lifted their weights.
The results were published in JAMA in 1990 and were truly remarkable! In just eight weeks, these frail elderly men and women increased their strength by an average 175%. On a test of walking speed and balance, their scores rose by an average of 48%. Two participants discarded their canes.
They also found that strength training halts bone loss and even restores bone! It improves balance, helps prevent bone fractures from osteoporosis, energizes, trims and tightens bodies (ladies who worked out didn’t drop pounds, they lost inches.) The muscle mass increase helped control weight, the more muscle mass, the more calories they use, the higher the metabolism rate. Flexibility was much improved. These people never dreamed they could change so much for the better! They were revitalized!
In addition, they found that strength training reduces the risk of heart disease and adult onset diabetes, lifts depression, boosts self-esteem, eases sleep problems, relieves symptoms of both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, combats constipation and stress incontinence.
So, I read that book and began a strengthening program with free weights.
Also began walking on the treadmill (a gift from hubby for my birthday) every day! I did it when Judge Judy was on. Walked for an hour every day at 4:00 PM, Monday through Friday.
This was all back in 1995 and I took the strengthening and resistance training to my parents. We lifted those dumbbells 3 times a week without fail. I really think it had something do do with their longevity. Dad lived to be 89. Mom just died in September at 93.
These books are still available, though I know the resistance training book is out of print but can still be found at Amazon. Dr. Nelson provides basic exercises and tells you how to gauge the pounds you should use. Always, if the weight isn’t difficult to lift toward the end of your repetitions, it may be time to graduate to the next heavier weight.
During the past 8-10 years, I have stopped the consistent use of resistance training. I’ve also been unable to get on the treadmill with any routine.
A situation that will/must change as I take control of my own health!