11 "rules" that outline my approach to fitness and health.
1. Be strong, physically. Concentrate on building muscle and losing fat. "Toning" and "sculpting" are marketing fictions devised to sell gym memberships without challenging cultural stereotypes about femininity. Glory in challenging those stereotypes, in getting stronger, in all the daily tasks and activities that you can do, and do better, because of those hard-earned muscles.
2. Be strong, mentally. Recognize that as a reasonably in-shape, 40-year-old woman, it is extremely difficult to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. When you are gaining muscle, the number on the scale will likely go up as well. Fat loss will be slower than it was at age 20.
3. Do your own thing at the gym, and do it with confidence. Don't worry about the 95% of women at the gym who spend all their time in the cardio section, at the machines, or lifting teeny weights in useless routines hoisted from the pages of "self" or "glamour." Be courteous, though: even though you may think they are wasting their time, it's their time, not yours. And, at least they are trying.
4. More is not better, better is better. Lift with intensity. Concentrate on form.
5. Rest and recovery prevents injury. At age 20, you may have been able to work out every day without developing tendonitis in every joint you have. At age 40, not so much. See rule #4.
6. Watch calorie intake. It's impossible to lose fat if you are ingesting more calories than you are burning.
7. Eat clean. Protein is the key macronutrient for muscle growth and retention: shoot for 100g / day. Don't fear fat, especially EFAs. Minimize empty carbs, whether "fat free" or not.
8. Water is essential to life. Diet soda is not.
9. Be positive. You can do this. You're not too old.
10. Have fun! If lifting stops being fun, take a break. Go sledding or skiing or hiking. Play tennis. Climb. Take a kick-boxing course. There are endless ways to move your body, and not all of them involve lifting up heavy things and putting them down again.
11. Celebrate your body. Don't get so hung up on where you want to be that you lose sight of where you are and what you have accomplished. Yeah, your body creaks more than it did at age 20 and it's padded with a bit more excess fat than you'd like. So what. Your body is beautiful in its complexity. And, it's the only one you have.
// b. strong