These are my top 3 Mistakes That Are Preventing You from Getting Fit and Losing Weight as you head into your 40s.
As a Trainer and Nutrition Coach my demographic of clients are predominantly aged between 40 and 65. Between these ages there appears to be a common theme of obstacles. However the following topics seem to creep up the most.
I want to break them down into three categories. They will outline the biggest mistakes older adults make and what they can do to overcome them.
Mindset – Believing they have no time
One of the biggest mistakes I see older adults make is that they believe in something so much that they genuinely can’t see a way out.
Because this belief has been embedded over a long period of time, it’s very difficult see any other way of doing it.
When these clients come to me, they generally haven’t exercised over and over for a while. The problem this mistaken belief has, is that if you genuinely believe you have no time, then you will never have time.
And having time for fitness will never happen. Without a mindset shift your fitness and health will always be on the back burner.
I recently had an older client who was struggling with having no time, she spoke to me about being too busy to do anything and I had absolutely no reason to disbelieve her. She worked full time and then helped her husband on his business during the evening. Her routine had become so ingrained that she genuinely believed that she had no time to fit in exercise.
I walked her through a “Time blocking’ exercise that I use with clients with this issue, and simply looked to map out the week on a large white board. My intention is to block off time within the week to exercise.
On this occasion I wanted to find 4 hours over the week to fit in our training programme.
Each day she woke at 6am had breakfast and headed to work at 7am. She then worked from 8am to 4pm when she returned home. About 3 times a week she headed to the supermarket before going home.
When she got home around 4.30pm or 5.00pm she began to help her husband in the business and at 6pm she would stop to watch the news until 7. Then she made dinner and on most evenings she would be finished by 8pm.
However she actually went to bed at midnight and between the hours of 8pm and 12am she simply watched TV to relax. That’s 4 hours per night.
At the weekends she didn’t work but spent her time doing weekend activities, seeing friends, chores, and things she enjoyed. So over two days she had a spare 10 hours between these activities.
When we broke this down we worked out that she actually had 40hours per week that she could exercise. (4 hours daily during the week totaling 20 hours, and 10 hours at the weekend).
So when she looked at this in black and white her response was “I can’t believe I have all that time”.
With this all laid out we were able to ‘block off’ 4 hours per week she could exercise and set a reminder on her phone as a cue to start this new habit.
We made her look at exercise as an appointment with herself, like a dentist or doctor appointment. By prioritising it and booking it into her busy schedule helped her break her self-limiting belief and alter her ‘time poor’ mindset.
I’d encourage you to try this and see how many hours you have available.
Mindset and habits are interlinked and sometimes all it needs is a different perspective this alone can empower you to make a change.
Exercise Mistake – Believing cardio is king
Getting fit is more than just losing weight on the scales and when older adults exercise they default to walking, jogging or something that is ‘cardio’. This is a throwback from their era where cardio was king and if you wanted to lose weight then you must do cardio.
The clients I work with generally are getting to the stage of their life where they want to be able to do more physical things. Simply because they have noticed a decrease in strength and fitness.
This can also be plagued by niggly injuries. I have a very good relationship with my physio Alex from Blajevski http://bodyfitphysio.co.nz, and we have created something called the Growing Younger Programme. Alex conducts full body assessments and I build training programmes based on those assessments.
Generally a full body workout is prescribed, which focuses on strengthening the whole body, while incorporating any kind of rehab the client needs.
As we now know that resistance training is superior to just cardio for changing body composition.
Becoming more functional and being fitter is the goal.
The problem with just doing cardio is that you don’t stimulate the muscles enough and when you lose weight you actually lose both muscle and fat.
This makes you lighter on the scales but ultimately weaker and less functional.
When you lose muscle your metabolism slows, meaning you require less calories to function causing you to burn less calories at rest. This is exactly how you gain excess weight, because if you then eat more than your slower metabolism can handle excess energy gets stored as body fat.
This can be a huge problem as you get older.
The way to avoid this is to embrace resistance training by focusing on functional compound exercises (using more than one muscle at a time – such as a press up or squat). Functional has lots of meanings but put simply – exercises that translate into real life ie deadlift, squat, rows, upper push patterns.
One reason for this is simply because when you want to lift a grandchild from the floor, you use a deadlift, when you get up from a chair it’s a squat, when you lift items to a high shelf it’s a upper push. So it needs to support what you do. Therefore full body workouts give you the full benefit.
In order for an older adult to get fit they must look at their health as a whole package and incorporate a well structured programme of cardio and resistance programme. Until they do this they are making a huge mistake in getting fit and living a functional life.
If you want to build your own full body workout you can get a free copy here:
Workout builder – http://www.startafreshpt.com/workout-builder/
Nutrition Mistake – Counting calories and not nutrition
The problem when we solely focus on calories over nutrients is that we can end up becoming nutrient deficient. In other words we may be losing weight from lowering our calories, but our bodies don’t get enough nutrients, such as fibre, vitamins and minerals that we need to thrive. This can spark something called rebound hunger where you can end up feeling hungry after you’ve eaten. I talk about this in more detail in my video here (3 minutes) :
In addition to that, you can get dwindling energy levels, and when you are tired you tend to consume more food due to the imbalance on leptin and ghrelin (the hunger hormones) and this viscous cycle just keeps going around.
As we get older our metabolism slows meaning we need less calories to prevent excess weight gain, BUT we still need nutrients. It becomes even more important to eat nutrient dense foods. These tend to be lower in calories but packed full of nutrients such as vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and complex carbs. Because if we don’t, we will not be getting everything we need.
The way we do this, is to simply buy and prepare real ingredients, avoid processed and packaged foods and keep an eye on portion sizes. When you look at your plate, ideally you should be able to identify the ingredients there in one word, Chicken, kale, potatoes etc. If your plate is Baked beans, crumbed fish and fries, then you may not be on the right track.
In summary, out of everything you must have the right mindset around time. And when you free up time to make fitness a priority you will find the whole journey a far more pleasant one.
If you are a dedicated cardio junkie download my workout builder. You can build a simple full body workout to follow twice a week, and see how you feel.
And lastly start making better food choices. When you do your life will change for the better and you will realise that age is just a number.
Start Afresh and Grow Younger!