By Robert Taggart
When I turned 40, I knew that my body would no longer tolerate my ‘food’ abuse of eating whatever I wanted and still be kind to me. When I turned 50, I had a decade under my belt of knowing when, what and how much of the things I loved that my body would tolerate while keeping things pretty much under control. Now that I have reached 60, the things I counted on to keep my body weight ‘good’ body weight have started to let me down.
I have always held to the mantra, that if I can keep my waist in fair shape the rest of me will follow. This probably has something to do with my disdain for buying bigger pants. It is probably a pride issue, but having a waist several inches bigger than my inseam bugs me. Not to mention the ‘reality’ of sitting down and being able to pinch more than a few inches of excess stomach. When you have totally forgotten that you have a belly button because of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ it is time to make some changes.
I am not writing to you readers that currently have a mobile app for your personal ‘biometrics’ and other health and wellness parameters on your smart phone. Nor am I writing to those who would say ‘I am glad to be fat and happy, and I am not changing anything.’ I am addressing you readers that would like to be, and stay, say, 10 lbs heavier than what you ‘ideally’ would like to be. If you can maintain that ‘ideal +10’ condition, as I call it, then you are sufficiently happy with the way you look. That means no guilt on your weekly Friday Night Family Pizza night out!
Ok, now you are asking, “How do I stay within 10 lbs of where I ideally would like to be?” You have to be somewhat aware of what you eat and drink, when you eat and drink, and what kind of physical activity you do. You could read books on the above mentioned, but let me just tell you what works for me.
1. Add Water. I drink ½ my body weight in ounces per day and I lace it with a pinch of sea salt (no iodine). For me, that means I drink 95 oz of good quality filtered water (I own a good ceramic water filter with fluoride filters) throughout the day. I stay properly hydrated giving my body its best chance to maintain a good body weight, boost my immune system and feed it what it needs most. If that seems like a lot, don’t worry, you will get used to it. When I say water, I don’t mean coffee, soda, beer, etc…..water!
2. While I am aware of most of the ingredients that I eat, I don’t record all my calories or carbs. I also am not academic about the % of protein or fat. I DO try to watch my portions. It takes some self-discipline when my lovely wife cooks a favorite food, but if I can limit myself to one portion and not 2 or 3 (most of the time), I am eating fewer calories. Reduced calorie intake over the course of 4 out of 7 days in a week is a simple way to get to your ‘ideal + 10’ body weight. An example of this would be to eat normal on Sunday, then limit yourself to 600 or so calories on Monday. Tuesday would be a normal day and then back to a reduced calorie day on Wednesday and so on. Don’t get flustered about only 600 calories or so, because you get eat more the next day. Some suggest going 5 days of ‘normal’ followed by 2 days of reduced calories. The danger there, I think, is that you can open yourself up really going overboard if given 5 straight days of normal eating and few people can ‘fast’ two days in a row.
3. When you get to your ‘ideal + 10’ body weight, you can relax the ‘fast’ days to just two a week and keep an eye on your body weight. I do not think that a certain body weight is the most important goal. Much better to focus on strengthening your muscles as you get older, because good quality muscle, bones and tendons equal quality of life.
4. As you attempt to get to ‘ideal + 10’, it would be easier to avoid eating any calories after 8 pm. Of course there are times when this cannot be avoided, (parties, traveling schedules, etc), but keep it on your mind. You will be well served with a reduced waist line and better sleep.
5. What to eat. Ever heard of white sugar, white death? Anything that is processed food is of marginal benefit to your body. This means a lot of the store-bought food that appears on the inner aisles of your grocery. I am not a gardener per se, but I learned that it isn’t hard to map out a few raised vegetable beds and plant tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, squash, herbs or whatever you might like to eat. If I can grow vegetables, anyone can. When you consider the cost of just one cucumber at the store vs the several dozen you grow yourself (without pesticides), your bank account will thank you, not to mention your taste buds!
6. If you can, invest in a Vitamix or similar type blender to make gorgeous, delicious and nutritious ‘green’ smoothies. Really, you don’t half to be a health nut to enjoy them. You can start off with the baby-step smoothies, where you have lots of blueberries, apples and other fruit. But eventually you will learn to love it with kale, spinach, swiss chard, ginger, beets, cucumbers, and only ½ the fruit, along with some ice, and that’s it!
7. Finally we come to the topic of exercise. Do I have to? No, you don’t. But if you are going to go get to ‘Ideal + 10’ quicker, go the extra mile and watch what and how you eat, why not put your program into full gear by picking some physical activity you like to do and do it. Build up to a 30 minute walk. Take your spouse with you. Ride a bike. Thirty minutes a day of moderate physical activity will help your cause.
You have to schedule it like an appointment. You are not getting additional time in the day to do this, so you need to re-prioritize your day to include it. Thirty minutes less of TV? Thirty minutes less on the internet or computer? Thirty minutes less sleep? You decide, but decide!
You do not need to become a fitness and wellness fanatic to reach your ‘Ideal + 10lbs’. It is achievable if you want it. The benefits are huge in terms of improving your quality of life and even mental well being. You may even catch yourself actually liking what you see in the mirror. Now you know what to do, go do it!
Robert Taggart just turned 60 and is enjoying a great relationship with his ‘Ideal plus Ten’ body. He has been a health club owner and fitness industry professional for 30 years and is the CEO of T2 Fitness LLC, a health club equipment supplier. His favorite food is Friday night pizza.