Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Lean, mean, the retirement dream?

There appears to be a well held mantra that sometime after you hit 40, and certainly for each decade that comes subsequently staying in shape becomes increasingly close to impossible.  I've certainly heard people say it, and often with much conviction and almost always when discussing their current weight and fitness.  As I am now in my retirement years, and no doubt been guilty of perpetrating this well known 'fact', a niggling voice has got me asking questions.  How true is it really?  

Whilst there certainly appears from various studies that the body doesn't continue to work with the heady mix of hormones and lean tissue that it might have done in our youth, it does appear that we may be largely discounting the effect that our lifestyles change as we get older, and the effect that has on our bodies, and also our minds.  As we progress into our 30s it is fair to say our pace of life often slows a little.  The days of staying up until the early hours in nightclubs, etc become ones of social dinners with friends, drinks, and starting families.  Balancing work, friends, children, drinks (spilling is just wasteful), and ticking items on the bucket list tend to leave precious little personal time.  Regular exercise, and healthy eating are often put on a backburner, if not flammbe'd altogether.  After spending years being relatively inactive, do people suddenly become active again?  Some, but its probably fair to say that these are the exception.

Personally when I cast my mind back this starts to ring far more true than I'd like.  Certainly when I was younger I was very slender, and in fact did some modelling.  As far as I recall it, and at the risk of alienating readership it wasn't actually that hard for me to keep in that shape at the time.  However as I've got older, it feels more like a hard fought battle against the waistline creep.  I'm in reasonably good shape now, but it does fluctuate far more than I'd like and there is always room for improvement.  Its also fair to say I've tried more than a handful of diets from the restrictive to the outright ridiculous, and other than some temporary benefits, none have offered the 'answer'.  Perhaps it is indeed just that - there isn't a single answer but rather a realisation of what the current status quo is. Not enough activity.

In some respects this sounds bordering on the obvious, and I guess it should be.  So if the issue isn't one of agreeing that staying active is important, what is stopping us from reaching our fat-loss goals?  People often have misgivings about using a gym but it still remains one of the most effective places to do productive exercise.  We're awake for upwards of 100hours a week, so spending a few hours of that on quality exercise seems worth it if we to are both to look good in our retirement, and more importantly stay healthy.  So on this topic I'd like to end these few thoughts on striving to be as svelte as possible in my 60s by mentioning a gentleman by the name of Dr Berardi at Precision Nutrition.   Here are a couple of links to his entirely free 5 day fat-loss videos that are thankfully short and refreshingly to the point.  The little goatee I believe is optional ;)