(Before I start, I should emphasis that what I share in this post is about how I stay fit. Some of what I do is a bit extreme and probably shouldn’t apply to you.)
Staying fit when you’re older can be harder than getting fit.
There are temptations and weird mind games we play with ourselves. (I talk about how I deal with them in my weekly newsletter. Signup here to read that.)
But today, I want to talk about my routine and what has worked for me in staying fit.
My routine is pretty straightforward. Most of it is normal: I exercise, eat healthily, fast, and give myself breaks:
I walk almost every day of the week and cycle maybe once or twice. I don’t run anymore since I have a baker’s cyst (part of the joys of getting older, I think). My walks are brisk and go for about an hour. And when I ride, I cycle for about twenty or thirty miles at a time. I also do core exercises and pushups every evening before bedtime, and, once a week, I do pull-ups, light squats and other light-ish back exercises. My workouts, especially my walks, aren’t that intense. I used to think I needed to workout like crazy to stay fit when I was younger. But I don’t believe that anymore. You don’t need to go hard to stay fit. You just have to do moderate exercise consistently and move throughout the day. I read this book that confirmed my new way of thinking.
During the week, I’m pretty much vegan. My diet is almost strictly vegetables and fruit, rice and beans and kimchi or sauerkraut. Broccoli, green beans, cabbage, spinach, etc. are consumed with an apple a day, sometimes blueberries, strawberries, etc. But it’s usually an apple. And I eat a crap-ton of oatmeal. It’s overnight oatmeal, so it’s cold. I don’t put anything in it (other than water). It’s just oats. To add some flavor, I add applesauce (because, you know, plain oats are pretty bland). Then I drink herbal teas: turmeric during the day and chamomile in the evening.
What you eat is important, but so is how you eat. Many of us don’t control our portions. I try not to eat too much, but enough.
I fast intermittently every weekday. It has progressed over the five or so years I’ve been doing this. When I first started, I didn’t eat for twelve hours a day. Then I started to shrink the time I was able to eat from twelve hours to ten, then from ten to eight…now, it’s at one-ish hour a day. So I eat one meal a day. Or I should say I have two meals a day in one hour and fast for twenty-three hours.
I know that may sound crazy to some of you. About five years ago, when I heard a guy talking about eating only one meal a day, I thought he was crazy. So, I get it if you think I’m off my rocker. But, it has worked for me. And it’s been a five-year journey, so it took time to work up to this, and I have found that this regimen makes me feel good physically.
Now, I will also say, my way of fasting isn’t for most people. I’m just describing what I do: I’m being descriptive, not prescriptive. Women should especially be careful when fasting. My way may not work for you. You need to find what works for you to stay fit and healthy. (And, not all fasting is healthy.)
For those of you who think I must not like to eat, you’re absolutely wrong. Believe me, I love to eat. I’m the son of a restaurateur. So I have to find ways to satiate my palate.
Update (8/10/22): I no longer eat within a such a short window of time and am more relaxed. It’s more like a 3-4 hours where I get to eat my meals. I did that because I found myself not getting enough calories and feeling terribly after workouts. So now I eat more food and in longer periods of time.
I do that by giving myself treat-days.
From Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon, I eat whatever I want, whenever I want (within reason). I feast instead of fast.
The family and I always get pizza. I snack. I eat cookies, chocolate, crackers, chips, but everything is made with good ingredients. I still try not to stuff myself. Instead, I sample. Because, really, I just want a taste of something. It’s not about tonnage, but tasting. So I’ll eat a few crackers and a handful of chips and a half a bagel.
While I’m munching away, I listen to my body. If I’m getting full, I stop snacking. I don’t wait until I’m stuffed. Stuffing myself is bad for me. I try to avoid it.
Then, on Sunday afternoons, all of the treats stop. Mostly. Sometimes during the week, I have a small treat or three within my one hour eating window. I don’t want to be militeristic, but mindful.
My way isn’t perfect. And I’m still working on it and finding ways to improve it. There is no one absolute way to stay fit.
If you have any questions about what you read, drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you.
Otherwise, I wish you well on your journey toward a healthier, fitter (mid)life.