At 56, Bob Natoli is one of the oldest six-time Guinness World Records holders for feats of fitness. His latest record came when he lifted 51,640 pounds with an upright barbell in one hour. The Oswego New York grandfather is a fitness guru and recently created the "True Vision 4 Success" fitness program, which, while helpful to anyone trying to lose weight, is really targeted to post 50s.
"Being over 50 doesn’t mean succumbing to an overweight and out-of-shape life," said Natoli, who encourages midlifers to shape up for better health versus appearance. "Exercise and proper diet can improve bone density and help avoid the silent danger of osteoporosis. Every ounce you reduce your weight means less stress on your joints."
Natoli says that our metabolism slows about 5 percent per decade once we reach 40. Losing weight decreases the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, he added. And, he says, there is no better time to start living healthier than right now.
Natoli offered these 12 tips for midlifers trying to shed extra pounds:
Fifteen minutes before your largest meal of the day, eat an apple and drink 12 ounces of water. The average stomach holds approximately 32 ounces. Eating the apple and drinking water helps you feel satiated and you'll avoid extra calories.
Measure and monitor your progress on a regular basis. Writing it down establishes a level of accountability. Track your weight often enough to stay aware of your trends, but don't obsess about every pound. Being mindful of the direction your weight is moving helps you figure out what's causing you to lose or gain weight and take appropriate, timely action. So make sure you know your weight and what foods cause you to gain.
Exercise in the morning before you eat anything. Studies show that there are more fat calories burned on an empty stomach prior to eating in the morning. So boost your effort by walking up and down stairs a few times before breakfast, taking the dog for a brisk walk, doing jumping-jacks with the kids before school, or anything you can fit in your hectic schedule that works. The more the better.
You don't need more frustration in your life, do you? Keep the wrong foods out of the house. If you must have certain things available for other people in the family, try attaching affirmation cards to them that say, "This is not for me. These foods are bad for me. I will not consume them."
Be accountable to another person. People are more successful when they diet on the buddy system. It works because your partner will encourage you, making you accountable for what you eat and how you train. And you'll reciprocate.
Make sure that you spend at least five minutes a day visualizing yourself looking the way you want. Also make sure you're visualizing other people reacting to your new look. Picture buying clothes in a size you've not been able to wear in many years.
I believe this one drink is responsible for a great deal of obesity in our country. A can of soda has bout 40 grams of sugar; that's 150 empty calories you're consuming. And do you really want to consume those artificial sweeteners of a diet soda?
Fast-food is fast, but is it good? The food may be tasty but most fast-food restaurants load much of their food and burgers with salt (causing you to drink more soda) and plenty of fat to create that flavor you love so much. A fast-food hamburger can contain almost 300 calories. A large specialty burger can have more than 600 calories, 1,000 mg of sodium and around 10 grams of saturated fat -- none of which will help you lose weight and become more fit.
These are foods occurring in nature with none or very little help from man. Load your diet with things that grow on trees or from the ground, that swim in the water, fly in the air or run on the Earth. It's hard to become overweight by eating too many vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish, turkey or chicken. Keep your diet as natural as possible and stay away from processed foods created by man. Remember: There is no such thing as a cupcake tree.
And if you haven't exercised in a long time, take it slow to start. One reason people don't stick with an exercise plan is that they start out at a higher level than they should. They burn out because of the overzealous pace or become ill by taxing their immune system from the difficult workouts. Integrating your training into your lifestyle in a sustainable way increases your health and liklihood of ong-term success.
So spice up your training; switch training programs every three weeks to avoid burning out and repetitive stress injuries. For example, those setting out to walk two miles every morning will find after 21 days they'd rather do almost anything than walk those two miles. Instead of changing training programs, many just quit when it becomes boring.
Put the fork down and ask yourself, "Am I still hungry?" Eat until you're no longer hungry, not until you're "full." There's a very big difference between the two. People who eat until they're full say things like, "I couldn't eat another bite," and have a greater chance of becoming overweight, drive up their blood sugar levels and place their digestive system under stress, says Natoli.