A few years ago when I turned 50 and my world was topsy-turvy . . . I decided to get a grip. Not only had I packed on 15 post-menopausal pounds (too much of it settled around my middle), my energy lagged, and I felt gloomy and glum a lot of the time. Even worse, I started to think that midlife wasn't going to be so great after all. For the first time in my life, I had a bad attitude.
That's when I embarked on my journey to get the best information . . . so I could live my best life after 50. A big part of this revolved around getting healthy and fit . . . without spending hours in the gym, or a ton of money. I wanted results, and a plan that was sustainable for the long haul.
Not too much to ask, right? So, I consulted with some of the best fitness experts in the country to find out what works, and what doesn't. After weeding out everything that didn't seem to make sense for my body, age, and lifestyle, I created my own personal program that include the three pillars of fitness:
- cardio (a high-intensity workout of running combined with walking)
- balance (to make sure my risk of falling and possibly breaking something was kept in check)
- strength-training (to build stronger bones to fight osteoporosis and look better in my jeans).
My strength-training program consists of three key moves: squats, push-ups, and the gold standard of exercises: the Plank.
I did my first Plank while taking a mat Pilates class a few years ago. It was incredibly hard, but almost Zen-like because you have to be totally and completely still for 60 seconds or more. (You may need to work up to that time, as did I.)
It's a powerful exercise that works your entire body, and according to all the latest research, it's one of the best ways to tone and strengthen your waistline, too. So good, in fact, that many fitness trainers are steering their clients away from sit-ups and to the Plank. There's been a lot of talk in the fitness industry about how, at best, sit-ups don't get the job done, and at worst, can hurt your back or neck. I gave them up a few years ago, and never looked back.
Proper form is key when doing the Plank, so be sure to follow the instructions in this video (below). The last thing you want to do as you're embarking on a new fitness program is do it incorrectly and get hurt.
What do I recommend? Do what I have been doing for the last six years (after getting the green light from your doctor, and watching the video), which helped me lose--and keep off--the 15 lbs., drop a full pants size, feel better, look better, and improve my overall health and well-being:
Do 20 squats, 20 push-ups hold the Plank position for 90 seconds, and take a 10-second break when you're done. Then do them all over again. Every day do three to four sets. It takes less than 15 minutes. And, for sure . . skip the sit-ups once and for all.
And remember this: We can't control getting older . . but . . . we can control how we do it.
Questions? I want to hear from you! Let me know how you're doing with the exercises. For more tips on living your best life after 50 (or 60, or 70...) check out The Best of Everything After 50: The Experts' Guide to Style, Sex, Health, Money and More and www.bestofeverythingafter50.com. Keep me posted on how you're doing by subscribing to me on Facebook and "tweeting" me on Twitter at @BGrufferman. Check out the full video series - The Best of Everything - on the AARP YouTube Channel.