My Updated Fitness Plan Russ Leonard 3-29-16
The number one excuse that most people use for not exercising on a regular basis is lack of time. I never bought into that excuse even when I was working 10-12 hours a day. One of the greatest rewards of my early retirement has been the ability to plan my fitness schedule without any time limitations. That is a good thing because it takes far more effort and time to stay fit in your late 50's or early 60's than it did when you were 30.
With regards to my fitness, I have spent a lot of time thinking about what I want to accomplish and how I am going to do it. Staying healthy is the number one priority for both my wife and myself. Any time invested towards that goal is time well spent. When coming up with my updated plan, I did not designate a specific amount of time. I developed my plan and scheduled my other activities around it.
I have always been a morning person. I have always enjoyed starting off my day with a good workout. Not only does it make me feel good, it makes me feel like I have done something important before most people are even out of bed. I currently get up between 3:45 and 4:00 AM. This works for me and I have no plans to change it.
When I retired 21 months ago, I started to go for a morning walk or hike each day after lifting weights. I have been fortunate that my health has allowed me to continue to do that without missing a single day. As of today, 639 days straight and counting. Now, I want to keep the streak alive, but if I am not feeling well, I won't hesitate to take a day or two off. I do not like to run, so there is not any running or jogging in my new plan. On occasion I have done some short sprints and may do a few in the future. I won't do what I did a few months ago. Late December was mild and I was taking a long walk on one of the paved trails in town. Every 1/20 of a mile is marked. I decided to sprint 1/4 mile. So off I went at full speed for a quarter of a mile. It was a near death experience! I could not believe how winded I was and how much everything hurt. I have a term for why I occasionally do ill advised things. I like to call it "Curpidity", Which is a combination of curiosity and stupidity. My new fitness plan does not include any "Curpidity". So here is a summary of my new fitness plan that I hope I will be able to continue for the next couple of years. I know that flexibility and adaptation will be required from time to time.
My day will continue to start between 3:45 and 4:00 AM. The first thing I do is eat a healthy, substantial breakfast and drink 16-20 oz. of water. At 5:15 AM I start my weight training, I will do this every day but Saturday. Saturday is my day off, except for my walk. I weight train for 75- 85 minutes. The type of training itself will frequently change but the time will stay the same. I primarily use dumbbells, medicine balls, resistance bands and body weight exercises. I want to make sure that I do push-up, squats and lunges on a regular basis. I will no longer do any plyometrics or any other high impact exercises. After weight training I eat another meal. About 7:00 AM I go for my daily walk or hike. Most days will be 3-4 miles. Once or twice a week I will take a longer walk or hike of about 7 miles. I did not pick these distances at random. Through experience I know that I can do this on a regular basis without any adverse affects. Everything is subject to change as required. When the weather is good I will ride my mountain bike. I will probably ride 4 or 5 days a week, 7-15 miles each time. I will walk or hike in any type of weather, but I will not bike in the rain or cold. I will continue to do Abs and lower back 3 times a week. I also do balance exercises 3 times a week. I Stretch every day.
This plan takes up a large portion of my morning. To me it is time well invested. It covers all the basic elements of fitness. I also enjoy it very much. If staying fit is a chore, it will never be a normal daily function. My goals are simple, stay healthy and avoid injury. If I do not have enough energy to stick with the plan, I will cut back. I have no plans to do any competitive events of any type. Competition turns me into a kill or be killed monster. That does not work at my age. That will only result in injury. Some people like to compete in their age group. That may be fine for them but not me. I am very aware of the limitations that come with aging. Discipline, good genetics, healthy eating and a little luck has gotten me where I currently am. There have been many times in my past where I have pushed myself to a point that most people never experience. Those days are gone forever. I am no longer physically able and finally smart enough not to try.
Staying Fit In Your Fifties Russ Leonard 11-10-15 ,updated 1-30-16
It is hard for me to believe that in a year and a half I will be 60 years old. My fifties are flying by at an unbelievable pace and the changes that have occurred during the past 8-1/2 years are also hard to believe. Before you can fully appreciate what I have done in my fifties to stay fit, you need to know a little more about the decades leading up to my fifties.
I was an active kid who got his first weight set about the age of 13. I worked out at home and with friends until I was 27 years old and joined my first gym. This was an "old school" gym. The gym was a gym, not a health club or fitness center. It was full of competitive bodybuilders and power lifters. It did not have any cardio equipment, just thousands of pounds of iron and the racks and benches on which to use it. What set it apart from most gyms were the owners who only wanted natural steroid free members. One of the owners won the natural Mr. USA contest in the mid 90's.
From day one, I worked out hard. Much harder than most. I was on a mission with goals in dead lifting, squatting and bench pressing. The dead lift and squat goals came easy. The bench press was another story. By the time I turned 34, I was much stronger and looking a lot bigger but my weight had not really increased much. I basically had lost a lot of fat and replaced it with muscle. Having only a 30" waist added to the illusion of size. An interesting thing happened when I was 34. I had my first ache or pain related to lifting. Somehow I had managed to avoid all forms of injury during the previous years. My left shoulder started to bother me. When I mentioned it to a couple of the real old guys (over 50) they just laughed and basically said it is only the beginning.
One day about a year later, I was doing some very heavy decline bench presses. One of the competitive bodybuilders was watching me. He was 45 years old at the time and had won many bodybuilding titles over the previous 15 years. For him to stop his workout and watch me was totally out of character. After I had finished he offered some advice. I don't remember the exact words but he said " enjoy it while you can, because I am 100% sure you won't be lifting like that in another 10 years". He went on to win the natural Mr. America contest in the Masters division (old people over 45 ) later that year. I did listen to him. His resume and experience spoke for itself. But he was wrong. I wish he was right, because 6 years and 9 months later, I fell apart. At 41 years and 9 months of age I reached my all time peak in strength and power. The toll it had taken on me was incredible. It was as if a self destruct timer had been secretly implanted in me years earlier and had finally gone off. Both shoulders and both elbows were a wreck. My left knee and right wrist were also injured. I had been ignoring all the warning signs and was finally paying the price. I had done things that very few people under 170 lbs had ever done but at what cost?
Fortunately for me, my stupidity did not continue. From that day on I changed my entire approach in the gym. I never did another heavy dead lift, squat or bench press again. I never did another heavy military press or clean and jerk. I stopped doing almost everything that required a straight bar which meant I stopped power lifting. It was an enormous physical and psychological change for me. I almost quit the gym. That would have been out of character for me. I gravitated to dumbbells, a little more cardio and circuit training. Circuit training is what saved me from self destructing and kept my interest in the gym. I found something where I could be extremely intense and at the same time minimize my injuries. Of course I still had my share of aches and pains throughout the balance of my 40's, but they were manageable. A small group of us would have a very intense workout every Friday which consisted of lifting, many body weight exercises and small bursts of cardio. The sessions would last over an hour with zero rest between anything. They became know as the "Friday Workout". Many people asked to give it a try over the years but no one else ever permanently joined the group.
Body weight exercises, circuit training, lifting dumbbells and interval cardio training continued into my 50's. And that is where this story really starts.
When I turned 50, I was in the best overall condition of my life. Sure I was stronger at 40, but at 50 I had endless energy. I would still have an occasional minor injury, with the key being minor. For about the next 18 months I was able to maintain that peak level of fitness. Four days before my 51st birthday I managed to do 4130 knuckle push-ups in 3 hours and 19 minutes at a charity event. I raised thousands of dollars for cancer research. My employer alone gave me $2.00 per push-up. It received a lot of attention from the local press in both print and television coverage. It was nice from a fundraising standpoint but I did not really care for it personally. It was nice to see some good for others come out of my thousands of hours of hard work in the gym.
At every Birthday from age 48 to 56, I would do something special that I would never attempt again. It was like a farewell tour of certain exercises.The reason was simple. I was getting older and wiser. The last time I did any heavy curls was on my fifty-third birthday. The last time I touched a pair of 100 lb dumbbells for presses was when I turned 54. It was a simple admission of the aging process that continues to this day.
What has prompted me to write this is that I have a problem. Another one of those hidden timers has gone off. But this time it is in both my body and head and much more subtle. As I write this, I feel great!. Nothing hurts and I am still in good shape. So what is the problem? A steady slow physical weakening and less motivation to do anything about it. I am in a happy place called retirement. I still enjoy exercise of all types. I walk or hike every day. Tomorrow will be the 500th consecutive day of walking and hiking. I bought a mountain bike in early August. I have added a daily ride, weather permitting. I lift weights (light ones ) every day for 75 minutes. I am very active, BUT, The intense killer attitude of my youth is being replaced by a more laid back and mellow retirement attitude. I lack intensity. Intensity is what drives results. It also causes injury. I really like being pain free. I have been wondering what to do about it, or if I should even try to do anything about it.
I decided that I need to set an achievable fitness goal that won't kill me in the process. I am very aware that I will have to change my expectations more often as I prepare to enter my 60's. So much of what I have done over the years is a direct result of my attitude, discipline and intensity. People that know me, don't talk about how much weight I used to lift or how many push-ups I did. They say they wish they had my determination, intensity and commitment. What scares me, is that is what I lack right now.
My good friend Alice just finished her last marathon of the year and will now be coming over 4 days per week instead of one or two, to workout with me. She is a veteran of the "Friday Workouts". We are going to bring back a lesser version of those workouts. I have also devised a simple test of my conditioning that I will take sometime in February. It will be an upper body, lower body and core test. It will consist of 200 military push-ups in less than 200 seconds, immediately followed by 300 body weight squats to a height of 14"( butt must kiss the step), immediately followed by a 15 minute plank. With my quads on fire from the squats, I am sure the plank will be a lot of fun. If I pass the test and I will, it will be a great mental achievement with a little physical discomfort. Just writing this has fired me up a little. Looking ahead to my sixties just got a lot better. Update 12-17-15. I have started to prepare for my test with a little extra effort during the past two weeks. The push-ups will not be a problem since I can already meet my goal. The squats are going to be a little harder than I thought, but I can do it. The big problem is the plank. I did a four minute plank the other day and my shoulders were killing me. I had not considered that my shoulders were going to be an issue with the plank. I am working on it. If I do not make the 15 minute plank, it will not be for lack of trying. I definitely will not risk injury to prove a point. I would have 30 years ago but not now. I am not on an intense mission but at least I am motivated. Update 1-25-16. During this past month I have added a few extra push-ups and squats to my routine, but have not practiced my planks much. I am starting to realize that at my age, cranking up the intensity to meet a future goal probably will result in not reaching that goal. In a couple of weeks or less I will try the test. I am 100% confident that I will succeed with my push-up and squat goals. It is highly unlikely that I will be able to do a 15 minute plank. Too many years of abusing my shoulders has caught up with me. I will give it my best shot, short of injuring myself. I am curious to see what will happen but not ready yet. I am walking a fine line between advancement and injury. I do not want to cross that line. Unfortunately someone keeps moving that line when I am not looking. Update 1-30-16. I know it is still January but I decided to go for it today. After all I am not getting any younger, why wait another day. I blew through the 200 push-ups in 145 seconds. My shoulders and right elbow were complaining a little. The 300 squats were a lot easier than I thought they would be. After the first 180, the comfort level wasn't too good but it certainly was not pain. The squats took 13 minutes. Now for the plank. After the first 30 seconds I knew that there was no way I was going to do a 15 minute plank. In reality, I knew that before I started. I did a 5 minute plank with basically no practice. I would not have survived the practice. At minutes, 5 my shoulders were on fire. What really made me stop was my right elbow. It hurt and not just a pushing myself hard hurt. The best part about the plank was that I had no issues with my core and a plank is a core exercise. What did I learn by doing this? At almost 59 years of age I can still do things that many 20 year olds can not. I know that really does not mean anything, except it does make me feel good. The most important thing that I learned is that you don't have to give up as you age, just cut back. Setting realistic goals and working toward them is very important. I just picked the wrong core exercise. I can't see myself doing fast sets of push-ups any more. The rapid change of direction plays havoc with my joints. Actually, slower push-ups are harder to do. If I can still do 100 strict, slow push-ups, non-stop, when I am 60, I will be very happy. Sounds like a new goal. Squats make me feel good. They are one of those exercises that invigorates the whole body. I need to keep them in all my routines in the future. I also need to start doing more lunges as well. Avoiding injury will be a high priority as I age. Making a complete comeback after an injury gets increasingly difficult as you age. I do not want to be one of those people that lives in denial and pays a big price for it. I know that there is absolutely nothing that I can currently do better than I did even 5 years ago, with regards to exercise. I have no issue with that at all. Hopefully 10 years from now I will be able to make the same statement but still look forward to some new goals that will be good for a 70 year old. My body is not what it used to be but my head is in the right place.
Mobility, Your Most Valuable Physical Asset Russ Leonard 6-1-15
I just recently turned 58 years old. I currently have less aches and pains than I had 5 years ago. I doubt that luck has anything to do with it. In reality it is a combination of several changes in my lifestyle during the past few years. The most drastic changes have occurred since I retired almost one year ago. My current motivations with regards to diet and exercise are far different than they were 30 years ago. I always wanted to be healthy. Thirty years ago I also wanted to be strong, have big arms and be somewhat physically imposing. The combination of male ego and excess youthful testosterone probably helped fuel those goals. As I do my best to delay the inevitable of being a little wrinkly old man, I can look back and find humor in some of my misguided motivations. Now my primary motivations are to remain healthy and preserve my valuable mobility which will allow me to enjoy my retired years.
Many of my co-workers were the same age as myself. I believe there were 9 of us that were within a few months of being the exact same age. There were probably another 20 that were within 3 years of my age. All you had to do was watch our workforce walk to the daily start up meeting at the far end of the building to realize many of these people were already having mobility issues. The reasons varied. Some had knee issues, some had back problems, some had hip issues and most had weight problems. It must be difficult to walk when you have arthritis in your knees and are 80 lbs. over weight. I am sure that those that were in that or a similar category were well aware of the relationship between their excess weight and limited mobility. I am also sure that their doctors had been telling them that for many years as well. So why would that behavior continue? If I could find that solution I would be a billionaire.
If I could give one reason why millions of intelligent people ignore their health issues it would be this. They are not seriously thinking about the future. They live in the present and assume that things will be okay in another 10 years. Their deterioration in their health is such a slow steady process that corrective action is not attempted until something very bad happens or not at all.
When you workout on a continuous basis for most of your life you become very aware of the subtle changes that occur year after year. Even though I have maintained a steady healthy weight for 40 years the changes that have occurred during that total time span are significant. After your low 40's you start to lose strength. You basically don't bounce as good as you used to. If you fall on your butt you will probably hurt for a couple of days. If you are not careful you will lose flexibility at an alarming rate. If you start piling on the extra few pounds a year it just aggravates the issues. There are a lot of people who delay this through modern chemistry. I would never personally consider that.
So what have I done to preserve my level of fitness? First, I have maintained a healthy weight through regular exercise and good diet. I do far more stretching than I used to. I make sure I warm up before I exercise. I lift weights that are well below my maximum. Since I retired I have been going on a daily walk or hike. Three hundred and thirty seven consecutive days and counting. What better way to preserve your mobility than be mobile each day? I no longer do any high impact exercise. If I do box jumps I try to land like a feather absorbing the shock in my knees. I was never much of a runner. I occasionally sprint a little during my workouts. I am not a proponent of long distance running on hard surfaces. I believe the long term affects are more negative than positive. I know there are a hundred million people that would disagree with me. I eat many foods that have anti inflammatory properties. I am trying my best. That statement alone sums up the difference between my healthy lifestyle and the lifestyle of the average person.
The loss of ones mobility can be devastating to both the individual and their family. Who wouldn't rather be taking a walk on a beautiful day than sitting in a wheelchair in diapers at a nursing home. Investing in your health is no different than investing in your financial future. Both can reap rewards down the road. It is never too late to start!
Diets Are A Joke Russ Leonard 5-25-15
Let's not confuse the difference between a Diet and your normal Diet. When I say "Diets are a Joke", I am referring to temporary changes in your eating habits. I prefer to call these temporary eating disorders. They may have dramatic results short term. They never work long term. How could they? You go back to your previous behavior after a predetermined amount of time. If you stay on this "Diet" forever, it is no longer a "Diet". It is a changed lifestyle. Most diets can not morph into a new lifestyle. Modified versions often can. The only thing that will ever work is a long term healthy life style.
There are thousands of diet experts out there waiting to help you and take your hard earned money in the process. At best they have a 5% long term success rate. I am not claiming expert status. I am also not charging you a cent, so reader beware. I have a 40 year history of uninterrupted success at maintaining a healthy weight. That might not qualify me as an expert but I must know something. I am currently 58 years old, 5'9" tall ( shrunk from 5'10"), have a real 32" waist, currently weigh 157 lbs and have about 12% body fat. I was about 5 lbs heavier when I graduated High School. The most I ever weighed was 167 lbs when I was 40 years old. At that time I was lifting heavy weights, had a 30" waist, 45" chest, was 9-10-% body fat and ate 5000 calories a day. In general I have weighed about 163 lbs for most of my adult life. I am currently a little light and plan on slowly going back up to 160 lbs. I am very active and currently eat from 3500 to 4000 calories a day.
What separates me from most people is my discipline, will power and dedication. I eat often and I eat a lot. I eat quality calories and work out every day. I know I have good genetics but luck is not the reason for my success. I could easily be 100 lbs overweight. It is not unheard of in my family to be obese. I have changed my diet many times over the years to both help achieve certain fitness goals and to improve through my experiences. My current eating habits are refined to the point that I can alter and control my weight within a few pounds at will. So what do I eat?
Let's break this down into several catagories. Foods I Never eat, Foods I Rarely eat, Foods that I Generally eat and foods that I make sure I Always eat. The amount varies by whatever type of fitness program I am on at the time.
Foods I Never Eat : Highly processed fatty, salty foods such as Hot Dogs, Pepperoni, Salami, Kielbasa, Regular Sausage, Bologna, Bacon, etc. French fries and other deep fried foods. A lot of tasty items listed here. I like them all but have not had any in the last 30 years. I know an occasional hot dog won't kill me but I choose not to eat them. I realize that I am not "normal". I will only eat fast food in a starvation situation. The last time was 5 years ago in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico. I will try not to let it happen again.
Foods I Rarely Eat : Marbled Red Meats such as a T-bone steak, White Rice, White Breads, Pasta, desserts of any kind, Cake, Pie Cookies. etc. Dairy Products ( my weakness is ice cream).
Foods I Generally Eat : Chicken, Turkey, Wild Caught Salmon, 93%-96% Lean Ground Beef, Whole Wheat Whole Grain Breads. Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, Nuts
Foods I Always Eat : I eat Oatmeal every day when I first get up at 4:00 AM. Regular oats, not instant. I eat one cup ( 2 servings) mixed with a few raisins, some chopped walnuts, cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, one teaspoon of local honey and water. A teaspoon of honey has 17 grams of sugar. Three packages of instant oatmeal which would be about one cup has 40-50 grams of sugar. I eat Almonds every day. I prefer dry roasted with a little sea salt. I eat a lot of nuts besides almonds as well. A lot of the fat in my diet comes from nuts. Blueberries, Strawberries, Blackberries and Raspberries. There is always one or more of these in the house. I eat a lot of Eggs but limit the yokes to 3 or 4 a week. I eat at least another dozen whites. There is a lot of conflicting information on egg yolks and their affect on cholesterol. I am currently playing it safe by most standards. I drink mostly water and plenty of it.
In summary I eat a high fiber, low saturated fat, low sodium, plenty of good fats, high protein and low complex carb diet. I generally do not eat complex carbs after 12:00 PM. In other words, no pasta or white rice for dinner. I eat very little canned or frozen food. I eat a lot of foods with one ingredient, like an apple. I eat 7-8 times a day. I try to maintain a level blood sugar and energy level. I eat many different fresh vegetables. It is common for me to have over 10 vegetables in my salads. I do not pay the added expense for organic produce. My wife and I spend about $525.00/month on just food items that we consume at home. That does not include any household items or going out to eat. We eat well but Marilyn also eats junk food, I do not. I enjoy what I eat. Over the years I have developed many low fat, low sugar, low sodium recipes that actually taste good. I will share some from time to time. I have to go, it is time to eat.
The Need To Adapt Russ Leonard 4-27-15
No matter how hard you try or how bad you want it, exercise in your late 50's and beyond is not like it was in your twenties. Actually it is not like it was in your 30's, 40's or even your early 50's. Good nutrition and exercise can slow down the aging process but time will eventually win out. The key is whether you can recognize and accept the need to change and adapt. Being stubborn and trying to "tough it out" will only make the situation worse in the years ahead.
There are good reasons why you don't see 50 year old linebackers in the NFL or 40 year old point guards in the NBA. It is rare to even see a 25 year old compete in gymnastics. The abuse that your body must endure over time varies by sport and type of exercise. A 40 year old golfer might be able to compete with the worlds best but in general being 40 is considered over the hill in most competitive sports.
It is not easy to give up something that you have enjoyed for many years. It is even harder if you were really good at it. The truth is you do not need to give up what you like to do. You need to adapt to your aging body and set realistic expectations. If you ran marathons in your 40's, maybe you need to cut back to half marathons or 5 k's in your 50's and 60's. Maybe you have been blessed with good genetics and have stayed injury free. If that is the case you can continue doing what you enjoy a little longer. It is important to realize and accept that all good things will come to pass. If you do not, a debilitating injury may be in your future. That along with the psychological issues of not being able to do anything at all could be devastating.
The list of things that I no longer do is too long to include in this article. What's important is that I have found different things to do that I both enjoy and can do without serious consequences. In some cases I do less strenuous modified versions of what I used to do. One example is that I have not bench pressed with a straight bar in years. The abuse that I inflicted on my body over the years took it's toll on my shoulders. I still do dumb bell presses on a flat bench. The ability to rotate my hands slightly and take the pressure off my shoulders allows me to continue working my chest with weights.
Performing a regimen of simple body weight exercises can result in a high level of fitness with a decreased risk of injury. Push-ups, lunges, body weight squats, pull-ups and burbees are some of the best. On my 56th birthday I did one mile of non stop walking lunges in 39 minutes. I was not even sore the next day. If I had tried to do one 350 lb squat that day, I probably would have been seriously injured. When I was 25 I could have done one without warming up with no consequences. If I had tried to do a mile of walking lunges when I was 25 I would not have made it. In addition I probably would have been too sore to walk for days.
Adapting does not have to be less rewarding or less fun. The ability to accurately assess your strengths and weaknesses should be better as you age. After all you have years of experience to draw from. Why ignore reality? I am sure that I will continue to adapt and change my exercise routine as I age. I am also sure that I will continue to enjoy whatever I choose to do.
And when a friend comes over and say's, "Remember when you were 40 and could curl your body weight 10 times", I will say, "Sure I remember, let's curl 40 lbs today".
Learning From Our Mistakes Russ Leonard 4-16-15
The good thing about being over 50 is that most of us have learned from the many mistakes that we made when we were younger. The bad thing is that we are now over 50. When I look back at some of the dumb things that I did in the gym when I was younger, it amazes me that I can still walk.
I didn't start working out in the gym until I was 27. The problem with 27 is that you think you are old with all types of experience. Because of that you are even dumber than you were at 18. It is not that there weren't any 50-70 year olds in the gym. Of course there was. Who listens to them? Now that I am one of them, I can tell you one thing, They Were Right! So for what it is worth listen to me.
Never, Never do the Following in any of your workouts!
1. You never do military presses with a straight bar behind your neck. When I was in my mid 30's I could do 225 lbs. Unheard of for someone that weighed 165 lbs and was totally natural. I thought I was a badass. I was half correct, I was a dumbass. My shoulders are still paying the price.
2. For the same reason you never do pull downs behind your neck.
3. Your weight lifting belt is not part of your gym attire. They are meant to protect you during heavy power lifting moves, such as maximum squats. If you wear it all the time you will severely weaken your core and have back problems.
4. Never do any weighted squats until you have mastered the correct form with no weight. Done properly, squats can be one of the best overall exercises that you can do, health permitting. Done incorrectly they have the potential to cripple you for life. Find a knowledgeable trainer.
5. Do not copy people that do not know what they are doing. Find a knowledgeable trainer. Not one of those chain gym, took a 3 hour class trainers. A real one that won't hurt you.
6. Never reach down to pick something up when you are on a treadmill that is running. Turn it off, forget about it or risk becoming a human missile.
7. If it hurts, don't do it. Learn the difference between pain and discomfort. I can push through intense discomfort better than 99.9% of the population but if it hurts at all I will stop. If I had known this 30 years ago, I still might feel 30.
8. Never, ever get distracted by a young lady whose body may have been hand crafted by God himself while you are taking a 45 lb plate off a high rack. You may just drop it on your foot and crush it. Just ask my friend Paul. Actually, if you ask him today he will tell you she was worth it.
Have Fun and Stay Safe
The Daily Routine Russ Leonard 4-16-15
If I had to pick one thing that has allowed me to stay in good shape for so many years, it would be my ability to establish healthy routines and stick with them. I have never been one to say " you must do this or you must do that". Whatever you decide to do must be done on a consistent basis. That doesn't mean you do the same exercise every day. It may mean you get some form of exercise most days with variety being a plus.
I have weight trained since I was 12. Up to about the age of 25, I consistently lifted about 3 times a week. I did a little running as well and always enjoyed hiking and backpacking. I started to get much more serious about my lifting when I was 25. I increased my workouts to 5 times per week, but was still working out at home or with one of my friends at his house.
I joined my first gym when I was 27. I immediately noticed two things. First, that I was blessed genetically that allowed me to do things that others could not. Like one handed pull-ups. Second, that I was far more dedicated than most and would only miss a workout day when I was sick or on vacation. I never worked out on Saturdays. In 30 years at the gym, I can honestly say that there was never one day when I decided to sleep in and not go to the gym. That's right, I forgot to mention that I went to the gym before work. I got up at 2:45-3:15 A.M. for all those years. For those of you that don't know me, you might be thinking that I am a little nuts. Those that know me have thought that for years. I prefer to call it discipline. Why I am like that, I don't know. It probably has a lot to do with my upbringing. I know one thing for sure. I enjoy exercise, it was never a chore. I look forward to it every day.
I have changed my routine hundreds of times throughout the years. I have changed for variety, because of injuries and out of necessity because of aging. I am honest enough with myself to know when it is time to stop certain things and move on. You won't ever see me doing any true power lifting anymore. Those days are gone forever. What I have done over the years is far less important than the fact that I always continued to do something.
When I retired, I made the most drastic change to my routine in 30 years. I started to workout at home again. I now sleep in to 4:00 A.M. I get up and eat a fairly large healthy breakfast. I read a little, then at 5:15 A.M. I start my workout and finish at about 6:30 A.M. Four days a week a friend comes over and exercises with me. I then eat again. At about 6:45 A.M. I go for a 2-1/2 - 3 mile walk. Some days I substitute a longer hike at a local park or in the case of this past winter, snowshoe. I then stretch and eat again. The routine normally finishes around 8:00 A.M. unless i have gone for a longer walk. I do this routine every day. I have not missed a walk or hike since I retired almost 300 days ago.
When you work at least 5 days per week, you are in a routine whether you want to be or not. When you are retired it would be too easy to get lazy and have your health deteriorate if you were not careful about establishing or continuing a healthy routine. One of my neighbors that retired some years back found himself staying in bed until 10:00 A.M. after he retired. He knew this was a problem. What did he do to fix it? He went back to work. That is the last thing that I would ever want to do. The simple act of getting up at the same time and going for a short walk every day would be a great start. The weather should never be an excuse. They make jackets and umbrellas.
From time to time I will share my thoughts on exercise and nutrition. In addition to my 45 years of experience, I have some formal education as well. I have certainly made mistakes over the years but have learned much from them. As I grow older I might be getting a little wiser. Except for that day 4 weeks ago when I thought I could still jump up and pull myself into the garage loft without a ladder and hurt my shoulder.
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