We all know that seeing changes in our fitness as we age is pretty common (and that it becomes more difficult year after year). Dropping 30 seconds from my mile pace now, in my late 30s, is a wholly different experience than it was in my 20s — and, from what I understand, it’s likely to be a completely different story when I hit 40.
A friend of mine recently shared her experience, saying that her weight didn’t creep up when she turned 40 — it hit her like a truck. And since she was already active and stuck to a pretty healthy diet, it seemed more or less unavoidable.
But here’s the thing. Age-related fitness changes are certainly common — but we shouldn’t view it as normal. Not because it’s so important to fit in a certain size or look a particular way — not at all — course, but because, well, for many of us, making fitness gains is important, and part of our identity. And while some added weight doesn’t change your value as a person, it can change the impact on your knees and such, and anyone who has creaky joints (*raises hand*) is probably pretty interested in doing what they can to keep those joints from causing more pain.
So what’s a girl (or guy) to do? If you’re already following a solid eating plan and working out in ways that have kept you fit and healthy in the past, you probably feel like you should just be able to keep on doing what you do and getting the same results.
But that might not be the case, which means you’ve gotta make new, different — and potentially more challenging — changes.
I know what you’re thinking. I’m thinking it too. But …
Rose Nyland doesn’t always get it right, but this time, she’s got a point. Life isn’t always fair.
It’s not fair that what’s always worked for you no longer does. It’s not fair that your friend is older, fitter, and can eat like a garbage disposal. It’s not fair that, in order for you to get back to a place that feels more like “you,” you have to make additional changes to a lifestyle that’s already healthy — and one that you love.
It’s not fair. But if your health is important to you, you have to do it anyway.
Different changes work for different people — which is why we tend to have a “choose your own adventure” approach. For the friend I mentioned earlier, the key was to cut out added sugar, which she found really difficult, but the payoff was immediate. My personal favorite tweak is to take a veggies-first approach to snacks and meals. It may take a little effort at first, but once I get in my groove, it’s easy to remember that I love fresh veggies (and that my body feels great when I eat more of them).
For others, it might mean adjusting portion sizes or changing up the ratio of, say, protein to carbs; or maybe it’ll take eating at home more frequently, or incorporating HIIT or strength training into their routine. Maybe it even involves taking a look at their DNA to see what foods and workouts are truly most effective for their personal fitness goals.
If this is something you’re struggling with, then work with me to take the “it’s not fair” argument out of the equation. Because, honestly?
Joey, like Rose, is spot on. It might not be fair, but … that doesn’t actually matter. What matters is that you are worth taking care of. If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you. So let’s challenge ourselves already!
Is there one small, sustainable tweak that comes to mind that you could make — starting today? —Kristen