Category Archives: Exercise

Is It Time to Get Back Off the Bus?

In high school at Stillwater (MN) I ran cross country in addition to running track and skiing cross country. Fall of my senior year, I was selected as captain on the varsity cross country team. Things started out slow and our team was just not competing at the level we knew what we should.

Get Off the Bus

So one day after doing particularly poorly in a meet at the Battle Creek Regional Park across the highway from 3M headquarters, I decided to get off the bus about 5 miles from the high school and run the rest of the way. Partly I just didn’t feel worthy of sitting on the bus, partly I didn’t want to be around anyone right then and maybe subconsciously I was looking to shake things up. Either way, I got off the bus and ran the rest of the way home. The next time I did it a few people got off and ran with me and by later in the season most of the team was running with me as well.

This turned out to be a great team building exercise and in retrospect was partly responsible for creating some very strong friendships that are still active today some 40 years later. It also may be a great model for what I and many other Baby Boomers need to do right now.

Going After My Best Self

With news every day about how older people and people with chronic diseases and challenges such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, diabetes, heart disease etc. are more likely to suffer more or die from COVID-19, it has inspired me to get back to focusing on health, fitness and nutrition. I knew that all of these challenges were bad but I just kept putting off addressing my fitness again and again.

While I don’t suffer from all of these things, I am well on my way so how do I start. 1) stop eating crap, defined as heavily processed foods roughly defined as foods with added sugar and process grain. This actually leaves a lot to still be enjoyed from butter and coconut oil and avocados, to any organic, locally-sourced meat to fish and olive oil. It also leaves out a lot as well but all of it is pretty much poison. Forget about whether you want to be Paleo or Vegan, Vegetarian or Keto. Just eat less crap. More on this later. And, 2) Exercise or movement. Start exercising and define this as pretty much any movement more than you were doing before. This could be walking, walking every day, jogging, lifting weights. It really doesn’t matter just start doing more tomorrow than you were doing today.

If you would like to get more information about our community here at BoomerangFit, please CLICK HERE and give us your email address. We won’t sell this info to anyone and will just send you info we think will help you improve your fitness. 2020 is going to be your year.

Coronavirus Deaths

Three Things That Could Save Your Life

In this challenging time of the coronavirus pandemic and the daily updates on positive tests and fatalities, one thing is very obvious: baby boomers who are by definition nearing 60 or older are significantly more likely to die than younger people (see chart). One of the main reasons for this seems to be the prevalence of pre-existing conditions in this older age group. “In the first big analysis of more than 44,000 cases from China, deaths were at least five times more common among confirmed cases with diabetes, high blood pressure or heart or breathing problems” stated the BBC in a recent article.

So, what’s a baby boomer to do? Accept fate and try to stay as far away as possible from the virus, other people and society. Certainly if you are in a high risk group you should be doing just this. Additionally however, there are other things that we Boomers can do to reduce the impact or likelihood of these mostly chronic diseases that are aiding and abetting this deadly virus.

Chronic Diseases and Nutrition

Many people increasingly believe that chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, some heart and lung diseases, some cancers and the broader umbrella of metabolic syndrome that also includes insulin resistance and general obesity are in large part caused by our diet, lack of movement and increasingly toxic environment. Therefore if you believe this, then one way to improve your likelihood of survival in this new world of pandemics is to improve your health.

The two easiest ways to do this is: 1) Stop Eating Crap – remove as much processed food and added sugar from your diet as you can and replace it with healthy natural foods. Don’t try to cut calories or restrict the amount of food yet just eat less crap. Then later you can start to worry about how much you eat and other details like do I want to eat meat or not. There are many arguments over these more nuanced nutrition programs but for now just reduce the crap that you eat. 2) Start Moving More – no matter how much you move now just move a bit more. Go from the coach to a walk around the block. Go from sitting all day to standing some part of the day or getting up very hour to stretch and move. If you walk already, try transitioning to some easy running. Just move more.

Taming the Lizard

3) Tame the Lizard – the base of your brain or what some people call the lizard brain is focused on keeping you alive so when it perceives stress whether it be an approaching lion or approaching deadline, it kicks into gear and among other things can trigger cravings for sweets. Sweet foods are high in sugar and sugar is easily burned if you need to climb a tree to get away from the lion and easily stored if we are about to go into a famine. This increase in easy calories however is not needed to sit down and stop procrastinating on that deadline and is not need later either so it just becomes fat, increases insulin and starts a cascade of bad stuff that leads to the above chronic diseases. Our Lizard Brain also doesn’t like movement as it wants to conserve energy for when its needed to escape predators and hunt but we don’t do that much anymore but when you think about going to the gym or going for a run, it still kicks in with that little voice urging you to stay on the couch.

So how do we tame this lizard that in name of saving us from threats is really starting to kill us? You need to break the connection between the stress and the sweets. i.e. the boss’s email creating a craving for that chocolate bar. There are several tools that you can use to do this but fundamentally it comes down to interrupting the message from one to the other within the lizard brain so the more rational part of your brain can kick in.

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom,” Victor Frankly in Man’s Search for Meaning. 

So how do we train ourselves to do this. There are probably many ways but here are two tools that I have found helpful: 1) 5,4,3,2,1 – Whenever you feel a craving or start walking towards the fridge, simply countdown from 5 to give yourself the space for your higher brain to kick in and take over. This is the crux of Mel Robbin’s Five Second Rule. Mel has a great book and a lot of online information that go into more detail. 2) WIRM – Witness, Interrupt, Redirect, Maintain. This is simple tool that I found at The Unbeatable Mind with Mark Divine, a retired Navy SEAL. When you feel a craving or notice something starting to brew inside your lizard brain, just witness it or notice it. Then use a quick mantra to interrupt it like NO or STOP or whatever and then quickly redirect this with another automated response such as instead of sugar I will just walk around the block and finally maintain it or reinforce it with another mantra like Everyday In Every Way I am Getting Better Stronger and Leaner or use Mark’s Looking Good, Feeling Good, On the Way to Hollywood. Make up your own sayings and give it a try or just use Mel’s countdown to see how it works.

BoomerangFit is a community of primarily baby boomers who believe that they can still be do whatever it is they want to do such as climb a mountain, run a marathon or just run around the back yard with their kids or grandkids. Age is just a number and aging doesn’t have to mean less mobility or fitness or saying goodbye to your goals.

If you would like to get more information about our community here at BoomerangFit, please CLICK HERE and give us your email address. We won’t sell this info to anyone and will just send you info we think will help you improve your fitness. 2020 is going to be your year.

How to Get Into the Best Shape of Your Life

2020 is it. This is the year you are going to get into the best shape of your life and we are going to do it together.

Let’s start by talking about the word shape. What shape do aspire to be? A cone, a pear, an apple or a banana? The phrase is ridiculous. None of us aspire to be a shape. I think what we really want to be is fit. But fit for what? You may want to be fit to keep up with your grandchildren or fit enough to walk your daughter down the aisle or fit enough to finally run a marathon or to win a contest. It doesn’t matter what you choose, just go from a place of current fitness to a place of improved fitness using the measurement(s) you choose.

Measurements – so what are the measurements that you should choose? Most people would say they want to lose “weight” but this can be very difficult to measure. Muscle is more dense than fat so it takes up less space. If you are gaining muscle while losing fat, your weight could remain the same or increase but you could be getting healthier by reducing fat. Many people gain muscle quickly with any weight-bearing exercise so they will seem to “gain” weight even though they are eating better and exercising. A better measurement of improvement and a better goal for you might be how your clothes fit, what is the measurement of your waist or even how do you feel? If you really want to get technical, you could measure your body fat percentage using one of many tools that have varying accuracy. Why not just start with a journal and just note how you feel, how things fit and your energy levels.

Journal – Start a journal and keep track of these measurements so you can hold yourself accountable and see your progress. This progress also will not be a straight line to so just accept that and move on.

BoomerangFitEveryone is different. The biggest thing that just about most in the fitness game seems to ignore is that everyone is different. Everyone has different genes or genetics. Everyone has different epigenetics as well this means that certain genes may be turned on or turned off based on where you live, how you live and what you eat. Everyone lives in a different part of the world and has different problems, stresses, allergies, sensitivities and habits. So to think that any fitness or nutrition guru can create a program to work for anyone other than themselves or a single person is pretty ridiculous. They simply provide a program that has worked for them or other people “like” you before. Working with a trainer or nutritionist can be very helpful but realize that its your responsibility to customize the programs for yourself. Just try different things and do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

Food – don’t count calories just count crap. Try to get on a #crapfreediet. This means reducing the amount of processed food that you eat every day. If it has a label on the side then it has most likely been processed to some extent. On the other hand vegetables, fruit and yes organic grass-fed beef are all on the other side of the processed spectrum. So eat more and more unprocessed and less and less processed. Simple as that. Once you have completely reduced your intake of processed food or at least to the extent possible then you might want to consider further customizations based on what works for you.

Organic vs Non-Organic – At the end of the day if you can consume food that hasn’t been processed and that hasn’t been sprayed with or fed with chemicals and pesticides, you are better off. But if you are living on McDonalds and/or have no affordable access to organic food than just start eating less McDonalds and more vegetables. If they aren’t organic just wash them a lot. But at least its a start.

Vegan vs Keto – For most people, it just doesn’t matter. Focus on dramatically reducing the processed food in your diet and you will get healthier and probably lose a lot of fat. However, if you have already reduced the processed food then look at refining things further in whatever way works for you. But first focus on reducing the processed food. Then try out eating like a vegan or a vegetarian, paleo or Keto. They can all work for the right person and they will all not work for everyone. When you do this, however, be careful not to increase the processed food. Potato Chips in a bag could still be considered vegan or vegetarian. So again get rid of the processed food first.

Cooking – take a cooking class or marry a chef like I did. It is a lot easier to eat healthy and remove processed food if you know how to cook at least a few key meals.

Exercise – much like nutrition what you do for exercise depends a lot on your goals, what your current capabilities are such as mobility and flexibility and what resources that you have. Like removing processed food, almost anyone will benefit from moving more. This could include a daily walk, a standing desk, a run at lunch time or joining a CrossFit gym. It doesn’t matter, just move more than you are moving now and start where you are without try to cheat the system and jump ahead. This will just lead to injury or burnout.

Community – In most cases, getting other people to walk with you, workout with you, train for a marathon with you will help you stay committed and hold you accountable. There are lots of way to do this. CrossFit and OrangeTheory for example have built great communities just be sure to join a community that will work with you to increase your mobility and fitness while also teaching you the correct way to do whatever it is your doing, or you will get injured and will need to stop exercising for some period of time. There are also virtual communities to help you stay motivated, hold you accountable and bring you great new information like Peloton. This community we are building here at BoomerangFit is another example.

BoomerangFit is a community of primarily baby boomers who believe that they can still be do whatever it is they want to do such as climb a mountain, run a marathon or just run around the back yard with their kids or grandkids. Age is just a number and aging doesn’t have to mean less mobility or fitness or saying goodbye to your goals.

If you would like to get more information about our community here at BoomerangFit, please CLICK HERE and give us your email address. We won’t sell this info to anyone and will just send you info we think will help you improve your fitness. 2020 is going to be your year.

Can Exercise Cure Alzheimer’s Disease?

“A study by a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) research team finds that neurogenesis — inducing the production of new neurons — in the brain structure in which memories are encoded can improve cognitive function in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Their investigation shows that cognition can be blocked by the hostile inflammatory environment in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and that physical exercise can “clean up” that environment, allowing new nerve cells to survive and thrive and improving cognition in the Alzheimer’s mice,” according to a recent article in the Harvard Gazette.

According to Dr Rudi Tanzi, the senior author on this study that was partly financed by the Cure Alzheimers Fund as well as the director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Mass General Hospital, “In our study we showed that exercise is one of the best ways to turn on neurogenesis” or the creation of new brain cells. In the future, researchers will try to figure out how and why this happens and will try to replicate it using some drug or device. Meanwhile, we all just go out and exercise.

If would you like to join our group or just want to get our newsletter and see what crazy things we are up to, how we eat, how we work out and how we drive ourselves to be better even at our age, then click HERE to register for the mailing list.

If you would like to donate money to help rid the earth of the scourge that is Alzheimer’s Disease, then click HERE to donate to the Cure Alzheimers Fund as part of Team BoomerangFit’s fundraising efforts.

Should You Be Lifting Weights After 50

Bucket Carry at the 2015 Arizona Spartan Sprint.

Should you be lifting weights after 50?

A recent article in BarBend not only says yes but also recommends the more demanding subset of Olympic Lifting.

For those that don’ know, Olympic lifting is made up of the lifts that are a part of the Olympic Games and include lifts like the Snatch and Clean and Jerk.  This lifts can be fairly sophisticated but with the right coach can lead to enormous gains in strength, mobility and balance.

So why take up weight lifting of any kind after 50?

  1. Muscle mass – Muscle mass naturally declines as you age. However this can be offset to some extent by continuing to lift heavy things. Use it or lose it as they say. You don’t have to Olympic lift to get this however, as you can do other things like just lift rocks or other heavy items in the yard. You could also Powerlift which includes the Bench Press, Deadlift and Squat. The key is that you do something correctly and safely and build up naturally over time.
  2. Functional Fitness – In order to deal with every day life, you need to be prepared to move quickly or in a way that is not natural. Think slipping on the ice or picking up your grand kids. You need to continue to be able to move in your normal range of motion and you need to have balance. All of these things can be accomplished through proper weight training of some sort.
  3. Fun – for the right people in the right environment, weight lifting can be fun. It is also pretty easy to see progress and can be done with other people.

Whatever your situation, you could probably benefit from lifting some weights. So reach out to a coach or trainer if you haven’t done it before and give it a try.

If you would like to receive regular information, news, ideas, motivation, etc to help you reach your goals in 2018, CLICK HERE to sign up for our newsletter and mailing list.

 

More Evidence that Exercise Keeps You Younger

In a recent article in the NY Times entitled “How Exercise Can Keep Aging Muscles and Immune Systems Young”, the author Gretchen Reynolds, makes a very interesting statement:

“Together, the experiments [referenced in this article] add to growing evidence that some of our assumptions about aging may be outdated and we might have more control over the process than we think.”

What this means to me is that more and more evidence points to the fact that age is just a number and that if we optimize our nutrition and exercise we can postpone or reverse what we typically identify as inevitable aspects of aging.

What are you doing to keep aging at bay?

If you would like to receive regular information, news, ideas, motivation, etc to help you reach your goals in 2018, CLICK HERE to sign up for our newsletter and mailing list.

Titus Unlimited – Ripped Over 50

Fit over 50

“In order to be alive you have to constantly challenge yourself. You have to constantly grow.” says Jean Titus from Titus Unlimited in a profile on the website Metro. He is over 50 and is about as ripped as they come. The video in the Metro site is pretty motivational as well.

You don’t have to be this ripped to function in your life and be happy but you certainly need to follow his advice above. If you are moving, your dying. Exercise, whether it is going to the gym or hiking in the woods with your dog, is going to make you feel and look younger as well as helping you avoid diseases like Alzheimer’s, Diabetes and Heart Disease.

The biggest excuse for not taking your health seriously is that you don’t have time. But the truth really is that you always have time, what haven’t done is prioritized yourself above something else like television or video games or whatever else you do when you aren’t working or sleeping. So take the first step whatever is appropriate for you. Go for a walk or a run. Go back to the gym you have been avoiding. Or just start by eating less sugar and processed food. Whatever works for you but pick a primary goal and then stick to it.

If you would like more information on Jean Titus who is now a personal trainer, life coach and motivational speaker, you can find him HERE at Titus Unlimited.

If would you like to join our group or just want to get our newsletter and see what crazy things we are up to, how we eat, how we work out and how we drive ourselves to be better even at our age, then click HERE to register for the mailing list.

Why I came back to New Balance

I started running seriously in about 1975. When I say running seriously, I mean not just running away from something like my friends or my brother, but running towards something, in my case I was trying to lose weight and wanted to eventually compete in high school cross country.

Back in that day there were many different running shoes to choose from, however the shoe of choice on my cross country team at the time was New Balance. I don’t remember the name or number of the style and if I remember correctly they only had one anyway. It was pretty cool looking for the time and they worked well. I felt fast. This was also back in the time when if your shoe soles wore out, you just loaded on some Shoe Goo and kept going. Do they still make that stuff? We wouldn’t have dreamed – or been able to afford – replacing shoes more than maybe once a year.

Later in the 80s while going through college and the inevitable post college “I never weighed this much before so I better get back to running” phase, my commitment and nostalgia for New Balance wavered and I tried other shoes like Nikes, Saucony’s and even ASICS. I regularly tried new brands and new models but never found what I was looking for elsewhere.

Now that I have returned to the fitness fold and have again become “serious” about fitness, I have returned to my home with New Balance. It doesn’t hurt that they are a local company where I live near Boston. The real reason however is that they have a number of models that are just very comfortable at a reasonable price and that fit well with my focus on running, hiking, functional fitness and climbing.

I started with the New Balance Minimus for functional training. I do a lot of kettlebells, deadlifts, carrying things, crawling, burpees, etc. And it is important to have a small or zero drop to keep my body aligned and the Minimus works really well for this. It is also lightweight and pretty sturdy.

Next I decided to get back to running. To avoid injury, I wanted a lot of padding but I also didn’t want something that was unstable and mushy. I tried a few other shoes but ended up trying the New Balance Vazee Pace 2. This shoe had amazing padding but somehow without the bulk of the other shoes. I have two pair now one for crappy weather and one for nice weather.

As a former cross country runner, after I had gotten back into running, I started to crave the trails. So I went back to New Balance and came up with the Vazee Summit Trail V2. These shoes have some great traction and great padding but still have great stability.  This November I will be running the StoneCat Trail Marathon and these will be my go to shoe.

Finally, I have started climbing mountains as well to raise money for the CureAlzeimer’s Fund. In order to train for the mountains, I started doing some very vertical hikes carrying a lot of weight. For this I chose the New Balance Leadville.  The Leadville is also a trail running shoe but I found it to be substantial enough for hiking as well even with a heavy backpack. As a matter of fact, I hiked to base camp at 7000 ft on Mt Baker with about a 75 lbs pack using just the Leadvilles.

What shoes do you use and why?

Disclaimer – I do not receive any compensation from New Balance.  

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