Category Archives: Fitness

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.

Its Official – We’re Climbing Mt Rainier for the CureAlzheimer’s Fund

Mt. Rainier is 14,411 feet above sea level. The summit is topped by two volcanic craters and it is the most glaciated peak in the lower 48 states. Basically it is giant popsicle that could explode at any moment. Sounds like we should climb it to raise money for the CureAzheimer’s Fund. If you would like to donate to this great cause or learn more about the fund and the challenge, click HERE.

Three members of Team BoomerangFit will be doing just that on September 25th, 2018. The team use challenges like this climb, our 2016 climb of Mt Baker, our Spartan Obstacle Racing Trifecta and many smaller challenges and races along the way to keep us motivated to stay fit even as we enter our 50s and 60s.

If you are not happy with your weight or your fitness, there is no reason that you can’t get back to the fitness you dream of or have enjoyed in the past even at our age. The keys to success are 1) Commitment – you need to commit to improvement and you need to have a reason WHY? What is your why? To see your children grow up, achieve your potential, give back to a charity. What is your why?  2) Discipline – Discipline is really just being a disciple to something greater than yourself. And, this just comes right back to your why. What drives your discipline? 3) Accountability – Once you make a commitment and start implementing your discipline, you need someone or something to hold you accountable. It could be an app or a friend or your neighbor. Somehow you need to see and review your short term and long term goals regularly. 4) Community – find other people to go along for the ride, share the ups and downs and support you when you need it. Here at Boomerangfit we are committed to helping ourselves and others achieve their potential, working together, playing together, holding each other accountable and having a whole lot of fun.

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.

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.

Are you too old for CrossFit?

Arguably you are never too old for anything. However some people are intimidated by seemingly extreme fitness modalities like CrossFit at any age and especially over 50.

CrossFit can be a useful tool for anyone to get fit though. At CrossFit South Brooklyn, there is a special group of people over 55 who are doing really well as you can see in the video below. As long as your trainers are working with you to assess and improve mobility and form and not just beating you to death, you should be fine. And, of course always consult your doctor before any intense fitness regime. My trainer, Angelo Gala from EDX CrossFit in Lafayette, CO, also integrates yoga, kettlebells, endurance and other modalities to keep things fresh and allow me to recover from day to day.

If you want help and motivation to get and stay fit over fifty, join register for Boomerangfit by clicking HERE.

 

Unbreakable Runner – What is CrossFit Endurance?

At 54 years old, I still run, work out, hike, paddle board, play ultimate frisbee and climb. I also compete periodically in events such as my upcoming StoneCat Trail Marathon to test myself and to raise money for charities such as The Cure Alzheimer’s Fund. The problem of course is how do you the find the time.

After reading two books, I think I have figured it out to a large extent.

The first book is called Fit After Fifty by legendary coach Joe Friel.  Coach Friel’s primary advice is to focus on more intensity less often and more recovery. The BoomerangFit blog has a lengthy review of the book HERE. 

The second book is called the Unbreakable Runner: Unleash the Power of Strength & Conditioning for a Lifetime of Running Strong.  This book is by Brian MacKenzie and TJ Murphy. For those of you who haven’t heard of Brian, he is a well know strength and conditioning expert who came up with an innovate system called Cross Fit Endurance. Again the premise here is that endurance training, in this case for all ages, needs to focus on form, cadence, strength and stamina and not just on the long slow distance that is still so popular with most people. Running long regularly especially without the proper form or core and leg strength is a recipe for injury. 

With CrossFit Endurance, I am focusing a lot of form and cadence while running. Intuitively I know that I need to have a faster turnover and to strike the ground with my forefoot. However, with practice and strength improvement, I can’t keep that up over a long run. I am constantly reminding myself to forefoot strike only to go back to heel strike when my attention wanders. It has to be subconscious or built into a patter over time through repetition. And, this pattern needs to be supported by the strength primarily in the feet or lower legs necessary to do it correctly at scale.

Additionally, I am spending a lot more time focusing on functional fitness than I ever have for running. The book, as you might guess, recommends CrossFit like workouts but I find I can do other things as well such as kettlebells or just doing burpees and carrying heavy things around the yard.

Can you work out too hard?

Yes. You can work out too hard for a whole slew of reasons.

The NY Times focuses on one of these reasons in an article entitled: “As Workouts Intensify, a Harmful Side Effect Grows More Common“. One woman highlighted in the article suffered some serious consequences from what should have been just a hard day at the spin studio.

“Over the next two days, her legs throbbed with excruciating pain, her urine turned a dark shade of brown, and she felt nauseated. Eventually she went to a hospital, where she was told she had rhabdomyolysis, a rare but life-threatening condition often caused by extreme exercise. It occurs when overworked muscles begin to die and leak their contents into the bloodstream, straining the kidneys and causing severe pain.” Ouch. This does not sound good.

So were you right all along and all of this workout nonsense was a lie? Is sitting on the couch safer? Not really. You should “workout” or exercise everyday if possible. You just need to remember two things first:

1) Fitness – what am I trying to get fit for? Do I want to play with my kids/grandkids without huffing and puffing? Do I want to ride my bike in the summer charity ride each year? Do I want to do better in summer ultimate or do I want to win my age category and some fitness-related sporting event. Have a serious chat with yourself to figure out where you should start your journey back to fitness. If you are looking to compete at a high level no matter what your age, consider getting a coach to help you build a plan and recognize problems and injuries.

2) Adapt – take your time getting into your new regime. Work your way up slowly, perhaps adding 10% or less of weight, resistance, time etc to your work outs each week. Take at least a day off a week to recover with some walking or yoga. Listen to your body and cut back when you are aware of over training symptoms such as elevated heart rate while working out (higher than usual), elevated heart rate when you wake up in the morning (take it every morning for a week to get a baseline) or are you having trouble sleeping? More ornery than usual? (Be honest).

So workout good. Workout too much and too soon less good.

If you are interested in more content like this to motivate you to get back to the fitness you once had,  Click HERE to sign up for their newsletter.