On one side, I received feedback along the lines of, “That information was so empowering” and, “Thank you for breaking down the numbers for me, it helped a lot”.
I also received feedback that said, “I have done enough fitness math to last me the rest of my life, why is there more here?” and, “Please, Sue, don’t change your message!” and “Oh no, is this another diet?”
I get it. I really do. It is a challenge. I believe there are two things going on at the same time when we are talking about health and fitness.
1) What To Do
To get fit and stay fit, it is very, very difficult to wade through all the material out there and know what to do. You might know you have to change, but how do you understand what to change TO. You might want to start exercising, but do you know how? Are you clear on your goals? Do you know how to create an exercise program in line with those goals?
You simply cannot talk about getting healthy and fit without understanding heart rate zones. In my opinion, for women over 40, it is a key piece. If you have been struggling with weight loss, cardiovascular fitness, heart disease or diabetes, ask yourself if you know what your target heart rate range is. Because when you exercise, you have to work out in the appropriate zone for your goal.
You also cannot talk about getting healthy and fit without understanding strength training, metabolism and muscle. For women over 40, it is another key piece. We lose muscle as we age unless we keep those muscles working hard. If you feel like you have lost your metabolism over the years, ask yourself about resistance training that works all the major muscle groups. Do you know how to do it? It’s required for fitness.
And finally, you cannot talk about health and fitness without understanding basic nutrition. By that I mean the simple, basic math and science of fuel for the cells of the body. Your body’s daily calorie (energy) needs: how much you burn at rest, how much you burn in your daily life, and how much you burn with your daily exercise. Now, one can get so deep into nutrition you can earn a PhD in it. But that is not necessary for basic health, fitness or weight loss. It is really pretty simple. Eat within the caloric (energy) needs of your body, and eat as much plant based whole food (unprocessed) as possible.
That’s it. What to do:
30-45 minutes of cardiovascular exercise every day in your target heart rate zone
45 minutes of strength training twice a week
Eat mostly plant based unprocessed food within the energy needs of your body without going too low (calories consumed = calories burned for maintaining weight; calories consumed < calories burned for losing weight)
Get good sleep
Drink lots of water
Find healthy ways of dealing with stress (do not less stress hormones run wild in your bloodstream for more than a few hours)
Now you have all the information you will ever need to get healthy and fit for life. You know your body’s energy requirement (calculated your BMR last week). You know your target heart rate range. You know how to calculate a calorie deficit, if you decide you need to burn off some extra weight to get healthy.
2) I Know What to Do, I Just Don’t Do It
Some people, once they understand the math of calories in, put it into practice. They understand that to change, they must make different choices. I remember when I started finally losing weight after years of struggling; I figured out that ~500 calorie meals worked great for me. I still use that strategy today, but I no longer need to calculate or track it. It is part of my awareness. For example, I used to get a loaded burrito when I went to Chipotle. 1,200 calories plus chips! Now I get a burrito bowl that has 500 calories. But I have known the ingredients of my good choice burrito bowl for years. I don’t even think about it.
That’s not dieting, that’s making a good, informed choice. Awareness. Mindfulness.
Some people, once they understand the math of calories out, put it into practice. After struggling for years to understand why I never lost the weight I wanted to, I finally began to understand walking in my target heart rate zone. I would go to Highbanks everyday and make sure I stayed in my zone for 5 miles. Every day I made sure my stats said 600 calories, time in zone 60 minutes, average heart rate in my zone. (Heart rate monitors give you all this info!) I knew I had to burn off the extra fat I was carrying and I knew cardio was the only way.
That’s not dieting, that’s kicking butt at Highbanks and doing cardio.
But for most of my life, even though I knew what to do, I just couldn’t get myself to do it. I knew I was eating too much. I knew I ate junk food, and I knew I ate for comfort. I knew I didn’t exercise consistently and I had never done strength training. I knew I was overweight and unhealthy.
But all the math, all the science, all the information in the world would not have helped me back then. I was in desperate need of healing. I was broken, and I didn’t have a healthy sense of my own worth.
Most of you know my story. I just simply hated myself and I never knew why. (I understand now.) I was rooted in shame, guilt, unforgiveness, criticism and judgment. And I felt at the deepest part of my soul that I didn’t matter. And because I believed this lie, that I didn’t matter, I didn’t believe that what I did mattered.
Many times I tried to exercise or eat healthier. I tried to change and make better choices. It never lasted. The deeply held false beliefs that I was carrying around were sabotaging every effort I ever made to improve. It would have been impossible for me to simply change my behavior, without healing. I had to experience both.
It’s knowing what to do: Energy. Calories. BMR. Heart Rate. Fruit. Veggies. Water. Sleep. Weights. Walks.
Then believing it is possible for YOU.
Do you believe it is possible for you? Or are you burdened by a set of false beliefs/LIES that have kept you stuck and struggling for years. Maybe you have to learn both your worth and your heart rate zone. That is OK. I had to take that route. I had to do both.
But what came of it was healing and freedom that I never thought possible for me! My attempts to change what I ate for lunch led me to deep healing of my worth. My attempts to walk consistently led me to challenge all my false beliefs and begin to know the truth and who I am and that I am already good enough.
Fitness is a path in. There are others. This just happens to be my favorite because it led me to salvation, redemption, purpose and healing. It led me to an authentic life as well as a healthy body weight and some pretty strong leg muscles.
You are enough. You really, truly are. You are beautiful and you matter. More than you can ever imagine.
And you need to get moving. Walk. Lift. Eat your veggies. Get in your zone daily. Make good choices and meet your goals.
It is both. It is miraculous.