Fitness and Health

2011 May 2011

By Karen Trom from the May 2011 Edition

Change your Choices, Change your Life
Just when I had figured out that life really does begin at 40- it hit me. I had been told but never thought it would happen. There had been warning signs but I ignored them.

Then I had my yearly physical….

“What?” I exclaimed, “How on earth have I gained 20lbs since my last appointment???” I have never had to watch what I eat and I have never been into fitness and with the exception of being pregnant, I have always been the same weight. “The scale must be broken, “I insisted. “No”, the nurse replied, this is just part of getting older.”

It was right then and there that my quest for a healthy life began. In 7 years, I went from being a person who never counted a calorie and never stepped foot in a gym to a group fitness instructor at the YMCA as well as the wellness coordinator for a chain of supermarkets. I also lost fat, gained muscle, and increased my energy. How did I do it? No gimmicks, no magic pills, just making different choices and taking it day by day.

During that time we also bought a house in Manzanillo, which was even more incentive to get in shape. In Wisconsin we are covered in layers of clothes from head to toe for 9 months out of the year so it is easy to hide any unsightly bulges. In Manzanillo, there is a lot less fabric and a lot more skin showing. Yes, vanity is a big reason why most people want to lost weight, but there is so much more to being healthy than how you look in your swimwear.

Weight gain and loss of muscle are part of aging but you don’t have to just sit back and let it happen. By staying active and watching what you eat, you can help prevent or manage diseases and illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and heart disease. Researchers say that approximately 50% of cancers are preventable with regular physical activity, a healthy body weight and a nutritious diet. Of course, not smoking and wearing sunscreen will also greatly cut your cancer risk.

So, how do you go about getting healthy? Most people clear out the cupboards, fill their refrigerator with all fruits and veggies and work out like crazy. This lasts a few days, maybe a week, and then you are back to the same old habits. It took years to develop your unhealthy habits so it will take more than a week to break them.

Think about making small changes and making them a habit.

An easy, no equipment workout is walking. If you haven’t been physically active in awhile, start with 15 minutes, and
then add a few minutes each day until you are up to 30 minutes daily, 5-6 times per week. Walking at a medium pace for 3 hours per week can cut your risk of heart disease by almost 40%, this is about the same as vigorous exercise such as running or aerobics.

A walking routine can also improve circulation, improve lung function, combat depression, bolster them immune system and help control your weight. You should have a light snack (fruit or yogurt are good choices) an hour or two before you walk; your body needs a little fuel but not too full to get the maximum benefit. If you walk in the early morning, go before breakfast.

Walking in Mexico does have its challenges- cobblestones, broken sidewalks or holes in the sidewalk, dogs, drivers, and a host of other surprises await you, so be sure to wear sturdy athletic shoes and be aware of your surroundings!

You can also start with small changes in your diet. Many of our calories come from beverages such as soda, fruit juice and alcohol. One shot of alcohol has approximately 120 calories and it metabolizes directly to fat. Simply eliminating alcohol (or reducing intake) can cut your body fat by 2% in a month without doing anything else! Sodas and fruit juices are also very high in calories so substitute water, tea, or coffee as often as possible.

You are never too old to make some simple changes to change your life…start today and enjoy living!


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