Archive for March, 2011

Seniors and Weight Loss

One of the ways that I keep up with what’s available for seniors in my county (Fairfax County) is a small, valuable periodical that I subscribe to called, The Golden Gazette. The topic of “weight loss” was discussed when a reader asked the following:

I am about 30 pounds overweight and I’ve decided that I want to lose weight and get healthier. Can you share some tips for losing weight that would be appropriate for a senior?

The article commended the reader because losing weight has the following benefits:

  • Feel better about yourself
  • Reduce risk of a variety of diseases
  • Help manage chronic diseases
  • Keep you mobile and independent with age

Weight is controlled by a number of things:

  • Family history
  • What you eat and drink
  • Energy you use to live and be active

As I mentioned in a previous post on how to lose weight, this article said the same thing: consume fewer calories from food and beverages and become more physically active. One pound equals 3,500 calories, so in order to lose a pound a week, reduce your caloric intake by 500 calories per day. Cutting out two servings of butter and exercising for 30 minutes at a moderate pace is an example of what you could do.

As always, check with your medical practitioner before embarking on any weight loss program. Here is an excellent Web site with online tools available for you. www.healthychoicessolutioncenter.org. For other senior services in Fairfax County, check out the Senior Navigator Web site.

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The President’s Challenge: Adult Fitness Test

About three years ago,the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports introduced an adult fitness test. If you did not get the Presidential Physical Fitness Award while you were in school, here’s your chance to prove your fitness or to just get started moving your body. Actually, the awards did not even exist when we seniors were in school. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson established the Presidential Physical Fitness Award for exceptional achievement by boys and girls ages 10 to 17. Now, here’s your chance to keep up with our children and grandchildren. Our starting point is The President’s Challenge: Adult Fitness Test.

However, if exercise is not part of your routine, be sure to seek the advice of your medical practitioner first. The test is for people 18 and older who are in good health. Although the Web site has a “senior” link, the link is not working. That’s unfortunate because certainly most of our senior bodies are no longer like the younger generation. However, the test was inspired by the many baby boomers who asked council members if there was a fitness test available that was similar to the ones used in schools. The test has four basic parts:

  • Aerobic fitness—the ability of your heart and lungs to deliver blood to muscles
  • Muscular strength and endurance—whether you are strong enough to do normal activities easily and protect your lower back
  • Flexibility—the ability to move your joints through their proper range of motion
  • Body composition—whether you have too much body fat, especially around the waist

To get the details go to: http://www.presidentschallenge.org/challenge/adult.shtml. If you’re not in the best of shape, getting started is probably one of the most difficult steps and staying motivated can be even more difficult. As I mentioned in my last blog post, making a decision is critical. To stay motivated, the program offers awards that you can sign up for on the same Web site. Having an accountability partner has proven to be one of the best ways to move ahead in many areas of life. Find out about my new Gracefully Age Program by contacting me — gracefullyageprogram@gmail.com or by calling 703.825.8384. I encourage you to accept the President’s Challenge and take the Adult Fitness Test.

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Great Aloha Run and Commitment

Before leaving for Hawaii a couple of weeks ago, I made a commitment to walk the Great Aloha Run. My sister was running in it so I told her I’d cheer her on. Then she said a lot of people walk it. It never crossed my mind to do anything like it, but I wanted the “Finisher” t-shirt to demonstrate something that I’d never done in my life. It was amazing that just making a decision was the greatest hurdle to overcome. Once I made the decision, the practice and training fell into place.

When we find that we have something that we have difficulty getting started … could it be that we simply have not made the decision to do whatever we need to do? For example, as seniors, we all know that death is a greater reality than it was when we were younger. We have many decisions to make, one of which is where to live out our life. Older seniors are advising us to pack up and move now. Move closer to family. Sage advice, but we haven’t made the decision.

I look at my neighbor in his early 80’s. He’s not made the decision either, although he’s on a wait list at a senior facility and has been called about an opening. And because he’s not yet made a decision or commitment, he is having trouble getting started on the project to move. Unfortunately, as seniors, we have to face the reality that the longer we wait, our bodies may not be in any condition to handle such a huge project.

Going back to the Great Aloha Run … it was an 8.15-mile run (walk). I was advised to soak in the tub, preferably in Epsom salt, after the race because I was catching a flight that afternoon. I also wore compression socks on the plane and was fortunate to get a seat where I could get up and walk around on the new Airbus 330. That night in my hotel room my legs felt really heavy, but I rubbed a generous amount of Sunjing, the only all-natural analgesic that I know of, and the next morning I was up early in almost perfect condition to continue the journey back to the East Coast.

Sadly, we were actually in Hawaii for my husband’s mother’s funeral. She died suddenly at age 93 of a massive heart attack. She enjoyed the outdoors and in her later life did a lot of walking. So we took her spirit along with us and I’m sure she helped us complete the Great Aloha Run.

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