Like many of you, I’ve worked in an office environment for many years; in my case, over 20. While I didn’t need to think about my weight and health as a young professional, time’s have changed. Through the years I’ve been physically active outside of work, running marathons into my 30’s and I continue to run to this day. I may take some weeks off as work or family commitments take precedence, but I’ve always returned to being active.
Even with the running, I’ve put on some pounds over the years. Call it aging or fewer miles run each week, over a long period of time the pounds have accumulated. Next thing you know I’m twenty pounds heavier, a much slower runner and no solution in sight to increase my health.
As You Age, Exercise Only Goes So Far
Even with the added pounds, I’ve been lucky that my annual checkups have never been horrible. About 7 years ago my stats were settling in toward the upper boundaries of what was considered normal for my age. I kept running, started “walking 1:1’s,” and looked for any opportunity to exercise I could find given my busy schedule. But the pounds wouldn’t exercise away. And while my stats were OK, the trend wasn’t.
I started getting into a downward motivational spiral as the running was getting harder, which made it more difficult to be excited to run, which made it more difficult to exercise, and so on. I’m sure aging swimmers, cyclists, ball players and any weekend warrior have all worked through this mental problem. I even put a pull up bar in my garage thinking that a few pull-ups before and after work might help. If I could work out more I’d look better, feel better, have more energy. That was my formula for success. But the results didn’t match the effort, and my level of effort was getting harder and harder to maintain.
A Few Small Changes Can Have a Big Impact
A few years ago, Thérèse started making green smoothies every morning, which I faithfully drank for breakfast. While my health journey has been led by exercise, hers has been focused on nutrition. So, if someone is going to the trouble of making you breakfast, the least you can do is eat it, or in my case drink it. She also convinced me to give up my daily can of diet soda.
While I was becoming resigned to think there wasn’t much I could do to change my weight (diets and calorie counting resulted in short lived results), I had quite a surprise at my next doctor’s visit. All my “chemical” indicators had reduced from the high normal levels to the perfect middle. And all I changed was to drink a green smoothie every day and forego the soda.
By the way, I’ve never asked for the specific smoothie recipe as I’m not big on green leafy things, but I understand it to be mainly an ever changing vegetable and fruit variety with a bit of protein powder to get me through the morning. You can find one of her smoothie recipes at Vitality in Focus.
OK, so great labs! I had that going for me, but I still was not at a weight that I was excited about. And my blood pressure was at the high end of normal.
Finding A “Real” Solution
This year, while working crazy hours exploring multiple startup opportunities, I started down a path of eating “real” food (once again, led by Thérèse). I’ve learned that real food is food that is unprocessed, which is another way of saying it doesn’t have additives, fillers and other chemicals put in. Real food includes meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains; basically what one would eat 60 or 70 years ago before we had fast food, the abundance of convenience stores and grocery stores the size of my elementary school.
So what’s the big deal? While not increasing my exercise, while working as long of hours as ever, while drinking the same amount of beer, I’ve lost over 5% of my body weight. I haven’t counted calories, or starved myself. I’ve more energy and I’m definitely more motivated to exercise as it’s much easier to run when you don’t have the extra weight. My most recent doctor’s visit continued to show great labs, and this time, my blood pressure dropped to a healthier level too.
As someone who has relied on exercise for four decades, I now realize that food and nutrition need to be front and center as we age. I’ll still run, backpack, ski, cycle and do yoga; I’ll continue to be active and I’m completely psyched that I’ve found a way to be active for more years to come.
Eating real food is a path anyone can take, and it’s not about a fad diet or counting calories, which gets too complicated and stressful for the short lived results. Typical to form, a simple solution seems to have the most long term possibilities. In fact, I’ve become such an adopter that we launched a startup called TimeChop to help solo & duo cooks create lunches and dinners using real food, all in less time. TimeChop will be launching in the App Store in December and includes a free, multi-week plan that you can use. I encourage anyone that’s looking for a healthier path to give real food a try, and I hope to see you on the running trails.