I’m thrilled that my good friend, Meredith Boyd, agreed to share her take on fitness after fifty for this post! Meredith is a personal trainer with award-winning outdoor fitness program Camp Gladiator. Today, she’s going to share her personal story as well as answer our burning questions about health and fitness. She is one of the warmest and most encouraging people I know! I guarantee that you will be motivated by her, no matter what your age or stage in life! Meredith and her husband, Wes, have been married for almost 24 years, and they have three children ages 19, 17 and 14. Get ready for some Monday motivation, friends!
How did you find the field of personal training and get into your business?
I feel so blessed to do what I do! I came from a healthy eating, active family, but for a variety of reasons, I started using food at an early age to relieve stress, as entertainment, as a source of comfort and as a way of escape. Being (about 30-40 pounds) overweight and self-conscious, I continued to shy away from physical activity. Over time, I stopped focusing on my lack of athletic skill, my weight, and my own perceived performance, and instead, I began to experience the blessing of movement and exercise, and how good it feels to feel strong and be healthy. One taste of this early on was in high school where a good friend ran the Turkey Trot with me. It was PAINSTAKINGLY SLOW, as she was a cross-country star, but she stuck with me the whole way, and I felt so accomplished when I finished. In college, I started walking with friends as a way to catch up and connect. Eventually, I developed a passion for health and fitness and spent the next 20 years reading, taking classes, researching health and exercise and getting certified as a personal trainer.
What are the main health/fitness issues you see in women over fifty?
I think many women, and perhaps the 50+ crowd, in particular, can relate to my past shying away from physical activity. Perhaps they are out of the habit, busy with other interests, self-conscious about their body or reluctant to start at ground zero. Physical activity has been shown time and time again to tame the challenges of menopause, lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, prevent osteoporosis, enhance mood, increase energy, improve cognitive function, help establish better sleep patterns and help control weight. I see many 50+ clients who have a much lower biological age because they have made physical activity a priority. (Suzy: To read my post on this very issue, click here.)
How do you suggest women deal with the seemingly inevitable weight gain that comes with middle age?
Great news: weight gain as we age is not inevitable! True, our metabolism slows, and we lose some muscle mass, but aging doesn’t have to equate to weight gain. My advice is to GET MOVING! Exercise is an excellent way to maintain a healthy body weight, and it provides so many additional benefits. Sometimes, we have to force ourselves to do things we don’t want to do because it is the right choice. Flannery O’Connor said that for reading to become a pleasure, it must first become a discipline. I think that is very true for exercise as well – before exercise can be a source of fun and recreation, for many of us, it is first a discipline. Start by committing to move one minute tomorrow, and then add another minute the next day, etc. Be grateful that you have a choice to move (you GET to exercise, not have to!), and celebrate your accomplishments!
To preserve bone density, women over fifty know that they need to do more weight-bearing exercise. Why is that, and what are some examples of weight-bearing exercise?
Bone density decreases in both men and women as we age and after menopause, women are particularly susceptible because of the decrease in estrogen. The way to counteract this is to engage in weight-bearing exercise – that means movement that forces your body to work against gravity. Examples include walking, jogging, hiking, climbing stairs, tennis, dancing, performing bodyweight exercises such as squats and pushups and adding resistance like dumbbells, resistance bands or machines that provide weight resistance. Although swimming and biking are great ways to get moving and to elevate your heart rate, they are not weight-bearing exercises because your bones aren’t supporting your body weight.
How do exercise and nutrition work hand-in-hand?
Combining regular exercise with sound nutrition (eating a well-balanced diet filled with veggies, lean meats, fruits, and healthy fats), is a winning combination and always yields the best results. Megan Lyons, a Dallas-based health and wellness coach for clients around the world, wrote a book called Start Here: 7 Easy, Diet-Free Steps To Achieve Your Ultimate Health and Happiness. Her book is particularly helpful for people wanting to establish a lifestyle of manageable, healthy eating. When people combine movement with fueling their bodies with good, real food (the less processed, the better!), not only do they immediately experience positive changes in their mood and energy levels, but they are also improving their long-term health and increasing their life expectancy.
Planning your exercise, putting it on your calendar, and thinking through what you are going to eat by keeping nutritious, good-tasting options around your home, are the keys to success. When we combine fueling our bodies with food to support the work we have to do (rather than a diet or deprivation mentality), with exercise and strengthening our muscles, we best prepare ourselves to have more energy, feel better and love the people in our lives well. I want people to feel good in their skin, and I have found that combining regular exercise and proper nutrition best accomplishes this goal.
What would you say to someone who feels like they are really out of shape and doesn’t know where to start?
Look for programs that incorporate both cardio and strength training. Give yourself the freedom to try things you’ve never done or haven’t tried in a long time. Don’t listen to yourself. (“I’m too fat and out of shape, I’ll look ridiculous, I can’t do this,” etc.), and instead, TALK to yourself. (“I am worth feeling my best; I am getting stronger; I’m blessed to be able to exercise; I take daily steps to improve my health,” etc.) Start slowly with concrete, doable goals. Maybe it’s committing to one minute of exercise today and two minutes tomorrow. Maybe it’s a commitment to eat half of what’s on your plate for a week, knowing you have the freedom to eat more later if you are truly hungry. The mind is powerful, so remember to talk kindly to yourself (don’t say anything to yourself you don’t want to come true!), as you are grateful for what you have, and are working for what you value and want.
Finally, let’s talk about the holidays! When temptations abound and time is short, what can women do to stay (or get) on track?
The holidays can be tricky because schedules can get busier, it can be harder to find time to exercise, and people can find themselves more stressed than usual. My thoughts are 1. Try to stick to your usual exercise routine (or start one – you don’t have to wait until the new year to take good care of yourself!). You deserve to move every day so make sure to put it in your calendar (even if it’s 5 minutes). 2. Avoid going to a party ravenous – make sure you have had plenty of water and if you’re really hungry, enjoy a healthy snack before you go, making it easier to eat what you are served in moderation. 3. Consider applying the BDD Rule (the Bread, Drink, Dessert Rule). Megan Lyons makes this suggestion and it’s excellent – choose either eating bread, having a drink or enjoying a dessert. Maybe you enjoy 2 of the 3, or maybe even all 3, but think through your decision and know that if you consistently choose to enjoy 2 or 3, you will most likely need to exercise more, cut back at other meals or gain unwanted weight.
Wow! I hope you’re feeling as motivated and determined as I am! As someone who sits at the computer for my job, I’ve had to be conscious of incorporating more movement into my life in the empty nest. Even though I work out 4-5 days a week, I found that I simply wasn’t getting the overall steps that I used to when the kids were home. I recently started using a stand-up desk, and I really like it! I’m amazed at how much more energized I feel standing than I do sitting. The prices on these have dropped quite a bit since they first came out, making them more affordable now. Bob gave me mine for my birthday this year, and if you’re thinking of getting one, just be sure that yours is well-made and stable! When your computer is resting on top, that’s important. I would definitely recommend mine.
Isn’t Meredith just the best! I love her upbeat, positive take on fitness after fifty. I’m excited to announce that I’ll be doing a Facebook Live with Meredith tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. (CST). To join us, navigate to the Empty Nest Blessed Facebook page at 2:30 p.m. and like and follow the page. Then scroll to the top of the page. You should see a video playing, which you can watch on mobile or desktop. Click the video to enter viewing mode. You can engage with us while we’re live by liking the video or leaving a comment or question the same way you would normally comment on a post. We can see who’s watching and we’ll see your comments or questions as you post them. If you can’t join us at 2:30 p.m., don’t worry! I’ll save the video on the Facebook page, and you can watch it at a time that’s more convenient for you. I’ll send out a reminder to my email subscribers tomorrow morning, so if you’re not already a subscriber, you might want to join my email list.
I just adore this fun sweatshirt because it describes exactly how I feel about you all! The Etsy Shop where I ordered it doesn’t seem to have it in gray anymore, but they do offer it in many other colors. If you prefer the gray, I did find a unisex gray hoodie here. I’m wearing it with these cute skirted leggings (“skeggings!”) that I love because I don’t have to worry about my sweatshirt being long enough to cover my booty! (Hahaha!)
Photos by Megan Weaver.
Meredith works for Camp Gladiator in Dallas, Texas. Classes are available for $69/month.This provides unlimited access to classes (held 5 a.m.-8 p.m., six days a week). Try her (or any) CG class for free.
For more information about Camp Gladiator, visit their website. To contact Meredith, email firstname.lastname@example.org or text her at 972-645-6505.