By Randy Moore
One of the challenges with fitness as we age is being consistent and motivated. It’s normal to start the year off with good intentions only to lose interest because of other priorities, pressures and inertia. Sound familiar?
I’ve been jogging a few times every week for nearly 30 years. Jogging two or three miles at a time is the foundation of my personal fitness program. Jogging is good for my heart and it helps me manage stress. It has also proven to be the ultimate weight management system. In 2005, I noticed I was becoming inconsistent mostly due to being busy as the publisher of a 120-page magazine.
I started monitoring my output more carefully to get back on track. I bought a calendar and started making a notation every time I jogged or did any other fitness related activity. I went a step further and gave each activity a numerical value. Jogging three miles meant three points and hiking could be between one and three points depending on the distance and effort.
I refer to these numbers as “Fitness Points,” and this is my eighth year tracking them. The calendar sits next to my bed and activities that earn fitness points include jogging, hiking, disc golf, basketball, tennis, playing Frisbee, kayaking, and any concentrated period of stretching or calisthenics.
I have totaled 2,103 fitness points the past seven years. That’s an average of 300 points per year and 25 points per month. My highest single year total was 340 in 2011 and my lowest single year total was 268 in 2008. My highest monthly total was 43 points in April 2011 and my lowest monthly total was 13 points in December 2006.
Selling my magazine in 2009 has made it easier for me to focus on fitness and other interests that contribute to a healthier and more balanced life. I’m happier today managing a small marketing company focused on fewer clients and projects than being a busy publisher dealing with so many details and deadlines.
I’ll be turning 60 later this year, and one of my goals for 2013 is to increase my fitness points. I have reached 40 points each month this year, which is my highest four month total since I was in my mid 30s, which was in the decade of life that I started counting how many miles I ran each month. My goal is to continue reaching 40 or more points every month for the rest of the year. Achieving this goal is part of my motivation for keeping active and tracking my results.
Increasing my fitness points doesn’t mean working out harder or longer.
The more important variables are frequency and consistency. Also, having a point system doesn’t mean I don’t have challenges with occasional inertia. My response to an inactive period is to refocus on doing something I enjoy, like playing a round of disc golf or taking our dog on a long walk.
One of my goals this year is to concentrate more on upper body strength training. This is important as we age and a small amount of effort goes a long way. I prefer light stretching and calisthenics in my home versus weight training or yoga in a traditional gym or studio.
Tracking your own fitness points won’t eliminate procrastination, but it makes it easier to set short and intermediate goals. I’ve also learned to increase my fitness points when I’m stressed or busy. It’s normal to watch television, eat or sleep when you feel overwhelmed. That’s the ideal time to take a long walk or throw a Frisbee with a friend. Think of these types of activities as a form of natural rejuvenation. I’m also a proponent of occasional one-hour naps.
I was using testosterone gel for a few years, but I didn’t renew the prescription when I noticed my increased fitness output was providing similar results. I wander how many pharmaceuticals we could eliminate from our lives with more active lifestyles featuring moderate fitness, better nutrition and adequate rest?
I was also living with a hernia for several years and I recall reading an article written by a physician claiming that the damage never goes away. He was making a case of why someone should opt for surgery. My son and I spent almost a month in Italy and Switzerland in 2010 and we probably walked 3-4 miles every day. The telltale lump indicating a hernia disappeared during the trip and it hasn’t returned for three years. I assume all the walking strengthened my abdomen muscles.
I believe many Western physicians underestimate the value of moderate fitness and nutrition. This is mostly due to their education being dominated by pharmaceutical solutions and invasive treatments. It’s far more profitable for the medical industry when patients are spending longer periods of time paying for products and treatments focused on their symptoms instead of the underlying cause. It’s a major shortcoming of conventional medicine.
Fitness and nutrition working together are the best prescription for healthy living.
These non-invasive choices are far less expensive than vitamins, prescription drugs and surgery. A positive attitude is important too and it entails a sense of optimism and a spirit of gratitude. Enjoy the beauty of nature this month and the wonderful people in your precious life.
Randy owns Triple 3 Marketing. He’s a long term advocate for positive change, having owned community magazines since 1999. Randy sold Positive Change Media in April 2009 and took a year off before launching Triple 3 Marketing. In addition to helping business owners, he also provides private coaching. Randy has a masters degree in communication arts from the University of Wisconsin at Madison where he studied persuasion and attitude change. Contact Randy at email@example.com.