If you type the word “fitness” or “health” or “weight” into Google or some other search engine on very the first page you can find dire news about the obesity “epidemic” in the U.S., conflicting reports of what is healthy and what is not healthy today, and miraculous news about a single food that can heal your heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis, reduce your weight, grow your hair, eliminate your wrinkles, and stop J.J. Abrams from over-lens-flaring the next Star Wars movie.
OK, so that last one was all me. But if there was a miraculous food that could stop the lens flaring, I would sell it door to door.
My fitness journey is like many others’, a slow increase in weight and decrease in fitness taking place over many years, and a focus on my own fitness that has been consistently back-burnered in favor of focusing on other things, like family and work. Since I started working from home, there has been room in my brain to really think about fitness and the other demands on my time, and to see the patterns that have emerged over the years.
I know that I need to reduce the inflammation my body tends towards, increase my muscle mass to combat loss of bone density in the future, and reduce my weight to take strain off my joints. Successfully meeting these needs can do all kinds of things for me, including improving my overall and long-term health. As menopause has progressed, meeting these needs has become more important, and more difficult to do.
I also generally know what works towards my fitness and what does not. There is no weight loss without cardio – increasing muscle mass alone won’t do it – and reducing calories without reducing carbohydrate intake and increasing fruit and vegetable intake won’t do it.
For years I have been more or less following the anti-inflammatory eating recommended by Dr. Andrew Weil. It makes a lot of sense for me – eating lots of fruits and vegetables, reduced carbs, eliminating processed food.
I like Dr. Weil’s approach, which blends eastern and western medical philosophies, supported by valid research. He recommends anti-inflammatory eating, 30 minutes of exercise a day, breathing and meditation.
Sounds great, doesn’t it?
Except that it is so much easier said than done. The patterns I have noticed include that it is difficult to afford organic food all of the time and to get the fruits and vegetables we like when they are not in season (don’t talk to me about beets. Just don’t.) A fitness routine for me works best when I don’t have a family around – when I used to travel for work, and all I had to think about taking care of was me in a hotel room – not my son, not my husband, not the house and pets – it was oh so easy to get up and hit the gym every day.
It can be very difficult to maintain a schedule with the Navigator for working out and fixing meals – if he has a bad night, the last thing I want to do is get up to go to the gym three hours after I finally fell back asleep. If he has a bad morning before school, I can be left exhausted and emotionally drained and it can throw my whole day off. Suddenly, taquitos sound so much better for dinner than a salad.
And just what the heck is “processed food” really? Yeah, I know don’t eat nacho cheese burritos with unpronounceable ingredients, but what about the wheat bread I make in my bread machine when I know exactly the ingredients that have gone into it? Is it still processed because the wheat has been milled into flour?
Fitness recommendations like those of Dr. Weil can feel like they are made in a vacuum, without consideration for the life that happens every day. They are certainly not tailored to the specific circumstances of my family.
So I need to tailor them.
Next week I will be meeting with experts to talk about the ins-and-outs of anti-inflammatory eating with an eye towards how to maintain the eating style even when chaos is breaking out around me and the Navigator refuses to eat what I am eating. We will talk about my metabolism, what fitness routines are needed to meet my needs and, most importantly, how to tailor routines (yes, “routines” plural) for what actually occurs – what routine can I do when I have had limited sleep? What routine will help with my emotional equilibrium after a bad day (or week)? Then I will report on what I have learned.