HOW TO STAY FIT AND HEALTHY

Hello everyone,

This might sound like an old adage, but if you really want to look Fabulous@Fifty, you need to put a lot of effort and commitment to achieve a result.   When I seen or hear an advertisement about some magic gum that helps you to reduce weight by just chewing it or a shake that brings you the same result by drinking it, I always take it with the a grain of salt, for it takes more then just a magic gum or a drink to keep your body in good shape.  Some people are blessed with fast metabolism and don’t need to worry about how to keep their weight down, for the rest of us, however, its tough work.
On Bondi Beach after a jog
When I was in my 20’s and even 30’s, I never bothered about what I ate, what time of the day it was, or how many calories that food contained.  My body burnt it all.
It all changed when I turned 40 and had my second child.  When I first noticed that the weekend’s indulgences (wine and dessert are my vices) began to show around my waist in the form of a doughnut and would not disappear voluntary, I realised that they day of fast metabolism are over and if I want to look the way I used to, I needed to take some drastic actions. 
The other, very important factor that we need to consider is that our bodies lose the agility, out muscles become weaker and less elastic and our bones' density lessens.  And one way of helping your body to maintain its strength and vitality is being physically active.

So I joined a local Fitness First Club and have been a devoted member ever since.  I never use any of the machines, they absolutely bore me after 10 minutes, I prefer group fitness classes, they highly streamlined and structured, it is all done for you.  All you need to do is show up, do your best and have fun.

I participate in a range of activities, each of them bears different purpose but has one thing in common - makes you feel better, younger, stronger, slimmer.

My favourites exercises are: 
Body Pump , which I do twice a week – wight-bearing exercises that help you to burn lots of calories, maintain muscle mass and tones your body, legs and arms so when summer arrives, you can proudly show off those toned limbs; 
Body Balance – (once a week) a lovely combo of Tai Chi, Pilates and Yoga that build flexibility and strength in your body and leaves you feelings centred and calm;
Pilates - (once a week) focuses on building core strength and stability.


On top of that I run three times a week for about half an hour.  And this how I maintained the same dress size for the past ten years.  

I always pack my gym gear when I go on holidays and try to go for a run whenever I can.
On a boardwalk in Cape Town
It may sound like a lot and I can hear some people saying that they don’t have the time to do it.  Of course, running my own business from home gives me the flexibility and time to exercise, however when I first joined the gym, I was working full time and had a small child and still found time to do it.   

Of course, you don’t have to follow my steps and go crazy, however if you do decide to join me in the quest to look Fabulous &50, find an activity that you enjoy the most and that agrees with your life style.  If you are considering joining a local gym, don’t be intimidated by other members’ athletic physiques, bear in mind that they may have been training for many years; believe in yourself and your determination will pay off.  But if a big gym is not your cup of tea, check if there are other gyms that cater for women of certain age, the classes are quite small with more flexible routine, like Curves for example. 

The bottom line is “Whatever you are doing is better than doing nothing.”

And of course, let us not forget the importance of eating good food in good doses because one does not come without the other.  No matter how hard you exercise, the excess of food will always prevail.  

If you would like to ask me a question, leave a comment and share your thoughts, please leave your message at my Facebook page.


NOTES ON FOOD


Holidays is a very tricky time to stay fit and watch watch what you eat.  My holiday mantra is eat and drink what you like, enjoy yourself, have a great time and then once I am back home I would do my best to get back into shape.  My holiday exercise routine is shrunk to a minimum, although I religiously followed the advice given to us by our gym teacher on the last class before Christmas break:  "If you can only do one thing, do the push ups".  According to her, this is the best thing you can do for your body when you can’t do much.  That didn’t help to keep my weight from creeping up, what with all the food, wine and lack of exercise.

One of the highly important factors in loosing all those extra kilos is exercising. Previously I wrote about the importance of physical activity for keeping down your body weight and general well being (see NOTES ON FITNESS).  There is, however, another equally important factor that I would like to talk about – it is the food that we eat every day.

I specifically want to talk about it now as every year, come December, almost every magazine you randomly pick up from a newsstand, talks about new year resolutions, and going on a diet is the number one on the list. 

good food, healthy food

bad food
I do not follow any diet simply because I find it a nuisance to follow not to mention being anxious, if no matter how hungry you are - your scales don’t budge.  First of all, most diets have quite draconian restrictions on what you can eat; secondly – every diet must come to an end, and once it is over, you tend to slip back into your bad eating habits.

My philosophy on food is quite simple:  you should eat healthily every day, control your portion size and stay away from naughty foods, at least from Monday to Friday and reward yourself on weekends.

My Monday to Friday breakfast is a scoop of muesli, 1 tbsp of low fat yogurt, a handful of raw almonds and walnuts that I crush in a mortar and pestle and mix with muesli.  I also drink a cup of hot water with a slice of lemon and a few fresh mint leaves.

Between breakfast and lunch I also eat one banana and an apple to keep hunger at bay.  Lunch is similarly simple:  a sandwich of soy-linseed or dark rye bread with avocado, a couple of slices of rare roast beef and a tomato accompanied by a cup of green tea.

About an hour before dinner, I eat another apple.  We tend to have dinner quite early, ideally between 6 and 7 pm.  We don’t eat pasta, potatoes or breads, we eat quite lean meat or fish which I prefer barbecuing rather then frying in a pan.  We eat a lot of fresh vegetables; everyone in my family loves salads.  I try to make a different one every day.  You can find some of them on my other blog My Cosmopolitan Kitchen under the Page called “What’s cooking” as well as my other recipes.

As for the side dish, it could be roasted pumpkin, sweet potato pure or green pees pure for which I use olive oil instead of butter.  As a matter of fact, I use olive oil for all of my cooking and extra virgin olive oil for salad dressings.  I never use ready made dressing nor mayonnaise nor cream.

The dinner concludes with a fresh fruit platter.  Once the dishes are cleared away and washed, I close the kitchen for the night.

The weekends, though, are a different ball game altogether.  I love to spoil myself with hearty breakfast, my favourite being Eggs in Purgatory with some artisan bread or a French toast; lunch and dinner are usually a going out affair where we splurge on wine and desserts and other forbidden yummies of the culinary world.  Sunday lunch is our last indulgence for the weekend; a fruit platter at dinner heralds the beginning of a new week and tells our body it is time to start detoxing.

So if you are conscious of the weight creep and are determined to keep it at bay, why not make these simple rules your New Year resolution?  If you set your mind to it, it is all quite simple.  There are no restrictions as such, I don’t follow any fabs or diets, and my mantra for weight control is self-control, discipline and common sense.

Here is the list of food that I eat and things that I try to avoid and it works for me; you are welcome to give it a try and see if you can benefit from it too:
try to avoid carbs as much as possible,
- try to avoid cream based dressings for salads and cooked vegetables; 
- grill or barbecue your proteins (meat, fish, poultry) whenever is possible;
- fish and turkey are much leaner options, try to include them in your weekly meal plan;
- avoid snacking (plain almonds or walnuts in moderation are an exception);
- lollies and other cheep sweets are a killer;
- stay away from soft drinks (except soda and mineral water),
- start the day with hot water with lemon and mint and continue drinking this throughout the day;
- avoid using condiments such as tomato sauce or sweet chili sauce
- drink alcohol in moderation.

Most importantly, look after yourself, stay positive, be active and you are bound to look fabulous!!!

If you would like to ask me a question, leave a comment and share your thoughts, please leave your message at my Facebook page or e-mail to annamarcus@optusnet.com.au and I will be more then happy to help.