• Rajah E. Smart, Ed.D.

Working out in the 20’s Compared to the 40’s by Rajah E. Smart, Ed.D.

Updated: Feb 5

If I knew what I know now, I would not have played sports that caused injuries because I'm paying for it now. There's something to having pains when it rains or simply getting my big a@@ off the couch. I sometime watch my wife and how her joints ache and crack and remember our youth. I now tease her about osteoporosis but I digress.


Assuming we all have those remember when moments, those of you climbing in age may be able to relate. I could eat anything and not gain weight in my 20’s. Weight averaged 140 lbs. during my teens and well into the early 20’s. When I met my wife 15-years ago I was thin. Yeah, that's over. Working out or exercising was much less of a chore and it's harder to lose the weight, however, as I’m currently working out, a common thought permeates…this is some bull@!*%.


For the most part, I had the luxury of ignoring calories, trans fat, sugar, lactose, and more – the era of invincibility. Coke, Doritos, Dawn Donuts, gummi bears, Snickers, orange slices, Big John Steak and Onion, McDonald's fries, pizza, Burger King, Rally’s, and more were the daily routine. Those who talked only about working out or discussed how much can be benched never resonated or incited care. I, too, spent large amounts of time working out. Those were the, I don’t give a damn days.


Now in the 40’s, CrossFit enthusiasts, those eating foods with no flavor (what my wife affectionately calls white people food) and posting on social media, gym junkies – those with social media that only focus on working out and eating “well,” and those newly brainwashed work out champions irritate the living hell out of me. Why? It’s a matter of what is good for another is not always good for you. Their preachiness about what you should eat is a level of arrogance that assumes the masses care for their unsolicited advice.


Let’s face it, some people want to be obese, some want to look like a rail or be somewhere in the middle, and that’s okay. All of our bodies are different, so we should do what is acceptable for our lifestyle and not force a “new way” to lose weight.


The gym culture is like education…the material recycles itself and is sometimes too extreme for the end-user. It’s exciting but fades with the next idea. The fluctuations range from Tae Bo to P90-X to Cross fit. In my ’40s, my body doesn’t operate that way, nor should I force it if I’m leaving the gym with a new injury weekly. In the past few years, I’ve had a pulled groin, severe tendinitis in the right wrist, compression injury between pelvis and spine, pulled quad muscle, inflamed shoulder, and more. The recovery time takes longer and staying in rhythm to work out is met with miscellaneous events such as surgery. The popular phrase is, “You’re not stretching or warming up well enough.” No, my body is telling me to do what’s within a plausible context due to past workout regimes or sit my a@@ down somewhere. Notice, I have not mentioned diets. Why? Because that sh*! is unrealistic for those of us on the move constantly. Excuse the profanity but, Chris Rock once said, "You tell me that a person that don't say sh*! and I'll tell you they full of sh*!" During my time working with the State of Michigan, I gained MDE butt. That had to change. Now, I have figured out five (5) ways to be happy with working out and eating a balanced meal.


1. Use a meal planning versus classical dieting


Meal planning is a form of dieting. The word diet suggests you are eliminating the foods you enjoy. Meal planning simply helps you focus on what things to eat in moderation, mindfully making choices about food to support daily life. Yes, it takes a little research but it saves from spending a ton of money on a nutritionist or meal planner. Review the calories yourself and enjoy a hearty breakfast, lunch, and dinner within the calories for each meal. Spread out the things you eat. Of course, this is contingent on cooking or warming up T.V. dinners within the calories for breakfast, lunch; I’m currently on a 5:2 meal plan which means fasting two days a week. The fast allows for a max of 600 calories on those days and works for me because I never ate that much during the day. Typically, staying within the calories in a day helps lose weight. A steady meal plan becomes a part of the lifestyle versus doing a diet that takes one out of normal eating habits. Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday are my regular eating days with Saturday being a “cheat” day. However, I don’t go overboard and I can move the calories around during fast days. An example of a fasting day is as follows:

  • Breakfast (150 Cal) - ¼ cup of oatmeal w/blueberries (10 pieces), and pecans (less than 1 ounce).

  • Lunch (240 Cal) - Range of fruit, salad with meat, nuts

  • Dinner (170 Cal) - Yogurt, one or two fried eggs, 2 oz. meat

  • Snack (40 Cal) - Strawberries, celery, etc.

  • Note: I can move calories from different areas.


2. Buying food realistic to the wallet and your schedule


Articles and shows on eating well, going vegan, eating organic all have their place with the right audience. It’s easy to tell someone to buy organic, eat this and not that, meal prep on Sundays, etc., but everything is in context. Buying organic isn’t realistic if your wallet needs CPR or there are no stores in the area serving the products. Some of us are paid on Friday and broke on Friday. Two eggs, oatmeal, and some meat in the morning do fine. Our grandparents ate soul food and lived long lives. Not all soul food is not bad for you if seasoned using the natural flavors. What you put in your body is important. If you cook foods relative to your environment, that can be good. For example, greens are a tasty meal for a low cost and aren’t that bad if cooked using the natural flavors. Greens are low calorie and seasoned with onion, chicken stock, smoked meat, pepper, and salt. Chicken, pork, beef, turkey, etc., can be fine if done in moderation. With the cost of “good” food rising higher, you can spray some insecticide on mine for that discount. If there is no community garden in the hood, almond butter, almond milk, avocado, milk, tofu, vegetarian alternatives, and more, selections are few. When a pack of meat costs lower than vegan sausage, the access answers the question of what to buy.


3. Working out to your beat


My doctor told me years ago that when sleeping, the body burns and throughout the day when simply moving. I must admit, she was giving the anal test, so my attention was more focused on the violation at the time to absorb the message. A moderated meal plan and exercise also help. The instructions were to work out for a minimum of 30 minutes, 3-days a week. Having two jobs and working on other projects makes me couch ready at the end of the day, however, simply walking briskly, standing at my desk, basketball, swimming, and light boxing have slimmed me from 235 Ibs. to 195 Ibs. in two months.


I don’t break my neck trying to Cross-fit or stay posted in the gym 5-days a week. Walking at work, standing at meetings, shooting a basketball around for 30 minutes, and staying within my calories has worked. I haven’t gone vegan, eliminated candy, stopped eating donuts or cookies, or stopped drinking Starbucks chai tea lattes made with soy milk. It is simply moderated. What helps is I despise chain food. Work out to your beat and what works for your body. When you can’t work out, stay on your meal plan. It’s like sitting in a room taking a test. Just because others are finishing doesn’t mean there’s a need to rush.


4. Be patient


Sometimes we look up and summer has come and gone. Time flies at times when your routine typically is just another day. We sometimes treat weight loss like it’s supposed to occur quickly. Hell, getting paid ain’t even as quick as we like so why would we rush weight loss. Be patient in the journey because impatience causes stress and stress sometimes make us eat or lounge around. I found that I’m not the same physiologically or mentally in the ’40s. I’m no longer in a rush to even get up in the morning and drive to work.


5. Find what works for you


What I’ve provided works for me and I spent years trying to do what others promoted. After my doctor indicated a balanced meal plan and 30 minutes or working out 3-days a week, I finally realized that it’s about my body and what works for the schedule I keep. Find what works for you through trial and error. Just remember that if your body fights back, adjustments need to be made.


These five things are foundational pieces to apply. I didn’t see results quickly but they are visible now. Managing our lives is first and foremost but we can only do so at our pace-not at the advice of folks who don't know our bodies.


#workout #workingout #exercise #diet #mealplan #aging

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