Now that I am comfortably past my 40th birthday and the little drama & mystique that surrounded that milestone has worn off, I think I am in a good position to assess my fitness and my fitness goals for the next 10-15 years at least.
I have been very fortunate to be able to practice my fitness activity of choice (cycling and strength training) without any major breaks so far. Over the last year and a half, I have seen some changes in my body and I have tweaked my workouts to suit this new situation (which is here to stay, by the way). The two major things that I have noticed after crossing the Forty Bridge are:
- I am not lifting as much weights that I used to.
- My metabolism has slowed down compared to what it was a couple of years ago.
How did I conclude this? I started noticing that the diet which made me lose a lot of weight a few years ago, was now actually backfiring. And I am not able to push the same amount of weights that I used to (probably because of changes in my diet and overall metabolism). I have always looked at these as mere speed bumps in my long and challenging fitness journey and not as an insurmountable obstacle. Now that I had identified the problem, I decided to make some changes to my diet and exercise plan. And as expected, within a few weeks of making that change, I have bounced back to my good old enthusiastic self at the gym!
Here what I did:
The biggest change that I had to make to my diet is to stop eating because it is mealtime. Sometimes a routine gets so ingrained in our minds that we stop applying our brains altogether. Meal times are one such example. I used to eat breakfast because it was 9:00 AM, eat lunch because it was 1:00 PM and eat dinner because……you get the drift! And after forty, I was simply failing to get rid of all these additional calories that simply loved to make an appearance on my lower tummy and my obliques (those love handles!). This had to stop. Another problem with my ‘predominantly Indian’ diet was the presence of excessive carbs (rice, chapathi, Idlis, Dosas, etc., etc.). I learned over time that something needed to be done about them too.
I tweaked my food intake style, eating when I was hungry and not because it was meal time! That alone led to reduction in unnecessary calories consumed. Next, I replaced my breakfast with Bullet Proof Coffee (scroll to the bottom of the post for the recipe that I use – it’s a little different from what you might find on the internet due to availability of ingredients). It keeps me focused and the biggest advantage that I have experienced is that I no longer feel the bloated sluggishness that I usually used to encounter after a heavy breakfast on most mornings.
Lunch is around 12:45 and it is regular food with the small tweak that I have limited my carbs and increased my vegetable and meat intake (overall, I still get the calories needed but the proportion of carbs is less). I do the same thing with my dinner (usually at around 7:30 PM). Both meals are important to me and I don’t believe in sleeping hungry. The best part of my plan (if I may call it that) is that I also get to eat some dessert almost every night (yup have a sweet tooth too, hahaha).
I have never had any challenges with exercise, especially the getting up early and hitting the streets part. I’ve been part of the 5:00 AM crew for close to 2 decades. So, that part is covered. Also I have always been a fitness enthusiast a regular at the gym. What has changed now is my workout plan. I still workout 6 days a week but I work only one body part a day with the exception of leg training – that I do twice a week. As my body is ageing, legs need to maintain muscle mass and strength so that the rest of me is able to sustain the challenges that I keep throwing at myself!
The only addition to my workouts (as of August, 2014) is adding a dedicated cardio routine each morning. I have never been a fan of running so I really had to get creative on this one. After a lot of thought, one day I decided to get me a bicycle. That was it. I have stuck with it ever since. So much so that I even ended up replacing my bike within 2 years. Now it’s 13-14 kms. of cycling at a moderate speed (my average speed is usually in the range of 18-19 kmph.) followed by a weight training session in the gym. This is a plan that I am able to sustain, given the demands on my time from work, family, hobbies, etc. I have listed a couple of my workout plans in some of the older posts on this blog, in case someone is looking for a ready made plan to get started.
In conclusion, life after forty need not be all gloom and doom when it comes to fitness. All one needs is a plan, a some determination and a little faith in oneself to sail through into one’s golden years, punching away challenges with full vigor and gusto.
I’d be happy to hear your thoughts about your own fitness journey in your 40s and beyond, in the comments.
Bullet Proof Coffee Recipe:
- Brew black coffee normally (about 250-300ml).
- Add 2 teaspoons of unsalted (white) butter.
- Add 1 teaspoon of coconut oil (I use parachute brand).
- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence (for masking the smell of the coconut oil – yeah some of us may not like it!)
- 1 teaspoon sugar (or not if you insist)
- Blend everything for 30 seconds or so and you’re done!
When I have my cup of BPC at 9:00AM, it keeps me full till around 12:15 PM and around 12:30 PM I seriously start fantasizing about lunch.