Welcome back to this special series featuring the stories of the Senior Planet Sponsored Athletes as they pursue their fitness goals in 2023. You can find all of our Sponsored Athletes’ stories here.
12 years ago, Della found herself at the crossroads of a medical crisis. That’s when she decided to make a commitment to fitness that altered not only her physical health, but her entire perception of self. Learn about Della’s amazing transformation here, and read on as she shares four key components for living a healthy life as we age.
Many factors determine a person’s fitness level or overall health. Some factors are beyond the control of an individual such as genetics, biology, gender, or environmental conditions. Other factors such as access to healthcare, fitness centers, and income may have limited impact on a person. However, there are four pillars of health and fitness that are controllable. These pillars actually have a much bigger influence on health and fitness outcomes than anything else. In order of importance, they are:
- Stress management
Last, but not least…
You might wonder why exercise is last on my list. Exercise is a very important pillar and should definitely be a part of everyone’s life. But effective exercise which builds muscle strength, bone density, cardiovascular health and overall power and endurance can only happen optimally when the basics of nutrition, sleep and stress are taken care of.
Without the right nutrition, the body cannot operate optimally.
Nutrition is first and foremost because what you eat impacts every biological aspect of your body. Without the right nutrition, the body cannot operate optimally.
Sleep is high on the list because it is the body’s way to repair the damages and strains of living.
Stress management is not only important for mental health, but is also very important in regulating hormones — especially pertaining to cortisol levels and weight control.
For nutrition, the common principles include eating whole, nutritionally dense foods such as lean meats, leafy vegetables, complex carbohydrates, adequate protein, good fats, and sufficient fiber – and avoiding highly processed foods, sugar, and starchy foods. How much to eat depends on many factors such as age, height, weight, and activity level.
Many people feel that “eating right” is difficult because it’s too expensive or takes too much time to cook. People also think that “healthy food” just doesn’t taste good. The diet that I personally follow is a low carbohydrate version of the Paleo diet.
Here are just a few meals that I have made for dinner in under 30 minutes with easy to find and inexpensive ingredients. For recipes, visit my Instagram page: @thefitterfoodie1
Work it out!
Weaker muscles and low bone density are some of the biggest factors that cause injury as we get older.
For exercise, my goal is to address the primary physical needs of my body to perform well. My exercise programming will include multiple strength training sessions, a couple of cardio sessions, and at least one high intensity workout per week.
By doing this, I am building and maintaining good muscle mass and high bone density. Weaker muscles and low bone density are some of the biggest factors that cause injury as we get older. Cardio and high intensity training helps me with overall energy, endurance, and my heart health. Here is a sample of what my typical week looks like for exercising:
- Monday – 30 minutes of moderate running for cardio followed by one hour of moderate weightlifting
- Wednesday – One and a half hours of heavy weightlifting
- Friday – 30 minutes of moderate running for cardio followed by one hour of moderate weightlifting
- Saturday – High intensity sprinting including sprinting 400 meters, 200 meters, 100 meters and 50 meters
Stick with it!
What you do consistently has the most positive impact for long term health and fitness.
No one can be perfect all the time, and I am certainly not able to follow my plans exactly every week. There are times when life becomes hectic, or I just don’t feel like exercising, and I skip a few workouts.
The important thing is to be mostly consistent with health and fitness practices. My favorite is the 80/20 rule: 80% consistent with compliance and 20% having fun! What you do consistently has the most positive impact for long term health and fitness.
Want to hear more from Della about how to kickstart your own fitness journey? Mark your calendar for Wednesday, November 15 at 1:30pm EDT. Event details will be posted soon at seniorplanet.org/fitness!
What’s your fitness regimen? Let us know in the comments!
In need of a little motivation to get moving? Join our free online exercise programs, get the latest fitness updates from Senior Planet by signing up for our health and wellness newsletter, and follow us on social media (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram) to get to know these awe-inspiring athletes. You might just find a new love for fitness along the way!