Fit After Fifty: It’s All in the Numbers

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Yesterday Hubby and I went cross-country skiing for the first time this season. The weather was gorgeous… sunny and -5 Celsius. Perfect skiing weather.

The river looked beautiful in the sunshine.
I’ve been sick with a cold and sinus infection this week, so getting out in the fresh air felt magnificent.
Come ON… let’s go.

I was happy to be able to ski yesterday, not just because it felt wonderful to be out in the crisp sunshine, but also because not to have done so would have really messed with my weekly numbers.”My Stats.” That’s what Hubby calls my obsessive record-keeping with respect to my fitness goals and activities. I call it battling the “Slippage.”

I first wrote about “Slippage” back in September…  about how the decreased stress and the increased leisure of retirement were having an insidious effect on my body.  Then, I wrote an update in October (here) about what I had decided to do about the problem (i.e. move more.) My plan was to power walk twice a week, skate once, and ride my exercise bike three times, combining the exercise bike rides with a weight work-out.

And as Dr. Phil might say to me…”How’s that working for you?”

Well….. ok-ay. I guess. But how do I know if it’s working? How does one measure success? Or at least success in this endeavour?

Do I climb on the bathroom scales every week? Is that a number that I want to use as a benchmark? Really? And if it is… keeping in mind that muscle weighs more than fat… how does one take into account the increased muscle mass due to more frequent weight workouts? Not to mention building some new muscles from new activity… like skating. Skating uses leg muscles that I’m pretty sure I have never used in any other activity I’ve done… at least that’s what it feels like the next morning. So, assuming that my weight doesn’t balloon (or plummet… and I don’t want it to do either,) the scales are not really going to help me track my progress.

So I decided to look at a different set of numbers. Since I love record keeping of any kind, lists, journals, whatever…. keeping a fitness log is right up my street. And that’s what I’ve been doing. I track my cardio minutes each week. It’s easy. I just jot it on my calendar when I sit down at my computer each day and total the number at the end of the week. I set a weekly goal and focus on trying to meet it. If I miss a cardio workout one day, I can work a few minutes longer in each of the other workouts and still meet my weekly goal. My goal for the past two months has been a minimum of 240 minutes of cardio a week.

This is what my November calendar looked like.

On the positive side, I did really well with the overall minutes. But I was only able to squeeze in two weight work-outs (at the most) a week. Hubby, however, thinks that this is sufficient. And I bow to his greater expertise. He is, after all, a former phys. ed. teacher and life-long athlete… he knows his stuff. And he knows me and my limitations, having had the endless patience to teach me so many new sporty things since we’ve been together… including skiing.

December has been a bit more of a challenge, though, since there has been no power walking for a couple of weeks. Freezing rain and sloppy snow are not conducive to remaining upright on the trail. So I’m down to skating and exercise biking (and weight training) only. But, the good news is that I’m finding that I don’t really need one rest day a week, that one non-exercise day in ten or eleven is fine for the moment. Once we start skiing a couple of days a week, I’ll have a chat with my knees and see how they are managing.

Which brings me back to the fact that I was happy to start skiing yesterday. Cross-country skiing is such awesome exercise, in every way. It’s a fabulous cardio work-out. And, it really works the muscles in both your upper and lower body. I can feel muscles in my arms and legs that I haven’t noticed… since, well, since last ski season.

So to sum up, the “Great Slippage Battle” continues. For the next couple of months, I hope to be able to ski twice a week, skate once, and ride my exercise bike two or three times. I plan to do only two weight work-outs a week, at most. I’ll probably increase my weekly cardio goal to 260 minutes. And …we’ll see how that goes.

And speaking of skiing and numbers. Hubby and I went cross-country skiing on our first date. And that was thirty years ago next Saturday. Yep… date number one… was on December 20, 1984.

See, I told you I was obsessed with numbers. And while we’re talking about obsessions…

I must admit that as bad as I felt all last week… I wasn’t too sick to keep my hair appointment on Friday. Hair obsessed people like moi have been known to rise from their sick beds rather than miss these crucial appointments!
So that’s two obsessions. And three posts on staying fit after fifty, battling “slippage.” But who’s counting, eh? Well… probably me. It IS all in the numbers after all.
How are you doing staying fit after fifty? Or at any age, really?

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7 thoughts on “Fit After Fifty: It’s All in the Numbers”

  1. I am way less disciplined than you! I like to set up life so I move without having to exercise any willpower. So personal trainer scheduled, and walks with husband;).

    1. You see….I'm really, really bad about being told what to do. Too many years being bossy in the classroom. So fitness classes, and trainers etc just make me cranky. Walks (or skis) with husbands are good though!

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