It has been a long journey on one hand and a short one on the other. Just four years ago, I was topping out near 275 pounds on a Conair Weight Watcher scale that I had purchased in 2010 or even earlier. I highlight it because I still use it till today and it has worked for me, despite the negative reviews on Amazon. Yea, I did try weight watchers to deal with weight issue. Yes, I even went to the meetings and did the weigh ins. Those were not favorite times of the day for me. I just did not enjoy speaking about it.
Losing weight over 50 is not easy. There is the challenge of motivation and a lack of energy. It does not seem to be worth the time or effort. It is easier just to accept the way things are and not press to make them better. Until you get that look from your doctor that it is time to get a prescription for statins, because your cholesterol is too high. Or, you have to start taking medicine for type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure. Hopefully, you never need a wake up call to get moving and start fueling with real food.
Today I weighed in at 172.6 pounds at 17.5% body fat and BMI of 22.5. Back then in 2011 and the first half of 2012, all I knew was that I was hovering around 275 and was told by an NYU technician treating my asthma, that I was over 30% body fat. I could not believe that I was so fat. My friend that called me a fat bastard sure did. Fortunately, as I have mentioned before, I knew he was right, and I kept trying to find a path to get in better shape. I was disgusted feeling winded trying to walk up hills.
System vs Goals
My goal is no longer to lose weight. My focus is to keep following the system, stay on the program that helped me take off 100 pounds in a year. That system does evolve over time, so I keep tweaking to make it better, especially as relevant as possible to a man over 50. For example, we worry more about cholesterol at our age than a guy who is in his 20s or 30s. If you lose 30 pounds on a paleo style program but then discover your cholesterol is 30 points higher, you will not be too pleased.
I have maintained this weight loss now for 4 years, with some ups and downs. I speak about one of those down incidents where I put on 30 pounds over 6 months here. But, when I got back to focusing on the system, I got back to where I was 30 pounds before. Staying focused on the system, eating real food, regular meal times, sleep, water, and training at least 30 minutes a day, has made the difference.
One good read which validates this idea of a system being more powerful that a goal is Scott Adam’s fun and influential book How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big. He speaks about the value of systems over goals among other interesting topics.
Body Fat Percentage
Back in 2013, after I first hit 175 pounds, I was at 19.5% body fat. Since that time, I have been more focused on weight training to build more muscle. Granted that has not been too easy for me, but now I am a couple of percentage points lower at 17.5 percent. My goal at the moment is to get to 15 % body fat, and one day, the elusive 10 percent, I have no clue if that is even possible at my young age of 60.
So what this all means to any other guy over 50, you can get into better shape, even when you think it is not possible. Don’t give up, just change your habits. The lifestyle that got you fat has got to go. You need to modify your daily approach, and like magic, the pounds will disappear, you will get fitter, your cholesterol will drop, your a1c level will drop, blood pressure will go down, so you can get healthier and fitter.
Squats : 5 sets of 5 squats using 100 pounds. No matter how many times I squat, I am always thinking about improving squat form, especially as the weight goes up. I warmed up with air squats, meaning squats with no weights.
I did 2 sets of 10 air squats, and I really try to focus on lifting up from the hips and glutes, as opposed as from the knees and quadriceps. And I think about making sure that I go just below parallel, meaning your hips go lower than your knees, and you feel the stretch in your glutes and then power back up.
Rest between 90 seconds up to 3 minutes. I find that after a few sets, I need at least 3 minutes to recover. Three minutes is the amount of time your cells need to replenish their ATP. Without ATP, there is no energy, so, no wonder that I need 3 minutes.
Overhead Press: 5 sets of 5 overhead presses using 80 pounds. I use the power rack for overhead presses after finishing the squat set. Overhead presses do not wear me out as much as squats, so 90 seconds is enough time between sets. One thing I find useful is to breathe in before the press and exhale at the top of the press.
After I finished both sets, then I used the bar only for 2 sets of 10 squats and 2 sets of 10 presses. Afterwards, I set up a barbell with 15 pound bumper plates to do some warm up deadlifts. I started with one set of 75 pounds, 95 pounds, 125 pounds and then one set of five deadlifts using 135 pounds.
Bumper plates are great for deadlifts because you can warm up with the barbell at the right deadlift height from the get go. When doing deadlifts, so far, I have found the 5 point deadlift Starting Strength set up review that I wrote about here to be excellent.
Total training time took about 45 minutes.
Brown rice sushi with avocado, asian pear, blueberries and roasted unsalted peanuts.
Salad, cooked bok choy, broccoli and potato, red lentil pasta (this pasta by Tolerant is the bomb, great, gluten free, high protein, good taste), and hummus and tahini.
Cashews and blueberries.