Years ago I enjoyed Bodypump classes at the gym. However, I injured something and when I went to my favorite chiropractor she said she had worked on a number of older adults who were injured in these classes. She said that our muscles don't respond the same way when we are over fifty as they do when we are younger. We need to make our moves slower to allow the muscles to react appropriately.
I have arthritis. I have had both knees and one hip replaced. My hands sometimes act up, and even my feet hurt occasionally. Right now my right arm feels like I lifted something really heavy and tore something, yet I can not recall doing anything out of the ordinary. Arthritis is a joint disease, and many trainers do not understand it. Thus I am wary of working with just any trainer. We need to work with people who understand our whole systems, and preferably people who specialise in working with older adults.
I have no special expertise myself. I can read and absorb, however. That's my goal right now: read and absorb. Understand what I am about to get into.
My first stop: bodybuilding.com. On this site I found a few different articles about bodybuilding for older adults. A general overview can be found here. The advice on this page is to get a physical, take it slowly, exercise at least three days a week, make better food choices, do it for yourself. There is a video showing some workouts and a list of beginning workouts. With some modifications I think this is a good place to start.
Getting a physical: I know my body. I have no heart problems, no lung problems, no life-threatening conditions (other than just being fat). I also know that most doctors really do not know that much about diet or fitness. They don't get much training in these areas. So why rely on them for advice? I am not going to do that. Further, I have been exercising regularly for some time now. I usually work out six days a week, at least an hour at a time, doing Aqua aerobics, bike or treadmill, weight training for my legs. That is, I am usually in Aqua classes three days a week and in physical therapy three days a week, working my legs.
Food choices: The advice on bodybuilding.com is not what I am going to follow for food. I am vegan. Robert Cheeke, on Vegan Bodybuilding and Fitness, sets out some general rules for vegan athletes. He says a good rule of thumb for a bodybuilder is to eat 1- 2 grams of protein for every pound of bodyweight daily. I expect that I would instead use my goal weight for this calculation. So if my goal is to weight 160 pounds that would mean eating 160 to 320 grams of protein a day.
I know this is standard bodybuilding math, but I'm a bit of a skeptic. For one, I have read a great deal about whole-foods plant-based diets, written by doctors who have worked with thousands of people over a period of 30 years or more. These doctors say we do not need as much protein as is normally assumed. Dr. John McDougall offers great advice in this article on athletes. His advice on protein is simply: don't eat more protein; eat more FOOD. As training increases, you burn more calories and therefore need to eat more food. The increase, if you are eating a healthy whole-foods plant-based diet (with no added oils), adequately provides the protein you need. You don't have to calculate it. So that's how it will be for me.
Work out at least three days a week. I had been doing this for quite a while. However, I was attacked by two dogs in June (2014) and the resulting wounds have seriously affected my workouts. Because they are on my legs, near my ankles, I have had to be careful about how much walking and other types of exercise I do and I can't take a bath or go swimming. When all wounds are sufficiently closed I can get back to work. I'll set goals for weight training and track my progress.
Until that happens I can still work on getting my food planned. My plan right now is to use the recipes from Vegan Menu for one month.
Vegan Menu offers five meals a week, all of which are whole-foods, plant-based, no-added-oil. They rely on fresh food, are easy to make, and use ingredients that are usually easy to find. These are all dinner menus. No breakfast or lunch. They work admirably for lunches, of course, and breakfast can be simple.
My last goal for this post is to set my first goal. And here it is:
Starting August 1, I will begin. I will follow the vegan menu for one month, supplementing with breakfast and snack ideas. I will develop a specific cardio and weight training plan before then.