I saw a commercial for fixing ‘ugly varicose veins’. The first image was of a pretty severe case of varicose veins in what my guess is a woman of an advanced age. No real idea since they only showed a zoomed in image of the back of her knee and upper calf. But based on the severity my guess is 70’s or 80’s in age. Then they show a girl with no veins who I can more accurately guess her age being low or mid 20’s. I’m so aggravated by these ads that tell us that we have to look perfect all the time. The ‘better’ legs belonged to a model. One selected for her amazing legs and physique. I can imagine the auditioning of dozens of young women and sadly many of them did not make the cut, because only the best legs would win the ‘gig’. Then they show the severe case and ask us don’t we want to look good baring our legs again?
I want to scream when I hear this. It has so many negative messages I don’t know where to start. Based on images, this ad seems to be suggesting that they can make someone’s legs look 50 to 60 years younger? So those 50 to 60 years of ‘living’ on our legs will be reversed? Impossible and why? Then they show a very shapely girl poolside in a bikini and say we will no longer feel shame baring our legs in public. What? Again, are they seriously suggesting we should be ashamed to bare our legs even if we have varicose veins? This is the point that angers me the most!
We only believe that we are not good enough based on the messages we are told. Why can we not age naturally? Why can we not enjoy wearing shorts because it’s hot out and not because the world needs to approve of the look of our legs. No one wants varicose veins but so many factors are going to influence whether or not we develop them. I personally developed vein damage from blunt trauma to my outside right thigh when I was in college. An inch-long purple damaged vein is the result of that injury. I like my legs and when it’s hot, I wear shorts. I get so aggravated when women are told they are not good enough for such superficial reasons. And I hear it all the time. Women tell me they won’t wear shorts because of their legs or tank tops because of their arms. Are you kidding me? Its 98 degrees out and humid and these beautiful women of all ages are wearing layers to cover up what society has told them is not good enough! I’m FURIOUS!
I saw a woman poolside on a cruise ship who was clearly over 300lbs and wearing a bikini. She wanted good tan lines like any vacationing woman. Everyone around me was whispering and staring. I made eye contact and gave her a sincerely friendly smile and head nod which got me a smile in return.
I’m so tired of this world that wants to tear us down for every little thing. Stop listening to that noise and lets start living for ourselves. We do not need the approval of those that will forever tell us we are not good enough and that only perfection is permissible. Stop listening because what they are telling us are lies.
People like to ask me about weight loss with the how or why it’s not happening for them. I always ask about their food intake, habits, exercise intensity and very often I get their answer paired with a “George Burns”. This is what I call that random rare exception to the rule that has become their rule. They give me an example of someone with similar bad habits but without their current weight or health issue. Since we are the fit over 40 crowd I do not have to tell you who George Burns is. But what I am talking about is that rare person who can partake of bad health habits and live a long healthy life, even living to the ripe old age of 100, like George Burns. Mr. Burns was a heavy cigar smoker but he was very active too. He exercised daily for most of his life until very close to the end. I do not know his food habits but if you wish to take up smoking 10-15 cigars a day, as Mr. Burns admittedly did, that is your choice. There will always be that person who can eat pizza and beer and not gain weight. That person who eats sugar in all their meals and doesn’t get cavities or gain a ton of weight. Who can smoke like George Burns and never get lung cancer. They are rare and lucky individuals. But they are not the norm.
So if you compare yourself to that one random person who can start a fitness program and one month later have drop 2 pant sizes, you just set yourself up for misery. There will always be those out there who can achieve great things with what seems to be less work or effort. Or they enjoy unhealthy habits without the visible negative side the rest of us experience if we do it. So know that your goals have to be reached with you in mind. Your health needs, your problems, your injuries, your limitation, etc. You many need more cardio than your friend, your cheats may hit you harder, you may need more sleep. It’s OK.
Make your goals about you and what you need. You will be so much happier in the end.
When it comes to cheats, I fully employ the rule of moderation. I love wine, but enjoy in moderation. Love craft beer and enjoy in moderation. I love dark chocolate, guacamole and nut butters, but I know to enjoy them in moderation. But let me tell you where I am incapable of moderation. Its coffee. I love coffee. It’s the first thing I make when I get up then drink until the pot is drained. I could hang out in coffee shops just sipping away on local brews. I would even take a coffee after dinner if it wouldn’t keep me up all night. And like most people I can justify my sins. First off, I drink it black with a dash of cinnamon. That makes it ok, right?
According to research coffee helps protect against type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver disease and liver cancer. Also researchers found that ‘moderate’ coffee protects against heart failure. If that wasn’t enough, they say coffee makes you smarter. I personally love the energy boost and fat burning it provides. But let’s add in nutrients like riboflavin (vitamin B2), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), manganese, potassium, magnesium and niacin (vitamin B3) to make it even better. I have read the negatives and gloss over them as inconsequential and insignificant. I mean, I did say that I don’t have coffee after dinner. Sleeplessness is no joke! So, we all have them. Little cheats that we are sure will not break the bank so to speak. This is mine.
One of my favorite moves for toning and strengthening the lower body is the lunge. I love the lunge. I like walking lunges, curtsy lunges, reverse lunges, lateral lunges…and the list goes on. It is excellent for leaning out the upper thigh, toning the glutes and even brings in balance and core. The only problem with the lunge is that some of us may have knee problems, thus making the lunge a troublesome move. And for those of us with knee discomfort we need to strengthen the legs using other moves. Today I give you a list of lower body moves that I suggest in place of the lunge.
Squat – this is my second favorite lower body move. Great for building the quadriceps, gluteals and core. I personally prefer weighted squats but if you have knee discomfort, you need to start with body weight only. Focus on form vs depth at the start. Standing tall with feet hip joint width apart and sit the heels back as if you are sitting into a chair. Your weight will move primarily to the heels, if you are feeling weight in the toes you are not sitting back and putting unnecessary pressure on your knees. Go down as far as you can comfortably, being mindful of knee comfort. Then press through your heels and return to standing. 12-15 reps.
Wall sit – If motion is a problem, then take it to a sturdy wall and stand with your back to the wall. Walk your feet out while keeping entire back on the wall (from hips up to shoulders). Your goal is to walk out to a 90 degree angle on the knee. Most people need to work their way to this level. You can keep feet/knees hip joint width apart or wider to find that happy place for your knee. Hold for 20 seconds, building up to being able to hold for a full minute.
Step up – Start with the bottom stair or small bench. Facing the bench/stair, step up with one leg followed by the second and step back down followed by the other leg. Pick a lead leg, so that whichever leg goes up first also down first. Do this move 10-20 times on one side and then switch lead legs so each leg has its turn leading the move. As you feel stronger and knee is not a problem, try higher step heights.
Bridge – lie on the floor, bring your feet in toward the hips, feet flat on the floor with knees pointing to ceiling and hip width apart. Push down through your heels as you lift your hips up and lower in a smooth, slow and rhythmic motion. To add difficulty, feel free to lift one leg to the sky and pushing through one heel. This adds more weight to the pushing leg. 12-15 each leg or total.
Standing leg extension – Start by standing near a solid support (wall, counter, railing). Stand on one leg and lift the knee so the upper leg is parallel to the floor. Holding that position, slowly extend the leg so it is straight and return to folded leg. Be mindful that you are not lowering the upper leg. Now, not everyone is flexible enough to extend the leg fully while elevated. This you will work up to. If you are able to do the extension fully, try adding balance by moving further away from solid support (close enough to grab if you wobble but far enough you are forced to balance while extending and lowering leg. Do 10-15 each leg.
Knee health is so important, unless directed otherwise by a doctor, you need to incorporated strengthening moves in your weekly fitness routine. Avoiding moves that aggravate the area while determining the moves that strengthen it. Great addition to your current strength program especially is you are avoiding legs due to weak knees.
Everyone has their thing, that one thing they believe is critical to reaching their health goals. Some people are serious calorie counters, some are all about the cheats, while others are about how much cardio they get. Oddly, my thing is food quality. I worry about chemicals added to foods, used in processing and sprayed during growth. I get upset when the grocery store has no organic apples or oranges and condemn them as bad (sorry Publix, you are equal to Winn Dixie in my book. Shame on you). I read books like the China Study and Wheat Belly and watch documentaries like Fed Up and Hungry for Change and gladly walk away from entire food groups. Some call this extreme but honestly, I think I need to be my own champion for my health. The food industry does not provide me with clean foods so I need to be my own guardian angel in this area since it is so important to me.
It may sound extreme, but this is my ultimate health goal. I want to be healthy, truly healthy for as long as possible. I am not looking to weigh a certain amount or have ripped abs. I want to be drug free with healthy organs, bones, joints for as long as possible. I do not want to be on cholesterol medication, blood pressure medication or insulin for any level of Type II Diabetes. I want to be healthy because I made healthy choices not on any drug that supposedly will make me healthy. You trade one symptom for another in that game and I refuse to play that game. According to a number of reporting agencies, 70% of all adults are on one or more prescribed medications. That average cost is $1000 per year. So 7 out of 10 people spend approximately $12,000 on medications per year. That is insane to me! And what is more insane is often these health problems can be completely avoided by making and maintaining healthy lifestyle choices.
So, yes, I fully believe in organics and natural whole foods as my path to health. I do not eat meat and extremely limited on fish I will consume. I do not drink milk, eat bread or processed foods. I especially stay away from sugar. I prefer hard beans that you have to soak overnight and cook for hours in the crockpot over canned. Seeds and nuts in their raw form vs processed for easy cooking are what I choose over ‘quick’ or canned. I will not eat fast food and get really picky about what restaurants I will visit. I drink black organic coffee with cinnamon and buy natural spices. It’s not easy but it’s a small price to pay for true health. I am not a purist, but I make strong efforts to be clean 80-90% of the time.
Don’t worry I still care about fitness and maintaining healthy weight but I believe that clean eating and regular exercise will take care of that. So although I don’t count calories, I do count chemicals…. it’s my thing.