The Training Corner
Mountain Grit: Training for the Long Haul
Q: Hi Pat! Meet Mindy, the train wreck. When I read your columns, I think “Come on, Mindy, get your act together. You’re only 42 years old.” I have so many issues that I don’t know where to start. I am borderline on everything; BP, lipids, inflammation, glucose and A1c, that diabetes thing. No MEDS yet, but my doctor strongly urged me to clean up my act, and to come back in 6 months. I am 5’4” with a stocky build, a former athlete, who played three sports in HS, and soccer in college. My college playing weight was 130 lbs. I was lean, strong and in great shape. Now, two kids and 20 years later, I am 150 lbs., soft, with NO waist, achy, and tired a lot. Last month, I got a huge wake-up call. I went DH skiing with my family. After I carried my skis from the shuttle up the stairs to the lift in my ski boots, I was huffing, puffing, sweating, and was wiped out before I even got on the chair. My entire family is worried about me. I need to turn this ship around. I have a flexible work schedule, and a dog who needs more exercise, too. WHAT I eat is healthy most of the time. It’s the volume and my erratic patterns, especially when I work from home. Any tips to break my chain of inertia? Mindy, 42
A: Welcome aboard, Mindy. No, you are not a train wreck. You sound READY to turn your ship around. Everything you mentioned above is ripe for improvement with some BASIC tweaks. Your numbers will improve, AND you will have more energy. You will be fitter, leaner and most important of all, healthier. Based on your athletic background, formal training is in your future. For now, here are 6 tips to launch you into a lifelong journey of healthier habits and patterns:
1. Walk your dog twice a day. Be consistent in the time. Start with 15:00, one in the morning, definitely before noon, and one before or immediately after dinner. Over a month, work up to TWO 30:00 walks, with or without your dog. Walk tall and BRISKLY. You may need to wear grippers this time of year.
2. If you own a smart watch, track your steps and other vitals. 10K steps per day is a reasonable goal over three months, unless you ADD training and/or heavy physical labor. Get a baseline on your typical daily step count, then work towards 10K from there. A pedometer works fine, too.
3. Remember to break up the seated screen-time every 30:00. Do your own housework, and outdoor maintenance year-round. All movement matters. It adds steps, gets the blood flowing, the blood sugar going (where it should), and the brain firing.
4. Establish a DAILY schedule of sleep, personal hygiene, meal prep, meals, dog walks, work time and wind-down time. Most likely, these are already in place. So, let’s address the meals thing.
5. Eat no more than 3X/day within an 8-12 hour window, breakfast, lunch and dinner, with dinner being the smallest meal. Drink water with each meal, and throughout the day. Kick refined carbs and sugar to the curb. They are treats for rare occasions.
6. I will assume that you eat REAL, minimally-processed food 85-90% of the time, including fresh and/or flash-frozen veggies and fruits of all colors, and hearthealthy protein and FAT sources, right? The Mediterranean, DASH and Pegan [Vegan + Paleo] styles of eating are excellent for cardiovascular and metabolic health, their anti-inflammatory properties, and for their role in fat loss. Remember, permanent fat loss takes place in the kitchen, at the table (not the desk), the grocery store, take-out or restaurant. For more on portion sizes and details for YOU, see www.precisionnutrition.com.
Your borderline numbers are a priority. Today is the day to stop and reverse them with BASIC tweaks in your daily patterns and habits. BRISK walks and more movement throughout the day will make you healthier, more energetic and fitter. Eating better on a set schedule will get your waist back, improve those numbers AND relieve those achy joints.
Bottom line, Mindy. Walk your dog today for 15:00. Tomorrow, twice for 15:00. Close your mealtime window. Prioritize your health, so you and your family can reap the perks for decades to come. It is prep and prehab for the long haul, one full of opportunities, vitality and purpose. Go girl! Get up, get after it, and get back on the slopes!