I am a control freak. But I am working on it and have been for 51 years.
I am such a Type A, oldest child, and Enneagram 8 that it took me tattooing the word “surrender” on my forearm like it is a high school test cheat sheet to help remind me to stop white-knuckling situations and leave it to my higher power.
Surrendering has been my new truth and practice for a while now, except when it comes to aging. When it comes to aging, I am not going down without a fight.
Now before you get your granny pants in a bunch, I don’t mean that I intend to take a out a frequent flier card with my plastic surgeon or invest in an overwhelming amount of zebra and metallic print before hitting the dance floor with my fellow back-niners. While all of that is well and good, that is not where I will be spending my time and treasure.
Rather I will be looking to get pumped. Yup. If there is a fight left in me as it pertains to aging, my battle will take place in the kitchen and in the studio/gym. And this is why:
- The amount and quality of your muscle is one of the bigger indicators of how well you will age.
- Weakness and low muscle mass is associated with poor health outcomes in inpatient, outpatient, and long-term care clinical settings such as higher surgical and post-operative complications, longer length of hospital stay, lower physical function, poorer quality of life and shorter survival.
- Improvement of muscle mass and strength is correlated with improved balance and walking coordination, and lower rates of depression, diabetes, and osteoporosis .
- Dieting is associated with significant loss in muscle mass unless there is a focus on protein and resistance training (lifestyle).
- In research where 90+ year old women were put on a strength training regimen, the average subject tripled her strength in 10 weeks.
So how do you start moving the needle of your muscle mass and strength?
In the kitchen: Add high quality dietary protein to your daily diet. Start by tracking your current intake and slowly add in more protein slowly, week by week. I suggest my health coaching clients consume one gram of protein per pound of my optimal body weight. My favorite sources include grass-fed meats, pastured eggs, Greek whole yogurt, wild caught fish, seeds, nuts, beans, cheese, and whey protein supplements.
In the studio/gym: Add resistance training to your weekly movement practices. Start by considering how often you strength train now and add in more slowly, week by week. I suggest my studio and health coaching clients aim for 5 to 6 days of some kind of resistance training. My favorite sources include well-structured group and private classes that use weights, bands, and body weight and have an eye on your form.
At the end of the day, the research is clear when it comes to our health. We have more control than we ever thought. And building your muscle is at the forefront of the effort. And that is empowering and exciting. So let’s get busy!