And oh my, the things I found out by counting calories! Like, damn, those lattes add up! That “healthy” granola bar? Has the calories of 1.5 Snickers bars! And if I spend 30 minutes on the elliptical I can eat more! Woo hoo! Suddenly it became a bartering game: saving up calories for birthday cake, realizing that for the same calories as that scone I can eat two chicken breasts…well, you get the picture. Eventually it becomes like a game, one I can’t help but win if I’m truthful with myself and myfitnesspal.
Maybe I won’t have to count calories forever, but I really don’t mind. It was and is…enlightening.
And Finally: Exercise
One day last week my Facebook status was “I’ve found the secret to a long and happy life: exercise every day. No excuses. No exceptions.” Boy, that went over like a lead balloon. Even people who don’t have weight to lose don’t want to hear that, but I’m afraid it’s true. The good news? You get to like it. Really. The most interesting thing that I learned? Ninety minutes on that treadmill won’t do nearly as much good as 30 minutes with some strength training added in.
You see, I was already doing cardio. Hours logged on that damn elliptical, struggling to keep from expiring from boredom, watching reality television with subtitles as Kanye West blared in my earbuds (the shows were WAY smarter that way, trust me). But it felt…futile. What I came to find out? It kind of is futile, cardio by itself, anyway. I knew there was more to exercise, but the other side of the gym, populated by sweaty, grunting men (some of them louder than others – is that screaming/groaning sound really necessary?), was just too intimidating. But the more I read, the more I came to accept that strength training builds muscles. More muscles burn more calories. It’s that simple. Plus, I love accessories and nothing makes a sleeveless dress rock more than a set of guns.
So I started lifting those weights. I joined a fabulous group of women (and one very cool man) for a Saturday morning bootcamp. I hired the young, handsome bodybuilding trainer who, as it turns out, works so well with middle-aged women. All for less money than I used to spend on lattes and scones and fancy cocktails. I feel great and have more energy than I had at 20. Really, at 49 I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in, and those guns? Well, they aren’t semi-automatic weapons yet, but they are getting there.