So, who knows about exercise?

Not something I’ve been talking about particularly but the doctor told me to lose weight. So, I did. At a guess, around three stone. Certainly, it’s three inches off the belt. Moobs gone.

The method? Less food, more exercise, fairly standard. We all know the calories in, calories out thing.

But, it’s also true, I’m in my 50s. Perfectly happy with the idea of cycling 20 km as a leg stretcher. 50 km as the occasional (and 35 to 40 km is much happier) extended run. Similarly, 1 km as a swim as a dodge out of the office in the afternoon, 1 m or 2 km is a serious effort that leaves me staring at the walls for a couple of hours.

Meh, as I say, in my 50s.

The figure (and I’ve never been muscular, not me at all) however still has that little pot, that middle aged pot belly. And there’s a thought that perhaps that should go too. More general exercise ain’t gonna do it. So, what should I be doing?

Sit ups? Well, yes, but that’s boring and also, maybe, not good for the back (did I mention I’m in my 50s?). I’m sorta thinking about a rowing machine. Running is out (knees are shot).

Anyone have any advice? Other than Peter Risdon’s, well, you should have been playing in the second row for the past 30 years?

47 comments on “So, who knows about exercise?

  1. Cut the carbs. Whisky instead of beer, cauliflower instead of rice or potatoes, no bread, cake, fizzy drinks, chips or crisps. Steak, salmon and lobster taste much better and are better for you.

    If you train, train for strength, ie deadlift, clean and press, snatch, rather than treadmill time.

    TLDR = LCHF (Google it)

  2. Less beer. Sorry. Worked for me (I like to eat, so cutting down on food didn’t appeal).
    Personal trainer or Pilates (mainly latter). Yes, a bit North London, but (if good) gets a bit more muscle without injury, and maybe reduces chances of future injury.

  3. Get down the pub for a couple of pints of Wadworths or Theakstons in convivial company and stop worrying. At 50 the law of diminishing returns kicks in, the angst rather than the weight is more liable to get you fitted for a wooden overcoat sooner rather than later.

  4. Sit-ups and other abdominal exercises will only really tone up the muscles underneath the fat rather than make it go away.

    Rowing machines aren’t great for back or knees. If you’re after variety from cycling/swimming then an elliptical trainer (think cross country skiing) might be a good option.

    I’d say you are on the right track and keeping doing what you are doing will keep paying off.

  5. As others have said, the last 10 kg is all about diet. More lean protein, way less carbs. Also, use interval training in both your cardio and any weight training you do.

  6. Get your general fitness sorted then gradually move to doing high intensity interval training two or three times a week. At most 30mins, exercise bike is good. Long duration cardio risks muscle loss, and should be kept to a minimum. Walking is good, as a rough guide you can burn around 300cal walking for an hour at 3mph on the level.

    Do a diet plan. Calculate your base metabolic rate and add some for the exercise. Then eat accordingly. If you have a weekly deficit of around 3500cal, that’ll lose you around 1lb a week. Try and keep protein intake up, fat low, and avoid refined or easily absorbed carbs. No fruit juice, potatoes, white rice, sweets or alcohol. If you can manage a higher deficit, then 2lb a week is possible, but start gentle and gradually increase as you get into it. Don’t crash diet.

    If you can manage it, try lifting weights as part of your exercise program, adding muscle won’t hurt, and muscle burns calories even when you’re doing nothing. Post 50 we all suffer from muscle loss anyway, so an ongoing weights program will help delay it.

    I’ve been doing this for about 10 months and have lost around 12kg.

  7. It was in my mid 30s that I took up weight training — it put me 10kg extra across the shoulders after 3 months, and time for a new set of outfits in larger sizes (and a new found disdain for BMI as a measure of anything). Now, over 20 years later, I just eat with restraint and cycle a lot — 20 miles is a commute to work and back, 60 a good days outing — and let that burn off the beer.

    I reckon if I weigh now what I did 25 years ago, that’s doing all right.

  8. There’s no angst here. Doctor said, lose weight. I have, he’s happy, I’m happy. Just wondering about the sculpting now, not the weight

  9. Really don’t want to do weights. Buggered shoulder (which, as part of a long story, brought all this on) and just no way.

    Seriously, very happy with swimming and cycling. Just want to know, well, that little pot?

  10. Press ups and sit ups salve the conscience but I had more success losing the pot from sticking to a protein only diet. And walking.

  11. How much were you before? How long did it take? How tall are you?
    I’m 51 and need to lose a fair bit.
    Thanks

  12. I quit eating processed sugar (and foods with it in) three months ago and lost a stone with no other changes to lifestyle.

  13. If you’ve lost 3 stone (seriously) and all’s well, then combine davidseven with things (anything) you actually want to do..

    Life’s way too short – and diminishing returns and all that – unless very seriously bored..

    Golf – you’re in the right part of the world..?!!

  14. Back in my thirties while living in South Africa I was an ultra-marathon runner, anything up to 100 miles. I could eat and drink what I liked without putting on weight, unless planned carbo-loading, and never lost my skin and bone look. When I gave up ultra-marathons I didn’t give up the eating and drinking and piled the pounds on. My wife did much the same but had the added excuse of our 4th child who came along out of the blue when she was 36.

    Last year about October, her 53, me 54, we decided it was time to lose some of the excess weight. She signed up to the Michelle Bridges 12 week transformation (an Australian phenomenon) and we both stuck to the diet which has some very tasty meals, with the exception that, while cutting back drastically on beer, I still drink plenty of wine. After about three twelve week cycles, which included Christmas, we’d both lost about 18/19 kg. my wife did it almost entirely with the diet, I also worked hard on the x-trainer.

    The pot has not completely gone but is noticeably less. When on the x-trainer I would concentrate on tensing my stomach muscles. I do the same at times during the day, especially when driving.

    During a month in the UK, I allowed myself the luxury of drinking a pint or 50 and my weight climbed from 76kg to 79kg. I’m not concerned because we now know how to get it off and keep it off. We’re doing another 12 week stint with Michelle and I’m aiming for about 72kg.

    I’ve bought myself a new pair of Brooks running shoes. I don’t think my legs have a marathon in them, but I’m hopeful I can persuade them to do a half marathon.

  15. I would give yoga a try. It can provide some of the resistance (aka anaerobic) exercise of Weight lifting along with stretching and all over body toning. Sting looks pretty fecking good for an ald fella.

    Alternatively, cycling intervals or a spinning class.

  16. Breaststroke is better than crawl for the abdominal muscles, butterfly even better.

    Anyway, the amount you’ve lost you should be the one dispensing the advice!

  17. I can’t take seriously anything TW writes now. The doctor says he’s got to lose weight, so he obeys him and calls himself a libertarian!
    Gardening is the thing. Gardening every day with its many different ways of exercising different groups of muscles is all-round exercise. My garden is 250 foot long and I go up and down it umpteen times ever day as well. When did you last see a fat gardener? I eat anything and everything in moderation, like plenty of sugar in my tea, use full cream milk, and love plenty of fat on my meat. But then, I’ve learn that in libertarian circles anyone who lifts a spade or looks at a flower is an ecofascist.

  18. Shot knees, buggered shoulder; someone played the same position as me.

    I am in the process of losing a lot of weight, to set me up properly for the rest of my life. The weight loss is obvious really: calories in, calories out and it doesn’t really matter how you’ve done it. I can’t run and my swimming needs to be managed (I was good at that). So on with the x – trainer and the bike gets used more and more (Lancashire is fantastic for amateur riders). The pot belly? Yeah that’s problem. The cutting down on beer thing does help but muscle tone just isn’t what it used to be. I’ve not read anything here that helps much. So, once the weight is down, I think I’ll just go to the sit ups and exercise balls. Any reason why not?

  19. dietdoctor.com has pics from people regaining their former youthful shapes on low carb high fat diets. If you scroll back there is an interesting one man trial: he ate huge amounts caloriewise but no carbs and reduced his waistline simultaneously. Interestingly a lot of the testimonial records are from swedish doctors.

  20. Some level of weight training is a huge help to anyone trying to keep fat off, there’s a lot you can do without hitting the shoulders, but if your dead set against it work in some interval training for your cycling.

    Fartlek is a good place to start….

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fartlek

    Oh, and yes, watch those carbs.

  21. Cycling, if you’re in hilly country (which I am, both places, Portugal and Czech Rep) already does that. The intensity of the uphill, the freewheeling down.

  22. When you’re freewheeling, Tim, tense your stomach muscles. I’m doing now, not freewheeling, between sips of wine.

  23. I’m out into the garden in a little while to continue lifting the twelve rows of potatoes that I plant every year as part of my four-year rotation and which see us through autumn and winter and into late spring of the following year.

    I’ve allowed myself an extra lump of sugar in my tea and a bonus digestive biscuit to help me enjoy this thread.

  24. Very simple.
    Give up the couch.
    Sitting in an upright chair, sans arms, requires constant muscle tension. And considerable energy expenditure.
    You’ll get considerable exercise whilst doing sweet FA. And can be done in a bar.
    (63yo. 5’10”, 11 stone, 32″ waist)

  25. If you’ve got back/shoulder problems then start doing yoga.

    Ignore all the hippy-dippy new wave shite associated with it and just concentrate on the various positions and stretches.

    I can’t recommend it highly enough: you feel great after a good session, sleep fantastically well and aches and pains disappear.

    If there aren’t any classes nearby then there are loads of DVDs or online workouts available, although you don’t get the benefit of an instructor helping you get correct form. Just look for ones that are more fitness oriented and avoid the spiritual crap

  26. join the local tennis club in portugal. much more fun than cycling which i used to do a lot of. problem is that it takes 5 years to get any good. but you burn calories without noticing it and when you get too old for singles you play doubles.

  27. Calculate your BMI. If you are “overweight” then you’re as thin as you want to be if your ambition is lifespan. Being “normal” or slightly “obese” is more of a risk; very obese and underweight are bad news for lifespan. If you are a naturally chubby chappy then underweight is probably also a guarantee of a miserable existence.

  28. Hormones dear Tim, Hormones. The beer gut is because you don’t have that furnace of youth, loads of testosterone, burning away the fat and extra carbs. In the UK life is important, in the USA quality of life is more important. Check the graphs the medicos here use for testosterone, it decreases with age, so that at 70 you can have about a third of the level of the fuel of youth in your blood and you will be told that is NORMAL. The Yanks – at least some of them – do not accept that fact and use testosterone supplements to regain the lithe lean bean sculptured look of youth.

  29. The whole idea of targeting specific areas for fat loss is nonsense. To get rid of the pot, lose a bit more weight. Toning up the muscles behind will help a bit, but mainly it’s just getting rid of those last few pounds.

    As far as low-impact abdominal exercises go, sitting up and riding no-hands is pretty much perfect for what you want.

  30. stop eating flour products..
    that includes anything made from flour..
    i.e.
    pasta..
    and rice and potatoes
    I gave them all up in 2008..
    I lost 90 lbs..
    I recommended it to my daughter..
    who was not fat but did have a pot she could not lose..
    she never did take my advice,t ill she met a lawyer who lost considerable weight…who told her the same thing..
    now she is potless..

  31. What I assume Glen Dorran means is a session of gentle circuit training for those not currently fit being sold as yoga. It’s not as boring as umpteen sit-ups and should exercise your muscles fairly evenly.
    Also, if you have the odd morning when you don’t have to work until the afternoon, breakfast off black coffee and go for a long walk/medium cycle ride: black coffee helps burn up brown fat into energy when blood sugar levels are lower.
    If you aren’t in the habit of exercising on an empty stomach, walking is the safe option (and I lost a stone that way between February and June this year).
    Diet – well cut out the empty calories: grill instead of fry, no added sugar (I should make an exception for porridge because even with a little sugar it’s still healthier than the alternative), carrots or rice instead of potatoes (you can almost always substitute one or other for spuds).

  32. “no added sugar (I should make an exception for porridge”: no you fucking shouldn’t. Sugar on porridge ….ugh!

  33. You’re an economists and you know damn well it is incentives. Mount a girly calendar in your exercise room, use a little imagination looking at the calendar and you’ll come up with something. Something different than I would come up with, cuz I can lift weights, but something for you and “get ‘er done.”
    –tex

  34. Hah, diet tips for economists. How about, forget the micro, it’s the macro which is important. Well, not that Timmy’s that kind of economist, but… I’ll never understand the people who go around counting calories, and worrying about the small change like sugar on porridge. What you need to do is permanently rebalance your life such that you get sufficient daily exercise/activity to use up enough calories that you just don’t have to worry about the small stuff.

  35. Press ups are great for core body strength & should help with the pot and general body sculpting. No need for equipment or gym & can be done in three sessions a week. Google one hundred push ups, and try it (you can rest on your knees if they’re a problem). Also don’t assume your knees are buggered unless you’ve been MRId – you might just be overloading them.

  36. Dave is right – you can’t really target specific areas for weight loss (think women and boobs), you just have to lose even more weight, and then and only then could you maybe fashion a six-pack out of what remains. Fast Exercise (the companion volume to the 5:2 diet) is an interesting read: the idea being that short sharp bursts of high intensity exercise are much better than plodding the streets for hours, ‘jogging yourself fat’ as the author describes it. Of course, if you’ve got the time and the inclination to do some serious regular exercise then you will lose weight – providing you don’t over-compensate, especially on the carbs side.

  37. I’m on the 5:2 diet. Five pints and two packets of crisps. It’s not working. Where am I going wrong….?

  38. Squats. Keep your back straight (although you’ll have to lean forward at the waist), bend your knees as far down as you can, as if you’re sitting down and getting up from a low chair. It tightened my waist up very quickly, doing 35 to 50 per day.

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