4 Things I’m Doing To Get My 50+ Body In Shape

I was recently at a family wedding and listened to my cousin’s wife say she wanted to travel now because she didn’t believe that her disorganized husband’s health would allow him to travel later. As I took it all in, I realized, “Wow, that’s me!” My husband is very fit and I didn’t want to be the one holding him back. Will I be fit enough to travel and do the things I want to do while traveling?

Peggy Cleveland

For me, the weight gradually gained over the years and when combined with a few health issues, I was just a hot mess. So, in early 2021, I started my journey to restore my health and improve my fitness. It was not always like this. I served in the army for 12 years, where I was extremely fit and won many fitness awards. When my kids were toddlers, my sister talked me into doing a few triathlons, so I knew it was in me.

1. Set realistic goals

My goals this time around were not weight loss and dieting as that was doomed to fail for me. Because going on a diet meant that I would stop doing it. Instead, my goal was to regain my mobility. To do this, I would need to find healthy diets and exercise that I enjoy. That would be my new way of life. I knew it was going to be tough, but health was a much bigger motivator for me than weight loss. I started setting myself small goals, like today I’ll just move more.

Peggy Cleveland

2. Expand my food game

Instead of thinking about what I couldn’t eat, I started focusing on what to eat. I can eat what I want, but I don’t have any of my triggering foods in the house. It is amazing what it means to you to give yourself permission to eat. Knowing that I can’t eat what I want has kept me from obsessing over prohibited foods. When I go out to dinner I eat dessert, but now I don’t eat it after every meal. Surprisingly, several studies have shown that wine can cause weight loss and lower blood sugar in diabetics. Well this is a diet meal I can get over with. I also evaluate whether a food is worth putting in the mouth. A slice of white bread is a no, but a crispy warm croissant is such a yes.

I love to cook and I discovered farm-to-table. I live in the Pacific Northwest and am surrounded by farmers, manufacturers, and creators of some incredible foods. I now use high quality ingredients in everything I do. Fresh farm vegetables are so good that they don’t feel like punishment anymore. When I eat good, clean food, I have more energy, sleep better, and honestly just feel better.

3. Use a fitness tracker

Track your steps. I was shocked to find out how much more I sat during the pandemic, especially since I wrote more. I now strive to get up and move every 30 minutes, aiming for a set number of steps. It has dramatically improved both my circulation and my energy levels. Most importantly, it makes me accountable.

4. The peloton and walking

Movement is an important part of my future when traveling. My goals are functional fitness and being able to do any activity I want while traveling. What a game changer this bike was for me! In 2020 I was back at my fitness game, then COVID-19 hit. Gyms were closed and like many of us, I put on the pounds during the quarantine. I decided to order a peloton like almost everyone else in the United States and had to wait 3 months for delivery. It’s a no-excuse device with lessons of just five minutes. Anyone can do five minutes of exercise. Classes are fun and energetic and I really feel like I am working out in a gym. Besides cycling, there are tons of other classes like strength, yoga, stretching, etc. There are also some great Peloton Facebook groups that really got me motivated.

Because I want to hike more, I started hiking in my neighborhood. My town has lots of hills and wilderness areas that are perfect for improving my hiking fitness. The key to going is having a buddy. I go for a walk with my friend who is about the same fitness level and we both look forward to our morning walks. My hiking buddy saw her mother end up in a wheelchair because she just couldn’t move and sat too much. It touched both of us and motivated us to keep walking so that we don’t suffer the same fate.

It works?

Well, I’ve lost about 20 pounds since January and have been able to challenge myself on the road again as travel opens up again. My recent trip to Anchorage, Alaska presented me with a very challenging activity – a glacier hike. The glacier portion of the tour lasted two hours with over 3 miles of walking. The sections on the glacier consisted of skating on ice, jumping over crevasses, and moving up and down as we explored the glacier. It was so incredibly beautiful and an experience that I will remember for a lifetime. It was a physical challenge for me and something I probably wouldn’t have been able to do a year ago.

Peggy Cleveland

I still have a long way to go, but I’m getting on well with that. Just the weight I’ve lost so far has made a huge difference in how I feel and my energy levels have gone through the roof. I can be more active in my travels and not be the one holding everyone back. That’s a win in my book.

Traveling requires a certain level of fitness to enjoy all that the vacation has to offer:

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