Dr. Doug Pooley
I Am 50 and I Want To Be Healthy - What Should I Do? - Phase 2
“Phase two”, was the remodeling part of my strategy. I knew that for me to get healthy meant far more than just being within normal weight and blood pressure limits, I had to rebuild the machine in such as was as to improve performance, vitality and repair. We have mistakenly been led to believe that being healthy is simply the absence of disease and in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. If I was to have left my conditioning program at the point of achieving “neutral health status” I would have done little or nothing to impact my future health profile because I failed to address the underlying causes of my weight gain, high blood pressure or cholesterol issues. Here, I looked at my habits and how they impacted my health. I dug deep into the research and ultimately found the roots of health and longevity to be imbedded in three keystones…pain free mobility, low carbohydrate diet and having a purpose. Let me explain!
From a purely evolutionary perspective, we have been genetically engineered to move. The body is a magnificent movement machine that from the beginning of time has been designed to move us towards food and away from danger and the more efficiently movement is achieved the better you are at seeking nourishment and avoiding danger. Although for the most part we no longer need to forage or run from predators, up to the past 50 years most of our days were consumed in some form of movement. People physically worked for a living and kids actively played. Over the past 100 years, food sources became more plentiful, core public health and sanitation measures were put into place and the human body continued to evolve. We were healthier and lived longer than ever before. With the spreading of industrialization over that same period of time, people had jobs, made money and found purpose. This was essentially a reflection of life up until the early 1980’s when globalization started to shift manufacturing out of Canada, agriculture became big business consuming the many smaller independent farmers, and computerization/high tech changed the way we worked, played and learned forever. I am sure that some may ask: What the relevance is of this to your health? The answer quite simply is everything. Over the past thirty plus years, we have become more sedentary, eaten more processed foods, become more obese, with more psychiatric disorders and consumed more prescription drugs than ever in recorded history. In short, we are the sickest species on the planet. For the first time in over a hundred years, the estimates are that life spans will actually shrink going forward. Most of this is preventable and all of it related to health.
I knew that for me to get dynamically healthy I had to change my lifestyle. Further research demonstrated irrefutably the importance of mobility to health. Without exception, all of the major diseases associated with aging are impacted by mobility and exercise. Having a purpose and diet are certainly critical components to any longevity strategy, but study points to consistent mobility and exercise as the overarching determinants of health. From a diet perspective, no species has greater range of food choices to pick from. Historically humans are scavengers, we can survive eating just about anything, but we cannot thrive without movement. It is a key to the efficiency of all biochemical function from circulation to reproduction and everything in between. Pain free mobility is the foundational determinant of health and it is from here that I crafted my longevity strategy.
First and foremost I got things fixed. Dropping the weight was a critical first step.
Secondly I set about to evaluating the status of my functional weight bearing. Like just about everyone past the age of 50, I had a few “war wounds”, persistent aches and pains that just never seemed to go away. I started here by getting these weaknesses addressed and treated. I worked for 6 weeks to get my body stabilized and balanced. This translated into getting nagging knee, low back and neck discomfort worked on though chiropractic and massage. By re-establishing normal function I was able to create a relatively pain-free base from which to rebuild the machine. I still had some aches and pains as I got into training, but by rehabbing functionally first, I was able to transition much more smoothly into a solid conditioning program without setback. My biggest caution to anyone over 50 looking to start into a conditioning program is to go for a chiropractic evaluation first to determine functional stability. If you start to challenge a weakened joint through exercise it will inevitably create pain or dysfunction. There is a big difference between weak muscles and a weakened joint complex.
Having completed the “housekeeping issues”, I again revisited my ultimate goal of living to 100 and worked my strategy backwards. Research demonstrates conclusively the link between lean muscle mass and health. All the building blocks for repair are found in lean muscle, so the first thing I did was set up a strategy to re-gain lean muscle. This meant resistance training three days a week. This not only builds muscle, but also ramps up metabolism which in turn helps to burn fat. I combined off day cardio-vascular training as well, to help round out conditioning and compliment the weight work. I am fortunate enough to work with the best trainer in Southwestern Ontario, Scott Paton of “Bodies By Paton”. If your budget allows, this is by far the best game plan for ultimate success, but if not I have a couple of excellent workout routines that I can provide you as a starting point. Just send a request and I will get it to you.
Since that time I have changed my routine and goals on several occasions. I am 66, so my routine is now more functionally based to create a leaner and more balanced athlete. Chances are, I will change that regime a dozen or so more times before I am done. The key is to adapt your workout to your lifestyle and as this continues to change over the years, what you do to maintain health may change as well.
This is what has worked for me. I am constantly tweaking the process, but that is part of the fun. In the next article I am going to give you more in depth information on diet.
I realize that many out there are, in one way or another so depleted from a health perspective that diet is a necessary first step for change. I will share with you the strategy that I believe has the greatest promise for success.
Until then, stay healthy.