Photo by Alexander Redl on Unsplash

Have you ever stood in front of the mirror, and wondered where it all went wrong? It seems that once we cross the threshold of 40, our bodies betray us. All of the bad choices, bad habits and lack of healthy living manifests itself in what we see when standing in front of that damn mirror.

Well, mark this date on your calendar because it’s the day that you start fighting back. Today is the day that you learn what is needed to get fit and stay fit. For some of you, this might be a refresher course. But, for others, this could be the awakening that you need to shed the unwanted pounds and start living a healthier, more functional lifestyle.

Exercise

We all know that exercise is needed to lose weight, build muscle and prevent an onslaught of health issues. But, do you know how much exercise is needed? The American Heart Association recommends at least 5 days a week of 30 minutes of moderately-intense cardio and 2 days a week of moderately intense-strength training.

These recommendations are a great starting point. If you aren’t doing this already, then you need to start working up to this level. But, if you are trying to stay in shape, then you need to make sure that you are doing at least this amount of exercise each week.

Nutrition

Nutrition, or diet, is probably the hardest part for all of us men when it comes to getting in shape. It’s so easy to stop by a hamburger joint and load up with a juicy cheeseburger and fries instead of grilling that lean chicken breast. And, don’t get me started on the struggles of pizza, chocolate, donuts and other delicious snacks. Before you know it, that once slim and trim waist of yours now looks like you are giving birth to a watermelon.

I can feel some of you having a panic attack at the thoughts and misconceptions of how torturous it is to eat healthier. Let me put your minds at ease. It really comes down to creating healthy eating habits that incorporate a well-rounded, well-balanced, nutritious diet. It’s a habit that you can actually get into and keep once you start seeing and feeling it’s results.

Include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy, seafood, lean meats, and nuts. Limit or exclude things like saturated fats, trans fat, high levels of sodium, added sugars and alcohol.

We all have a brain, well most of us do. So, make sure you use that brain to overcome your “gut instincts” and make smart choices with the foods you consume.

And an important point to remember once you start eating well and exercising is that the last thing you want to do is be Superman when exercising and training, but eat like Jabba the Hutt outside of the gym.

Stress Management

In life, we face hardships and increasing demands. They can be from all aspects of our lives like relationships, work, health, and finances. Stress can literally kill you! It causes so much damage to your body, and in some cases, it’s deadly. Stress causes aches and pains, ruins your sleep patterns, increases illness, turns you into an emotional monster, puts unnecessary strain on the heart and more. When we are stressed, we also eat poorly which kills our dieting and overall progress for getting fit.

One great way to manage stress is by exercising. Not only are you improving your overall health, but you are also able to manage stress because exercise makes you feel good, is productive and releases endorphins.

Stress is the one thing that can disrupt all aspects of our lives. So, it’s important to manage stress in order to get in shape and stay fit.

Sleep

Sleep is absolutely essential to getting fit and staying fit. Sleep is the time where our bodies rest and recover from exercising. It’s also the time where our bodies release and regulate hormones that are crucial to weight management. Sleep directly impacts our motivation, emotions and physical performance. If you don’t sleep well the night before, or if you have a sustained period of sleep deprivation, then you will notice your lack of motivation to exercise, how irritable and impatient you become, how lethargy is like a monkey on your back and how your performance in the gym is the equivalent of a 10 year old.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night for men over 40, which obviously can be affected by your level of physical activity during the day and any health conditions that you may have.

A good night of sleep can also have a positive impact on the stress in your life. Don’t forget that power naps are also a great way to catch up on some Z’s, rest, recover and feel rejuvenated during the day.

Get Fit, Stay Fit

It’s not enough to just get fit. You need to learn how to stay fit and that all comes down to maintaining the healthy habits you learn through exercise, nutrition, stress management and sleep. Hopefully, this article has taught you two things: that all of these aspects are important to getting fit and to be a Super Man not a Jabba the Hutt.

Jamie Sene

Resources

Heart.org: Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/American-Heart-Association-Recommendations-for-Physical-Activity-in-Adults_UCM_307976_Article.jsp#.WMgaxEbyuUk

Health.gov: 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americanshttps://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/resources/2015-2020_Dietary_Guidelines.pdf

Harvard Medical School: Benefits of Sleep http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/benefits-of-sleep