Chapter 1: Fit Femme After 50 Mindset: Reprogramming to Win
Dressed in a bikini, she walks up to the chin up bar and performs five pullups, then some hanging leg raises. A few days later, Iris Davis steps onto the stage of a body building competition. She takes first place. Ms. Davis is 76 years old.
Monika Kriedmann has a tooth pulled the day before the Austria Iron Man competition. The next day, the fifty plus, insurance and wealth protection specialist swims 2.4 miles (3.86 km), then bicycles 112 miles (180.25 km) and finishes off the race with a full 26.2 mile (42.20 km) run. After the race, the pretty blonde, single mother enjoys the local beer and Austrian food.
In her 60’s, world traveler, canoeist, kayaker and hiker, Carol Wray Instructs yoga to hundreds of people, including athletes, firefighters and martial artists. (Both of her daughters are athletes, with one recently setting a world record in cycling). A strict vegetarian, Carol still enjoys beer and good wine.
Each of these female powerhouses all have different training programs, diets, lifestyles and motivations for staying strong and healthy. Yet, they all possess a winning mindset towards good health, fitness and life for that matter. Unlike most of the population, these ladies love exercise and leading active lives.
What’s more. None of them are super rich celebrities who can afford the best spas, personal trainers, rejuvenation methods or plastic surgeons. In fact, I found just the opposite. Many of these healthy, over 50-year-olds have experienced setbacks and personal tragedies.
Not to worry if you are one of those souls who sees exercise as an embarrassment or bitter medicine. This chapter is dedicated to reprogramming your mind into healthy habits so that the mere thought of exercise, nutrition, sleep, etc. get turned on auto pilot.
And the excuse of being past the half century mark does not work. If a C+ average high school student can attend university at age 60 or a sick, underweight kid can win a kick-boxing championship at age 40, then you can still improve your strength and health. And why not? You have too many years of good living to enjoy.
So, for the next few pages, let us just put the blame game on hold. You know, all of the degrading things that school kids, teachers, parents and adults said and did that made you feel that you were not good enough. You are not alone with this kind of past. In fact, all of the high performers whom I interviewed have had setbacks and tragedies in their lives. They do not see themselves as helpless products of their past. Namely, they dumped the baggage train.
Yesterday is gone.
New program coming up.
GETTING OFF THE BAGGAGE TRAIN
“Back your bags for this one,” a fellow soldier once told me. “We are going on another guilt trip.”
Yet how many times do you find yourself riding THAT train? That never-ending train, packed full of energy vampires and time-eating zombies? Why do you keep traveling on it, hoping that one day it will arrive at a better station? Guess what? It won’t. It will just keep going around and around. Next stop: Nowhereville.
Remember those nightclubs that constantly changed management? They might have tried to clean up their establishments. But usually it was the same old crowd that hung around drinking and doing the same thing over and over. On occasion, a good manager really cleaned up and improved some night clubs. New security, new staff, renovations, better décor and better atmosphere which, eventually attracted a better clientele. That was the change. The quality of people.
PROGRAMMING SUCCESS BEHAVIOR
Behavior is basically your actions and reactions to the world around you. It will mostly determine your successes and failures. Healthy thoughts and actions will most likely result healthy outcomes in your life.
The trick is to develop these habits on auto-pilot, so you do not have to think about them. That way, you do not even think about exercising, eating healthy, sleeping regularly, working, studying and socializing.
Here is where the science of behaviorism can help us re-program our minds away from those deep-seated destructive habits and develop the positive, healthy habits. Sometimes it is an on-going war within oneself. So, let’s work with what we have.
1. Positive reinforcement. This means to give yourself SMALL, IMMEDIATE rewards for doing something positive. This might mean eating an apple, a good sitdown meal, a telephone call with a friend, reading a magazine or watching a favorite television show AFTER you have exercised or cooked a good meal.
Since, I like exercising, I do not really need a reinforcement to do it. However, my studying and writing was sadly lacking during my university years. So, I had to build a reward system to make sure that I read the material and studied the textbook chapters.
For every four pages or whole chapter that I read of a textbook, I allowed myself to read at least four pages of fiction. So, when I got on the bus to go to university and come home, I read four pages from a textbook, then four pages of fiction. I did this twice a day, five times a week for four weeks and noticed that my Biology marks went from a D to a B.
Reading four pages x 2 per day x 5 days x 4 weeks equaled reading a minimum of 160 pages a month.
If your new behavior is going to be exercising, then you can try a positive reinforcement program like rewarding yourself with a tea, talking to a friend, favourite television show or (insert) for every 15 minutes of walking, running or other exercise.
Many of the women in my cardio kick-boxing class used to workout before one of their favourite television shows (eg. ER, Survivor, etc.). So, after exercising, they often sped home to clean up, have supper and be rewarded with their favourite entertainment.
See that? They quickly rewarded themselves, during and immediately after their exercise class. Look at the positive reinforcements.
When they arrived to the class they may have made some friends. Reward #1.
Next, they had a (hopefully) fun experience training with what I called the: Hard-hitting, sweat-pouring, aggression-releasing, kick-boxer-inside-of-us-all workout. Reward #2.
Then, they (hopefully) felt elevated and stress-free after the workout. Reward #3.
Finally, after they left, they might have socialized with friends or went home to a refreshing shower, hot meal and fun television show. Rewards #4, #5 & #6.
Now, long-term benefits of improved coordination, endurance and weight-loss could be factors. But, those are delayed reinforcements. Though bigger rewards, they are too delayed to be as effective as the immediate rewards.
With all of the good, positive feelings associated with the exercise class, it is easy to keep showing up for the classes. The positive feelings often outweighed the fatigue, the night before bad sleep, the bad day at work, the frustration with a spouse or customer.
What NOT to do. This positive reinforcement method will seldom work if you offer yourself LARGE REWARDS after LONG DELAYS. The prime example being that the person will often promise themselves a Victoria Secret outfit or trip to Maui if they can lose 20 pounds before the summertime. This type of conditioning is flawed as your brain does not see the immediate reward with exercising.
To strengthen this kind of reinforcement, make a chart and record your progress on a chart. Each check mark and each act of writing down what you did will help you focus on that goal. Otherwise, the demons of distraction will cloud your mind and lead you elsewhere.
So, here is A PLAN to re-program your exercise habit.
1. Select an exercise routine, such as: walking four blocks, 50 crunches, yoga class, 20 minutes of weight lifting five times a week.
2. Choose a small, immediate reward, such as: meeting a friend, a gourmet tea, favourite television show, pay yourself a some money for the weekend, an apple, reading a book or _______________.
3. Mark down on your calendar (keep track) whenever you perform your exercise.
2. PREMACK PRINCIPLE
The Premack principle is linking a probable activity with a less probable activity. A good example of this doing something enjoyable, like listening to music or socializing, while running, exercising or working. The listening to the music (probable), begins to link with the exercising (less probable).
Another example is the person who often needs to smoke cigarettes whenever they drink alcohol.
I once asked a 67 year old owner of a moving company and arnis (stick-fighting) instructor how he gained muscles. (This guy, Dante, was ripped!) He explained that he ate good and exercised while watching television. “One time,” he said, “I do 1,000 leg raises.” So, when watching television, he often felt the urge to exercise.
This Premack Principle can be used throughout the day as well. Whenever you get in your car, desk, worksite, classroom, etc. you can tell yourself that you are going to have a great day. After awhile, you will automatically think positive thoughts when you arrive at these places.
3. CHANGE YOUR ENVIRONMENT
My life changed when I left my old neighbourhood of Surrey, B.C. Growing up in this town often made me feel inadequate. After moving away and working at a new job, with friendly people in a fun environment, I became healthier and felt great.
There are four basic environment changes that you can make to improve your exercise (studying, working, whatever) behavior:
b. Position within the location
c. Other people
A. Location. Sometimes, in the military, I was forced to do what we nicknamed CB (Confined to Barracks) workouts. That is, I did squats, sit ups and push ups in the space by my bunk. Yet, working out at a gym, dojo or studio was far easier and more energizing.
Therefore, find a location that you like to exercise in, be it a park, gym, beach or a special room with art and music that you like. These external items will often trigger your exercise behavior.
B. Position. Sometimes even a good location can have a better location within it. For instance, I prefer to workout around the free weights or the empty exercise room. I usually skip hanging around the cardio machines.
C. Other people. It is more energizing, training around energized people. I prefer to train around younger, motivated people or athletes. I avoid the moaners and procrastinators. As multi-millionaire, Dan Pena insists, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.”
D. Time. Find a consistent time to exercise (or whatever). Again, your mind will start picking up on the time to exercise. Personally, I like to spend a few minutes in the morning to walk, exercise or meditate. It starts the day off right. If yours is 6 p.m. after work, then so be it. Even if you are a shift worker, strive to be consistent.
THE 5 MINUTE RULE
Are you still stuck in procrastination?
I use the 5 MINUTE RULE when it comes to house cleaning, writing an article, study from a textbook or get in that late-night workout. Simply, tell yourself that you can do the chore for only five minutes.
Anyone can do something unpleasant like scrub a toilet, vacuum a rug, open a textbook or talk to their aunt on the telephone for five minutes. What normally happens is that you find that you can keep going for more than five minutes.
I use this often if I go to a running track on a cold, damp day, I know that I can, at least, run for five minutes. What usually happens is that I warmup after the first two or three minutes and then end up running and training for 30 minutes or more. It is the start that stops most people. So, the 5 minute rule is a good tool.
(insert photo of marathon or big clock)
· Plenty of people are self-programmed to live strong, healthy lives.
· Program yourself to exercise by using one or a combination of:
o Positive Reinforcement
o Premack Principle
o Controlling your environment
o Use the 5 MINUTE RULE
1. I am going to exercise for minimum ________ minutes by ___________
2. I will do this _________ times a week.
3. I will reward myself with ___________________, _______________________ & ____________________________
Signed_____________________________ Date ___________________
Witness___________________________ Date: ___________________