By Steve Messman, YMCA Personal Trainer
Hello YMCA members. My name is Steve Messman. I am a South Sound YMCA personal trainer with specialties in both Senior Fitness and Functional Movement. A senior myself, I will be 70 years old in November. We hope you enjoy this new series of articles on health, strength, and fitness.
Awhile back, I was standing near a well-traveled road in Yellowstone at 5:00 o’clock in the morning. The stars were brilliant. Venus shined as brightly as the waning crescent moon. I listened to at least three bull elk bugling. I heard bison bellowing in the darkness. I began to hear geese in the distance. What I was seeing and what I was listening to was wonderful, beautiful, exciting. Before long, the sky brightened, and the roads began to fill with vehicles. Engines roared. Tires screamed against pavement. Bright lights shattered my view. As they came and went, these cars and trucks obliterated the sights and sounds I wanted and needed to pay attention to. It was time for me to move, and that move was toward my next destination: a five-mile hike.
This also happens in our homes. Our bodies send us beautiful messages. You can hear the call. “Eat healthy.” “Exercise more.” “Lose some weight.” “Get in shape.” These are as beautiful and as exciting as the sounds of elk and geese in the predawn darkness. These are messages we want and need to pay attention to. We know that the messages are true. But then the trucks begin rolling down our personal highways. “Honey, where is that shirt I wore yesterday?” “Mommy, Sarah won’t let me turn on the television.” “Sam, the office called yesterday.” We stop listening. The messages that we want to hear, that we need to hear, are gone, obliterated by the roaring engines and the screaming tires of everyday life. It’s time to move on, time to take that long hike through the house so you can attend to the needs of kids, wives, husbands, siblings, parents, bosses, employees. The hard truth is that we need to listen to those messages from our bodies. We need to take care of both ourselves and our others. This is what happens we do.
A dear friend recently began listening to those messages. Her body said, “You are obese.” “Your inflammation rate (SED) is too high.” “Your cholesterol is creeping up there.” “You are weak.” Sherry, now age 73, signed up for a commercial diet program in February 2020. She learned to buy and prepare REAL food. She learned how to measure and consume proper portions. She learned how to choose healthy meals in restaurants and the meaning of mindful eating, At the same time, she began an (almost) daily exercise routine. The changes are remarkable. Last February Sherry could not exercise more than 20 minutes a day. Now she does an hour most days. She’s lost 25 pounds, 6.5 inches from her waist, and six inches off her hips. Her Body Mass Index dropped to 26. Her total cholesterol dropped 35 points. Her triglyceride count dropped 68 points. And now she is stronger. In February 2020 Sherry couldn’t drag a 40-pound bag of water softener salt across her garage. Today she can lift it out of the car and carry it across the garage in her arms.
The moral of the story is that each of us can get stronger and healthier, and it makes no difference what age we are or what our starting point is. And listen to this. Here is the big secret. YOU have to start a program, and YOU have to stick with it. Commit. The staff at your YMCA can help. Contact a YMCA personal trainer or nutritionist. We are here for you.