The Four Letter Words of 40 – FLEX

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Flex? Really? Who is walking around thinking about flexing?  You may be laughing, saying, Taryn…when in the world, does a stay at home mom with an at home business need to flex for crying out loud, right? Well, sister….in the last few months, I got myself some muscles and I may, or may not, take a random moment for a “drive by” gun show when I pass my bathroom mirror. Sound lame? Whatevs!! Do you know how long it takes and the kind of hard, dedicated work is necessary to GET muscles worth flexing?! Every once in a while you have to check yourself out, and give it the nod. For me personally, I’ve never been this fit in my life, and it feels GREAT.

All of my life, since I was a small child, I’ve watched my Mom incorporate fitness into her daily life. No gym passes, no classes, nope, as a farming family you just don’t go to the gym. BUT you can get yourself a kick ass one-piece leotard with legwarmers and a head band, and do the 20 Minute Workout in your living room!! Or do a couple of miles worth of power walking on the farm!  When she would let me and my sister join in, we’d run and put on our tank top undershirts, undies and slouch our own socks to try to match, and there we all were, cardio-ing it up. What I didn’t realize back then, was Mom was setting the tone on how important it was to take care of ourselves, by being a living example. And also because farm life ain’t easy and she has to keep up with ALOT.

I truly believe, because of that, from the time I left home at 18, to present day, I have ALWAYS found the money, the time, and a way (or all three) to fit exercise into my days. I have done it all. Step classes, cardio kick boxing, spin, running (that’s something I have ALWAYS done), circuit weights, biking to and from work, working with a trainer, crossfit and now, a weight and cardio program from home. OH, and look at that….my kids are watching me. And asking to join in.

We live in an age of sitting and staring. And eating. Not as much moving. Those amazing “smart phones” have us leading the sedentary life and it’s causing problems with our health (go from sitting at our computers all day, to sitting on our phones all night), our idea of being active (excitedly watching America Ninja Warrior does not mean you just worked out, even though your heart is racing) and our expectation is to see results faster than makes sense (If you have packed on a few, a bunch or alot of extra pounds over the last year, couple years or decade, why in the world would we think we can get rid of it in a couple weeks?). There is no quick upgrade to the the better us, it’s a dedicated effort with slow; but steady results. We may live in an instant gratification world; but this is not an area that has conformed to that….your body is GOD’s creation friends! And if you don’t maintain some kind of exercise, it goes away and you have to start all over again. (Nope, you aren’t just bloated, you are “treating yourself” a few too many times.) Oh, and if there are any twenty-somethings reading this going, “I have no idea what you are talking about! If I need to trim down a couple of pounds, I just have a salad for lunch and skip dinner then I can fit right into that dress!” Yeah….well, I used to do that too. Then you hit that range somewhere between 35-40 and your “extra” has moved in and took up residency. (There is a link about the science behind this later)

No…FLEX is something you have to work at. But ladies, friends, I promise you, having muscle tone is the fountain of youth. Muscles are not just for helping you stand, walk, run, jump or swim. But when you are lean and toned, your clothing fits better, you stand taller and you feel strong. You use the FUEL you put in your body the most effectively. Your skin doesn’t seem loose or “crepe-y” looking; instead, your cheeks are rosy, you literally shine because you are sweating the toxins out, and you just feel great that you are doing great things for your body. Not to mention, when you are taking such good care of your body, your mind comes along with it. Here’s a quote from one of my favorite body builders, Sagi Kalev:

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Never do anything for anyone else in life, it has to be FOR you BY you for you to fully commit. And that includes getting in shape. I’ve tried to convince Kent to workout over the years. He’s got back pain, poor digestion and low energy levels after a day at work; but he wasn’t convinced he needed to fit that in his day, even though he was super fit as a young adult. But then age and his genetics became factors he couldn’t ignore, and he made the decision that he wanted to invest in weights and work out at home…. while we were sure we ate “fairly healthy” we both had extra weight to lose. In fact, I think we were in denial on how much was laying all over us. So just after we turned 39, we decided to use that last year in our thirties to make some serious changes and get into the best shape of our lives by the big 4-0. So we prioritized exercise. (If you think you can lose your weight on dieting alone, check out this read FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES for a scientific reason why exercise is a must).

I admit, I was worried that focusing on just weights would somehow give me a body shape I wasn’t looking for. I just wanted to be lean without the roll of “extra” coming over my waistband of my jeans, or the saddlebags that just appeared. GAH! I wanted to look like I did when I was 29 and I hardly touched weights back then, it was all mostly cardio work. But, the idea of working out and getting fit WITH Kent in a program we could do together won over and I jumped in with two feet. We committed to getting up at 5am every weekday morning so we could workout at the same time. I quickly realized I LOVED the weights and it would take me a LONG ASS TIME to look anything like the people on the videos we were watching, so I stopped worrying about that and just started pushing myself. Just look at the difference made in my arms…the pic of me in the striped tank was September of 2015, the one below it is June 2016….there is a pretty big difference in the muscle tone, wouldn’t you say???

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While we had worked out with the weights for months (but ate and drank WHATEVER we wanted…..) it was May of 2016 we got real with ourselves. How could we take this to the next level? FOOD (read more about this in my FUEL post). That, friends, as much as you may not want to hear it, was the answer. We’ve changed our habits and never looked back. We cheat a little here and there; but what is life without an amazing steak, or a couple glasses of wine, or ice cream? What I will say, is that this change and maintaining the weight workout program far exceeded our expectations. It took about 2 months of dedicated eating and missing very few workouts; but honestly, we both look and feel amazing. And I’m not afraid to say that! And if you are so kind to compliment me on my arms, I’m going to flash you a huge smile and say, “THANK YOU!! I’m working hard on those!” Not only that, we set a goal and we DID IT!!!

FLEX….you don’t have to build big muscles; but you cannot ignore that you will need them throughout your life, and your ability to build them goes down, as your age goes up. It’s called Sarcopenia, and it starts to happen as soon as in your 30’s. Read about that RIGHT HERE! So not only will you, quite possibly, create the best physical YOU that you’ve ever been, when you partner up with your spouse and do something like this together, it keeps you connected and sticking together. What’s better than having your hubby stop you in the hall to put his arms around you because he’s proud of how hard you are working, or to show his appreciation for how you’ve embraced the new cooking, and because he loves the confidence you are sporting because of your hard work! Or when you catch him walking through the house and realizing that physical change took alot of hard work and he looks awesome, or the kids ask him to flex as a joke, then he does, and you can’t help but stare and giggle like a school girl. Yeah…no Dad Bod here friends. And to be completely honest, I think there is a special feeling that comes when you transform yourself at 40+. You are almost expected to be in good shape when you are young, because you are young! You can / should be able to do anything! But at that magical age of 40, you get to decide, put in the hard work you never used to have to, and appreciate the results that much more.

While I wanted to get fit for ME, what ended up happening is Kent and I got closer together. This was “our” thing, which, at this age and stage of life can be a) hard to find and b) difficult to make time for….almost always, dad’s focus on work, and mom’s focus on the family, and the ORIGINAL RELATIONSHIP that started it all gets neglected.  So even though it happens in the wee hours of the morning, we encourage each other, hold each other accountable, celebrate each other when we hit a milestone, gives us something to look forward to, and it is changing each of us for the better inside and out. Now who would have thought a set of weights could do all that??

xoxo Taryn

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