It’s the new year and, like many others, I’d like to lose a few pounds and get in shape. I know I’m losing muscle mass as I age, and I’m worried about maintaining my balance. The gym feels very intimidating but I’m thinking it’s where I need to be. What do you suggest?
Gym Rat Wanna-be
Dear Gym Rat,
I was recently in your shoes. Unwanted pounds have dogged me most of my adult life and my bone density scan wasn’t looking good. I knew I needed to hit the gym for some serious weight training if I wanted to stay as healthy as possible.
Not knowing where to start, I hired a personal trainer (your good health is worth the cost). She designed a weight training program appropriate for my age and ability. I asked her to write down the details. I wanted to remember where to set the weights on each machine, the height of the seat, how many reps, etc. Like most new endeavors, the devil is in the details. Walking into a room full of heavy-duty machinery and a bunch of sweaty, muscle-bound young men can be intimidating (this was true up in Southwest Florida; the gym scene is a bit different). No matter the location of the gym, I wanted to feel confident.
Working with my trainer once a month for four months gave me four possible training combinations. Now, three days a week I confidently walk into the gym where I cycle four miles on a stationary bike—while watching cooking shows—then proceed to the machines with my training details in hand. By now, the paper is like tissue, but I can still read the specifics. Every few months I increase the weight or reps.
As I work to gain muscle strength, I’m also enhancing my overall quality of life by increasing my metabolic fitness including glucose tolerance and cholesterol control. Strength training reduces my symptoms of joint and back pain while improving my balance and stability. Although I didn’t improve my bone density, my doctor said that without weight training it might have been worse.
Besides the physical advantages, my hard work in the gym helps with stress reduction and adds to my feeling of well-being. I’m still a soft and rounded grandma who you would never call sculpted, but I value my time spent in the gym and my body and mind thanks me. Being a Gym Rat is empowering!
I have a friend who raves about her experience with journaling. I’ve talked to her about this, but I still don’t get the point. From your perspective, is there value in writing a journal? If so, what is it?
The short answer is yes, I believe that lives are enriched by daily journaling. Personally, I’ve journaled off and on most of my adult life. One tip: keep your journal in a safe and private place. Journals are meant for your eyes only. The value comes from completely uncensored writing.
Since you asked, here are a few advantages of daily journaling:
- Writing what you’re feeling helps you detach from the past and vent any pent-up anger or anxiety. You do this by transferring your emotions to paper (or screen) which helps you get them off the hamster wheel of your brain.
- Journaling helps you achieve your goals. Writing long term and daily goals is an important step to achieving success.
- Journaling helps you maintain an attitude of gratitude. Consider writing a Gratitude or Prayer Journal. This type of journaling will keep you on a forward–thinking and positive path.
- Writing every day helps you record your life’s story. As you reread your past entries, you will recognize your progress or your stumbling blocks. You’ll also have a chance to appreciate the sweet, simple moments of daily living.
Not yet convinced? Experts say writing can be a path to emotional, physical, and spiritual healing. This is why people like Charles Darwin, Winston Churchill, and Sara Blakely spent so much of their precious time writing things that were never seen by another soul. They knew the value of journaling. I challenge you to journal every day for one week. Let me know how it goes.