In today's July 1, 2011 newsletter . . .

  • Dietary Practices That Work

  • Two Exceptional Seniors

Dietary Practices That Work

There was a recent report in the news comparing the effectiveness of various popular weight loss plans. All the big names were represented: Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, The Zone, Aktins, etc., etc. I always read these things with some interest.

Why? Because I have witnessed plenty of attempts at weight loss and/or diets that promise to make us stronger, leaner and healthier. Admittedly, I am not a dietitian, and my conclusions are based mostly on personal observation and experience. Still, I have had people in the sciences tell me the dietary guidelines in my books are quite sound.

The first sentence in the nutrition section of my book for senior beginners is this: “There are more eating theories and diet books than grains of sand on muscle beach.” What a clever sentence, I thought to myself, as I wrote it a few years ago. A little over the top, sure; but there is no shortage of diet books out there.

My thesis goes on to say that you can gain or lose weight following any of them. But how can that be? it is reasonable to ask. It is true because no matter which program you choose, it will result in a reduction in your total daily calorie intake. Simple math is the big dietary “secret,” not the latest “breakthrough.” Eat fewer calories than you need to stay as you are and you lose weight. Eat more calories than needed, and you gain weight. It truly is that simple.

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying that all popular diets are equal. Long term, some of them may be unbalanced or lacking in certain nutrients. But if weight loss is your only concern and goal, probably any one of them will work for you. Some may do it a little quicker than others. But what they all have in common is that, if followed, your daily caloric intake will be reduced. And that means weight loss.

Find my own dietary guidelines here.

The Kettlebell Boomer How to Defy Aging and Be a Human Dynamo Throughout Your Senior Years—Thanks to Kettlebells

Two Exceptional Seniors

George Boedecker and Pat Cunneen are men in their 70s and still pushing their physical limits, while giving only a nog to age.

George has been a strongman most of his life - he’s now in his early 70s - and still lifting heavy. When he was younger, he dead-lifted 625 pounds while weighting 215. Today, he’s a certified personal trainer with a wonderful home gym. I often call readers’ attention to it when they mention they are thinking about creating a complete home gym and want to lift heavy.

George starts off senior beginner clients with very manageable weights, but coaches them to progressively increase their poundage. You won’t find little pink aerobics room weights in the Boedecker gym. And his methods seem to work. The following are letters from two clients: Ben Herr and Mimi Wesson, who live Lyons, Colorado. Any personal trainer would appreciate receiving report cards like these.

"BEN: About six months ago I started to think that my fitness program, such as it was, needed something more. I’m a llama rancher, so I do a lot of physical work every day, and I’m also an avid bicyclist. During the summer I was getting in lots of rides, and my legs were strong, but I noticed my upper body didn’t look or feel the way I wanted it to. And during the long Colorado winter, opportunities to ride were pretty slim. I’m fifty-eight, and I’ve had major back surgery. I want to remain strong for many years, but I’m not crazy about working out in gyms and I wasn’t sure how to start a program without risking an injury that would interfere with taking care of my ranch. And I knew I couldn’t afford that.

“MIMI: My work is much more sedentary than Ben’s: I’m a university professor. For many years my main exercise was running, and I’ve practiced yoga, but my knees are beginning to tell me that I can’t count on running for much longer, and my schedule never seemed to include time for a regular yoga class. The many hours of sitting that my work required were probably my worst fitness challenge. And like many women, I had very little upper body strength; I had trouble with some of the yoga poses that required it. I’m sixty-two, with lots of energy and ambitions, and I knew that it was time to start doing something more for my body.

“BEN AND MIMI: So this spring, we started seeing George Boedecker for weekly sessions in his home gym. Ben started first, in February. Mimi had her first session in late April.

“BEN: George spent most of the first session asking me questions about my goals, my work, my concerns. Together we designed a workout that was tailored to me, to what I could do and to what I wanted to achieve. After a month or so of seeing him once a week I felt so good that I encouraged Mimi, whom I could see was stressed out from her work, to start going as well.

“MIMI: I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve always associated strength training with a certain macho, competitive ethic, and I knew that wasn’t me. Ben had told me that George was a former world champion in several strength events, and I guess I was worried that I’d feel intimidated and uncomfortable. But it wasn’t like that at all. It’s very self-motivated, and George somehow makes me want to work harder, to get the most out of every hour. I feel confident that I won’t get hurt, and lately it’s become clear that my life is much better for having George in it. Whether it’s bicycling with Ben, or traveling where I have to heave my bags around, or just walking on a trail or a sidewalk, I feel stronger, more graceful, more confident. I look forward to our training sessions, for the pleasure of its accomplishments and for the great sensation that follows me for days afterward.

“BEN: Since I started to see George, I’ve become a much stronger bicyclist—not only stronger, but more confident. The work we’ve done seems to have improved my balance as well as my strength, and I can also ride longer because I suffer from much less muscular discomfort after a couple of hours in the saddle. And my core strength has grown much greater, a change that makes everything I do, especially my work on the ranch, easier and less tiring.

“BEN AND MIMI: Here’s what we’ve both noticed: we’re not just stronger, although that’s a great thing. We’re happier. We look forward to more of life’s adventures, singly and together, and we’re sure we’ll be equal to whatever challenges they may bring. So for your part in that, thank you, George.”

Those are pretty good endorsements, I’d say.

∗ ∗ ∗

Pat Cunneen is not a weight lifter. He is a triathlete, now in his late 70s but still testing his limits. He is a veteran of many of the famous “Escape from Alcatraz” triathlon competitions, but now confines his races to what are known in the triathlon world as “sprints.” Sprints combine swimming, cycling and running, but the distances are shorter. Don’t be fooled, however, by the word “shorter.” Sprints are a challenge. Now 78 years old, Pat is always preparing for his next one.

Note: In the Cunneen family you are a runner, or cyclist, or swimmer, or combination of all three. The Cunneens have been featured on the cover of Runners World magazine.

In 1992, I interviewed Pat Cunneen. Find the interview here.

You've probably heard about the tremendous benefits of weight training and how you can retain -- or even reclaim -- the attributes of youth . . . Discover the way with . . .

Gray Iron: A Fitness Guide for Senior Men and Women

Newsletter Policy

The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter is a free publication sent twice monthly to subscribers. The purpose is to provide honest and realistic fitness information for people age 50 and above.

I have never been paid or received compensation of any kind to write a positive review or endorse a product. If I say that I personally use a product or service, it is because I find value in it and have paid for it with my own money.

Like newspapers, magazines and television, this newsletter and my web site contain advertising and marketing links. Naturally, I am compensated for these.

The newsletter and web site provide information to help users establish and maintain a fitness lifestyle. But fitness information is not the same as fitness advice, which is the application of exercise and dietary practices to an individual's specific circumstances. Therefore, always consult with your physician for assurance that fitness information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate for you. Your comments and questions are always appreciated.


Logan Franklin
The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter