PJ's Fitness Blog

A blog about a fitter you. Come find out what is on the cutting edge of fitness science and be a part of the ongoing conversation.

Fit Past Forty (or Fifty or Further!)

People often use age as an excuse for why they aren’t as fit as they were in their 20s, but did you know that from a purely physiological standpoint, your metabolism shouldn’t slow down more than 3% per decade after turning 30 years old? This means that when you’re 40, your metabolism should still be 97% of what it was when you were 30. When you’re 70, it should still be 89% of what it was when you were 30.

Why is the decline usually faster than that? The answer is simple: We become more sedentary and/or exercise wrong.

Most people also think that muscle is harder to acquire as we age, but that’s not the case either. Numerous studies have shown that people who keep exercising, lose little to no muscle past the age of 40, even up to the age of 80! Hard to believe, right? Don’t take my word for it. Google it for yourself. It’s astonishing.

People who want to be fit past 40 should however, change some of the ways they are exercising. There are certain things people can get away with in their 20s that aren’t such good ideas past 40, like long-duration cardio for instance, or heavy, ballistic weight training. Instead of long-duration cardio (like running) that is usually high-impact and breaks down joints over time, shorter duration High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a great alternative and also saves a ton of time, which is another important factor for people past 40. Instead of heavy, ballistic weight training, methods like those found at the X Gym are ideal because they are much safer, yet even more effective at building strength and muscle tone than traditional strength training.

Cardio may fight fat in younger years, but it can have the opposite effect as we age, especially as we acquire more and more stress in our lives with more responsibilities and more pressures in our careers. Yes, I said it: Cardio can actually turn into a fattening activity as we age, due to its unique ability to increase cortisol and other hormones, in addition to a high-stress life. IT can even shrink muscle mass and speed aging! The HIIT training I mentioned above and strength training (especially X Gym style) is particularly effective at reducing stress and belly fat, increasing strength, endurance and the metabolism.

Strength training is especially important for people past 40, because they are generally less active as they are more involved in the sedentary workforce than they were when they were younger. People passed 40 also are more prone to accumulating visceral fat (belly fat), which is the most dangerous type of fat. Strength training is particularly effective at keeping visceral fat in check.

Sure, there are certainly hormonal shifts that take place in the body as we age, along with other changes that warrant modifications in the way we exercise and the X Gym workout is already perfectly suited for all those changes. RachelMcLish

You can see Herschel Walker at 53 years old in the picture top left, who is in better shape than 99.9% of the 20 year olds out there. Sure, he’s genetically gifted too, but he also doesn’t touch heavy weights or long duration cardio. And then there’s Rachel McLish, who many people think looks even better over 40 than she did in her “prime” in her 20’s as you can see pictured right. And she doesn’t touch heavy weights or long duration cardio either. It’s not just Rachel either. Heck, if I had a dime for every woman who told me they want “Madonna arms,” who showed off her best guns after she turned 40…

Rewiring the Brain for Better Health and Fitness

Why do I keep talking about rewiring the brain to achieve health and fitness? Because without that process, it’s HARD! Plus, any progress towards improved health and fitness is temporary at best. And then there’s the weight loss yo-yo that so many are familiar with. To solve all these problems, the brain must be rewired. This infographic below explains that process and how we help people at the X Gym to achieve their goals faster, easier and more permanently. To learn more about training your brain at the X Gym, just contact me through pj@xgym.com.


Does Meat Cause Cancer?

expelledYou may have heard about the report issued on 10/26/2015 by the World Health Organization (WHO), which found that the consumption of processed meats causes cancer.

Based on a review of studies they picked from around the world, the health organization’s Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) claimed that processed meats, such as hot dogs, sausages and bacon can cause bowel cancer and red meat is likely to cause the disease as well.

You might be surprised to hear from me that I agree with their conclusion. They are absolutely right about PROCESSED meats. Red meat from a conventional farm isn’t much better either (if at all). Those meats are toxic and cancer is just the beginning of the health problems you can acquire from eating that garbage.

Organic meat from wild, grassfed animals is a totally different story though. That stuff is REALLY good for you. Just ask the Eskimos (from 100 years ago – before their diet became “Westernized”), or any other hunter-gatherer society for that matter. Cancer and other diseases for that matter are virtually non existent in those societies, despite the fact that 90% or more of the calories in their diet come from wild animal products. They are the healthiest humans in human history. And that is a fact. Research it for yourself. 

Organic meat that is not grassfed is certainly better than conventional farms. In fact, it’s about 10 times better, but “organic” usually means those farms still feed their animals grains and other stuff they have no business eating. For this reason, grassfed is about 10 times better than standard organic, which makes it about a bazillion times better than conventional.

Hopefully, the word will get out about processed meat and conventional farms so we can stop eating it and feeding it to our children!

My Favorite Oils

Olive oil is great for salad dressing, but did you know that it’s not the best for cooking?

Did you also know that Canola oil is downright toxic? Yep. Check out this article for more on that.

My favorite oils also happen to be the best for cooking too! They are Coconut oil, Avocado oil and Ghee. Check out some other oils in the infographic below:


Need to Break Out of a Crummy Mood? Label it!

We all know how powerful gratitude is and have the advice, “Don’t worry, be happy,” but at times, that advice is certainly easier said than done. Sometimes it feels impossible to break out of a funk or negative state of mind, but there is hope – and even specific strategies as well!

One of these is to train your brain to catch yourself in that emotion and then label it. Is it Fear? Anger? Sadness? Stress? Take a moment to find the closest label and then give it that label. The process of doing this pulls it out of the area of the brain that ruminates about the emotion, namely, the amygdala, and makes it worse. Then it goes into the area of the brain that can think of it logically and put it in true perspective, namely, the prefrontal cortex.

In one study using brain scans, participants viewed pictures of people with varying emotional facial expressions. Researchers observed, each participant’s amygdala being activated to the emotions in the picture. But when they were asked to name the emotion, the logical and rational prefrontal cortex increased in activity and the emotional amygdala decreased in activity. In other words, consciously recognizing the emotions reduced their impact.

The brain has significant difficulty sending energy to more than one part of the brain simultaneously, so when you are consciously shunting energy to the prefrontal cortex, you are necessarily shunting it away from the amygdala. This not only makes you feel better at the time, but trains your brain to do this process more easily and subsequent efforts later.

Try it out. You will be surprised how easily a simple thing like naming your mood or emotion can help you escape that state and even prevent associated behaviors like emotional eating!


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