Wrinkles on Muscles

10 years ago I did my first Olympic distance triathlon as a birthday present for myself – .9 mile swim, 26 mi. bike, and 6.2 mile run (I race walk). Back then for that particular event, the age groups were something like 15-19, 20-24, 25-29 and so on….then, 50 and up. There weren’t many over the age of 50 who participated back then and they grouped us all together. So, on the day before the race, I went to the transition area, found my section, and racked my bike. There were a few women around me doing the same and soon the conversation began.

It turned out that I was the baby of the group (not often you get to say that at 50) – they were 56, 62, 65, and 71. As the conversation developed, these ladies began to share their experiences, offering a few little tips here and there, plus talking about other tris they had done (sharing how to stay warm during Escape from Alcatraz bay swim). I was captivated. Energy seemed to flow from every pore of their bodies. They’re eyes danced with light and life. They were fun, they were funny…they were amazing!!

As I walked away, I looked back and saw something I hadn’t noticed when talking with them. All but one were wearing swim briefs and sports bras. Their skin was soft and wrinkled and incredibly tan, but hung on frames that were muscled, firm, and strong. I decided I wanted to be like them when I grew up. They were the most beautiful women I had ever seen or experienced.

Now I have Shar Pei thighs (see previous blog post) and Ive noticed that the skin on my arms is stretched and wrinkled when I do a 1-2 punch in cardio boxing, but I keep working to make sure those muscles are strong and firm. I have a few more surgical scars than I did 10 years ago and I’ve slowed down considerably. My joints don’t work exactly as I would like them to, but they’re still working and I keep moving.

I see people a number of years younger than myself, sometimes half my age, who move as though they’re 10 years older, and it inspires me to keep moving.

I see obesity that is robbing a life of longevity and quality and I keep moving.

Though I know there are reasons that I may have to adapt exercises to whatever world my body or those of my clients wakes in on a particular day, I don’t accept excuses. No matter what the circumstances, I or they can move. You don’t have to train for a triathlon, but at least train for your life.

I’m still working to be those ladies when I grow up, though I will NOT be doing Escape from Alcatraz….I went there a few years ago and saw that swim. Ain’t gonna happen.

Don’t Look At Your Knees When in Downward Dog

I am not a Yoga person. I’ve tried it, I do it, it’s good for me. It’s TOUGH! I’m not a super fan, though, like many others. It’s a personality thing, I guess. Like I say, I think it’s good for us all to do and I like benefits from it, like body control, so I do it and promote it.

There are a few caveats in practicing yoga that I think you should know, especially if you’re of a “certain age” (or “seasoned” as my nephew says). One of the most important is: do NOT look down at your knees and thighs if you’re in Downward Dog. I teach a class with my nephew and the yoga instructor at our studio that is a combination of strength training and yoga. We call it NamaStrength. Since I am one of the creators of the class, I feel it necessary for me to take part when I can on the yoga segments. Like I say, it’s tremendous for body control and quite humbling. One day we were going through one of the Warrior Flows, I went to Downward Dog, I looked at my legs….and thought I found a Shar Pei puppy between my tibia and hip. Now, my legs have always been the part of my body that I can manage to look great no matter what. I get compliments on them even at my age. But this?! Yikes!

Well, I kept going. We went on to Chaturanga, which is basically a slow, negative push up. I did it perfectly, slowly and under control (on my fists since my left wrist won’t bend properly). I also continued through the rest of the class in the same manner.

So I figure, okay, so I have Shar Pei thighs, as well as other parts of my body. It happens. I’m 60 and plan to continue moving and working until I drop permanently. As long as I do that, I’m going to have to accept the evidence of passing years.

But I no longer look down while in Downward Dog.

I am the WORST at excuses

I have just gone through a period of neglecting a most important tool and outlet…this blog. Why? There are always excuses: I’m busy with business research, I have clients to take care of, I have a husband that needs to know I recognize him, training to do, blah, blah, blah. Yep, all excuses.

Do you want to hear the worst part of it? There’s always more research to do, clients received the BEST attention, my husband is still with me and still knows I know him, and training continues. What it boils down to is that I simply didn’t take the time to do it. And I DID have the time.

Do you do this? Yeah, most of us do. It’s okay. We can get over it.

It’s the same way with exercising or paying attention to our nutrition. You can take it up again. You don’t get penalty points, so you’ve lost nothing. Guilt is completely pointless. Simply start…or pick it up again.

Exercise is easy. You don’t need special shoes, clothes, or gear. All you have to do is move. Now, if you want to pick up the pace, you probably want to be comfortable in your clothes, but you can exercise in your living room with items from your pantry (not opened) or other items around the house. And you really don’t need items, you can use your own body! You can even clean house and exercise at the same time. Ever watch Mrs. Doubtfire? Now THAT was fun. Put on some Aerosmith, jam, and clean to Dude Looks Like a Lady, and you’ve done a workout!!

Nutrition is the same. I don’t care what anyone says, nutrition is a learned behavior. If you want to change to good nutrition, you have to unlearn some habits. That takes a little time and strategy, so don’t try to do too much too soon. Start by cutting out sugar or sodas or processed foods…one or two things at a time. Whatever you can handle. Pay attention to how you feel. After you have that conquered, move on to the next item. You can experiment with replacing bad stuff with good. You don’t have a time limit. Your biggest concern is to make an effective change a little at a time.

You’re going to make all this a long-term change, so you have to change your outlook. Start. Negativity doesn’t belong in any shape, form, or fashion.

So, I’m starting new habits here. I’m going to have a new blog each week on Mondays. They’ll be fun and informative. You can make whatever changes you need and, if you need help, give me a shout.

I’m also going to do that research, pay careful attention to my husband, continue to take care of my clients, and get serious about my 1/2 Ironman training.

The Cost of Getting Lean

Are you one of those who wants that six-pack? How about just getting into your old jeans? A friend sent me this article and it’s dead on. It explains what you can expect for your expectations — the price you pay. It’s realistic, honest, and explains it all in a way that helps you decide what you want to do to reach your fitness level.

I hope you enjoy and be sure to send feedback on your reactions. I’d like to hear what you have to say.


If you’re asking how strong you are, you’re asking the wrong question.

Guest post by Dana McMahan

Image from page 103 of "Tensing exercises" (1913)Hi, I’m Dana and I’m a number chaser. The siren call of heavier, always heavier weights transformed me, making me better – at everything – than I’d ever been, and brought me crashing lower than I’d have dreamed possible. More than once. I fell in love with lifting weights, then fell into the trap of never being strong enough. With each goal I met and surpassed under the bar, I aimed ever higher. I was strong – so, so strong – but in my mind, not strong enough. Because there was always more; the possibilities were infinite.

After crashing and burning – first wrecking my back and landing in the hospital for surgery, and less than a year later working my way into a spectacularly frightening case of rhabdomyolysis – the quest was over. There would be no ‘how much stronger can I get?’

After wallowing in self-pity for a while I decided to dig into what exactly strong means, anyway, and how we can know when we’re strong. I hoped to find some measure of strength that would tell me I was still strong, even though I could only do a fraction of the (dangerous and foolish) things I’d done at the height of my strength.

I researched a story for the website 75togo.com, reaching out to a number of experts who could define strength for me. And in no uncertain terms I learned that my quest had been a futile one. None of the experts could agree on a universal standard of strength, and they challenged the very nature of my question. I’ve never been so glad to learn I was wrong.

The full piece is here. I hope you’ll read it. But here were my most important takeaways.

Can you stand up from a seated position on the floor without using your hands? (I immediately got on the floor to try it.) This measure is actually one that is an “incredibly accurate” predictor of mortality. Which reminded me – isn’t the whole point of exercising to, you know, take care of yourself?

Barbells were never meant to be an end unto themselves. How useful is it in the real world to lie on a bench and raise a weight above your chest?

If you work within your limits, your limits expand. I pushed my limits constantly, and my body responded by breaking down constantly. Unfortunately, until now I didn’t have a trainer who would rein me in. For the first time in my fitness life, I’m working well within my limits (I’m not saying it’s easy, mentally, but I’m physically far better off for it).

And a favorite new line: It’s about the pursuit of fitness. My pursuit was always higher numbers. When I think about it this way, I think of the awesomely fun things I’ve gotten to do, and still want to do. Getting strong did let me do things like learn to white water raft, go rock climbing, and try mountain biking. I still harbor dreams of boxing, and there are so many other sports still to try. By trading an endless quest for strength for the pursuit of fitness I can [what an idea!] have fun, feel better, and live healthier.


Read the full story, with expert insights from

  • Khaled Allen: Holistic health and fitness coach
  • David Dellanave: lifter, coach, and owner of The Movement Minneapolis
  • Dr. Paul McKee: Sports medicine doctor, team physician for University of Louisville football and baseball
  • Sarah Peterson: Personal trainer, yoga instructor and USMC veteran
  • Nick Sarantis: sports performance program coordinator for Baptist Sports Medicine, Louisville
  • Lou Schuler: award-winning journalist, certified strength and conditioning specialist, a contributing editor to Men’s Health magazine, and author or coauthor of many books, including The New Rules of Lifting


How to fix your biggest fitness mistake

Grandmother is fit and working out

Nana Works

Can you move? I mean, can you move at all? If the answer is “yes”, then you can get fit…no matter what your age or your present limitations. The biggest mistake generally made in fitness is thinking you have to be fit to start an exercise program. That’s like cleaning your house before a housekeeper comes over. It’s just not necessary (well, maybe for some housekeepers, but not someone I would use).

Fitness is efficient movement and the only way to get there is to start. No matter where you are on your path, to get anywhere, to accomplish anything, you have to move. It doesn’t matter if you’re crawling, hobbling, walking or running. Just start.

That’s what I want to help you with. The first step is…well, the first step. You have to know you can, or even imagine yourself doing “it” — whatever “it” might be. I can’t do it for you, you have to do that, but I *can* provide the means and motivation.

Get up off the chair, sofa, or bed and move. Make that first step, then push yourself a little bit more each day. Before you know it, you’ll be feeling better, sleeping better, and even develop better eating habits. Your energy improves, your mental attitude becomes much better, and you become more productive.

Give it a shot. Just move.