Several weeks ago I learned a lesson in auto care. Well, it wasn’t so much a lesson but accepting the fact my 12-year-old car needs extra TLC. As I was fretting over my car, I could help to notice the similarities between maintaining an older car and maintaining my aging body. I know this is a stretch but stay with me.
At 46, and I’m not ashamed to say it, I am slowing learning that my body needs extra TLC to perform at the way I need it to. I’m talking about the food I need to put in my body and all the little extras that are making a big impact. And no I’m not talking about steroids.
As my car ages and the miles add up, I’ve had to change the maintenance schedule for tune-ups and oil changes. As I cannot always afford everything, I make sure the oil is regularly changed, and the fluids are topped off. It is those little things I do that helps keep Sylvia (my car by the way) running.
My body is no different. As I age, my body responses differently to activities that my younger body did not. A hard workout in the heat or cold or a training session with repetitive movements involving worn joints are just a few examples. There are several steps I use to make sure I can perform the following day. And I’m not only talking about preparing for a competition but functioning in life.
There isn’t a firm figure or at least one I can find. There are several theories, from drink 8 glasses a day to drink your body weight in ounces. To clarify, this is water and not whiskey, wine, or coffee, but according to a recent NPR report, you can include coffee. I’ve linked here because overall it is a good report on the importance of being hydrated.
Disclaimer: I’m not a nutritionist, but personally I wouldn’t include coffee because as the report states depending on your activity and the amount you drink per day, it can dehydrate you.
Even though I’m very active, I try to drink 8 glasses of water a day. I’m not always successful. Some days I’ll drink 9-10 glasses and others more like 6. On those days, I can feel it throughout my entire body. I’m weak. I’m tired. I feel like I’ve slept 12 hours and still tired.
If you are super active and outside, especially in Southwest where the average temp is 100+ in the summer, you may need to drink more. Listen to your body and do what you feel is right for you.
Being as active as I am, I need food. Lots of food and for all those naysayers, yes I eat. It is not how much I eat but rather what I eat. Some might describe my diet as “clean,” but in all honesty, I have no idea what that means. To me food is not just life; it is fuel. Yes, I enjoy a sweet treat and a glass (or three) of wine but besides that everything I put in my body is helping me to stay healthy and active.
When I describe myself as active, I’m not just talking about working out and training jiu-jitsu. I’m also referring to my work. On top of teaching the Kid’s BJJ classes, I’m a freelance writer and work part-time for a small start-up. This means I’m always on the go from one to another. When I have a break from writing, I’m working for the start-up. When I’m not there, I’m heading off to teach. My life is always on the go, physically and mentally.
Meal prep is my life. And when I mean meal prep, I mean I meal prep every meal except for breakfast. I prep lunch and dinner, prep snacks that are easy to grab and I also eat the same thing everything. Why? I’m busy, and I don’t have the time each day to cook a meal or think about what I want I can make. I just grab it, heat it, and I’m done.
I don’t really follow a specific diet. I don’t even know if there is a name for it. I eat chicken ONLY, it is about 10-15% of my diet, dairy (eggs and cheese), fruit and vegetables, and carbs (bread and sweet potatoes). No processed foods! It isn’t exciting, but it takes about 90 minutes to do all my meal prep for the week. And I haven’t gotten tired of it because I like the food I make.
Sleep is like water. They say you should sleep 8 hours a day. I cannot. I sleep about 4-5 hours a night, and I’m good. Some people may need more, and some can function with less. I know for myself if I sleep longer than five, I’m a horribly grumpy person. If I sleep less, I’m unable to focus and just dragging. Long naps aren’t an option although I will sit at my desk and shut my eyes for 10-15 minutes. It isn’t the best position, but it works.
I have tendinitis in both knees, so just normal going up and down the stairs can be difficult. I stretch every night, well almost every night after jiu-jitsu and I do yoga about once a week through Atomic Athlete. If I didn’t find Jennifer, Atomic’s yoga teacher, I don’t know if I could function.
It is not like your regular yoga class. There isn’t a lot of sweating going on. It is mostly deep tissue stretching and meditation. It is 60 minutes working out the soreness and stress from the week. It is as much spiritual as it is physical.
All work and no play makes anyone—boring. Unfortunately, I’m not in the spot to do a lot of different activities that cost money. There are a few things I do for myself each week. Like I said earlier, I treat myself to a sweet treat and a glass or three of wine. I do read a lot for work, this can be how to/self-help but also editing guides and mysteries, sometimes I’ll grab a movie from the library but mostly I Netflix and chill. And that is precisely what it means. I turn on Netflix, grab a glass or three of wine and watch TV.
There isn’t any science behind any of this. It has been mostly trial and error; A lot of error. I’m not getting younger, but I am getting wiser. I’ve learned a lot about myself over the past years, especially this last year. There is a lot I want to achieve, and it isn’t going to happen overnight. I have to be mentally and physically prepare. That means taking time for myself and putting the right fuel in my body.
Spoiler Alert! What I do will not work for you. What your friends do will not work for you. Define your goals. Examine your lifestyle. Find a balance. Be kind to yourself, both with food and thought. I know the latter is hard as I’m working on this myself. This world isn’t filled with sunshine and rainbows, but rain makes flowers, and a garden doesn’t grow by itself. You need good food and love.
And yeah I realize I lost that car reference.
PS: Although this was posted in December I actually wrote this in August.