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Live like you can

By Janis McDonald

Atwice-monthly column on Wellness, Fitness, Functional Aging and Optimal Living, illustrated by inspiring stories of local people and points to ponder on ways to feel better.

Work the parts that work

When I first began teaching exercise, I never thought one day I would be advising my clients to just show up and “work the parts that work!” In the course of the first 35 years of my career, everything worked! Our bodies stayed young, fit and flexible without too much effort.

With my client population growing older along with me, I find using this strong statement gets everyone moving. I strive to instill my belief in never giving up the daily fight to improve fitness so it’s possible to “Live Like You Can.”

Does everyone need a body and mind that can stick out a 26.2-mile marathon, go on a trekking adventure for weeks or swim from Cuba to the US? Most likely not. However, I toast those super heroes who go and go, climbing ever-higher mountains until the end.

My life’s mission is helping people discover just “what” they need their bodies to do as they grow up, and then designing a way to attain the body they need to support their dreams.

Lately, when Boomers and Beyond step into my training or coaching programs, their needs center around pain reduction, more mobility, upper body strength, getting off the floor, traveling, less stiffness, knees that bend and feet that work, preparation for surgery, attaining a “weight appropriate” level for their lives and help with redefining their “current” view of what is good enough now.

When I suggested to my first Beyonders (past Boomer age) to just show up and “work the parts that work,” they were initially astonished and resistant. Yet, when they “got it” and decided to give up the dream of a perfectly working body, they were passionate about maintaining what they had right now.

These Beyonders began their exercise programs at an age when most folks are deciding to do less in their lives. As the years went by, some days were rougher than others with parts that didn’t feel too good and still they carried on.

Leaving the gym, they always felt physically better due to increased circulation, which brings less pain and better range of motion. Equally important, they felt better emotionally “just showing up and not giving up.”

Here are some of my thoughts and answers to most excuses I have heard over the years for not showing up:

Foot injury? Train sitting down

Shoulder injury? Rehab shoulders, train the lower body

Headache? Deep breathing, yoga type stretching

Bored? Reverse your workout order or try boxing

Tired? Move more to increase blood flow and wake up the body

Lazy? Just show up and see what happens

Need a joint replaced? Strengthen the muscles supporting the joint first

Too Busy? Busy people get more done, taking care of your body will keep you going

So, no excuses (I will always have the solution), show up and work the parts that work (that day) and leave the gym always feeling better.

Please share with someone who might need some inspiration to just show up and see what happens. Aging can be the motivation to start instead of stop!

Janis McDonald, is a longtime resident of San Miguel de Allende, owner of private training gym and Wellness Coach,


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