I turned 50 this December! Since I started eating a Zero Carb diet 9 years ago, it has been my goal to be in the best shape of my life at the age of 50. Due to life and stress, I wasn’t going to make it by my 50th birthday, then I realized I was going to be 50 for a whole year! So, game on! I have always been physically active, but about 5 years ago my life got crazy so I stopped working out regularly. In my opinion, that was a huge mistake.
In the Zero Carb community we generally tell people not to exercise when they first start out. There are good reasons for this;
- Exercise is not for weight loss.
- Exercise is stress which can weaken your immune system and can be harmful for people who are obese, have joint pain, are not healthy or simply don’t want too. If you are sick the last thing you should be doing is exercising. Let your body devote 100% of its resources to healing sickness, not building and repairing muscle. Exercise can wait, healing cannot.
- Exercise will require that you eat more meat and too many people are afraid to eat the amount of meat required to sustain added physical activity. Not eating enough, creates fatigue, cravings, fat storage and failure.
- For people who regularly workout, they will encounter 1-3 weeks of fatigue and loss of strength during fat adaptation. This freaks them out, so they usually go back to carbs because they think the fatigue is from lack of carbs needed to sustain muscle building and or physical activity. If they would just stick it out until they get through adaptation they would see how much easier building muscle is in a lean, mean, fat burning body vs a carb burning body.
Do we need exercise for health? In the zero carb community, we have had many debates over this. What is health? It turns out, there really is no definitive definition of “health”. It is not merely the absence of disease, just as happiness is not merely the absence of sadness. I think the definition of health, like happiness is more personal, than scientific. What is healthy for my 91 year old grandmother (being able to get out of bed in the morning), is much different than my version of healthy, (being able to go for a 30 mile, 3 day hike in the mountains with 50lbs on my back and feel good afterwards). Health, is in the mind of the beholder.
After I gave up exercise, my life got crazy with stress, workload and menopause. I was so busy, I didn’t take time to eat, I was only eating once a day for months. I was having panic attacks, extreme neck pain, not sleeping most nights, gaining weight, anxiety and crashing once a week or so (coming home from work and falling into a coma like sleep for 12 hours). I found out a little over a year ago, that I burnt out my adrenals. I had very low hormone levels. Full on, 4th stage adrenal fatigue.
I didn’t even know what adrenal fatigue was. Through research, it all made sense. I could pinpoint when all the stages (1 – 4) happened. Stage 4 resulted in getting severe poison oak on my face. I have lived with poison oak all around my house for 26 years. I had long been immune to it, but all of the sudden I got it so bad on my face that after 3 weeks it became so inflamed, I had to go to the emergency room, because I was worried it was infected. I got a shot of prednisone and a 9 day prednisone pill treatment. The swelling went down to where I almost looked normal, but 2 days after I was done with the prednisone it came raging back! Another 9 days of prednisone made me crazy. The side effects were too much to handle so I started taking natural poison oak oil internally. As long as I took the drops of poison oak oil the rash kept to a minimum. The poison oak rash persisted for 2 years! Now, I know the reason it lasted for so long was because my adrenals were shot and unable to produce enough cortisol to keep histamines and inflammation in check. Inflammation was running amuck in my body. Old injury pain came back, tendonitis in an elbow, a wrist and both my Achilles tendons. I felt like I was falling apart.
I believe a Zero Carb diet is the optimal human diet, but I learned even the best diet will not protect you from stress. Stress alone can kill you. I do wonder if exercise could have helped mitigate the stress and the damage it did to me.
It took me a year to heal my adrenals with learning how to relax, sleep and minimize stress. Now, I’m perfectly healthy, as is many other people who have adopted the Zero Carb lifestyle, but I want more. I would like to show the fitness crowd and the over 50 people, what a zero carb diet can do for you. I’m also curious, what will happen if I include exercise in my 50 year old post menopausal self.
I tried working out Body by Science style last February and learned my body was not ready. The, after workout muscle soreness, which usually lasts 2-3 days, was a debilitating pain that lasted 5-7 days. After 2 months of that I decided I was just not ready for strength training yet.
Last July, I decided to start walking. I have a desk job and sit in front of a computer all day. My fitbit told me I averaged about 400 steps a day. That’s pretty pathetic. I decided 5000 steps was a good goal. I live on a hill, so those 5000 steps included 28 flights of stairs, so it was a good daily goal.
This first noticeable change I noticed (this might be TMI, but hey, you have to admit, poop is a hot topic) was I started pooping more often. Generally, on a meat only diet we poop less often because meat is a nutrient dense food with little waste. So now, with regular exercise I am pooping more often, but still less often than when I ate plant foods.
In October I decided I was feeling good enough to start strength training. I searched around for a good beginner free weight routine and came up with this 8 week full body routine. I felt good after the beginner workouts. I had normal muscle soreness that lasted 1-2 days. That was a good sign that my body was OK with this exercise. After 6 or 7 weeks I got bored and moved on to a 4 week workout program in my Skimble Workout Trainer App. I love the Workout Trainer App because there is so much variety, and you can pick short 5 min workouts or longer workouts, easy workouts, stretching or yoga. I don’t choose workouts that are longer than 20 mins.
I have been moving more / exercising for 5 months now. I don’t weigh myself, because the scale is depressing and I just don’t care how much I weigh. I don’t think I have lost any weight because my clothes fit the same. I feel so much better than I did 5 months ago. I feel stronger, I have more energy, my mind is clearer, my skin is clearer / brighter and my hair and fingernails are growing faster. I’m looking forward to see what other changes exercise can do for my 50 year old self.
I am normally a private person who likes to fly under the radar unnoticed. #yesimanintrovert Since I have devoted part of my life to helping people get healthy and spreading the word about the dangers of carbohydrates / sugar and modern nutrition myths, I feel making my 365/50 experiment public will help even more people. You can follow my journey (as soon as I figure out how to use it) on Instagram @ zcdana. There, I will post most of my updates. I will also update here less frequently and in the Exercise Thread in our Zero Carb Facebook group.