In the months since starting her weight-loss journey, Shaw has eliminated dairy, fast food, junk food, soda and juices from her diet. Most of her meals center on plant-based foods, though she occasionally includes fish and seafood, too.
“You have to be willing to try new things, make substitutions and eliminate bad foods,” she said. “It is really not that hard, and it can be fun.”
At Tidelands HealthPoint, the region’s only medical fitness center, she enjoys participating in classes and has embraced strength training.
“Cardio is great and it keeps you going, but weight training is extremely important,” said Shaw, who has lost more than 70 pounds so far. “I feel like it really keeps my metabolism going throughout the day, even when I’m not at the gym.”
Shaw’s success is a testament that anyone, regardless of age, can transform his or her health with the right attitude, diet and a balanced workout program that includes both cardiovascular and strength training, said Michelle Dowd, an exercise physiologist at Tidelands HealthPoint.
“You really want to take a holistic approach to your health,” she said. “When you do that, you’re best-positioned to have a great quality of life as you age.”
One element of a comprehensive fitness plan that’s often overlooked, especially among older adults, is strength training. Older adults should strength train at least two days each week, if not more.
As early as their 30s, most people start to lose both muscle mass and muscle function, and after reaching middle age, the rate of decline can increase further. Some research suggests older adults can lose up to 3 percent of their muscle strength each decade. As a result, people can struggle to manage daily tasks. Lifting weights can help compensate for the natural loss of strength.