As a midlife woman, I make no bones about the fact that I love food. That’s right . . . I said it: I. Love. Food. Yup, love everything about it—the visual appeal, the alluring aromas, the sumptuous taste, the varying textures and, yes, even the sound of it (think sizzling bacon, the crunch of raw carrots or the cracking sound you hear when dipping into crème brûlée). Does this make me a little weird? I hope not because food also provides nourishment that our midlife bodies need.
I no longer diet; I watch what I eat. Sure, on the weekends I may get a bit out of hand and eat enough to feed a small village, but for the most part, I try to make smart dining choices. Sometimes, I fail. This is why I make a fitness regiman a big part of my life. I’ll admit, it was difficult acclimating myself to a workout routine; not because I didn’t like to workout, but because I always fell back on my go-to excuse of “I’m too busy, I don’t have time…” And since all it takes is a passing glance at a candy bar or one bite of a hamburger for me to gain three pounds, I knew that had to change.
While I don’t claim to be a fitness expert, I do know, finally, what works for me. My body responds well to cardiovascular activity, which is why I love engaging in exercises that get my heart pumping. My absolute favorite machine to work on when I’m in the gym is the elliptical trainer (also referred to as a cross-trainer).
Why the Elliptical?
The elliptical offers a low-impact total body workout that engages a myriad of muscle groups, including the gluteus maximus (buttocks), quads, hamstrings, calves and lower shin. Typically, I use an elliptical with stationary handles, but on occasion I have used the models with the moving arm handles. Using the moving arm handles provides an added benefit to an elliptical workout by engaging the shoulder, chest, biceps and triceps.
NOTE: The elliptical trainer images shown above do not constitute an endorsement of any particular type of trainer. The images are shown strictly as two examples of the elliptical trainers on the market.
One beneficial movement I’ve found that helps me during my workouts is switching my momentum from forward to backward, the addition of which works different muscle groups (see chart/diagram below).
You don’t have to spend two hours a day in the gym to get a total body workout. By working out on an elliptical trainer for 25 minutes, over time my body becomes a fat burning machine! Okay, I made that last part up, but a quick 25 minute elliptical workout is a great cardio kick, especially when you vary your intensity and movements.
I want to take a brief pause here to say that I do alternate my cardio with weight/strength training to give my body a well-balanced workout. I’ve found that while cardio is great, it isn’t enough. Weight training is the second key component of my overall fitness routine, and I believe it’s essential for us midlifers. If the thought of weight/strength training scares the s*** out of you, don’t worry; you won’t end up all swollen and puffy unless, of course, that’s what your end goal is and the intensity of your workouts reflect that.
Below is a chart which shows how I use the elliptical to my advantage by using intervals, burning up to 300 calories in 25 minutes. But listen, I’m not a personal trainer and I don’t play one on T.V. This method may not work for everyone. Some may find the constant changing of levels to be monotonous…and it is. But again, this is the way I have been using an elliptical for quite some time now. And like anything else, once you get used to doing it a few times, it gets easier. So give it a try. And NOTE: This elliptical workout is totally doable on a treadmill, too (well, maybe not the ‘backwards’ part, but the level intevals will work). (If you’re new to exercise, always check with your doctor before beginning any exercise routine.)
25 Minute Power Boost Elliptical Workout
The “25 Minute Power Boost Elliptical Workout” chart was created by Valerie Albarda and cannot be copied without written permission.