My name is Alfred James Hidalgo but you can call me Al. I'm into fitness, travel, fine dining and good wine. I'm currently flying solo and heading into the 2nd half of my life. Please join me as I share tips, my story and my continuing adventures!
In training for a Spartan Race I am constantly in awe of the capabilities of the human body, mind and spirit. Sure, I had placed in two Classic Physique shows in 2018 but I had not run or trained in this fashion in over 30 years. I started slow, learning to run again and improving my mobility, not wanting to pull a hamstring or tear an achilles. Now at 60 years of age, I can consistently run 2 miles in 20 minutes and handle any combination of sprint intervals. With that I’m targeting May of 2020 for my first Spartan Race.
After spending the past four years powerlifting and bodybuilding I found myself wondering if I could (turning 60 soon and no serious running in 30 years) run a couple miles in an emergency. So I started jogging and doing sprint intervals on an indoor track and soon I could knock out a 10 minute mile and 24 minute two mile!
I thought, there really is no reason why a 60 year old should not be able to do the same physical tasks that he did in his 20s, albeit a tad slower.
And just like that, I’m training for a Spartan Race!
Did you know that lifting heavy things and putting them down is the best way for men over 40 to maintain healthy levels of free testosterone and for women to reverse menopausal weight gain and stop bone loss?
Imagine a world in which doctors prescribed strength training. Where employees who maintain healthy weight and blood pressure have reduced medical deductibles.
Did you know that U.S. life expectancy is now declining?
Five years ago my blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar were off the charts. My doctor strongly suggested that I go on statins. I asked him for how long and he said forever because if I went off them that my risk of having a cardiac event would be even higher than if I had never went on statins!
Needless to say, I followed a different path. I decided to transform my body composition, drop body fat from close to 40% to around 10%. I knew that this would decrease my insulin sensitivity and get my metabolism back to normal.
Fast forward to today and I have not even had a sniffle or cough since I began my fitness journey where previously I had at least one bad cold every year. Today my blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar are better than normal. My resting heart rate and by heart rate variability (HRV) are at athletic levels. Now I have always lifted weights as well as doing cardio so what have I changed?
I quit using sugar. I now use Stevia for my coffee and baking. I quit eating processed foods and I no longer will eat from at any place that has a drive up window unless I’m traveling. I stopped buying anything that could be microwaved for dinner. In essence, I eat pretty healthy now.
I added these supplements:
Whey Isolate Protein
You should get 1 to 1.2 grams of protein for each pound of bodyweight. If you weigh 150 pounds, you need at least 150 grams of protein a day. Without supplementing, it would take too much chicken, fish, beef or beans to get the protein I need plus I would be getting way too much fat.
Did you know that protein requirements increase as you age but that total calorie requirements decrease?
Protein is required to maintain muscle and bone density. Protein helps to keep you satiated. You want to make sure it’s Isolate as it undergoes more processing, which results in a higher protein content with less carbs, lactose and fat.
Creatine is thought to improve strength, increase lean muscle mass, and help the muscles recover more quickly during exercise. This muscular boost may help athletes achieve bursts of speed and energy, especially during short bouts of high-intensity activities such as weight lifting or sprinting. Creatine may improve cognitive processing in older adults:
Our bodies stop producing Collagen in our 20s, lots of benefits.
To summarize, I lost 70 pounds, added a few supplements to my diet and seem to no longer get sick. I even tested this by being around co-workers who come to work ill when they should stayed home. Once upon a time, this was a for sure few sick days for me.
It’s funny how international adventures are planned. I start with something that has inspired my heart, research the logistics and narrow it down to what is practical and doable.
My Grandfather was born in Poland, and last year doing the DNA tests I found that my DNA was 38% Polish and Eastern European. When I was stationed in the U.K, due to the Iron Curtain, we were not allowed to travel to the U.S.S.R or it’s satellite states and during my other visits I preferred the mediterranean cities. So now, all of sudden I want to visit Central Europe!
I began with planning a 2020 trip to Krakow Poland, the area where my grandfather was born. However, at the request of two of my cousins who also want to go to Krakow, I have rescheduled for June of 2021. We also plan to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau and Schindler’s Factory but in general, we are going to soak up the culture, cuisine and drinks of Poland.
After seven nights in Krakow, I am going to spend a few days in one of these cities, Budapest, Vienna, Berlin or Munich, I have quite a while to decide.
After that, I am headed to Italy, I fancy a couple of weeks around the Amalfi Coast (Positano). I can already smell the lemon trees, can you at Limoncello?
This will be my first solo international trip since I was in my 20s and while I believe that what most of us long for is a soulmate to share adventures with, that the failure to find such a kindred heart and soul, is no reason to stay home!
Sarcopenia is the scientific name for muscle loss and is the primary cause of a decline in the quality of life as we age!
When it comes to muscles, it is use it or lose it. Muscle loss happens early if you are inactive and sit at a desk most of the day.Muscle loss and general inactivity lead to coordination loss, flexibility ( hips, back, shoulders) loss and balance loss as you age. A lot of young people in their 20s have already lost flexibility and have lower back pain due to lack of activity. The signs of aging (loss of balance, coordination, flexibility and strength) that one expects to see in their 60s and 70s are now being seen much younger.
Have you ever seen natural bodybuilders in their 50s and 60s who look younger and healthier than sedentary folks in their 40s? Ever notice that endurance athletes age much faster than strength athletes? Compare the physique of a 50 year old sprinter to that of a 50 year old marathon runner.
I was a long distance runner in my 20s, I understand the runner’s high. Now that I’m almost 60, I know that our bodies adaptations to long distance running are the opposite adaptations that are required to maintain muscle and there are even studies that suggest that long distance runners could have cardiac issues due to constant inflammation.
I’m not saying that cardio is not important, I do enough cardio to maintain a 55 bps resting heart rate but for health, fitness and quality of life, my time is best spent weight training.
Back to sarcopenia, it leads to osteopenia and osteoporosis and because we are so inactive, this can start in our 20s. Our bodies were not designed to spend hours sitting at a desk or lounging on the sofa.
Women start becoming menopausal in their 40s. The decline of estrogen for women and testosterone productions for men hasten the physical decline as we age. If you don’t take care of yourself earlier on, the decline is even faster. But if you did and do work out, the decline is minimal. If you have never worked out, you can still reverse sarcopenia with a weight lifting program!
How strong should we be?
You should be able to get up from sitting on the floor without using your hands or arms or leaning against anything.
You should be able to do at least one unassisted pull-up.
You should be able to get into and out of a squatting position within assistance.
Steps to improve your quality of life in your 40s and beyond:
Weight training (twice a week or more)
Increase protein intake (protein needs increase as you age)
Increase activity level (track your steps, work up to 10,000 per day)