By Jamie Bussin
Yes. I am one of those people. If you happen to make the mistake of asking me about my workouts, I will, in great detail, outline my weekly regimen. Am I bragging? To the untrained ear, it might sound like it. Probably to the trained ear too. But that’s not my intent. I’m one of those insufferable converts. Like the ex-smokers who chastise non-ex-smokers, I do preach. Because I’m a true believer in the value of exercise and eating well etc.
Also, I like talking about some of my more “challenging” workouts. As a health and wellness influencer who’s over 50, I’m hoping to lead by example and show people who are uncertain or inexperienced that you can maintain your strength, mobility and flexibility as you age. And I stress the word maintain because in my experience that’s the hardest part. It’s easier (but not easy) to achieve a health and wellness goal, such as losing 25 pounds or doing 100 push-ups. It is much more difficult to keep the 25 pounds off after you’ve lost it. There are diminishing returns. For some, their natural metabolism or body type makes the tasks associated with good health more challenging. For others, work schedules or other commitments make the task more difficult. And, of course, we are all aging.
Every person who works out regularly has their motivations and their motivators. For the past 18 years I’ve exercised vigorously at least 5 times a week. When I have a particularly challenging workout ahead of me, or if I’m not feeling motivated or energized I remind myself of two things.
1.I exercise, not because I have to (although I do believe that I do have to), but because I can. And at some point in the (hopefully distant) future I will not be able to due to age or infirmity. It is a privilege to be fit; and 2. Although the exercise may not be enjoyable, the post-workout high (and pride of accomplishment) are the true pay-offs.
Which brings me to my Sunday workout. It is by far the hardest. I conceived it during Covid and I’ve been doing it for two years. And quite honestly, it’s so hard, I’ve grown to hate it. It’s a simple cycle of exercises that I do for time, repeated 10 times. I start with a 500 meter row on my rowing machine, which must be completed in under 2 minutes. Then I do 10 “Man Makers” – which must be completed, inclusive of a rest period, in 3 minutes. A “Man Maker” is a weighted burpee. The sequence is a drop to plank from standing, a push-up, a renegade row, a jump forward to squat and then a squat thrust – all with 25 lb. weights. The first 3 or 4 cycles are fine. By cycle 6 I just want it to end and by cycle 8 I frequently drool and I’m just gutting it out to maintain form so that I don’t injure myself.
Most of you are thinking, why doesn’t he just change it up or make it easier? Of course I could do that. But (see above) if I still can do the workout (which I can), shouldn’t I honour that privilege and continue to do it until I physically can’t? I struggled with the conundrum for a number of weeks. Until I read Dr. Stacy Irvine’s article on the art of adapting (p. 14). Stacy is a regular guest on The Tonic Talk Show and she’s on the cover of this issue. Her insight in being an active participant in change rather than being resistant to change allowed me to reframe my thoughts on the Sunday workout. I still do the cycles, but I’ve swapped out some of the Man Makers for other (no less vigorous) exercises. And I don’t drool or dread any more.
I can’t promise that you’ll have the same epiphany reading this issue of The Tonic magazine. But there are lots of valuable takeaway points. Perhaps you’re messy and would like some tips on how to declutter your space. Or maybe you’d like to see if you can regulate your blood sugar levels through your diet. You might find that understanding your accelerators and brakes will improve your sex life. Read this issue, not because you have to, but because you can. As always, if you’d like to discuss this note or anything you’ve read in this issue, feel free to reach out to me.