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This healthy cheesy cauliflower with ham casserole comes together in a snap and is a great way to use up ham leftovers. 

Sometimes when you make a ham, there are enough leftovers to make a whole new meal the next day. Yesterday, I made a delicious ham for dinner, and I had two pounds of ham leftover! 

What can you do with leftover ham?

In the past, I’ve made ham tetrazzini when I’ve had leftovers. But this time I decided to make a healthy low-carb cheesy cauliflower with ham casserole.

Doesn’t that sound amazing?

And just wait until you taste it. Delicious roasted cauliflower topped with sweet chunks of ham that are tossed with cream cheese and parmesan and all smothered in Muenster cheese.

You’re going to love this three-cheese casserole.

But, first, there are two important things you should know when cooking cauliflower so we get this recipe just right.

How to make sure your cauliflower with ham casserole doesn’t end up watery

When cauliflower is boiled or steamed and then cooked slowly in a casserole, it releases a lot of water. This can make the whole dish a watery mess.

To avoid watery casserole, we’ll flash roast our cauliflower so the excess water is cooked off. Bite-size florets will cook through and get nice and browned which intensifies their flavor.

Which oil is best for roasting vegetables?

Refined avocado oil is highly nutritious and loaded with antioxidants. Read all about its health benefits here and here. It’s very heat stable with one of the highest smoke points (that’s the point where oil starts to smoke and burn).

It’s one of the best possible oils for roasting at high temperatures. And that’s why I recommend avocado oil for this recipe.

O.K. Ready to make cheesy cauliflower casserole with ham? Let’s go.

Ingredients You’ll Need To Make Cheesy Cauliflower With Ham Casserole
  • cauliflower 
  • avocado oil
  • cream cheese
  • garlic powder
  • parmesan cheese
  • fully cooked ham
  • muenster cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • and parsley for garnish
How to make cheesy cauliflower with ham casserole

*Free printable recipe card is available at the end of the post. 

First, wash and dry your cauliflower. Then cut cauliflower florets into bitesize pieces.

Toss cauliflower florets with 2 tablespoons of avocado oil. And season with salt and pepper.

Spread florets on a baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes. Then turn florets over (I use tongs) and roast for 5-10 more minutes.

Now don’t overcrowd the baking sheet or your cauliflower could get mushy and won’t cook evenly.

Meanwhile, soften cream cheese in your skillet over a low flame. Flavor with a 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder, a 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese.

Then toss with your bite-size chunks of ham for about 5 more minutes.

Now, cover the bottom of the casserole dish with Muenster cheese slices. Fill with your roasted cauliflower. Then top with your ham and cheese mixture. Finally, cover with another layer of Muenster cheese slices.

Now that your casserole is assembled, finish it off under the broiler until the cheese is melted.

Pro Tips And Recipe Notes

A quick recap of several of the tips I mentioned above:

  • To avoid a watery casserole, roast your cauliflower so the excess water is cooked off. Bite-size florets will cook through and get nice and browned which intensifies the flavor.
  • Avocado oil is one of the best possible oils for roasting at high temperatures. It’s very heat stable with one of the highest smoke points.  
  • No leftovers? No problem. You can make this recipe with a 2-3 pound fully cooked boneless ham depending on how many people you have to serve. Just cut it up into bite-size pieces.
  • This recipe will be delicious swapping out the ham with chicken or turkey, as well.
  • I didn’t get a picture, but sprinkling some vivid red paprika on top brightens up this casserole and definitely adds more flavor to this dish. 

Am I making you hungry? Here’s one more look at this scrumptious cheesy cauliflower with ham casserole.

Cheesy cauliflower with ham casserole: a healthier and more fun way to enjoy ham leftovers.

I can’t wait for you to try this. And if you have any questions, please reach out to me in the comments or shoot me an email, and I’ll respond ASAP!

More Delicious Recipes For You!

How To Cut And Prepare Spaghetti Squash (Includes video!)

Zucchini Noodles with Basil and Pistachio Pesto (Zoodles)

Gluten Free Cauliflower Flatbreads Serve warm from the skillet and piled with your favorite toppings.

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus 

Creamy Cauliflower Mash

Tastiest Low-Carb Keto Stuffed Cabbage

Salomon Cakes

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Cheesy Cauliflower With Ham Casserole (Low-Carb)

Cheesy cauliflower with ham casserole is a healthier and more fun way to enjoy ham leftovers.

  • 2 tablespoons of avocado oil
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese
  • 2 pounds of fully cooked ham
  • 10 slices of muenster cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • dash of pepper
  • parsley for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 450℉

    Wash and dry your cauliflower. Then cut cauliflower florets into bitesize pieces.

  2. Toss cauliflower florets with 2 tablespoons of avocado oil. Season with salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes.

    Then turn florets over (I use tongs) and roast for 5-10 more minutes. Don’t overcrowd the baking sheet or your cauliflower could get mushy and won’t cook evenly.

  3. Meanwhile, soften cream cheese in your skillet over a low flame. Flavor with a 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder, a 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese.

    Then toss with your bite-size chunks of ham for about 5 more minutes.

  4. Cover the bottom of the casserole dish with muenster cheese slices. Fill with your roasted cauliflower. Top with you ham and cheese mixture.

    Finally, cover with another layer of 6 slices of muenster cheese.

    Now set your oven to broiling mode.

    Finish off under the broiler for 3-4 minutes. Since oven temperatures vary, be sure that your cheese doesn't burn.

    Garnish with parsley, serve and enjoy.

  • To avoid a watery casserole, we’ll roast our cauliflower so the excess water is cooked off. Bite-size florets will cook through and get nice and browned which only intensifies the flavor.
  • Avocado oil is one of the best possible oils for roasting at high temperatures. It’s very heat stable with one of the highest smoke points which is the point where oil starts to smoke and burn.  
  • No leftovers? No problem. You can make this recipe with a 2-3 pound fully cooked boneless ham depending on how many people you have to serve. Just cut it up into bite-size pieces.
  • This recipe will be delicious swapping out the ham with chicken or turkey, as well.
  • Serving suggestion: sprinkle paprika on top of the casserole to add even more flavor.

The post Cheesy Cauliflower With Ham Casserole (Low-Carb) appeared first on Gluten Free Homestead.

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Hey friends,

Here’s April’s treasure box of health and wellness resources Barbara and I have put together for you. It’s filled with several books we’ve recently read that offer excellent health and exercise advice. And we’re also sharing several products that we use often and have found very helpful in our wellness journey.

We’ve also included two podcasts by health experts that we hope will also help you in your pursuit of wellness and longevity.

Here we go…

BOOKS

The Keto Reset Diet: Reboot Your Metabolism In 21 Days And Burn Fat Forever by Mark Sisson with Brad Kearns.

 

Mark Sisson is one of the most successful popularizers of paleo, low-carb, and keto diets. He created marksdailyapple.com in 2006, and since that time, he has helped thousands of people live a healthier life through proper diet and exercise.

On a personal note, Mark’s site was responsible for introducing me to the paleo diet which I believe was the single most important strategy that helped me heal from chronic fatigue syndrome.

In this book, Mark introduces the reader to the ketogenic diet. He explains what the diet is, how it increases the body’s metabolic efficiency, health, and disease-fighting ability while at the same time maximizing performance.

Mark dives into a little bit of science to explain how a keto diet works, but he keeps it on a very readable level so those who don’t have a science background can understand the concepts.  

There are detailed sections on how to get going with the diet, how to tweak it to your situation, and how to overcome stumbling blocks. It even has a large section with recipes and full-color pictures.

Barbara and I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

The Barbell Prescription: Strength Training for Life After 40 by Jonathon M Sullivan and Andy Baker

 

If you want to start a barbell strength training program, and I highly recommend you do, this is the book to get.

The first part of this book was written by Jonathon Sullivan MD. Sullivan is an emergency physician, physiologist, and Starting Strength coach. He explains in detail why everyone over the age of 40 must — let me repeat that — must engage in some kind of strength training.

Sullivan warns that there is a growing epidemic of visceral obesity, hyperglycemia, insulin resistance, hypertension, dyslipidemia, chronic inflammation, sarcopenia, and osteopenia among our aging population today. The end result of these “lifestyle” diseases will be frailty and incapacity as we age.

He argues that prescription drugs will only treat the symptoms of this sick aging phenotype and may, in fact, make the situation worse.

Sullivan’s solution to this problem is exercise. He illustrates how it’s been scientifically proven that exercise can improve metabolic markers and increase longevity. Then from a medical perspective, Sullivan explains why barbell training is the most efficient and beneficial exercising we can do.

The second part of the book is written by strength coach Andy Baker. Baker gives an in-depth plan on how an untrained individual over 40 years old can successfully engage in strength training.

He also gives a good overview of the main barbell exercises and then presents an analysis of strength programs for different individuals (eg. male, female, advanced age, novice trainee, and advanced trainee).

This book is a gem. If you’re going to start an exercise program, read this book first. I wish I had it when I started lifting.

PRODUCTS WE RECOMMEND Tryone Gooseneck Tablet Stand, Tablet Mount Holder for iPad iPhone Series/Nintendo Switch/Samsung Galaxy Tabs/Amazon Kindle Fire HD and More, 30in Overall Length(Black)

Okay, this doesn’t seem like a health and wellness product, but it is, and it’s also a great productivity tool.

Over the winter when the weather didn’t allow me to walk outside, I used my treadmill. The problem was that if I was watching a video on my iPad, I had to look down at it. The holder on treadmills is usually at lower chest level.

If I didn’t look down, I was then staring at a wall. Boring!

The Tryone Gooseneck Tablet Stand solved the problem. I can attach one end of it to my treadmill, and the other end holds my phone or iPad. The arm is long enough to place my device at eye level.

The other day it was raining so I walked on the treadmill, listened to a podcast on my phone, and watched a video on my iPad of a walking tour throughout London. How cool is that!

The tablet stand fits a cell phone or an iPad. I imagine the stand is also useful if you’re at your desk or if you’re in the kitchen and need your device to be higher than your counter.

I was afraid at first that there might be some shake on the arm when walking on the treadmill, but there was none. It’s a pretty sturdy stand.

Collagen Peptides Powder (16oz) | Grass-Fed, Certified Paleo Friendly, Non-Gmo and Gluten Free – Unflavored

Barbara swears by collagen peptides powder. She’ll tell you that since she’s been taking collagen her hair has stopped going gray, her nails are strong, and her knees no longer hurt.

She barbell squats with absolutely no new problems at all!

Collagen is an important nutrient for healthy bone, skin, hair, tendons, and joints. The problem is that as we age our natural production of collagen decreases. 

I also really need this stuff. I lift heavy weights five times a week which means I’m stressing my tendons and ligaments big time. I need the collagen to help them repair and recover. 

Now, you could increase your intake of collagen by making some of Barbara’s delicious and nutritious bone broth and enjoying that. That, however, could be time-consuming if you want collagen every day.

Enter collagen peptides powder.

The one we use is made from grass-fed cows. It’s GMO-free and gluten-free. Barbara stirs the powder in her coffee where it mixes well and has no taste. I put mine in my steaming cup of green tea.

Since our joints appear to be doing well, we’ll keep taking our collagen daily.

Here’s a bonus. One scoop of powder contains 10 grams of protein. Some extra protein is a good thing for those of us who are getting older.

PODCASTS WE ENJOYED THIS MONTH Dr. Bret Scher ON THE HUMAN PERFORMANCE OUTLIERS PODCAST.

Dr. Bret Scher is a cardiologist who advocates for low-carb diets and hosts the Diet Doctor Podcast and Website. In his practice, Dr. Scher’s main focus is on preventing and reversing heart disease naturally rather than putting patients on medication and performing surgery.

In this podcast, Scher, and host Dr. Shawn Baker discuss how lifestyle intervention is often the first and best means of treating heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes.

As usual, Baker does an excellent job getting his guests to discuss practical ways that can help all of us lead healthier lives.

Here’s the link to the podcast: https://humanperformanceoutliers.libsyn.com/episode-92-dr-bret-scher

  Dr. Jeffrey Gerber on the Low Carb Cardiologist Podcast MOVING PAST THE HIGH CHOLESTEROL MYTH AND ON TO PREVENTING METABOLIC DISEASE WITH A LOW-CARB LIFESTYLE

Dr. Bret Scher (see above) is also the host of the Low Carb Cardiologist Podcast. In this episode, he interviews Dr. Jeffrey Gerber, known as Denver’s Diet Doctor. Gerber is a board-certified family physician in Littleton, Colorado.

Gerber’s practice focuses on the prevention and treatment of illnesses such as obesity, diabetes, atherosclerosis, and heart disease using low-carb high fat (LCHF), Ancestral, Paleo, and Primal diets.

In this podcast, Scher and Gerber discuss some extremely controversial topics such as:

  • Is high LDL (bad cholesterol) a good predictor of cardiovascular risk?
  • Should more doctors use a glucose tolerance test to identify diabetes and prediabetes?
  • Who should and who should not take statins?
  • Why a coronary artery calcium (CAC) scan is important for detecting heart disease? 

Since both Scher and Gerber are on the frontlines in the prevention and treatment of lifestyle diseases, they are able to bring us extremely practical advice on how to stay healthy and identify potential disease risk factors in our lives.

Have a listen. You won’t be disappointed.

God bless and have a great week.

This post contains affiliate links. We receive a small commission from the sales made through affiliate links at no extra charge to you. However, we only promote affiliate products we use or support wholeheartedly. That helps us pay the bills and keep this website running. Thank you for your support!

The post April Favorites For Health Nuts appeared first on Gluten Free Homestead.

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You’re going to love this step by step tutorial for making a delicious low carb pork tenderloin cordon bleu. The pork tenderloin is stuffed with ham and Swiss cheese, tender roasted to perfection, and smothered in a creamy cordon bleu sauce. 
 
  • two pork tenderloins (8-12 ounces each). They’re usually sold in packages of two.
  • butter
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • dijon mustard
  • Swiss cheese
  • ham

And for the Cordon Bleu sauce

  • heavy whipping cream
  • Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • Dijon mustard

Also, you’ll need cotton butcher’s twine to tie your tenderloins after stuffing them.

How To Make Pork Tenderloin Cordon Bleu
*Free printable recipe card is available at the end of the post.
 
Ready? Here we go.
 
Preheat your oven to 375℉. Rinse your pork tenderloins and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper.

Then add oil and butter to a large skillet and heat on high until hot, but not smoking. Place your tenderloins in the skillet and brown well on all sides.

You’ll want to get a good sear on the pork tenderloins before baking. This adds a rich, caramelized flavor that makes the pork tenderloin irresistible!

Next, remove your tenderloins to a cutting board. You’re going to butterfly each tenderloin by slicing lengthwise, but not all the way through. Just so you can open them like the wings of a butterfly.

Spread Dijon mustard evenly down the center of each tenderloin.

Now for the fun part.

Roll up the cheese inside the ham slices folding over the ends of the ham and then rolling it up to seal in the Swiss cheese. This prevents the cheese from melting out into your pan while you bake the pork.

You’ll want to be very generous with how much ham and cheese you stuff the tenderloin with. I used four ham and cheese roll-ups for each tenderloin so that when the tenderloin was done and ready to be sliced, every bite of pork was stuffed with ham and cheese.

To hold the stuffing inside the tenderloin, tie each tenderloin with cotton butcher’s twine at 2-inch intervals. The cotton will shrink in the oven, so don’t tie it so tight that it cuts deep into the meat.

How long do I cook the pork tenderloin in the oven?

Transfer your tenderloins to a baking dish and roast for just 30 minutes. Then let the tenderloins rest for 10 minutes before slicing.  

Snip and remove each string. Then slice each tenderloin crosswise to reveal spirals of delicious pork, melted cheese, and ribbons of sweet ham. 

How to make the cordon bleu sauce

Now for the cordon bleu sauce.

Wipe the skillet clean so it will be ready for cooking your sauce.

Add cream to the pan (I always recommend organic cream) and bring it to a low boil for a few minutes. Then stir in your grated cheese (I use aged Parmigiano Reggiano) until the cheese has melted. Next, stir in your Dijon mustard.

Serve drizzled over your ham and cheese stuffed pork tenderloin slices. 

What side dish goes well with pork tenderloin cordon bleu?
Because of the rich flavor in this dish, it goes really well with green veggies like Brussels sprouts or asparagus and a nice green side salad.
 
Pro Tips and Recipe Notes

A quick recap of several of the tips I mentioned above:

  • You’ll want to get a good sear on the pork tenderloins before baking. This adds a rich, caramelized flavor that makes the pork tenderloin irresistible!
  • When you butterfly each tenderloin by slicing lengthwise, be sure to not cut all the way through just so you can open them like the wings of a butterfly.
  • Rolling the cheese up inside the ham helps keep all the cheese from melting out into your pan while you bake the pork.
  • You’ll want to be very generous with the ham and cheese roll ups. I used four ham and cheese roll ups for each tenderloin so that when the tenderloins are done and ready to be sliced, every slice is stuffed with ham and cheese.
  • Cotton twine will shrink in the oven, so don’t tie it so tight that it cuts deep into the meat.

There you go. An incredibly delicious pork tenderloin cordon bleu ready in less than an hour. As a bonus, it’s gluten free, keto, low carb, and paleo. Enjoy!

You Might Also Like:

One-Pan Chicken Alfredo

Super Low Carb Cottage Pie With Cauliflower Mash

Quick And Easy Beef Ragoût With Tomatoes And Pearl Onions

Slow Cooker Braised Short Ribs

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Pork Tenderloin Cordon Bleu

You’re going to love this step by step tutorial for making a delicious low carb pork tenderloin cordon bleu. The pork tenderloin is stuffed with ham and Swiss cheese, tender roasted to perfection, and smothered in a creamy cordon bleu sauce.

  • 2 Pork Tenderloins (8-12 ounces each) (They're usually sold two in packages of two)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6-8 slices of ham (Boar's Head or Applegate are gluten free)
  • 6-8 slices of swiss cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of Annie's gluten free Dijon mustard
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • For Cordon Bleu sauce:
  • 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of Annie's gluten free Dijon mustard
  1. Pre heat oven to 375℉. Rinse your pork tenderloins and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper.

  2. Then add oil and butter to a large skillet and heat on high until hot, but not smoking. Place your tenderloins in the skillet and brown well on all sides.

  3. Next, remove your tenderloins to a cutting board. You’re going to butterfly each tenderloin by slicing lengthwise, but not all the way through just so you can open them like the wings of a butterfly.

    Spread dijon mustard evenly down the center of each tenderloin.

  4. Roll up the cheese inside the ham slices folding over the ends of the ham and then rolling it up to seal in the swiss cheese. Place these roll ups along the inside of each tenderloin.

  5. To hold stuffing inside, tie each tenderloin with cotton butcher’s twine at 2-inch intervals, 

  6. Transfer your tenderloins to a baking dish and roast for just 30 minutes. Then let the tenderloins rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

    Snip and remove each string and slice each tenderloin crosswise to reveal spirals of delicious pork, melted cheese and ribbons of sweet ham.

  7. Now for the Cordon Bleu sauce:

    Wipe the skillet clean so it will be ready for cooking your sauce.

    Add cream to the pan (I always recommend organic cream) and bring it to a low boil for a few minutes. Then stir in your grated cheese (I use aged Parmigiano Reggiano) until the cheese has melted. Stir in 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard.

    And serve drizzled over your ham and cheese stuffed pork tenderloin slices. 

  • You’ll want to get a good sear on the pork tenderloins before baking. This adds a rich, caramelized flavor that makes the pork tenderloin irresistible!
  • When you butterfly each tenderloin by slicing lengthwise, be sure to not cut all the way through just so you can open them like the wings of a butterfly.
  • Rolling the cheese up inside the ham helps keep all the cheese from melting out into your pan while you bake the pork.
  • You’ll want to be very generous with the ham and cheese roll ups. I used four ham and cheese roll ups for each tenderloin so that when the tenderloins are done and ready to be sliced, every slice is stuffed with ham and cheese.
  • Cotton twine will shrink in the oven, so don’t tie it so tight that it cuts deep into the meat.

The post Pork Tenderloin Cordon Bleu appeared first on Gluten Free Homestead.

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Okay, so you’ve reached middle age. You enjoy your time reclining comfortably on your couch after a hard day’s work. Perhaps tonight you’re watching a show on TV featuring trim athletic people scampering around, and you suddenly let out a sigh.

You remember back 20 or 30 thirty years ago when you yourself were in good shape. Maybe you played soccer or lifted weights or ran 10 Ks. You were fast. You were strong. You were agile. But that was in the past. Now you’ve consigned yourself to being a couch potato extraordinaire.

“What’s the use of remembering the glory days anyway?” you muse. “That was then. This is now.”

But wait a minute. While you may never again be able to look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club or Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby (though if you worked really hard you’d be amazed what a proper diet and exercise can do for your physique, even at 60), you still may be able to recapture most of the health benefits you lost by not exercising for 30 years.

That’s right! If you start doing moderate to vigorous exercise every day, right now, you can reap almost the same benefits of longevity as someone who at your age has been exercising their whole life.

It sounds too good to be true, right? But it’s true!

Check out this recently published study.

National Cancer Institute Study

Last month, the JAMA Network Open published a study by the National Cancer Institute that involved 315,059 men and women between 50 and 71 years old.

The study relied on data from the N.I.H.-AARP Diet and Health study which began in 1995. The N.I.H. researchers sent questionnaires to participants asking them to detail their leisure time physical activities throughout their lives from teens years to the present.

The participants were asked questions such as how frequently and how intensely they had walked, played sports, jogged, lifted weights, and even how much heavy housework or gardening they did. This is the questionnaire they used.

JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(3):e190355. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.0355

The Main Data From The Study

As you can see, the questionnaire lists 16 different types of leisure time activities. From now on, I’m going to call these activities exercise.

Basically, researchers wanted to know how frequently the participants engaged in moderate to vigorous exercise during four specific periods of their lives.

These periods included their teen years, young adulthood (19-29), the mid to late thirties, and also in the last 10 years. In this last period, participants would have been between 40 – 61 years old.

Researchers then took this data and separated the participants into different groups that exhibited different patterns of exercise throughout their lives. These groups were Maintainers, Increasers, and Decreasers. The following is a description of each pattern.

  • Maintainers: Those participants who maintained approximately the same amount of moderate to vigorous exercise for their entire lives.
  • Increasers: Individuals who increased the amount of moderate to vigorous exercise they engaged in either in early or late adulthood.
  • Decreasers: Individuals who, as they aged, decreased the amount of moderate to vigorous exercise they engaged in.

Here is how the exercise data was recorded. LTPA refers to leisure-time physical activities (exercise). I’ve highlighted some categories so you can see the difference between each group. Notice that in the Increaser category some individuals increased their exercise activity in early adulthood while others increased theirs in later adulthood. This will become important later on.

JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(3):e190355. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.0355

Researchers also took into consideration a number of variables such as race, gender, education levels, smoking, BMI, etc.

The Control Group

The study’s control group consisted of individuals who never or rarely exercised throughout their entire lives. Researchers used this group to evaluate the all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, and cancer risk of the other patterns.

The Results Of The Study  Maintainers

JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(3):e190355. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.0355

The researches found that individuals who maintained or increased moderate or vigorous amounts of exercise (2-8 hours per week) throughout their lifetimes experienced a 29% to 36% lower risk of all-cause and cardiovascular disease (CVD) related mortality than those who seldom exercised.

In the graph to the right, groups 7, 8, and 10 are Maintainers.

The result above also holds for individuals who exercised quite a bit in their teens, reduced in their thirties, but continued up again.

Individuals who practiced one hour of exercise per week throughout their lifetime (group 5) only experienced a 16% lower risk.

Group 1 was the control group.

Increasers

JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(3):e190355. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.0355

In the graph to the right, groups 2 and 3 are Increasers.

As you can see, some individuals started exercising in young adulthood while others started to intensify their exercise after 40 years old.

Now here’s the amazing finding!

Researchers found that individuals who increased their exercise routine either early or later in adulthood had a 32% to 35% lower all-cause mortality risk.

Note that this risk factor was very similar to those people who maintained higher exercise levels from adolescence to 40 to 61 years of age (29%-36%).

Additionally, the CVD-related mortality risk for participants who increased exercise in later adulthood (40-61 years of age) was 43% lower when compared with the group who seldom exercised.

Did you get that? If you start doing moderate to higher amounts of exercise later in adulthood, even if you hadn’t exercised for decades, you could reap the same health benefits as someone who has exercised their whole life.

Decreasers

Individuals who reported high levels of exercise early in adulthood but lower levels by ages 40 to 61 appeared to have little all-cause or CVD-related mortality protection in midlife.

So, if you engaged in moderate to intense exercise in early adulthood and then stop exercising, you will lose the benefits you gained from all that effort you expended.

Cancer-Related Mortality

The results for cancer-related mortality weren’t as impressive as those for all-cause or CVD mortality but the trend appeared to hold.

Maintainers

Maintaining at least 2 to 7 hours per week resulted in a 14% lower risk when compared with participants who were consistently inactive throughout adulthood

Maintaining some exercise (1 hour/wk throughout adult life course) was associated with similar risk for cancer-related mortality as the control group.

Increasers

Increasing exercise during adulthood was associated with lower cancer-related mortality. Participants who increased exercise in later adulthood (40-61 years of age) had a 16% lower risk when compared with the control group

Decreasers

There were no significant differences in risk for cancer-related mortality between participants who were consistently inactive (the control group) and those who decreased exercise across the course of their lives.

Again, if you exercised intensely when you were an adolescent or in young adulthood but then stopped, you would have essentially the same risk factor as someone who never actively engaged in any serious exercise.

The Bottom Line

If you’ve done moderate to intensive exercise your whole life, that’s great. You’ll reap many more health benefits than someone who never exercised. But don’t stop now or you could lose all the health benefits you’ve accrued!

But here’s the exciting news!

Let’s say, you’re in your forties, fifties, or even sixties, and you’ve done little to no exercise your entire life. If you get off that couch now and begin a moderate to a vigorous exercise program, you may gain the same health benefits as someone who exercised their whole life.

In my case, because of chronic fatigue syndrome, the only exercise I was able to do from 30 years old until 58 years old was brisk daily walking. But for the last four years, I’ve been able to strength train 5 days a week.

And now I’m the healthiest and strongest I’ve been in 28 years. That’s my N=1 study proving that it’s never too late to start exercising.

One Important Limitation To The Study: Moderate Or Vigorous Exercise

I couldn’t find in the study’s data how different kinds of moderate or vigorous exercise affected the risk results. In other words, did 4 hours of playing baseball or golfing equate to 4 hours of jogging? The researchers might have felt this factor didn’t affect the results. I don’t know.

However, looking at the hazard ratio data, the study did tell us that most Maintainers and Increasers reach their maximum health benefits at between 6 – 8 hours a week of moderate to vigorous exercise.

That may sound like a lot of exercise, but it’s not. A half hour brisk walk and a half hour of strength training 5 days a week will give you 5 hours of vigorous exercise.

Here, though, is something key. If you can engage in high-intensity interval training (HITT), then you can cut this time down even more! See here.

Other Limitations To The Study

The N.I.H. study did have some other limitations. First, researchers had to rely on participants’ memories for data. This means the data reported might not be entirely accurate.

Second, all participants had to be free of colorectal cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, or renal disease. However, the researchers could not be sure of every participant’s health status at the beginning of the study.

I would also have liked to know if diet played a significant part in the final results.

Nevertheless, the authors of the study were confident that after adjusting for many risk factors their results were highly accurate.

They also pointed out that their results were consistent with other studies but that this study was unique in that it recorded 46 years of data. That is considerably longer than any previous study.

What also makes this study quite compelling is the large number of participants that were included.

Exercise And The Quality of Your Life As You Age

The N.I.H. study told us that if we get up off the couch and start a moderate to vigorous weekly exercise program, we can regain many of the benefits of longevity that lifelong exercisers enjoy.

However, what the study didn’t tell us was how much 6 hours of moderate or vigorous exercise will improve our quality of life as we age.

In other words, if your exercise program prevented you from dying prematurely, getting CVD, or cancer, that’s good. But if you can’t climb the stairs or get off the toilet at 70 years old, how well are you really living?

So, the big question becomes which form of exercise will give you the benefits of longevity and also increase or maintain your quality of life as you age?

Strength Training: The Best Bang For Your Exercise Buck

Last year, a University of Michigan study of 8,326 men and women found that “people with low muscle strength are 50 percent more likely to die earlier.”

Another recent study of 12,591 individuals (mean age 47 years) showed that even 1 hour of strength training per week reduced the risk of total CVD events by 40%-70%. A similar result held for CVD morbidity and all-cause mortality.

However, remember that no amount of exercise can guarantee that you will live longer. Our life span is always in the hands of the Lord.

So strength training can provide the benefits of longevity. But it will also provide you the means to have a better quality of life.

It definitely will improve your muscle quality and mass. That means you’ll look better, and that’s always important to us and our significant other, right?

However, you’ll also become a stronger you. That means you’ll be able to do the things you want to do well into old age.

I like what strength coach Mark Rippetoe says about people who strength train:

Strong people are harder to kill than weak people and more useful in general.

But there are still more benefits to strength training. This next one is remarkable.

Strength Training And Anti-Aging

Did you know that strength training has been shown to reverse aging in muscle tissue? That’s right! Strength training can actually make your muscles young again.

See my post here describing studies that show how strength training in older individuals caused their muscular gene expression and mitochondrial health to become consistent with that in much younger individuals.

Strength training may be a modern fountain of youth.

Reasons I Prefer Strength Training Over Running I know, I know. We were always told if you want to get into shape, get yourself a good pair of trainers and start jogging. 

But, in my opinion, strength training for overall longevity and health benefits is superior to long slow cardio. I’m probably biased here, but these are my reasons.

While steady-state aerobic activity like jogging will provide some cardio benefits, there are some negatives which us older persons have to be aware of.

  1. Running will build up your legs, but it won’t build up your whole body.
  2. Lower body injuries like sprains, shin splints, tendonitis, and stress fractures are common running injuries.
  3. Running requires good weather or a treadmill.

On the other hand, consider the positives of strength training.

  1. Strength training may improve cardiovascular health as much as running. Also, see here.
  2. Increased muscle mass means better insulin sensitivity.
  3. Stronger and denser bones.
  4. Improved cognitive health when you train your legs. See my post here.
  5. Improved mobility and balance (that means less chance of falling)
  6. A stronger back which means you’ll have fewer back problems See my post here.
  7. Strength training can be done in a variety of different ways (body weight, barbells, circuit training, etc.)

For a more detailed look at why everyone over 40 should strength train, see my post here.

If I’ve convinced you to start a strength training routine, see my post on how to begin strength training here. I started this program when I was 58 years old, and I continue to train at 62.

But, remember, the best exercise is the one you consistently do!

That’s it for this week. I hope you start your exercise routine this week. Remember to check with your doctor first to see if you can start exercising.

If you have any comments we would love to hear from you.

God bless and have a great week!

The post Can Starting An Exercise Program In Your 50s Help You Live Longer? appeared first on Gluten Free Homestead.

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This post originally appeared on John’s website, The Progressing Pilgrim.

How do you feel about aging? The answer to that question really depends on who it’s being asked of, right? If you’re under 40, this question probably seldom enters your mind. Like relationships, raising kids, and paying bills.

However, for those of you over 40 who know your body is starting to betray you, it might be a question that’s been entering your mind more often these days.

So, how do you feel about aging? Do you embrace the fact that you’re going to be a senior one day or do you despise it?

Your answer to the question really matters because it can profoundly affect how well you age.

A study conducted last year by the Yale School of Public Health showed that how you feel about your own aging can have a profound impact on your risk of developing dementia and even Alzheimer’s disease.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease – The Dreaded Diseases of Our Time

Currently, about 10% of Americans over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, AD accounts for only about 60% – 70% of dementia cases. Comedian Robin Williams was suffering from dementia at the time of his death. But it was Lewy body dementia, not AD.

Nonetheless, if you make it to age 65, your chances of developing some kind of dementia are greater than 1 in 10. Those odds, however, will increase after the age of 65.

If you’ve ever had a loved one suffer from AD, you know the devastation caused by this disease. Barbara and I watched in horror as Alzheimer’s eventually left her mom without a memory or even the ability to perform simple tasks. All the while, we were powerless to do anything to reverse its course.

It appears now that many Americans are also becoming aware of how devastating this disease is. And they’re scared of it. Americans fear losing their mental capabilities twice as much as they fear losing their physical abilities.

While there are several interventions that you can take to lessen your risk of getting dementia or AD (see here and here), the Yale study highlighted how your view on growing older can actually help you in your fight against dementia.

Let’s take a look.

Positive Beliefs on Aging Protect Against Dementia

There has been considerable research performed showing that amongst seniors positive beliefs about aging predict better cognitive performance; whereas, negative age beliefs correlate with worse cognitive performance. See here, here, and here.

One meta-analysis even showed that negative views on aging have a worse effect on cognitive health than the promoting effect of positive views.

More recently, research has shown that there is even the possibility of a link between aging beliefs and the risk of developing AD.

Beliefs About Aging Might Be Predictive of Alzheimer’s Disease

In 2016, Becca Levy, Professor of Epidemiology at Yale School of Public Health, and her associates published a fascinating study on age stereotypes and AD.

They recorded aging stereotypes from dementia-free patients decades before yearly magnetic resonance images and brain autopsies were performed.

The study found that,

Those holding more-negative age stereotypes earlier in life had significantly steeper hippocampal-volume loss and significantly greater accumulation of neurofibrillary tangles and amyloid plaques, adjusting for relevant covariates.

Okay, I’ll translate that. The individuals who had negative aging beliefs had greater signs of the markers for AD.

Levy’s next study, however, showed an even greater correlation between negative aging stereotypes and dementia, including AD.

Levy’s 2018 Yale Study

In 2018, Levy and her associates published another study on the relationship between negative aging beliefs and cognitive decline. This study included 4,765 Health and Retirement Study participants who were at least 60 years old and dementia-free at the beginning of the study.

The participants were also assessed as to whether or not they possessed the APOE 4 gene. This gene variant is highly associated with an increased risk of AD. Among the participants, 1,250 had at least one form of the gene (more on that later).

In order to assess age beliefs, the researchers used the five-item Attitude toward Aging (ATA) subscale of the Philadelphia Geriatric Center Morale Scale. This survey asked participants to rate on a scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree on questions such as, “Do you feel that as you get older you are less useful?” or “Do things keep getting worse as you get older?”

The individuals were followed for 4 years and were on average 72 years old at the end of the study.

The Results Concerning Aging Beliefs And Cognitive Health Were As Predicted

The first conclusion of the study came as no surprise to the researchers. They stated,

The impact of positive age beliefs as a protective factor against developing dementia was suggested by our finding that in the total sample participants holding these beliefs at baseline had a 43.6% lower risk of developing dementia over the course of 4 years, compared to those holding negative age beliefs at baseline.

Okay, this study confirmed what others had found. If you feel good about your aging process, you are a lot less likely to develop dementia.

However, where the study really shines is in its discovery about aging beliefs and AD.

Aging Beliefs And Alzheimer’s Disease

Levy and her associates found that “Among those with APOE 4, those with positive age beliefs were 49.8% less likely to develop dementia than those with negative age beliefs.”

Remember that the APOE 4 variant is highly associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

They also found that of the 1250 carriers APOE 4 that had positive views on aging, there was a 3% risk of dementia. Those carriers of the gene who had a negative view had a 6% risk of dementia. That means those who had negative attitudes on their aging had twice the risk of getting dementia over the four-year duration of the study.

So, the study seems to suggest that positive age beliefs among those with APOE 4 could be capable of helping them offset the influence of this genetic risk factor.

The study concluded that “APOE 4 carriers with positive age beliefs had a risk of developing dementia that is similar to the risk of their same-aged peers without APOE 4, regardless of age beliefs.”

This study is encouraging news. It confirmed for us that,

  1. Positive views on aging decreased the risk of getting dementia
  2. Positive views on aging also reduced the risk of developing AD in the largest at-risk population

While researchers believe that more work has to be done in this area, the study once again shows that some of what we believe may be inevitable age-related diseases can be mitigated, even for those who are at a genetically high risk.

In order to get a fuller picture of the study, it’s important to understand a few things about the APOE 4 gene in the context of this study.

The APOE 4 Gene and Alzheimer’s Disease.

APOE (Apolipoprotein E) is a class of proteins that are responsible for transporting lipids (fats) around your bloodstream. The APOE gene provides instructions for making this protein.

The APOE gene, however, can exist in different forms (alleles). The major alleles are termed E2, E3, and E4. About 7% of the population has the E2 gene, 79% has E3, and about 14% have the E4 allele.

Remember that since we get one copy of a gene from each parent these genes can exist in a number of different combinations, eg. APOE 4,4, 4,3 or 3,2 etc.

Now here is the significance of this for the general population.
  1. APOE 4 is the strongest known genetic risk factor for AD.
  2. 40–65% of AD patients have at least one copy of the E4 allele.
  3. Not everyone who develops AD has the APOE 4 gene (this suggests that there are other risk factors involved).
  4. Not everyone who has the APOE 4 gene develops AD (this also suggests that there are other risk factors involved).
  5. People who have two copies of the APOE 3 gene have about a 9% genetic risk of getting AD (Dale Bredesen MD, The End of Alzheimer’s, p. 100).
  6. Individuals with a single copy of APOE 4 (eg. APOE 4,3) have a 30% increased risk of developing AD (Bredesen).
  7. Individuals with two copies (APOE 4,4) have a 50% or greater risk of developing AD (Bredesen).
  8. Individuals with two copies (APOE 4,4) have an increased risk of developing AD by 12-fold, as compared to the most common version of the gene, APOE 3.

While researchers are not sure of the exact role of APOE 4 in AD, the predominant theory is that it prevents the clearance of amyloid beta plaques from the brain. Dr. Bredesen and others believe it also promotes inflammation within the brain (Bredesen, p.100).

Now, what does this have to do with the above study?

The Yale Study Revisited

In Levy’s study, the 1250 individuals with the APOE 4 gene had the following variants: 85% E4/E3, 8% E4/E2, and 7% E4/E4.  

Since there was no data reported for the different alleles, we don’t know if the results were positive for the people who had the high risk ApoE 4 allele.

What we can say is that positive attitudes toward aging significantly helped the individuals with the E 4,3 variant to decrease their risk of AD.

Why Do Negative Views on Aging Increase Our Risk Of Dementia?

Researchers are not exactly sure why a negative view on aging adversely affects dementia, but they theorize that it may have something to do with stress.

There is abundant evidence to support this view. Poor aging beliefs have been shown to cause cardiovascular stress on our bodies. See here and here. These two studies both show that stress is connected to dementia. See here and here.

The causal connection between stress and dementia may be tied to the hormone cortisol.

Chronic Stress, The HPA Axis, and Dementia

The HPA axis is a subsystem in your body that includes the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the adrenal glands. This system controls a major part of your physiologic response to stress.

When you face a stressor, be it physical or psychological, your HPA axis will act to produce among other things the steroid cortisol. Cortisol allows your body to deal with the stressor. When the stressor leaves or you have dealt with it successfully, the HPA axis returns to its normal homeostatic state and cortisol levels return to normal.

However, when you are chronically stressed, the release of cortisol from your adrenal glands may become excessive and eventually become detrimental to your body, especially your brain.

The Association Between Cortisol And Dementia

Excess glucocorticoids (cortisol) in the brain have been linked to dementia and AD. See here and here.

Individuals with significantly prolonged cortisol elevations showed reduced hippocampal volume. The hippocampus is the part of your brain that is responsible for forming memories.

Researchers believe that cortisol may in some ways damage neurons in the brain though they are not sure exactly how. See here.

And, finally, seniors who had negative age beliefs had cortisol levels that were elevated as compared to those who had positive beliefs.

Even though most of the studies I presented are correlation studies and don’t provide exact causation, I think the connection is clear. If you have a negative attitude toward your aging process, you will be under constant stress. And that stress will increase your risk of dementia.

It’s almost as if it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think badly about aging, you’ll increase your risk of aging badly.

The Role Of Conscientiousness In Dementia And Longevity

Interestingly, there is one personality trait that has broad scientific support of a positive influence on cognitive health and longevity.

This study released in 2013 from Wayne State University argues that after 20 years of study by numerous researchers, the psychological attribute of conscientiousness has been shown to have a significant positive effect on health and longevity.

The authors of the study define conscientiousness this way:

…the relatively stable pattern of individual differences in the tendencies to follow socially prescribed norms for impulse control, to be goal-directed, planful, to delay gratification, and to follow norms and rules.

Sounds like the personality trait we’d all love our children to have.

But you get the picture. According to the numerous studies and meta-analyses presented in this paper, conscientiousness will improve your longevity and lower your risk of getting dementia, including AD.

The reason for this seems pretty obvious. Conscientious people will probably be more diligent in taking care of themselves, particularly in the area of diet and exercise.

How Can You Have A Better View Of Aging?

Your views on aging might have been developed since your childhood or they could have developed as your years mounted. What I know from experience is that there are a number of factors that can increase your negative attitude toward aging.

If you can correct these factors, it may do a lot to help improve your attitude. Let’s briefly take a look at these.

Feeling Unhealthy

If you feel unhealthy all the time, it’s hard to feel positive about aging. After all, you’re going to get older and weaker, right? I suffered from severe CFS until I was 58 years old. I was frightened of what this would mean for me at 65.

Not only did I have poor energy levels, but also because of inactivity, my muscle mass had decreased significantly. I was facing the likelihood of becoming more and more debilitated as the years continued. That didn’t make me a happy camper when it came to my aging process.

Some of you out there are suffering from chronic lifestyle diseases like diabetes, CVD, metabolic syndrome, or obesity. (These are all risk factors for AD by the way).

My friends and family members who have these diseases tell me that they generally feel unwell and are not looking forward to living out their seniors years with them.

However, there are things you can do to improve your health. I’ll stick with the main ones for now.

Diet

Doctors are having great success with low-carb and ketogenic diets in improving weight loss and reversing the above diseases. See here and here.

These diets promote better insulin sensitivity which is important for good health.  They also generally avoid gluten (important for healing gut permeability) and industrial seed oils (important for correcting a poor Omega6/Omega3 ratio).

Hey, if you can reverse your poor health and feel better at 60 than you did at 45, then you’ll feel a lot better about your future aging. I know I did.

Exercise

We all know that exercise improves fitness and makes you feel better about yourself. However, did you know that it’s a proven fact that poor muscle strength is another risk factor for poor cognitive health decline? See here and here.

I like what strength coach Mark Rippetoe had to say, “A weak man is not as happy as that same man would be if he were strong.”

Some kind of resstrength training is must for anyone wanting to improve their risk of avoiding dementia. See my post here

Read here about how walking can improve your health and cognitive function.

Eliminate Toxins

Eliminate or reduce as many toxins as possible. You know what the big ones are: smoking and alcohol. Mold is another common toxin and has been linked to AD.

Get Good Sleep

It’s difficult to recover from the stresses of life if you don’t sleep well or you don’t get enough sleep. Lack of sleep will also increase inflammation in your body and inflammation is closely linked to dementia and AD. See my post on sleep here.

Dealing With Stress

The above interventions will help lessen stress on your body. However, dealing with life stress is a different subject.

Guided diaphragmatic breathing is one thing I practice to help me deal with the negative effect of life stress and a dysfunctional autonomic nervous system associated with CFS. If your autonomic nervous system (ANS) is dysfunctional, your stress response will be dysfunctional, and you’ll be pumping out excess cortisol. It’s guaranteed that you’ll not feel well.

Guided breathing (this is not meditation) at least 10 minutes a day is one method that will help bring your ANS back into balance.

Loneliness

For those of us who have lost a parent, we know the toll it takes on the surviving parent. It’s hard to have joy in old age when your partner is gone. While I can’t offer a solution to this, there is a way to limit the risk of losing your partner.

The key here is to keep your spouse as healthy as you are. Studies have shown that you’ll increase your own lifespan as well.

Spiritual Awareness

Researchers have found that religious belief is a positive factor for how well individuals age. Faith brings comfort, strength, and hope when times become difficult. As we get older, we’ll lose family members and friends. Faith helps us make sense of that.

Religious belief also provides a community to mitigate against loneliness and a sense of abandonment.

Let’s be honest. As you get older, your number of years on this earth are declining. One day you will have to face the inevitable thought of where will you spend eternity. Some people shrink in terror at this thought. Especially as that day grows nearer and nearer. It’s hard to have joy in your senior years when you don’t know where you’re going.

Now I’ll preach a little and end with this verse,

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

That’s it for this post. I encourage everyone to read Dr. Bredesen’s book, The End of Alzheimer’s. AD might not be as uncurable as most people believe.

God bless and have a great week. Let’s us know if you have any comments. We would love to hear from you.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical condition and is not to be used as a substitute for the care and guidance of a physician.

The post Your Attitude Toward Aging Might Affect Your Odds Of Alzheimer’s Disease appeared first on Gluten Free Homestead.

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Barbara and I have decided to put together a monthly treasure box of health and wellness resources for you. We’re filling it with several books we’ve recently read that offer excellent advice. And we’ve also listed some wellness associated products that we use often and have found to be reliable.

For those of you who make it to the end of this post, we have several more special bonus resources for you that we enjoyed this month.

Here we go…

Books The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline by Dr. Dale Bredesen.

After we saw an interview with Bredesen by Dr. Rhonda Patrick, we had to run out and get this book. If someone in your family is experiencing cognitive decline or if you’re concerned about your future cognitive health because you carry the APOE 4 gene, you need to read this book. Barbara’s mom suffered from Alzheimer’s, and we wish we had this book when her mom first started showing signs of cognitive decline.

 

  Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About it  by Gary Taubes

Because he’s an investigative journalist and not a scientist, Taubes brings unbiased clarity to the science behind low carbohydrate diets. He painstakingly shows why the “calorie in, calorie out” hypothesis concerning obesity is untenable. Taubes’ thesis is that people get fat not because they eat too much, but because they eat the wrong things. If you can’t understand why your previous diets haven’t worked or there’s someone you care about who is obese, this book is a must-read. 

 

Products We Recommend SENSO Bluetooth Headphones

Barbara likes to listen to podcasts when she cooks. In order to eliminate wires, she uses these wireless headphones. I use them when I’m on the treadmill or out walking alone. The mic is kind of spotty but the reception and sound is excellent HD stereo. We also find them to be very comfortable to wear. They’re also supposed to be waterproof, but we haven’t experimented with that. LOL. Battery life is about 8 hours.

Betron ELR50 Earphones Headphones, Stereo for iPhone, iPod, iPad, Samsung and Mp3 Players (with Mic and Remote) 

What’s with those iPhone earbuds and their durability? We’ve been using these headphones for almost a year. The mic works great. People can hear me very clearly. These are not earbuds though (which I didn’t like anyway), but they are customizable to the size of your ear. 

  Wearables Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor, Bluetooth HRM Chest Strap 

We’ve been working out pretty hard lately so at our age we want to make sure we’re recovering well. One thing that allows us to keep an eye on recovery is this Polar HRM chest strap. When paired with this free HRV app (heart rate variability) on your smartphone, you can track your HRV daily. Knowing your HRV will give you keen insight into the state of your autonomic nervous system (ANS). If you’re not recovering well, it will most likely show up as an imbalance in your ANS. Here’s some information on HRV.

The free Elite HRV app also has a feature that will help you establish a guided breathing program. See here and here for the health benefits of slow breathing.

If you just want to track your heart rate, Polar has a free app for that.

And a bonus for you! Podcasts We Enjoyed This Month

We promised you a bonus. These are two of the best podcasts we listened to this month.

Gary Taubes on the Human Performance Outliers podcast.

Journalist and best selling author Taubes (see his book mentioned above) in our opinion is one of the most intelligent and reasonable promoters of low carbohydrate diets. As usual, Dr. Shawn Baker and Zach Bitter do an excellent job of interviewing their guest.

https://humanperformanceoutliers.libsyn.com/episode-76-gary-taubes

Dr. Dale Bredesen on the Found My Fitness podcast (video)

As we mentioned above, if you’re interested in cognitive health or Alzheimer’s disease (which we all should be because AD and dementia are reaching epidemic proportions) this podcast (video) is golden.

https://www.foundmyfitness.com/episodes/dale-bredesen

God bless and have a great week.

This post contains affiliate links. We receive a small commission from the sales made through affiliate links at no extra charge to you. However, we only promote affiliate products we use or support wholeheartedly. That helps us pay the bills and keep this website running. Thank you for your support!

The post March Favorites For Health Nuts appeared first on Gluten Free Homestead.

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I promised myself that I would wait 6 months before I wrote this post. Now that it’s been 6 months since my family’s been sleeping on our Sleep EZ mattresses, I’m ready to give you the low-down on what we think about them and how we came to the decision to buy an organic latex mattress.

Here’s a sneak peek at my review. Barbara and I bought one mattress for us and one for each of our children who are still living at home. The conclusion from 5 very reliable sources is that the mattress is awesome and everyone is enjoying an excellent night’s sleep.

How Did We Choose The Sleep EZ Mattress?

You’ve probably seen all the different mattress commercials on TV and know all the brands.

There’s the Leesa, the Purple mattress, Casper, Sealy Posturepedic, and the Serta Perfect Sleeper. The list goes on and on. I wonder if we’ll soon see Mike Lindell partnering his My Pillow to a My Mattress.

Buying a new mattress isn’t an easy task. If you’ve done it recently, you know it’s probably the most difficult household item to decide upon. It’s a big decision cost-wise and also health-wise.

After all, you’re going to spend about 2500 hours a year sleeping on that mattress. That means that it will intimately affect your physical, mental, and emotional health. The right decision concerning your mattress really matters.

Let me tell you why Barbara and I decided to choose Sleep EZ mattresses for our whole family.

Ditching The Old Mattress And Thinking About A New One

Last August, we moved to beautiful Raleigh, North Carolina. During our move, we decided to ditch our old coil spring mattresses and get new ones when we settled in Raleigh.

We spent our first month here living at the Hampton Inn in downtown Raleigh. That month gave us the opportunity to really investigate the area and find a suitable house to rent. It also gave us time to research what kind of mattresses to buy.

As we read more and more about mattresses, we settled on three requirements we wanted our mattresses to have.

Our Primary Mattress Requirements

First, they had to be free of toxins, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and all that jazz.

Now, this makes sense right? We spend a lot of time trying to live a healthy lifestyle. We follow a low-carb healthy fat diet and get a good amount of protein. We try to eliminate toxins in our diet and environment as much as possible. We weight train and walk often.

But what good is living a healthy lifestyle if every night we’re going to put our noses and mouths next to a mattress that is off-gassing noxious fumes? It kind of defeats the purpose, right?

Therefore, our first requirement was that we wanted a mattress that was 100% natural and free of toxins.

Ahhh, The Comfort

Second, we wanted a mattress that was comfortable. After all, who wants to spend 2500 hours a year on a mattress that makes you miserable?

During sleep, your body is recovering from the mental and physical stresses of the day. If you don’t sleep well because of an uncomfortable mattress, you won’t recover well from those stresses.

You don’t want your mattress robbing you of deep quality sleep. You want it to be a means to a good night’s sleep so you can wake up refreshed and ready to go.

The Cost

Our third requirement in a mattress was how much was it going to cost us. Wow, these things can be really expensive. It’s like if you want to buy a really good mattress for your whole family, you have to take out a second mortgage. But, I mean, $5000 for a mattress. Really?!

So, we were cost conscious. The goal was to search until we got the mattress we wanted at the right price.

Now, with these parameters in mind, let’s see how our process evolved.

Eliminating The Mattresses We Didn’t Want

We began the process of finding the perfect mattress by eliminating the types of mattresses we didn’t want. The first ones we eliminated were coil spring mattresses.

Why We Didn’t Want A Coil Spring Mattress

We eliminated coil spring mattresses right off the bat because of three main reasons.

1. We Didn’t Want EMF Antennas In Our Mattresses.

Did you know that large coiled springs in a mattress can actually amplify the broadcast FM/TV radiation around your bed?

This is from an article in Scientific American,

Thus, as we sleep on our coil-spring mattresses, we are in effect sleeping on an antenna that amplifies the intensity of the broadcast FM/TV radiation. Asleep on these antennas, our bodies are exposed to the amplified electromagnetic radiation for a third of our life spans. As we slumber on a metal coil-spring mattress, a wave of electromagnetic radiation envelops our bodies so that the maximum strength of the field develops 75 centimeters above the mattress in the middle of our bodies. When sleeping on the right side, the body’s left side will thereby be exposed to field strength about twice as strong as what the right side absorbs.

Now, if you sleep with your TV, iPhone, or iPad on at night, your coil mattress will act like a giant antenna attracting the EMFs radiating from those devices to your body. It’s probably a good idea to put your cell phone on airplane mode at night.

While the evidence concerning the effects of rf EMF radiation is limited, there is some evidence that links rf EMFs to cancer. See here.

See the World Health Organization’s report on EMFs here.

EMFs do have an effect on your body. To what extent they cause damage is not clear. So if they can be avoided, it’s probably better to do so. We wanted to avoid them.

2. We Didn’t Want Creepy Stuff In Our Mattress

Envision the inside of your coil spring mattress. It’s dark and damp. It’s the perfect incubator for all kinds of nasty things to live and thrive. You might have dust mites, fungus, mold, mildew, dust, and who knows what else growing in there.

Is that what you want next to your face for 8 hours a day? I didn’t think so. When we were throwing out our old mattresses, we couldn’t figure out why they were so heavy compared to when we bought them. Now, we know why. They absorb stuff.

3. We Didn’t Want Dangerous Toxins In Our Mattress 

I remember a big caution my mom used to give me when I was young. Don’t ever smoke in bed. You might fall asleep smoking and burn up like one of those famous actors. My response to that sage advice was “Mom, I don’t plan on smoking so don’t scare me!”

“Well, just in case” was her reply.

Someone took my mom’s caution seriously because on July 1, 2007, all U.S. mattresses were required to be highly flame retardant to the extent that they won’t catch on fire if exposed to a blowtorch.  Wow, what’s someone doing with a blowtorch in bed?

Anyway, you guessed what happened. In order to make mattresses flame retardant, manufacturers have to use chemicals.

In the past, chemicals called polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs were used as a flame-retardant. Do they sound like something you want to be inhaling all night?

As you can expect, after a while someone discovered that these chemicals are highly toxic, and, thus, they were subsequently banned.

Mattress manufacturers have not used these chemicals for about 15 years.

But they have to use some kind of flame retardant.

Mattress Flame Retardation Today

Mattress manufacturers are extremely secretive about what they use as flame retardants. There is no regulation that forces them to expose what chemicals they use.

For example, the Serta website states,

Our FireBlocker system is a proprietary blend of natural and synthetic fibers that help isolate the impact of a fire and limit its spread. All Serta products comply with all applicable safety, health, and environmental regulations.

That sounds reassuring, but we don’t really know what they use as a fire retardant.

They may, however, be using some combination of the three following processes,

…barriers made from mainly cotton that has been bonded with boric acid; barriers made of rayon that has been extruded with silica (tiny fragments of glass or clay); and barriers made from rayon that has been treated with ammonium polyphosphate.

This is certainly a better option than PBDEs but the problem here is that no one knows what their personal tolerance threshold will be to any of these chemicals.

So, after considering these three negatives, we decided that coil mattresses from the big companies were just not an option for us.

The next type of mattress we investigated were memory foam mattresses.

Memory Foam Mattresses

You’ve probably seen the commercials for Leesa and Casper mattresses. These are memory foam mattresses.

They are constructed of a certain type of “memory foam”. I say type because the mattresses use different types of foam for different layers of the mattress. However, all the particular type of memory foam they use is made from polyurethane.

There are positives and negatives to this type of mattress. I’ll give you the positives first.

Positives To Polyurethane Memory Foam Mattresses

Memory foam mattresses are generally considered to be excellent for comfort and back support. Memory foam molds to your body’s contours providing good spine alignment. Anecdotally, people with back problems report less back pain after sleeping on a memory foam mattresses.

Also, because the mattress forms to your exact shape, pressure points that may cause an uncomfortable sleep are minimized. This is an extremely important function in a good mattress.

Often, to eliminate painful pressure your body will subconsciously turn. This turning may have the effect of causing you to be taken out of a deep sleep cycle. It’s during these deep cycles that your body is being repaired and restored. You don’t want these cycles disrupted. See my post on sleep cycles here.

Lastly, memory foam mattresses are supposed to be much more durable than a coil spring mattress. Remember when you had to reverse your coil mattress every so often so that you could reduce the sag.

Negatives To Polyurethane Memory Foam Mattresses

Memory foam mattresses tend to run hot. That means that they are not good diffusers of your body’s heat. Another thing that can disrupt your sleep cycles is a hot environment.

Some of the mattress companies have developed a different foam that is supposed to deal with this problem.

Second, memory foam mattresses are supposed to be more expensive than a coil mattress. I haven’t checked all the prices so I can’t validate that.

The third negative is the one that tipped the balance against memory foam mattresses for us. Can you guess what it was?

What’s Memory Foam Made Out Of?

Memory foam is made from synthetic polyurethane. Mattress companies try to ensure that this product is completely safe. They say that they are CertiPUR-US® certified.

CertiPUR-US is a not-for-profit certification program developed by the flexible polyurethane foam (FPF) industry. Hmmm…developed by the FPF for the FPF. Okay.

According to CertiPUR-US, Leesa and Casper mattresses are made without:

  • Ozone depleters
  • PBDE flame retardants
  • Mercury, lead, and other heavy metals
  • Formaldehyde
  • Phthalates regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission

And they are made with:

  • Low VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions for indoor air quality (< 0.5 parts per million)

That’s somewhat reassuring. But what exactly are they made of? We really don’t know. But I assume it’s some kind of synthetic chemicals.

That means we don’t really know what we’ll be breathing in if we sleep on this mattress.

When it comes to memory foam, we really liked the comfort, back support, and durability the mattresses offered. But because they were made of polyurethane, we felt we had to look elsewhere.

Let’s take a breath and see where we’re at so far in our journey to the perfect mattress.

So far we’ve eliminated mattresses that:

  • Act as EMF antennas and a playground for bugs and mold
  • Release toxic chemicals

We still want a mattress that is:

  • 100% natural and chemical free
  • Durable
  • Spine and body supportive
  • Comfortable
  • Affordable

Wow, there are a lot of things to consider here. It’s like a list of things you’d be considering in a marriage partner. Okay, it’s not the same but getting a good mattress is serious business.

Considering that since you have to sleep on it for 7-8 hours a day, if you pick a bad one it can ruin your life. So you have to be careful.

Okay, so where did we turn. Lo and behold, there is a memory foam mattress that is not made from polyurethane.

Latex Foam Mattresses

Latex is a natural product made from the sap of the rubber tree. In order to obtain the sap, the trees are tapped. This means that the trees don’t have to be harvested. Thus, it’s an ecologically sustainable practice.

That’s good!

The sap then undergoes a mechanical process whereby the final product, latex, is biodegradable and hypoallergenic.

An important caveat here is that I’m talking about 100% natural latex. Not the ones that are blends or synthetic.

Hallelujah. It seems that we have come to the end of our mattress search.

We have found a foam mattress that is 100% natural that has all the advantages of a memory foam mattress.

Well, we’re not quite at the end of our search yet.

There are some variations in 100% latex foam mattresses. I told you this was a complicated procedure.

100% Natural Or 100% Natural Organic Latex Mattress

Yes, 100% Natural latex mattresses can come in two forms. One that is just 100% natural or one that is 100% natural and organic. The organic form bears a certification from Global Organic Latex Standards (or GOLS for short).

The GOLS certificate states that the latex is made with at least 95% of organic latex.

There you have it. The most back friendly, toxic free, comfortable mattress is the 100% natural organic latex mattress.

I was so excited that I had finally found the perfect mattress. Now the job was to find out which was the best one.

Hold it. Barbara warned, “Don’t you think we ought to try it out first?”

I have such a smart wife. She’s always stopping me from making huge mistakes.

There was an organic bedroom store not far from us so we were off in a flash.

Shopping For A Latex Mattress

We spent about two hours in this particular store trying out all the beds and getting all the details on why 100% organic latex mattresses are the best.

We found out that a latex mattress is composed of different layers of foam which are usually of different density. The reason for this is that because people sleep differently (side, back, stomach), different latex densities provide different support and comfort levels.

On a king or queen mattress, the latex can also be customized on the right and left side. That means if your partner has a different sleeping style, the mattress can be customized to their style.

To ensure the organic nature of the mattress, the latex is enclosed in a 100% organic cotton and wool sock.

We tried all the beds of the two main manufacturers, and they both appeared to be very comfortable.

Everything was going well until we got the price!

Sticker Shock – You Want How Much For This Mattress?

When we got the price for one queen mattress and three full mattresses, we were like, “Are you kidding?” 

In addition to the mattress, you have to buy a foundation for the mattress, which can be a platform bed or a foundation made for the mattress. The foundation is a wood platform that supports the mattress and allows air to flow underneath it.

You then have to buy a metal frame to support this. Remember that if you buy a platform or foundation that is not organic, you sort of defeat the purpose of a natural mattress.

Additionally, you have to assemble the mattress yourself!

The total cost was well over $12,000. Um…not doing that. We thanked the owner and told him we would think about it. I felt kind of bad because I really picked his brains. However, after considering his price, I didn’t feel as bad.

Now it was back to the internet to search out the best 100% organic latex mattress for the best price.

Finding SleepEZ Mattresses

As Providence would have it, we signed a new lease on a beautiful house in North Raleigh. We were to move in two weeks. That meant we needed mattresses ASAP.

After spending a few furious days searching the internet for the best price on the type of mattress we wanted, we found Sleep EZ. This company’s mattress had everything we wanted in a latex mattress for the best price.

Sleep EZ is a third generation owned, factory direct seller. This is why their prices are so reasonable.

When I called the company, I was fortunate to get Jim to help me. After “picking his brains” for quite a while, we decided to order our mattresses from Sleep EZ.

He asked us our height and weight and what kind of sleepers we were. After giving him this information, he showed us how to order the proper mattress online.

However, Jim advised us to make one small adjustment to our mattresses!!!

Dunlop Latex Or Talalay Latex

As I already discussed, we wanted to go with 100% organic latex. Jim said that’s fine, but he would make one suggestion. He said because we were side sleepers, it might be a better idea that we choose 100% natural Talalay latex for our top layer.

Wow… here came another curveball. “Why is that?” I asked, feeling I was back at square one.

Here was his reason. Dunlop latex is extremely firm and most people find it uncomfortable as a top layer and do much better with Talalay. 

I had read a blog post on this issue already. One well-known wellness blogger wrote that she had one of those $5000 all organic mattresses, and her husband found it very uncomfortable. The blogger didn’t say, but since the bed was 100% organic, I assume it was Dunlop latex.

So Jim’s suggestion made sense.

However, here’s the catch. Talalay latex is not certified 100% organic by GOLS. So the bottom two layers would be organic but the top layer 100% natural.

Jim assured me that most people went this way with their mattress.

Wow…so the top layer of my mattress was not organic. Now what?

Dunlop Latex Vs. Talalay Latex

The primary difference between Dunlop and Talalay latex is in the way they are manufactured.

Dunlop Latex vs Talalay Latex - YouTube

However, at this time there is no organic certification for Talalay latex, though the one used by Sleep EZ is 100% natural. See here for their certifications that show their products are free from volatile organic compounds and other dangerous compounds.

As I mentioned before, the mattresses are wrapped in an organic cotton sock. However, the inner wool flame retarder is made from eco-friendly..

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This post originally appeared on John’s website, The Progressing Pilgrim.

I recently received a call from my sister asking me for some suggestions on what kind of weight bench she should buy.

Being the inquisitive fellow that I am, I asked, “What in the world do you want a weight bench for?”

“Really, don’t know what a weight bench is used for?” she answered.

Touché. I deserved that. Wiseguy older brothers deserve to be knocked down a peg or two.

What my sister was really asking me though, was how she, a mature woman, should go about getting stronger.

In my last post, I explained why everyone over 40 years old must strength train. In today’s post, I’ll introduce you to a strength program that is guaranteed to improve your muscle mass and make you stronger.

And here’s the icing on top of the cake.

It’s uncomplicated, time efficient, inexpensive, can be started at any age, can be done at home, doesn’t require prior experience, and has delivered amazing results for thousands of people. Even for those in their nineties.

The program is called Starting Strength. This method is so efficient that it may make you stronger and healthier than you’ve been in decades.

Before getting into the program, I’d like to touch on some fundamental concepts you should know about strength training.

It’s Never Too Late To Start Strength Training

Again, I made the case in the previous post that everyone over the age of 40 must strength train. If you don’t, your muscles will dissolve into a mushy mess a lot sooner than you desire.

And if you want to maintain wellness into old age, you must not ignore the quality of your muscle mass.

Now, if you’re over the age of 40 and have never strength trained, don’t despair. It’s never too late to improve your muscle mass regardless if you’re a woman or a man.

Here’s 90-year old Virginia strength training.

Strength Training - It's Never Too Late - YouTube

I started strength training three and a half years ago at age 58, after recuperating from bilateral shoulder bursitis and 28 years of severe chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Unless you have a debilitating illness, you too can strength train.

Wisdom Tip

Remember, make sure your doctor says it’s okay for you to start strength training!

Strength Training Is A Lifelong Journey

If you want to maintain good health and a good quality of life, strength training is something you must do for the rest of your life. That makes strength training a part of your life’s journey.

It’s similar to eating food everyday day or taking the medicine your doctor prescribed for you. Strength training is a type of medicine that keeps you well. 

During your strength training journey, there will be ups and downs. You’ll get aches and pains. And at times it’ll be hard.

But you also will receive the satisfaction that comes with knowing that you’re improving your health so that you can be there for the people you love and for those who love you. You’ll also feel great knowing that you’ll probably be one of the strongest guys or gals amongst your friends.

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of the program, let me explain why I chose the Starting Strength program.

Proper Goal Setting For Strength Training

In order for your strength training plan or any fitness plan for that matter to be successful, you must have a definable goal.

When I started strength training, my goal was very specific. I wanted to build strength which meant building muscle mass. At the time, I didn’t care about weight loss, body recomposition, increasing endurance, or aerobic capacity.

I wanted to get stronger. Not simply fitter. But stronger. Regaining and building muscle mass was my chief priority. Now, this goal, when it comes to strength training, may seem to be rather specific. But it’s not specific enough.

In order to reach my goal, I needed a program that would work for me in accordance with some specific needs.

Let me use the SMART Goal Setting System to show you what I mean.

The SMART Goal Setting System

SMART is an acronym that stands for: specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

If you include these considerations when goal setting, your chances of reaching that goal will improve dramatically.

Let’s take a brief look at each component of the SMART system as it applies to strength training.

  • Specific – The more specific your goal, the easier it will be to achieve it. For example, saying that you want to get fitter is a lot less specific than saying that you want to increase your squat lift from 45 pounds to 100 pounds in 2 months. The better your squat total means more strength which means more muscle.
  • Measurable – In order to determine if you’ve successfully reached your goal you must have some way to measure success. That means that a good training program must have some kind of gauge to indicate that you are indeed getting stronger. Yoga may be a great exercise, but there’s no way to accurately determine if it’s making you stronger. But let’s say you start out by lifting 10 pounds, and in 3 months you’re lifting 100 pounds. Now you know, without a doubt, that you’ve gotten stronger.
  • Actionable – How will your goal of strength be achieved? In other words, what actions are required to achieve success? The goal of any good strength program has to be actionable. Can you do the program you’ve chosen? In my case, something like CrossFit or high-intensity training was out of the question. They both bring good strength results, but I couldn’t do them because of my health status. I also wanted a program that was uncomplicated, and that I could do at home. If my program didn’t have the above criteria, I would have failed at strength training.
  • Relevant – Is the goal relevant to your situation? Setting a goal to become an Olympic weightlifter is not a relevant goal for a 62-year-old. But having a goal to increase your squat total is relevant. Stronger legs mean you can accomplish a lot more in your life.
  • Time Bound – Your goal should have a specific time in which the goal can be accomplished. This allows for you to monitor progress and provides incentive. For example, if your goal is to get stronger from bodyweight exercises, how long will it take you to get to where you want to be? There’s no way to really know. But if you start lifting 10 pounds and add 2.5 pounds per week, you’ll have an idea where you should be in two months. A good strength program should be structured and have a definite schedule attached to it. That’s the difference between training and exercising.
Wisdom Tip

Be aware that goal setting is a dynamic process. Sometimes life doesn’t work the way we want it to. We may have to revise our goals or the ways we want to attain them. Therefore, we should evaluate our goals often.

Was I asking for too much from a strength training program? Did such a program for us masters even exist?

Yes, it did! After searching online for several weeks, Providence directed me to the program that matched all of the criteria attached to my SMART goal.

It’s the Starting Strength program.

The Starting Strength Program

The Starting Strength method is a free weight barbell program that involves basically 4 main lifts: the squat, bench press, overhead press, and deadlift.

Ok, I hear you saying, “Wow, I can’t do those exercises. I’m too out of shape or I’m too old.” That’s not necessarily true.

Can you lift something from the driveway and put it in the trunk of your car? Can you lift a child off of your chest? Can you rise from a chair? If you can do those things, then you can do these exercises. The only difference is that you’re doing it with a barbell.

Because this program uses exercises that mimic everyday human movements, it can be started at any age.

Watch this video of a 72-year-old untrained gentleman.

The Squat - Training the Elderly - YouTube

Now, obviously, you’re going to need some equipment to do these exercises. I’ll address that below, but first let’s look at the program in more detail.

The Lifts

As I mentioned, the main lifts are the back squat, bench press, overhead press, and deadlift. The technical reason these lifts are used is that they use the most muscle mass, across the longest effective range of motion, and allow us to lift the most weight, making them the biggest and most general movements for developing strength.

Translation: These lifts are the best for producing overall body strength.

As I mentioned before, the practical reason is that they involve multiple major muscle groups that mimic simple normal human movement patterns.

For example, the back squat involves muscles you would use to get off a toilet. The deadlift strengthens muscles you would use to pick something off the floor. The overhead press will help you put that stuff you’re not really sure what to do with onto the top shelf of your closet.

During the lifts, muscles are stressed by the weighted barbell. Eventually, the body adapts to this stress and overall body strength is developed.

Once the novice (beginner) trainee has gained strength and mobility with the main lifts, some accessory exercises can be added in if desired. There is, however, no need for targeted arm or abdominal muscles exercises as they are worked sufficiently with the four main exercises

Remember the idea here is to get stronger and build muscle mass not to body build or gain endurance.

The Importance Of Proper Form

The exercises used in Starting Strength are not hard to learn. However, whenever exercising with weights, it is important to perform the lift correctly.

Wisdom Tip

Lifting weights with proper form is a major key to preventing injuries and maximizing muscle gain.

I started with the minimum weight possible so that I could learn proper form.

Now, this is important. To make sure I was doing the exercises correctly, I watched this excellent series of videos by Mark Rippetoe on the Starting Strength website.

When the weights are light and you follow the video instructions, you should have little problems with your form. But! As the weights get heavier, you’ll have to pay more attention to form.

After you really get into it and need outside help, you can find a gym with a good coach. These, however, tend to be hard to find. Starting Strength is now offering online video coaching.

Okay. Let’s get to actual programming.

The Starting Strength Schedule

This chart explains the basic schedule for the novice Starting Strength Program.

A glance at the chart shows that this method uses a three day per week ABA BAB schedule. Squats are done every day, deadlifts are done once a week and bench press and overhead press rotate over a two week period. After two weeks, it’s back to ABA.

The reason deadlifts are done once a week is because they are the most neuromuscularly taxing exercise, and it takes longer to recover from their effects.

Now, for you, over 50-year-olds out there follow closely.

The Schedule For The Master Population

When I began Starting Strength, I used the above program, except for power cleans (not recommended for older individuals) and chin-ups. While the weights were light, I did well. But as the weights became heavier, I began to notice that I wasn’t recovering as well. I was having a lot of aches and pains and I was not feeling refreshed from the previous lifting session.

The reason for this is that most of us over the age of 50 don’t recover as well from the stress of weight lifting as the younger generation.

To solve the problem of recovery, there is an alternative schedule for us masters. Here’s what a typical 2 week period would look like.

Notice that the exercises, except squats, alternate by day. Also, chin-ups are a good accessory exercise to add into the routine if you can do them.

There is less lifting volume (total pounds) on this schedule. Remember, what I said above about goal setting. This plan is a lot more actionable for over 50 novice lifters. While there is less volume in this program, I guarantee you can still make excellent gains.

I used this schedule until I was finished with the novice program. I never experienced an issue with recovery. That’s saying a lot for someone who was recovering from CFS.

Okay, let’s get to the actual workout.

The Workout

The lifts are performed for 3 sets of 5 reps each. This means that the weight will be lifted 5 times with proper form. Rest between sets can be anywhere from a few minutes to 8 minutes depending on what you need. Then the weight lifted in like manner two more times.

A caveat here is that deadlifts, because of the strenuous nature of the lift, are only performed for 1 set of 5 reps.

Warm-ups are performed by lifting the weights at sub-workout levels for 5 reps. The weight for your warm-ups will depend on the weight you are using. A good rule of thumb is to perform warm-ups at 40%, 50%, and 60% of your workout weight.

What Weight Do You Begin With?

Generally, for the untrained, the bench press, overhead press, and squats should begin with an empty bar so you can learn the lifts. A standard Olympic bar weighs 45 lbs. For those who cannot start with this weight, a lighter bar can be used.

There are lighter bars made specifically for women. Barbara started with dumbbells on bench press and overhead press and then worked up to an empty bar.

Deadlifts can be started with an Olympic bar and 10-pound bumper plates.

How Do You Progress?

Once 3 x 5 is accomplished, the lifter will add weight to the bar at the next session.

A beginning novice will find that they can add 5 -10 pounds (depending on the exercise) per session when first starting out. Generally, this is 5 pounds to the OHP and bench press and 10 pounds to the deadlift and squats.

However, as the weights get heavier, the amount added to the bar will decrease sometimes to only 1 pound.

The process of adding weight to the bar at every session and completing your lift of 5, puts additional stress on your muscles. This stress causes your muscles to adapt to that stress by getting stronger.

As long as you can continue to add weight to the bar, you are getting stronger. Remember that’s our goal.

This is called the novice linear progression.

Wisdom Tip

Since women are physiologically different than men, their novice programming may eventually change. When a woman gets acclimated to the program, she may have to change to 3 reps for 5 sets at a heavier weight. See here.

The Novice Effect

Novices generally find that they can get stronger very quickly. I was amazed at how fast I was able to gain strength. Personal records can be set each week for a long time on the novice program.

It’s like that story about how we only use a fraction of our brain’s capacity. Well, you’ll be surprised at how much strength potential you actually have. Good progress can be made sometimes for up to a year or more before a program change is necessary.

These are the basics of the Starting Strength program. If you’re going to start this program, you should purchase the book Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe.

The book presents detailed information on exactly how and why this program works.

Equipment Needed For Starting Strength

To perform the above exercises, you’re going to need some equipment. There are two ways to do that.

You can become a member of a gym that has free weights or you can set up your own home gym as I did.

If you choose to lift at home, this is what you’ll need to get started:

  1. A garage, basement, or a room with a sturdy floor is an absolute must. In order to accommodate the overhead press, a ceiling over 8′ high is necessary.
  2. An Olympic bar and weights. I use a Rogue 2.0 Olympic bar (7′), and an assortment of iron and bumper plates. You’ll need about 200 pounds to start, including 2.5-pound weights.
  3. A Squat stand. I use a Rogue 70″ Monster Squat Stand and bench. I purchased the 70” stand because my basement ceiling was low. If it wasn’t, I would’ve purchased a power rack. My stand has safety bars that protect me from injury in case the weights were to drop on me. I also purchased some dumbbells.

The total cost for my equipment was about $1400.

Recovery Sleep And Diet

Proper rest and sleep are a priority with any strength program.

Without rest, you can’t recover. And without recovery, it’s difficult to get stronger. Concerning proper diet, I’ve been on a very low carb diet for over a year with adequate protein and am doing well. Adequate protein is the key here. I aim for at least 1.7 grams per kg of lean body mass. See our series on our ketogenic diet here.

My Status When Beginning Starting Strength

Each individual has their own particular situation when starting strength training. Some of us are overweight, some underweight, some are naturally already strong, some weak, some of us are recovering from an illness. That means that you’ll begin training at your own unique situation.

In my case, because I was recovering from CFS and bursitis, I had to start really slow. For a few months before beginning Starting Strength, I did the exercises with dumbbells only.

Most of you can probably go right to a bar and weights. But if you have to start with dumbbells, just do it and build up to a bar. Remember, don’t despise the day of small beginnings.

Shoulder bursitis left me with a limited range of motion in my shoulders. This prevented me from rotating my arms fully so as to allow my hands to grip the bar while it was on my back. Once I was strong enough to squat with a bar, I still had to do this exercise for weeks before I could grab the bar correctly. 

Wisdom Tip

If you can’t grab the bar for squats but still want to do them, then consider this type of bar.

Starting Strength Works

I started strength training with a bar only. Now, this 62-year-old, still recovering from CFS, can deadlift 300 pounds and squat almost 200 pounds. If Starting Strength can do that for me, imagine what it can do for you.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical condition and is not to be used as a substitute for the care and guidance of a physician.

The post How To Start Strength Training Over 40 appeared first on Gluten Free Homestead.

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