My Biggest Health-Related Regret at Age 46

Young Woman Exercising Outdoors

By Natalie, Editress of Visionary Womanhood

Paying the Price

I’ve never really struggled with my weight.  Oh sure, after a pregnancy I need to lose some serious poundage, but by the time each of my nine babies were one, I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight of 125 pounds.  Nothing to complain about, and I’m not complaining.

I spent almost two years of my life on bedrest between the ages of 27-36.  In between those four rough pregnancies I did not feel like I had time to get my body back in shape, so while I lost the weight, I became weaker, physically, with each pregnancy.  With the next five pregnancies I did not need bedrest, but they still took a toll on my body, and again, I did not work at building up my muscle tone and strength in between pregnancies.

After giving birth a year ago, at age 45, to my ninth baby, I realized I was in a world of hurt.  Six months postpartum I was still in dire pain when walking through the grocery store.  My hips click when I roll over in bed.  I started seeing a chiropractor who said I have literally NO muscle in my groin area.  It’s gone.  I indulged myself by not choosing to be disciplined in this area, and now it’s time to pay the piper. (I just recently discovered that my condition has a name: pubis-symphysis dysfunction.)

A Small Investment with Big Dividends

As I look ahead to the next half of my life, I want to be able to have the strength and energy to enjoy my family in more active ways.  This means I need to buckle down and get serious about exercising.  In November I began stretching every single morning.  I stretch my back, neck, legs, arms, and hips.  I also do leg lifts.  When I first started, I could hardly lift my leg off the floor, and while it is slow going and still painful, I can now lift it more easily and for more repetitions.

I’m adding in a program now called T-Tapp.  It is perfect for someone who has a limited amount of time to invest in exercising. Fifteen minutes, four days a week is all it takes.  I bought the book first, but didn’t really find it helpful.  Then I bought the Basic Workout Plus DVD, and found exactly what I was looking for.  (I need to see the exercises performed in order to learn them.)  T-Tapp targets and strengthens your core.

I also bought a rebounder at Walmart so I can do 5 minutes of jumping here and there throughout the day.  Here’s why:

Benefits of Short Burst Exercises

1. Releases Human Growth Hormone

Children have oodles of HGH coursing through their system, and body builders and others will pay a lot of money to get bio-identical HGH injections.  But did you know you can make your own?  How?  Through short, intense periods of exercise as well as periods of deep sleep.  (The authors of Trim, Healthy Mama also recommend sex with your husband.)

HGH gets rid of fat, promotes beautiful, healthy skin, and can make you look 10 years younger.  Who wouldn’t want more of THAT?

2. Burns Fat

The aerobic hysteria of the eighties has proven to be ineffective at burning fat.  Here’s how Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett put it in their book, Trim Healthy Mama:

Aerobic activity allows your body to adapt.  Once this happens, your body will burn fewer and fewer total calories.  Your body has been programmed to do this.  Short bursts of intensity keep your body in guess mode.

The second problem is that because of the adaptation process that occurs in the so-called “fat-burning zone,” your body will actually start to store fat.  This is your body’s preservation mechanism.  Our bodies are incredibly equipped to survive and storage is one form of survival to help us through the lean times. (pg. 552)

3. Targets Fast Twitch Muscle Fibers

Cardio exercise uses mostly slow twitch muscle fibers and not enough fast twitch muscle fibers.  It’s the fast twitch fibers that give you firm muscles and quick results.

Training these fast twitch muscle fibers reverses the aging process, because these muscles are the first to deteriorate as we age.  This is due to the fact that neurons stop communicating with them.  Lucky for us, we can greatly increase firing rates after only one week of anaerobic training.

Studies and data back this up.  It’s sad how many people are slogging it out at the gym on their treadmills and bicycles when they could be taking much less time and getting better results by doing intense, short-burst training.  (Trim, Healthy Mama pg. 553)

 How to Tell if You Have the Right Conditions

To ensure that you are releasing HGH you’ll want to look for the following, according to Allison and Barrett:

  • Out of breath
  • Muscle burn
  • Increased body temp
  • Adrenal response (slightly painful)

They go on to share some other nutritional aspects to exercising.  (I didn’t know there were certain things you should eat and not eat related to this subject.  I recommend their book for more information…or Google is good for learning stuff too.)

I recently did a book review of Trim, Healthy Mama over at Keeper of the Home if you are interested in learning more.

If you are young and full of energy, ready to take on the world, I recommend exercising.  If you are old and broken down, like me, I recommend exercising.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Natalie Klejwa is a Wemmick, loved by the Woodcarver, wife of 22 years to Joe, and mother to 9 Wemmicks ages 2-20. She is a business owner (Apple Valley Natural Soap), founder and administrator of the Visionary Womanhood blog, publisher and contributing author of Three Decades of Fertility, You Can Do it Too! 25 Families Share Their Stories, and The Heart of Simplicity: Foundations for Christian Homemaking.

You can hear her being interviewed on Kevin Swanson's Generations with Vision radio program.

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23 thoughts on “My Biggest Health-Related Regret at Age 46

    • It’s amazing what a little make up can do, eh? I hate exercising too. Just today I got up and thought, “Do I HAVE to?” Yes, I do. Haul that old bod out of bed and start moving. Augh.

  1. You just articulated quite what I have been thinking/experiencing the past several years. I was extremely active as a child, teen, and in my college years with ballet and sports, and thanks to my father’s family’s genetic and physical build, have never really had to work hard to keep a trim shape, even after children. But during my last pregnancy I squatted down to get something off a low grocery shelf and could barely stand up! I couldn’t believe how weak my legs had become! Then I started noticing it everywhere – getting out of breath while doing basic housework or walking and talking with a friend, extreme soreness after working in the yard one afternoon, and all that nearly constant back pain. :( In the busy-ness of these little years, I had let physical exercise take not just the back burner, but a complete departure from my life altogether.

    I need to be gentle and careful in how I am exercising now, since I am 21 weeks and basically at square zero when it comes to physical fitness, but I also know how brutal labor will be if I’m not doing something right now. I’ll look into the T-Tapp program for after baby is born, and my 5 year old daughter really wants to start running (since my son runs with my husband now), so we made a deal last night to do Couch-to-5K together after the baby is born. :) Another thing I have found that is manageable and might be like T-Tapp is Tabata workouts. I downloaded a free Tabata timer app on my iPhone and just google for different exercise orders. It takes less than 5 minutes, so I can do it once a day (now), or three times a day later on.

    Thanks, as always, for encouragement. :)

  2. I LOVE T-Tapp! I started doing it right before I got pregnant with our first, 7 years ago and while I had zero time to lose weight after her (we were pregnant 8 weeks post-partum), after our third in less than 3 years I committed to doing it everyday! Between T-Tapp and walking and some random, at home arms & ab exercises I ended up losing 60lbs and felt stronger than I ever have. I think that highly contributed to my fourth child being my only LATE delivery to date! (Two others were premature, one was full term but with all I was on medication and bed rest.)
    We are now pregnant with our 5th and I didn’t lose the weight before hand and I don’t feel as strong as I once was but I am T-Tapping during my pregnancy and hope to get back to that healthy weight and physical strength afterward.
    I’m still young but I’m so glad that I’ve been able to learn this lesson and have others, like you, encourage me in it! Now I just need to buckle down and buy Trim Healthy Mama … I’ve been wanting it for months!

  3. Also, how is the modesty factor on the T-Tapp DVDs you mentioned? I have been looking for some good exercise videos, but I want to be able to watch them in the living room, not just in the privacy of my bedroom ;-) and I have lots of kids running around…mostly boys…and many of the women teaching on the DVDs are dressed immodestly. I finally found a series to go with the Rebounder that was led by a man, but the reviews said he takes the Lord’s name in vain in some of the videos. Argh. If you or anyone else has DVD suggestions I would love to hear them!

    • Well, she is wearing tight shorts and a tight top. I do it in “public” in our sun room where the boys could gaze to their heart’s content if they wanted to. But they don’t…so it hasn’t been an issue. I guess it would be something to consider…

    • Molly,
      If you’re referring to the Urban Rebounding DVDs, you are correct…the Lord’s name is taken in vain…we pitched them right away! However, There is an Urban Rebounding series called Kids Bound, with the same instructor, that does not use offensive language. It has 4 workouts that, in my opinion, are not just for kids! We’ve done the “First Timers” and “Basic” and have gotten excellent workouts. Hope that helps!

  4. I have the T-Tapp DVD and found it quite doable. I do have to say after thinking about it, I am not sure I can agree with the way she recommends walking without the big toe. Considering how God made our body it seems a bit odd. Otherwise, I enjoyed the DVD and hope to get back to using it at some point.

    • She says that many people walk like ducks with their feet turned out. This inactivates a lot of your muscles all the way up. Instead, if you point your feet straight forward and put more weight on the outside of your foot (hence the “no big toe” saying), you can feel more of your muscles being used. You are more likely to keep your hips under you and your core tightened so your belly and bottom don’t sitck out. This is especially true if you lift your ribs up to help tighten your abs as you tuck your bottom under. I never took it as not USING your big toe because you still do. I just think of it as a way of remembering.

      • I DO remember her talking about THAT!! Thank you for clarifying. I, like you, didn’t think of it the other way (no using your big toe) which is probably why I didn’t “remember” her saying THAT! LOL! (C’mon Stacie…give a little LOL. LOL. I couldn’t resist. :)

  5. Good for you! I have 3 children (and one in Heaven) and I am convinced that exercise has been key to great pregnancies and my ability to keep up with the kids both physically and emotionally. I started teaching water aerobics when my first was a year old. It wasn’t always easy to keep up with going to the class with infants but I just decided that I HAD to do it. It keeps me strong and active and gives me a couple of hours break from the daily routine. I love my ladies in the class and so it gives me that relational outlet too. I admire your determination to get exercise into your daily routine at home!

  6. Natalie and Stacie, after reading your comments I had to double check my DVD because I was sure the “no big toe” term was definitely not my own but from the T-Tapp DVD. What I realized was that I have the Basic Workout Plus and the Step Away the Inches Walking Workout. It is actually the Step Away the Inches Walking Workout that puts emphasis on the “no big toe”. Sorry for getting that wrong. Teresa Tapp does a very good job explaining the why of all of this in the beginning instructions of the DVD. She is also very good at reminding the user throughout the exercise program of what to do, hence you will repeatedly hear her say things like tuck butt, toes forward, no big toe, and shoulders back ~ over and over again. As far as walking, It is recommended that you push off with your last two toes avoiding the ball joint of the big toe. In fact she recommends that you lift the big toe or think of it as no weight on the big toe, not using the big ball joint. Thus you do not have a normal follow through of weight to the big toe. She demonstrates this well on the tape as there is more of a marching appearance than a natural step. I am sure this will build muscle and is fine for exercising but I would not want to make it my daily gait while out walking or shopping as she mentions (thus my former comment). For someone who does have an issue with webbed feet this may be of great use in rehabilitation. I do believe if one looks at the process of walking you will see that the big toe is of vital importance in a natural gait. On the other hand, I think Teresa’s advice to keep the toes pointed straight, butt tucked, and shoulders back does seem to be good advice for almost anytime. Kind of like when my mother use to tell us to suck in our stomach when we went through a door. It just gives us a reminder of easy ways to help keep fit.

    I guess it does help to be on the same page, or in this case the same DVD.

  7. Thanks for this post. It nudged me to set down my ipad and do a few minutes of stretching and exercise before the family woke up. Baby steps!

  8. MANY THANKS for this. Our mutual friend Carrie at church just recommended T-Tapp last Sunday, my videos came this week. After three big surgeries in as many years preceded by years of major issues, my body needs help. I also find keeping my body in good shape helps with my bent toward depression. I appreciate you talking about this very pertinent subject, and encouraging us to be wise stewards of our time AND bodies/health!!!! Off to order by rebounder!

    One question – I seem to recall you doing 30 min on an elliptical or treadmill every morning – was that you? Do you still do that?

    • I used to do that and got out of it every time I’d get pregnant. Now I’m alternating T-Tapp every other day and 10 minutes on the elliptical on the “off” days. I would get so run down (feel sick) when I did the elliptical for 30 minutes, which is why I stopped when I’d find myself pregnant. It’s been a difficult quest to find the right answers for me when I’ve been pregnant/recovering from childbirth every two years. It will be a miracle if I have another baby at this point…so I’m trying to buckle down and find what works best for my body and my current schedule…for the LONG RUN! : ) Thanks for commenting Sara. One update on the rebounder…I’m finding that my bladder leaks when I jump on it! That has NEVER happened to me before. Augh. Getting old. Pretty soon I’ll be wearing Depends. How does this happen? I turned 16 just yesterday…right???