The Beauty of Limits

A 2012 study on muscle loss concluded that we lose 3-8% of our muscle mass every decade after 30. So when I turned 40 I added HIIT routines and working with weights into my life. As far as a potential midlife crisis goes, working out to maintain muscle mass is pretty sensible and cost-effective. But it involved a few big adjustments.

The first and quickest adjustment was physical. I was sore after these practices, sometimes for 2 days. For about a year, my daily activity was built around a workout routine. My yoga became much more restorative, since I needed to save my efforts for these new practices.

Another adjustment was in my eating habits, which now include a banana and chocolate milk. I need an almost empty stomach to do a HIIT routine. A banana about an hour prior works. Thanks to the reporting of Gretchen Reynolds, I found out chocolate milk helps reduce soreness after a workout, while boosting overall performance.

Finally, this routine takes about 5 hours every week. What was I going to give up to include this in my schedule? Sleep? Yoga? My work? Relaxation time?

A lot of health advice comes in this form: Do X for Y amount of time. Try to get 8 hours of sleep. Brush our teeth for four minutes a day. Moderate aerobic activity? At least 150 minutes a week.

Once I took all of the suggestions I could find and compiled them. To follow all the recommendations would take 31 hours a day.

So I make my life choices based on limits. This is the beauty of limits: within them, we get to decide what is important to us. The notion of an infinite amount of anything is not only unfeasible, but results in bad decision-making.

Adding these new practices has meant evaluating many aspects of my life, to see what I truly need. Because an addition in one area involves a subtraction in another, a new endeavor is a great time to re-evaluate everything. And as someone who is in his 40’s and trying to contribute to my future health, this decision sits with me much better than buying a Camaro.


Photo taken at and courtesy of Beyond Training.