What can you get done?

What can you get done in 15 minutes? A whole lot, as it turns out. My sister and I cleaned out 3 generations of stuff from our house in 15 minutes. Not all at once, but in 15 minute chunks. Not only my parents’ stuff, and my sister’s and my stuff, but my grandparents’ stuff too. Every corner of the house was filled with stuff.

Hoarders with 3 generations-worth of stuff

We had moved my grandmother into a nursing home and she shipped everything to us. My sister and I inherited our family home and we were not interested in moving. So we had to go through everything. A daunting task. The show “Hoarders” wasn’t on the air when we did this, but our house could probably have been featured. It’s not pristine now, but it’s no longer even close to a hoarder’s abode any longer. And we did it in 15 minutes at a time.

We tackled the job just like that – a job. We knew that if we tried to do a bigger part, like a whole room at a time, we’d never finish. But we set a timer and got busy. Sorting the stuff, 15 minutes at a time. Keep, toss, donate. Keep, toss, donate. Just that simple. It was our job for those 15 minutes every day.

What can you get done?

What can you get done in 15 minutes? A half hour? An hour? Anyone can do anything they set their mind to. Anything. I’m a firm believer. I write about goals and discipline all the time. Because that’s what it takes to get things done.

The problem is that many people don’t consider their personal goals the same way that they do their work or career goals. And that’s why they don’t achieve things that are important to their personal lives.

Personal goals = work goals

Renegade row - one of the killer moves in Saturday's workout

One productivity expert, in fact, proposes that we should view our personal goals exactly like our work goals. Use the same tools at home as we do in the office. For example, at the office we plan the day’s work to achieve the goals we set. It should be the same thing at home – but just if you want to achieve life goals too. (Just kidding, of course you do!) So, use your planner – or get one for your personal life. I created the Fitness Journal and Tracker for every part of what you want to get done. It’s much more than just for exercise. Track that, of course, as well as your diet, your water, your sleep, and anything else you want to keep track of. 

Figure out a plan to get it done

Create goals for yourself and write them down in your Journal. High-flying, big, pie-in-the-sky goals. And figure out a plan to get them done. Above all, be specific – that’s the key to achieving big goals. If you know you want to achieve a lot, but don’t know how to start recognizing goals, download the Get It Done Guide. Use the worksheet. That’ll help. You’ll increase your resilience, your happiness, and, not only that, you’ll improve your mindset. So, what can you get done? A whole lot. Get to it. Start now.

Eat more protein

We all want to live a life that’s long and healthy. And part of our healthy aging is making sure we get the right nutrition. Boring, I know. But with a little forethought we can plan our meals and snacks so that they’re fun, tasty and nutritious. Even with that planning, though, it’s common to not get enough protein. Highest on the list of protein-rich foods are meats and yogurt. But many seniors skip the meat, perhaps because of budgetary or other concerns. But the fact is, protein will help us keep up our energy. And we need to eat more protein.

Why we need to eat more protein

The “formal” government recommendation for protein is the same for all adults age 19 and up, but recent research has shown that we older folks probably need more. We know that as we age our muscle mass declines – by up to half. And, as we age, we have more chronic ailments, many of which affect our ability to process the protein we eat efficiently. Why do we need protein? Simply put, protein can help us build and maintain muscle mass. And it also replaces the proteins that chronic systemic inflammation depletes.

We need a LOT or protein

According to the official recommendation, we need 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (1 kg is about 2.2 pounds). I did the math, and I need about 45 grams of protein every day. That’s a lot of meat. But other foods have plenty of protein as well. Plan your meals and snacks with protein in mind. Breakfast is a perfect time for an egg. And hard boiled eggs are also great snacks.

More high-protein snack ideas

If you’re feeling hungry in the afternoon (for me, about a half hour before my workout), have some almonds or pistachios. They’re high in protein, and they taste good. Greek yogurt is also high in protein. Something I don’t often think of as a great snack is jerky – but it’s tasty and full of protein. Dry roasted edamame beans is another possibility. Another great snack is an apple or stick of celery with a bit of peanut butter.

When doing some reading, I found a recipe for roasted chickpeas that sounds amazing. For a main dish, try lentil soup.

The point here is, if we need to eat more protein, we’re not limited to roasting a chicken or broiling a steak. Sure, those are great, but we thrive on even more choices. And there are plenty of protein choices.

Tighten your core for everything

My balance group people are probably sick and tired of me telling them to “tighten your core.” But the core is the center of, pretty much, everything. Your core holds you up, helps you breathe, saves your back and saves you from falling. Strengthening your core also helps to improve your balance. Back to the core of it all – your core.

What is your core?

In a nutshell, your core includes all the stabilizing muscles in your middle – front and back. Your transverse abdominis is deepest and wraps around your middle like a girdle. It connects your rib cage to your pelvis and holds everything in place. Your internal and external obliques are next out toward the surface. These muscles criss-cross your middle and help with twisting and bending. Closest to the surface is the rectus abdominis – your six-pack – which also helps with bending and pelvic control. So, literally, your core really is the center of everything.

What will a strong core do for me?

You’re probably slumping in your chair. Straighten up! See that – you engaged your core! When you tighten your core, you’re able to sit or stand more upright. And when you’re upright, you can breathe more fully, get more oxygen into your lungs, and into your bloodstream.

Got a bad back?

I had back pain fairly regularly after a fall I took a few years ago. While I was healing I had time to do some research and found that improving your balance helps to prevent falls. My research also indicated that a strong core helps improve balance, and it also helps to prevent lower back pain. (This is from a study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science.) Core strength training helps alleviate low back pain. This is crucial for our healthy aging. Nothing ages us more than pain, and many older people complain of back pain.

Tighten your core for better quality of life

Imagine a life without back pain. A life with free breath and limitless movement. This is the potential you can have when you tighten your core. 

How do you tighten your core? Suck it in. That’s easiest. Feel your stomach pull in. This is easiest when you’re lying on your back on the floor. Put your hand on your abdomen and tighten. Now stand up and do the same thing. Now, download your Week of Core-Centered Balance Moves and do an exercise a day. That’s a great start to strengthening your core.

No weights required for strength training

So many things you should do for your healthy aging. And most of them are expensive. Even with insurance, visits to the doctor cost most of the time. Care for your hair and skin aren’t getting cheaper. Those nice socks aren’t cheap. So, it’s great that even though the CDC recommends strength training a couple of times a week, you don’t have to go out and buy free weights. You don’t need a gym, either. There are no weights required for strength training.

Your body weight will do

You may not want to build muscle, but we all want to maintain what we’ve got. And it’s possible to do that and improve our strength by just using our own bodies. I think I’d look kind of stupid with bulging biceps, but if that’s your thing, it’s possible to get those as well by doing body weight exercises. First thing, though, according to Sten Stray-Gunderson, MS, an exercise physiologist and trainer, is to eat enough protein. So many of us focus on vegetables now that we don’t get enough protein in our diets. He recommends 1.2 to 2.2 grams per pound of bodyweight a day of protein to preserve your muscle mass – probably the lower end for those of us over 60. For exercise, Stray-Gunderson says high reps and many sets of body weight exercises will help increase muscle mass. 

For those of us who want to just maintain and get stronger, not necessarily build muscle, focus on the time under tension while we do the exercise. For example, lower into a squat slowly, and come up again just as slowly. It’s hard, but that’s the way to build strength. Focusing on form and control is the way to make an exercise really effective. There are no weights required for strength training here.

What exercises to do?

The aforementioned squat is an all-time favorite, of course, as is the plank. There’s nothing like squats for the lower body and the plank works everything, especially the core. Just make sure that you’re using good form. For the squat, your back is straight, legs are wide and knees are behind your toes as you look down. For the plank, keep your back straight and head in line. Of course, for everything, keep your core tight. And if you get bored with a regular plank, there are many variations to hold your interest.

Get stuff done the Navy SEAL way

Want to get stuff done? Get disciplined.

Got plans? Of course you do. And then life happens. It’s frustrating, I get it. Then how are some people able to accomplish so much? They may just be lucky and nothing gets in their way. Or they could be extremely disciplined. Some people achieve their goals no matter how high they set them. And other people don’t. Those people who achieve their goals have the discipline to put blinders on for at least part of each day, and not let anything distract them. If you want to get stuff done, get disciplined.

Navy SEALS have what it takes

In his book, Embrace the Suck, former Navy SEAL Brent Gleeson describes 9 ways to create the discipline it takes to complete a project. Without undergoing the rigorous training it takes to become a SEAL, we can learn from the lessons Gleeson recounts and develop the discipline to achieve our own goals.

Know yourself

The first step, Gleeson says, is to know yourself. Know your strengths and weaknesses. I know that I can’t stop eating chocolate. It’s impossible. What I can do is modify my eating habits so that I only eat a small piece. That small piece has to be the very best, or it won’t satisfy me, though. If I crave chocolate and eat some of the cheap stuff that tastes like wax, I’ll just want more, hoping that it’s better than I remembered. 

Likewise, I know that I won’t be happy with a workout program that uses country music to motivate. I’m happier with classic rock. That kind of music will inspire me to work harder. Like I’ve said, focus on the fun and you’ll get stuff done – hey! that rhymes!

Use your weaknesses as a strength

Your weaknesses can be used to inspire you to change, though. Yes, I admit that I have a weakness for dark chocolate. I can use that dark chocolate as a reward for a week of hard workouts. A very small piece. Likewise, if you see something in yourself that will work against a very important goal, you can work to change it. When I wanted to lose weight years ago, I changed my eating habits. More vegetables, less starch. As much as I adore pasta and potatoes, I cut back when I made it my goal to lose weight. 

If you know that you need to focus and do some deep thinking for a project to complete it, set a timer for 50 minutes, turn off your notifications, turn your phone face down, and get to work. Those last 10 minutes of the hour, reward yourself with some scrolling. When you want to get stuff done, get disciplined, then you get the reward.

Your goals

Side plank star in my home workout area

I’ve talked before about setting specific goals. It’s good for your healthy aging to have a few goals – both long- and short-term. If I want to make it my goal to hold the Side Plank Star for 10 seconds by the end of the year, I should plan steps toward that big goal with the few short weeks left in mind. But all of your goals should have deadlines, and be very specific. Set a route to travel toward your goal. Achieving our goals ensures our happiness as well as our resilience.

So, if you want to get stuff done, get disciplined. And if you want more help getting disciplined and making sure you’ll stay motivated, get the Get It Done Guide.