Accountability

My last post I talked about setting goals in a way that allows for the best chance for success.  Having a strategy when it comes to goals and little steppingstones along the way to the overall goal helps keep motivation high.  Knowing that each successful step you take and each mini goal you hit allows you to reach your overarching goal keeps your ‘eyes on the prize’.

What I didn’t mention in the last post was somedays that intrinsic motivation will be low and your desire to even knock off a mini goal could be at a 2 on a scale from 1-10.  That’s okay, because we are humans and not robots.  We don’t wake up every day and have the option to turn our motivation knob up to 10.  So many factors can play into why you just don’t have the motivation to get stuff done like you usually do, and this is when accountability steps in.  Yes, intrinsically motivated accountability is something we all should have when it comes to reaching our goals, but somedays you need a little bit more than your self-talk.  This is where having someone you know will tell you to get up and get whatever needs to be done, done (in the most supportive way possible) is super important.  Yeah sure I have heard the sayings.. “work hard in silence”… “let your success be the noise”… “not all hustle is out loud”… “be quiet about your plans” .. the list goes on.  There is some stock in those statements, one shouldn’t be boastful and put everything on display for the world to see, but you don’t have to keep your life a secret from those closest to you.  Find someone that will remind you to get the little things done and give you that extra push on the days you are dragging your feet.  You can also set reminders on your phone and alarms if you really want to make sure you get things done when they should be done.  But those are easy to ignore and snooze when no one else knows what should have been done.  It is a lot harder to look someone in the eyes (or through a screen due to our virtual living these days) and justify why you didn’t get something done, than it is to justify it to yourself.

I challenged you guys in my last post to create mini goals as checkpoints along the journey to your overall goal; I now challenge you to find an accountability partner(s) to help keep you on track, both on the good and not so good days.  It will be good for all parties involved.  You will be proud of yourself when you make your dream a reality and proud watching your partner(s) make their dreams a reality as well.  When you pick this person you are going to want someone who will be honest with you, this isn’t the time to recruit your friend who is always telling you what you want to hear.  This person should be driven as well, have goals they are working to achieve, and must believe in your ability to reach your goals and be unwilling to let you settle for anything less than you achieving them.

I understand that everyone may not have positive and motivated people surrounding them and pushing them to be their best selves; no worries because Smarter Athlete Fitness and Nutrition offers a built-in accountability partner when you sign up for either nutrition or fitness or a combination coaching plan.  Your coach will design a program that is personalized to your goals and be there for you each week to make sure you are supported on your journey.  If this is what you are looking for reach out via email to paigedavis.wellness@gmail.com to learn more.

Relationships and Accountability - Jason Lauritsen

Goal Setting

Setting goals is fun, the work along the way can be not so fun at times.  Setting a goal is like signing up for a race.  You are super excited when you sign up and have this vision of what it will look and feel like when you cross that finish line; then you start the race.  The first bit isn’t so bad, all the good vibes you had when you singed up are still there and keeping you focused.  Then about halfway you start to get tired, people are passing you, and you can’t see that finish line anywhere.  Now you are tired and frustrated because the finish line is farther than you anticipated when you signed up and you didn’t think it would be this hard and you start wondering if you should just stop the race because no one will care whether you finish or not.   How does this analogy of signing up for a race relate to setting a goal you ask?  Think of it like this, most people set a goal when they are happy, have very little daily life stressors on their mind, and they are feeling super motivated.  And when they start working toward this goal the initial excitement one had when setting this goal is still present.  Then life gets in the way.  When you decide on a goal you are excited and motivated but then all the other life duties get in the way and bog you down.  A work project gets thrown in your lap, something comes up in your family, or better yet a pandemic happens.  You put your goal on pause or just toss it completely.  No one will know you say, it won’t matter if I don’t reach it, it was silly of me to make that a goal anyway, unrealistic.  NOPE!  If that is a goal of yours it isn’t silly and you know who will notice if you don’t reach it?  You will, and that is the only person you should be worried about impressing.

So, this is what you are going to do.  Write down your goal, and then bullet below it all the things that need to happen in order for that goal to be accomplished.  Next you are going to set a date for when you want the goal to be accomplished.  Because a goal without a date is just a wish.  Once the date is set, you look at the bulleted list and break the time between now and the date you set up into 4ths.  Put bullet items together if they are related and put them into one of the quarter time dates between now and your overall goal.  These are now your mini goal check points.  Each time you reach one it will serve as a reminder that you are one step closer to your overall goal and will be a rewarding feeling to cross it off the list.  You can even give yourself a list of things you want to do daily, weekly, and monthly as they help you take steps toward your overall goal.  Whatever works for you is what works.

My challenge for you all is to sit down right now and create your goal and the mini goals that are necessary along the way to ensure success.  And if any of those goals are fitness or nutrition related Smarter Athlete Fitness and Nutrition is the place to be to help you reach those goals.  When you sign-up to work with Smarter Athlete your coach will design a program that is personalized to your goals and be there for you each week to make sure you are supported on your journey.  If this is what you are looking for reach out via email to paigedavis.wellness@gmail.com to learn more.

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Health versus Wellness

The terms health and wellness tend to be used interchangeably.  While these two are very connected, they are not exactly synonymous terms.  To be clear:

Health(n)- the state of being free from illness or injury; a person’s mental or physical condition.

Wellness(n)- the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.

So, in order to have one you need to have the other.  Someone can be free from a physical illness or injury and thus be healthy, but not in a state of wellness because their emotional or mental health may not be at 100%.  In order to be completely healthy ones physical, emotional, and mental health must be free from illness/injury, and once that is achieved one will be in a state of wellness.

If you are looking for ways to improve any aspect of your health in order to be in a state of wellness, Smarter Athlete Fitness and Nutrition can help you.  The coaches are dedicated to you and helping you achieve your goals.  The active pursuit of your health can sometimes be a hard and lonely road, but with Smarter Athlete you don’t have to go it alone.  Email me at paigedavis.wellness@gmail.com to get more information and get started with Smarter Athlete Fitness and Nutrition to take the first steps toward a healthier you. 15894683_1776846229307750_3069929597083203043_n

So, we are still quarantining, now what?

(Still)Bored in the house, and (still) in the house bored?  4 months have gone by since the stay-at-home orders had been put in place and we are still at home.  Yes, I know some places are entering various phases of their ‘back-to-normal’ plans, but things are still anything but normal.  What many were thinking and hoping would have been at the most 1-1.5 months of quarantine has quickly turned into an entire summer.  A couple months back I posted about some ways to handle this new way of living and the stresses that come with it. (Click here for a refresher). The advice there still holds true now that we are 4 months (and counting) into quarantine living.  Overall the advice given there, if you don’t want to go read it, was be kind to yourself and choose vegetables, fruits, and whole foods before you reach for the processed options available to you.  Moving away from the nutritional side of wellness and toward the physical/fitness side this post will give you some options to help create some semblance of structure during these very unsure times.  So, without any further introduction here is my list of advice:

  1. Create a schedule for yourself- This doesn’t have to be the same thing every day, but during the ‘work week’ you should create some type of schedule that would reflect what it would look like for you if you weren’t WFH. Wake up at the same time every day, create a ‘morning commute’ whether that is having breakfast or having a cup of coffee while reading a book/magazine/the news/etc., clock-in for the work day, take a lunch break away from your work area, take walks around your home 5 minutes every hour, and have a hard quitting time where all work related things get put away for the day.
  2. Set aside at least 30 minutes of some type of movement- This can be a walk/jog around your neighborhood, YouTube a yoga session, break out the dumbbells/kettlebells, stretching, body-weight circuits, etc. Just do something that gets the blood flowing through the body and gets you up from your desk/workstation.
  3. Pick up a new hobby or start reading- Do something that stimulates your mind beyond your work; that isn’t finding a new show to watch on Netflix or Hulu.  You can even get into a new podcast.
  4. Check up on your friends and family- Group FaceTime, texts, zooms, whatever it is just make sure the people you care about are doing alright. If you are stressed out by all of this or feel off, there is a very good chance you aren’t the only one.
  5. Get dressed- I noticed personally when I stopped laying around in what I wore to bed the night before I felt a little better. Even if I did change from one oversized t-shirt & sweatpants combo to another one, it made me feel like I had started a new day.  You can also take this further and place a to-go order from your favorite local restaurant (#SupportLocalBusinesses) and put on something other than sweatpants, maybe even do your hair/makeup, and go have a socially distanced picnic.

Pretty much what I am saying is, eat well, move your body, and do something for your mind.  We are creatures of habit and love structure, but we also don’t like feeling like we are in a rut or living the same day over and over again.  So, do something that makes each day a little different from the rest and don’t forget to still treat yourself once in a while.  Nutritional, physical and mental self-care are very important to your overall wellness.

[Thought this was funny and fitting for the post]Cover-photo-for-tweets

Let’s Talk About Alcohol

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I am going to assume that the title of this post is about to draw a good bit of people in, because who doesn’t love a good adult beverage??  I definitely enjoy a glass (or 3..) of wine, a nice cold beer, and a perfectly mixed cocktail; and there are times when enjoying these in moderation may not always occur(cue hangover).  The purpose of this post is to talk about alcohol and your goals.

To keep this as simple as possible I am going to talk about 3 possible goals someone may have. Goal #1 fat/weight loss, Goals #2 muscle building, Goal #3 top athletic/sport performance.  Now you may be reading these goals and be saying to yourself that these goals don’t apply to you.  Maybe these 3 aren’t your number one goal, but one of these 3 are very likely closely related to your main goal, which in most cases may be improved health and better relationship with food.  Whether these 3 goals directly or indirectly apply to you, please continue to read because you might just learn something or may know someone who would benefit from reading this.  So please stick with me.

Goal #1: Fat/weight Loss-

If your goal is to lose some fat and lower your weight alcohol can be a speed bump in this process.  All of those beverages advertised as “low carb” or “low calorie”, while on the nutrition label may show that there are less carbs than the comparable drink, the ABV content is not being considered.  Macronutrients are the foods we take in that supply a caloric value to our diets; and believe it or not alcohol is our 4th macronutrient.  Just so happens that alcohol supplies calories to our diets without supplying any nutrients, so the ultimate empty calorie item.  There are 7 calories/gram of alcohol consumed.  This does not mean carbs in the drink, but solely how much alcohol is in the beverage (enter ABV).  This means that when you are monitoring your calories while trying to lose weight and are accounting for the nutrition label calories you might be underestimating how many calories you are taking in per beverage.  Another pesky detail is that your body will place metabolizing alcohol in your system first and the food consumed during this time may not be metabolized fully and thus end up being stored as fat when there is excess.

Goal #2: Gain/build Muscle-

Two main issues when it comes to alcohol and muscle building is: 1. Alcohol dehydrates you and this directly impacts your muscles, 2. Alcohol messes with protein synthesis and thus inhibits muscle growth.  When something is dehydrated it shrinks, so when you consume alcohol and are dehydrated your muscles become less stretchy and a bit ‘dried out’.  This can lead to higher susceptibility to injury of muscles, which would then lead to the dreaded rest/rehab period.  Protein synthesis is a process in your body that involves the breakdown and rebuilding of muscle in your body.  If this process is impacted your body will not create new protein and thus not be able to build larger, stronger muscles.

Goal #3: Top Athletic/sport performance-

Like I said before alcohol dehydrates you and I am sure you have all heard that athletics and dehydration are not a good combo.  Dehydration like I said above can lead to possible injury, it also impacts the nervous system, and studies have shown marked performance decreases in individuals participating in their sport compared to their hydrated counterpart.  Beyond dehydration (I hate to break it to you) alcohol stays in your system longer than you think.  Unfortunately for females, we have a smaller amount of the alcohol metabolizing enzyme compared to men, so we don’t metabolize alcohol as quickly.  This means we will feel the effects of alcohol longer than a male of the same height and weight as ourselves.  Head on over to this link from the NCAA to read some other impacts of alcohol on performance.  And yes, it is true, and not just the NCAA scare tactic to keep college kids from partying all the time.  In addition to all of the above said effects of alcohol on fat loss, metabolism, and protein synthesis, alcohol will also impact hormones, sleep, and decision making.  All of these things can impact sports/athletic performance.

Now don’t take this as me telling you to cut out alcohol, because I am surely not going to stop drinking my wine and mules after saying this. I am simply sharing some knowledge I have so that you all can make more informed and conscious decisions the next time you head to happy hour with some friends or open that bottle of wine or beer as you sit down to dinner.  Planning ahead, moderation, and consideration of where you are at in regard to your goals are all important when it comes to any decision you make with your health.

Your Health

This post is similar to my post from last week about comparison.  The focus of this one will be on physical health.  Last week was a broad discussion on comparing yourself to others, but this post is going to talk more about social media, eating, and overall health.

Today, anyone that has an Instagram and has some muscle tone thinks they are a health guru.  They will caption their overly edited, overly thought out, incredibly posed photos with things like “eat this and workout like this to get abs like me” or “Follow this plan for guaranteed 6-pack abs, and rapid weight-loss”.  These ‘influencers’ and captions are detrimental.  People with zero qualifications (outside of them having a “picture perfect body”) to be giving out nutritional and fitness advice in the matter-of-fact terms in which they do.  The constant pushing of the message at the core of it all of ‘do all of these things so you are like me and not like you’ is a major issue when it comes to self-love and self-esteem.  Everyone has a smart phone, which makes access to these kinds of messages incredibly easy, especially for teens.  The main demographic that uses various forms of social media are teens, whom are already constantly thinking about fitting in and being liked, and now are followed (pardon the pun) by the never ending need to appear a certain way.  In terms of body image, this is where unhealthy relationships with food and even exercise begin to develop.  When your health becomes something you are concerned with so that you can look a certain way, in order to fit in, it no longer becomes your health.

Like I said last week, living to be someone you are not is not how you win at the game called life.  You are merely existing when you are striving to be someone other than who you are.  You should exercise because you like how you feel after you finish and because you want to, not because “Samantha got 1000 likes on her picture at the beach and has abs and I want to be like her”.  Be fit for the life you want to live, eat foods you enjoy and that support a healthy life, and stop worrying about the likes and follows and comments you get on your social media accounts.  With that, I will leave you with this quote I saw the other day.  If my words don’t register with you and you take only one thing away from this post, let it be the image below.  We are all amazingly different people and should strive to be the best version of our self that we can be.  Originals are so much better than remakes or sequels, so live life as yourself and not as the attempt to be someone else.

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Comparison

I was listening to a podcast the other day during my nice long journey from CT back down to SC and Kevin Hart was a guest for the particular episode to which I was listening.  During the podcast he said something that got me thinking, he said that life is a game.  He is right, life is a game, and in order to succeed we need to play the game right.  This is where the title of this post starts to make sense.  Whether you are playing a sport, a card game, a video game, or a board game you will always have to be aware and mindful of your opponents in order to set yourself up to win.  The issue is when you become overly concerned with each and every move your opponent makes that you begin to forget about what you are doing.  You can’t control other people’s actions and or how they play the game, but you can control what you do and how you play and potentially get them to react to what you are doing.  This is much like life, if you spend all of your time trying to look like someone else, talk like someone else, dress like someone else, you will eventually lose.  You can’t make anyone do something, but you can potentially influence them.  This desire to compare ourselves to others and try to be someone we are not is detrimental to your physical and mental health.  We are all very different and the amazing thing is there will never be someone that looks, walks, talks, and thinks exactly like you ever in this world.  Social media is a big issue when it comes to comparison, it is so easy to open a website or an app and in seconds be flooded with images of ‘the ideal person’.  There is never going to be another you in this world, so embrace that and live every day to be fully, entirely, unapologetically you.  If there is ever someone you should look to be better than it is the you of yesterday.  Wake up each day with the goal to be better than the day before, whether that is in your diet, your fitness, your mental health, your relationship with family and friends, or in your education.  When you become your main competition, you will be setting yourself up for success each and every day, and you will inspire others to live to their full potential as well.  When you strive for your best and stop worrying about what everyone else is doing you will be happy with yourself and give off an energy that draws people to you and radiates positivity out into the world.

Check out my website and get in contact with me to learn how you can work with a personal nutrition and/or fitness coach.

“Dieting”

If you open the dictionary and read the first definition for the word diet you will see this; Diet(noun)= the kinds of food that a person or community habitually eats.

If you walk around asking random people you pass what the definition of diet is you will likely hear something along the lines of “foods you eat so you can lose weight”, or “something followed in order to lose weight”, or maybe “not eating sugar and carbs”.  This is the issue today and the issue I have with the word diet, not because it is a bad word, but because the connotation has become something negative and restrictive.  Diet should not be removed from the language, because the word at its core refers simply to a food consumption pattern of a person or group of people; a lifestyle if you will.  To keep this post short, I want to talk about a mindset shift from hearing diet and thinking restrict to hearing diet and thinking lifestyle.  Your diet should be something that supports your lifestyle in the most nutritious and health-beneficial way,while still giving you a sense of freedom.  Change the mindset from “I can’t eat this or that because…” to “I want to eat this, so I will have it while still eating foods that align with my lifestyle”.  Think of your diet as a toddler.  You know you don’t tell a toddler to not touch something or do something because the toddler will inevitably do exactly what you said to not do.  If you have a restrictive diet, full of “I can’t eat” foods youare very likely to constantly think and want those foods.  Telling yourself you can eat anything you want to eat, so long as it supports your lifestyle, you are more likelyto desire the most beneficial foods most often. 

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One of my shorter posts, but nonetheless a thought that was in my head, so I decided to type it up and share with you all.  If  you are looking to move from a restrictive mindset to a lifestyle mindset when it comes to your diet and need some help head on over to Smarter Athlete Fitness and Nutrition and you can sign-up to get a coach to help you through the process.

Listening to Your Body

Listen To Your Body | Harmony Yoga Redondo Hermosa Manhattan Beach ...

Your body has a lot to say and is in constant communication with you.  Whether or not you are listening is the issue.  From waking up in the morning feeling tired to craving certain foods to feeling sore; your body is trying to tell you what it needs in order to be at its best.  I am going to try to cover these various messages your body is giving you in as succinct a way as possible, because each message could be a blog post in itself.

Let’s start with cravings.  Cravings can indicate anything from you aren’t taking in enough calories to support your expenditure, to some type of memory has been triggered that is making you want a certain food, to your hormones being at work, just to name a few reasons.  To avoid turning this into a psychology and physiology paper as I explain the interplay of memory and hormones on food cravings, I will just be talking about taking in calories to meet expenditure.  When you are undereating your body wants to get in energy as fast as possible in order to refuel.  This is why we tend to reach for the bag of chips or the cookies because our bodies have learned we can get a lot of calories in very quickly and often it is pretty tasty.  Learning to take in the proper number of calories to support your daily life is very important.  Your goals determine how you should be eating; when looking to lose weight and get leaner you will need to take in calories at a deficit, when you are looking to put on mass and get bigger you will need to take in calories at a surplus, and when just looking to stay where you are and support your daily life you should be eating at a balance.  This equation doesn’t look the same for everyone though, it isn’t as simple as just eat less than what you expend to lose weight and eat more than you expend to gain weight.  Each person is different and will respond to diets in a different way.

Waking up in the morning feeling tired can indicate that your quality of sleep during the night wasn’t that great or that you are not getting enough sleep.  Getting enough sleep is an easier correction to make than trying to figure out how to improve sleep quality.  Having a daily schedule and bed-time routine helps make getting the proper number of hours of sleep a little easier.  If you know you are going to wake up at say 6am every day, and that you want to get 8 hours of sleep then you should be in bed and asleep by 10pm every night. In order to make that happen you should develop a bed-time routine that allows you to be in bed and asleep at 10pm.  This can look something like finishing dinner by 8:30pm every night, turning off the television and putting away other screens (phones, tablets, laptops, etc.) by 9pm, having a book to read before you go to sleep, and maybe you have a white noise machine to help you fall asleep as well.  We as humans like structure, and by creating a routine for falling asleep it will help signal to your body over time that once ‘x,y,z’ happen you should be asleep.  Now waking up feeling tired due to poor sleep quality can be signs of not eating enough as well, having high levels of stress which causes your body to release cortisol outside the natural circadian rhythm, or you could have some illness present causing you to not get in a good sleep.  Depending on what the reason is for sleep quality determines what step you need to take next to improve the quality of sleep. (That is post for another time though)

Now to address being sore.  It is good to be sore because it means you have challenged your muscles enough be in a state of re-synthesis.  You worked out hard and now your muscles are repairing themselves.  It is not good to be so sore you can’t move every single day of the week.  Being in a constant state of muscle repair means that you never give your muscles a chance to fully recover and this can lend itself to injury.  Click here to read a previous post of mine on the benefits of resting and taking a day off from your training.

So, if you are reading this sentence, I am going to assume you clicked that link and read (or re-read s/o my loyal following) my previous blog post.  Taking a day off from anything is important to both physical and mental health.  You need to step back from whatever it is you do during the week in order to come back to it refreshed and excited to work at it again.  My fitness fanatics are probably thinking in their heads right now, but what about an active recovery day?  Yes, those are good but what are you calling active recovery?  For me an active recovery day is a leisurely walk or a casual bike ride.  It isn’t me jumping into the pool and swimming laps (no matter how slow I am going, swimming is actually a very interesting exercise modality when it comes to energy expenditure), or going for a long run, or going to the gym and doing accessory lifts.  Active recovery should be incredibly low impact compared to your weekly training.  There is nothing wrong with moving on an off day, but this movement shouldn’t be intense or high impact.  Off days are intended to be for taking your foot off the gas and giving your body the chance to recover and refresh.

This turned out to be longer than I intended, but the thoughts just kept flowing.  The sad part is I could have written even more, the science behind all of this are textbook chapters in exercise physiology.  What I want to be the takeaway here is listen to your body, it knows what it is saying and wants to support you as best as it can.  Taking a day off is fine, taking multiple days off is fine, you need to listen to what your body needs when it comes to rest.  Eat well and eat to support your goals, you get one chance and one body when it comes to living life, so live life well and treat your body right.

To Lift or Not to Lift?

The answer to that question is yes.  There are many benefits that come from resistance training.  The type of training you do depends on what you are looking to get out of the workout regimen you are doing.  Are you looking to improve your mile time or are you looking to put on muscle mass and see some muscular definition?

Endurance type athlete:

Lifting weights is still something that should be done.  The type of resistance training you do here should be muscular endurance training.  By strengthening your muscles so that you are able to perform multiple reps with little rest allows for lowered fatigability of your muscles.  Increasing time to fatigue will make running easier because your muscles will be able to perform at a desired intensity for a longer period of time.  It is also another way to add stress to your muscles and thus your bones without putting your joints through the same ranges of motions that you go through when running.  This can help alleviate some stress added to joints and allow for proper rest at these joints.

Looking to build muscle:

Yes, this is the perfect scenario to follow a resistance training program.  Depending on your training age and history with lifting weights, along with your goal will determine what training program you should follow.  If you are a novice resistance trained individual than you will see results quickly upon following just about any training program.  This is due to neurological adaptations that are occurring.  The more advanced you are in resistance training the more thought out the program you follow needs to be.  There needs to be progressive overload, programmed weight percentages of maximum and the proper rep scheme to allow you to reach your goal.

Outside of helping you reach your desired sport performance goals; resistance training can help you improve quality of life as you age.  Sarcopenia is a typical ‘side effect’ of aging, and results in muscle loss.  By performing resistance training exercises throughout the lifetime, you will slow the muscle loss due to aging.  Another ‘side effect’ of aging is decreased bone mineral density.  Once again resistance training to the rescue. Muscles originate and attach along various bones throughout the body.  By training muscles and putting stress on muscles through resistance training you are putting stress on your bones.  The added stress to bones, when done properly and with a knowledgeable strength coach/trainer, will make bones stronger and thus maintain a healthy bone mineral density.  Another benefit of resistance training is the metabolic cost associated with it.  When looking to lose weight, in particular burn fat, running is typically the first thought.  This thought is true, running allows for fat to be ‘burned’ during the run itself, but once the run is over that ‘fat burn session’ ends as well.  Resistance training on the other hand allows for ‘fat burn’ to occur well after the resistance training session has ended.  When lifting weights, you are breaking down muscle tissue in order to build it back up into a larger and/or stronger tissue.  This process is protein re-synthesis and can last up to 48 hours post resistance training bout (enter DOMS).  The re-synthesis is intensity dependent.  While your body is resynthesizing, it requires energy and thus has a metabolic cost, which in turn allows for ‘fat burn’ and consequently weight loss.

Basically, no matter what you want to do or what life-stage you are in, lifting weights is probably a good idea.  Improve your runs= lift some weights.  Grow muscles = lift weights.  Slow some down side effects of aging= lift weights.  Lose some weight/fat= lift weights.  When done properly and following a well-designed program, lifting weights is always a good choice.  Another thing to consider when lifting weights and seeing desired results is proper fueling, but that is a story for another time.  So get out there and pick up some heavy(-ish) stuff : )