There was an article in the New York Times this past weekend that got a lot of hits. So, naturally it caught my attention. Why were people so interested in this article? The article was titled Bodybuilding in Your 50s: The Diet Puzzle. After reading it my initial thought was how fascinating it is that we continue to want to equate ourselves to those who do the hard work even though many of us are not willing to (myself included).

suzy q'sI worked out on and off since age 18. Looking back I was in pretty great shape until my mid to late 20s. After a 60 pound weight gain during pregnancy (I ate my way through pregnancy and a bad marriage by eating lots of Hostess Suzy-Qs and coconut covered chocolate snacks call Snowballs), I lost my baby weight. For a small amount of time I thought I had it conquered until, (drum roll) I gained back 20 and lost 20. This began a 10 year cycle of yoyo dieting. At ages 36 through 40 I was at 17% body fat. If you know anything about body fat percentage, that was pretty awesome. I worked out hard with a Trainer  and ate really well (lots of good foods but very small portions). My weight was consistent and more importantly, I felt great and had tons of energy! And then it ended. Again. My workout partner left the Buffalo area, I started a new relationship and had the normal demands put on me as a mom with a teenager, a father who was in early stages of congestive heart failure, and a mom who didn’t drive. This is the story of my life. One that I think many people have lived or are currently living – up, down, up down. No excuses. I tell you about myself because here I sit many years later, knowing more than I want to know about our food industry and nutrition, and knowing movement is life! Like many of you I have had injuries (knee, back, neck) that I have claimed held me back. Truth is I don’t love working out! Truth is I refuse to diet! I eat better foods than the average person, I walk, and occasionally do yoga, or mini work outs.  (ThiWinter usually shoots any gains I make during the spring and summer because I don’t function well without sun, and the cold is torture for me. I would love to look like I did years ago, but I have been inconsistent at directing my actions toward that goal. I accept that without the hard work, that’s not going to happen. It’s a decision, not an excuse. I think it’s important to stop the story telling and face our truths so we can better enjoy the present. That doesn’t mean giving up the effort to be better it just means what it means.

Where are you in the equation? Want that hot middle-aged bod, but refusing to give up weekly alcohol (beer in Buffalo) and sweets (Thinking Elvish Fantasy Chocolate on Elmwood)? Or maybe you think it’s not worth giving up late night eating? Or maybe like a lot of people I know we make Paleo type treats (using almond flour, agave, and way too many nuts) and make believe it’s really good for us. In what ways are you fooling yourself? Do you come to work out at TrainSmart once a week and tell yourself you should be in good shape because you are working out (even though it 1 out of 7 days)? Do you go to your local gym and do tons of cardio in an effort to ditch the fat even though you know the most important component is eating well? What stories are you telling yourself?

People come to TrainSmart most often to lose weight, feel better and get stronger. Many have injuries and are trying to bridge the gab of recovering from injury and going back to past activities. Most have glutes that don’t work and lack core stability and endurance. Most lack flexibility and mobility, as well. Many say that one of their main goals is fat loss, however, when we roll out a nutrition program for them which includes food logging, and reduction of certain foods along with our “one habit at time” philosophy, most fall off the desire grid. When I say most, I mean almost everyone.

trainsmart pyramidTalking with Trainsmart’s owner, Joe Fox, about the dichtomy of wanting vs. working, he says that  many people make the conscious decision that they like the feeling working out gives them, but are not willing to do the work to lose fat and get lean. And, if his clients are okay with that so is he. Joe believes it is realistic for people to feel better, get stronger and thrive in life. It all starts with eating less, moving more, and moving safely. The first real benefits (Phase 1) are about feeling better and being healthier. The second phase goes to real cosmetic change. So what does that take? It takes coming to TrainSmart or another place with a plan to workout 2 to 3 hours a week. However, that’s not enough! You need an active lifestyle outside of the gym. That could include walking, or hiking or doing at home movement snacks. Joe says to get to the next level it’s all about placing a demand on the body which takes us out of our comfort zone, and that is the place where real change occurs – where we add good lean healthy mass in a safe way and perform gradual loading. Frequency beats intensity!! Forget using the demands of your job, or your life as an excuse. Even on those busiest days saying to yourself “I’m going to go into the other room and move a little” is key. Even if it’s only 600 seconds! It’s very important to get the information from someone who understands movement because according to Joe there is a lot of bad information (apps and videos) out there.

richard langfordHere’s the truth. The man featured in the NY Times article, Richard Langford, was in great shape as a younger guy. He worked out since he was 13 and benched 525 in his 20’s.  He is not the norm! For us ladies it would be like wanting to look like a Victoria’s Secret Model – it’s just not going to happen! He started a body building program at age 51 which was a life long dream for him that he began as a younger man. If you read the article he food journaled only to find out he was eating too many empty calories. So he changed his diet (Step 1). He was obese at 275 lbs. which made it a lot easier to lose 70 pounds in a year (Consistent -Step 2). To begin his program he hired a body building coach (Step 3), adjusted his diet several times over the course of a few years (Step 4) and hit the gym 6 days (Step 5) a week for what sounds like 2+ hours a day (Step 6). He eats perfectly! And, his hard work (steps 1 through 6) paid off.  Kudos to him for fulfilling a life long dream as he competes as a professional Masters bodybuilder at the national level!

So I come back to the question – what prompts the fascination and interest in an article like this? Do many of us have that dream? For those who clicked on the article in The Times, were you looking at the title portion that said “The Diet Puzzle” hoping to find an equation that would be magical; kind of like finding a Unicorn in the Finger Lakes? Or did the “Bodybuilding at 50” give you hope of finally looking like Arnold? Either way, are you willing to put in the hard work and sacrifice that Richard did to attain this dream?

I believe when we want something bad enough we will find a way to ride the wave. Some will ride it for a life-time, but most of us are not willing to do the work that long. I think we like the story that says “I tried” more than the one that says “I did it”. The key to most of it is simple, almost too simple to buy into – it’s CONSISTENCY and EATING BALANCED (quality protein, carbs and fats) MOST OF THE TIME. Working out for your body type and age (addressing injuries) most of the time. Food for thought….what are your REAL goals for your health and fitness and what will it take to get there? Then, the big question once you know what you need to do to attain that….are you willing to sacrifice? Results require those thoughts put into action. Consistently over years, not days or months, but years! What actions are you willing to take to get there?

And finally, to Richard Langford – congratulations!  All your HARD WORK paid off!

Here’s a link to the story in The Times: