Fit at 50 – How to Get Started
So ingrained is the notion of age-related physical decline that those who might otherwise be committed to reversing the effects of aging are instead using the passing of time as a convenient excuse for spending more time on the couch and expending less (or zero) effort on the treadmill.
Though moving more and sitting less may seem an easy solution for the increasing numbers of people content to live out their lives with as little activity as possible, the reality is often more complicated than that. Indeed, the best fitness plans overseen by the best fitness trainers are practically worthless if one is not intrinsically motivated to succeed and willing to consistently adhere to a workable plan.
Unfortunately, the older we get, the more set in our ways we often become, which can make committing fully to a fitness lifestyle a radical and most difficult adjustment for many
In short, finding the motivation, perseverance, determination and physical energy to commit long-term to a lifestyle-focused fitness plan is by far a much bigger hurdle for the out of shape than it is for one who already has an advantage (however slight) in the shaping up department.
The older we get, the more difficult it can be to find the time and the motivation to exercise and eat correctly. The ever-pressing demands of life coupled with an unforgiving aging process can render those who are ‘over the hill’, as the popular saying goes, less capable of summoning the desire to achieve their best ever shape. But summon the desire we must. It can be done. With the right information and incentive, it’s not as difficult a path as many are led to believe.
While proper exercise, nutrition and supplementation are important for all who can safely incorporate each of these vital fitness factors into their lives, the fact remains that it’s especially important for those over the age of 50 to establish a safe and effective fitness regimen encompassing the above-listed variables. It’s into our fifth decade where illness and disease are likely to take hold and where getting in shape can be difficult if one’s health and fitness are left to suffer for extended periods of time.
But it’s never too late to get started and once results begin to manifest, you’ll soon develop the momentum needed to keep at it. One man who has used training, diet and supplementation to successfully stave off the ravages of time is 50-year-old Sean Haralson, a sales executive who has recently achieved his best-ever shape. He plans to keep it that way. And he wants you to do the same.
The following exclusive three-part series documents Sean’s philosophy on training for a lean, muscular and better performing physique. He’ll specifically outline how with advanced supplementation, training and nutrition you too can achieve excellent fitness from age 50 onward.
In this first instalment Sean outlines his approach to goal setting, getting started and gaining (and maintaining) motivation. Learn from Sean and use a combination of time-honored techniques and cutting-edge science to add life to your years and years to your life.
While clowning around is generally frowned upon, it’s what ultimately inspired Sean, a former professional rodeo bullfighter (AKA: rodeo clown), to begin the fitness regimen that has given him the best physical conditioning of his life.
After many years spent bravely putting his body on the line for the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) and suffering the inevitable consequences of many a raging bull, daily, chronic pain became a permanent fixture in Sean’s life. “I used to wake up every morning like the tin man, searching for my can of oil to get everything moving with the least amount of pain as possible,” he says.
“As it once was for me, many of you might find getting out of bed most mornings to be a grueling task. In fact, unless absolutely necessary even the thought of doing anything physical was, for me, likely to be avoided. But now that I’m 50 years old, I look back and realize I’m in better condition today than I was in my 20s, 30s, and 40s. How is that possible? You’ve all heard the quote “age is only a number.” Well, I’m here to tell you that is the truth – well, partially the truth.”
Literally tired of feeling bad and being far from his best physically, Sean had found his “why,” the first crucial step to beginning and continuing a committed training plan. He now had to find the “how” to address the why. A realistic assessment of his current state of fitness was in order. “How many times have you stood in front of the mirror, unhappy with your current condition?” says Sean.
We’ve all had the conversation with ourselves
thinking we could stand to lose a few pounds. But when do we start, or the even bigger question, how do we start? I think the only correct answer to that question is that it’s different for everyone. I started by setting myself a realistic goal.”
Just as the body will inevitably fail to perform to its full potential without the right supplementation, a long-term health and fitness regimen can only be sustained with the right mental fuel in the form of ongoing motivation and incentives.
Think back to some of your most productive training sessions. You’ll find that your best performances were sparked by an intense desire to accomplish a realistic and important objective. You were highly motivated to succeed. Maybe you were preparing for an upcoming contest. Perhaps you were motivated to impress an onlooker, or to look great for an upcoming date.
Whatever the case, it’s an undeniable fact that motivation drives accomplishment and fosters continued and persistent efforts. Before embarking on your fitness plan you’ll need to find a deep source of intrinsic motivation
the kind of motivation that comes from within and that’s attached to personally meaningful outcomes as opposed to other people’s expectations or more superficial factors such as material gain
Being over fifty, your motivation will likely arise from a need to reclaim your former fitness or offset poor health in order to enhance and extend quality of life. You may want more. Goals that were once considered largely unattainable into one’s 50s and beyond (a ripped, muscular physique; high level athletic success) are now being realized by those who have chosen to train, supplement and diet sensibly over the long term.
These are the kinds of incentivized objectives that encourage adherence and a commitment to attaining and the continued striving for excellence, whatever the endeavor may be.
It was once believed that training beyond a certain age was futile; that we should make hay while the sun shines; that advancing age was a time to retire from all activity. Such thinking still persists for some. For those who feel it’s pointless devoting so much time to something that’ll likely yield a poor return on investment, Sean, who’s proven the exact opposite though his own determined efforts, says: “don’t let your age get in the way of progress.”
“There has to be a little motivation to get things rolling. Mostly I hear it’s getting the body ready for summer. You’re probably a little behind your target date at this stage of the game. However, if you just maintain good conditioning for you and your body type year round, that would put an end to the yearly roller coaster ride of gaining weight during the holidays,
put an end to the yearly roller coaster ride of gaining weight during the holidays
“Whether your motivation is getting ready for summer pool parties, fitting that perfect wedding dress, or just to look good naked, it’s a start. Some of you may want to lose weight; others may want to tone their body up, or gain some serious muscle size.”
The specific motivating factor that encouraged Sean to make the gym his closest ally was to manage the chronic pain which had begun to intensify with age. The pain, from many years of professional rodeo bullfighting, brought a whole new meaning to the term “daily grind.”
“After many years of broken bones and repeated injuries, I needed to find a way to manage the pain,” says Sean. “My doctor suggested strengthening my body with weight training. The first words out of my mouth were ‘I don’t have time to go to the gym.’ I bet none of you have heard that before. You might be guilty of saying these ‘I don’t want to’ words yourself.”
However, by making the time to improve his health and wellbeing (the biggest and most important investment any of us will ever make), Sean gradually found it easier and easier to adjust to the newfound rigors of weight training. He soon began to look and feel better. His pain lessened. His outlook on life changed for the better. His purpose for training confirmed, motivation was seldom an issue. The fact he was 50 years old did not enter into the equation.
It wasn’t all plain sailing, but with the right motivation buoying him on, Sean has continued to improve his health and fitness.
But first he had to start from scratch
We’ve all been there. Being the new guy in the gym, an intimidating environment for many a newcomer, is a time of uncertainty and, in many cases, experimentation. However, when reflecting on our fitness beginnings we are often compelled to admit a certain fondness for the novelty and learning experiences our early training days provided.
For it’s a period where gains come fast and the training addiction takes hold. The many positives associated with fitness (improvement of appearance, clearer thinking, better health, friendships formed) make the short-lived struggle of an arduous session well worth the time and effort. Over time we may even begin to savor hard training and its associated progress-inducing pain. Through regular gym work, those over age 50 may find themselves among the few to have disproved the skeptics and defied the aging process.
For Sean, trial and error proved to be an able teacher. Fortunately, from much observation and by incorporating only what worked best for his physique, the gym newbie gradually determined a workable plan (to be disclosed in instalment two) that has enabled him to progress at a rapid rate.
Here Sean recounts his early days in the training trenches:
“So now I’m the new guy in the gym, with my yellow Sony Walkman, MC Hammer pants, probably a netted shirt and absolutely no clue where to start. I look around the room at all the equipment that resembled something torture related, and with no solid direction on what to do first. Most guys go straight for the bench press because that’s the only piece of equipment that looks familiar and somewhat comfortable. Then they start stacking on a large amount of weight they have no business or experience being under.”
“As I sit at the end of the bench in between sets, scanning the room anxiously looking for what to do next, I see several people using other pieces of equipment that look simple enough. Looking back now I realize I was just copying bad form I learned from others.”
“Now, with computers available for everyone, there’s websites that have videos and countless numbers of opinions on what’s best. How do you choose the best approach in such an overwhelming sea of information? You want to know the true secret? This is a secret you can share with everyone. You have to find what works for you and your individual goals. It’s that simple!”
“Now, there will be a lot of trial and error in finding your proper exercise routine. That’s half the fun: getting to try new things, keeping what you like and what works for you and eliminating the things that don’t work for you.”
“This includes training, quality supplements (not the cheapest you can find online), individually tailored nutrition as well as personal goals. These are all major factors that’ll allow you to reach your individual targets. You will need to continue to find motivation during your journey. It won’t always be an easy task, especially given that many people in your age group will have let themselves go and don’t really care.
But once you start to see results, and those clothes start fitting a little looser, these are the good days that’ll keep you on track
Despite having the greatest incentive to train, there will be days when motivation is not on your side; where you’ll come up with every excuse imaginable to avoid the gym. Everyone seems to do it. But, barring injury and illness, this stop again/start again mentality is to be avoided at all costs.
Missed sessions due to ‘not feeling up to it’ gradually erode the positive thinking processes that will have given you your best results. By quitting when motivation is low you’ll likely exacerbate and further foster such feelings to where the easier path becomes a much welcomed respite from the intensive work that’s needed to keep the gains coming.
In short, the more you quit, the easier it will become to quit when the going is tough. Eventually such thinking will permeate the training session itself and you’ll quit before those final growth-producing reps can be achieved. It’s a subtle and insidious process.
While planned rest days and a lessening (or cycling) of intensity can be an effective strategy in which to enhance recovery, you should never miss a session due to low motivation. By following through on your commitment to yourself, you’ll gain much inner strength and your training mindset will continue to grow stronger.
“One important thing I want to share with you, because I’m not a sugar-coating kind of guy, is that there will be hard days, days you just don’t want to do anything workout related. These are the days when you’ll have to dig extra deep. Without these hard days, you won’t appreciate the good days.”
Some of my best workouts were on days I was the most tired and didn’t want to go anywhere near a gym
If, upon reading this article, you’ve decided to adopt the fitness lifestyle, congratulations, you are now on the path to a lifetime of excellent health and peak performance. But before you get started you’ll need to be sufficiently tooled up and ready to work. In the three instalments to follow, Sean will cover training, nutrition and supplementation, and how he has made these crucial fitness determinants fit into his unique plan of attack.
Before we end this article, Sean has one simple question for you: “Are you ready?”
“If the answer is yes, then let’s do this! If you’re hesitant, it’s only because this may be unknown territory for you. And that’s OK, you have to start somewhere. A journey begins with the first step at any age.”