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Staying Fit Over Forty

Recently I attended a luncheon with a group of 40 something women who were all beautiful, accomplished, stylish and intelligent. So I was shocked that when the table conversation turned to fitness, I heard nothing but self defeat. Comments went something like this:

  • At my age, it really doesn’t matter anymore.

  • I’ve had three kids—this belly isn’t going anywhere.

  • I don’t have time.

  • I’ve been married 20 years—who am I trying to impress?

  • I want to enjoy myself at this stage in my life—and I don’t enjoy exercising.

  • I’d rather relax with a glass of wine.

And then there was my personal favorite:

  • I don’t want to go to a class taught by a perky 20-year-old who couldn’t possible understand the changes my body is going through. It isn’t motivating.

Trust me--I get it. I spent my 30s telling myself the same things. I had two kids under the age of two and I could barely find the time to take a shower every day, much less work out. I accepted the fact that my body had changed and that it was just part of getting older. The weird thing was, although I knew that zipping my favorite jeans was just a memory, I really was in denial about how out of shape I’d become. That is until about six years ago when I was confronted with a larger-than-life photo of my husband and me on the front page of the Express News. I remember looking at it and thinking, “O!M!G! WHO IS THAT?!”

That was enough to kick my ass into high gear. I started walking three miles every day---then twice a day. Then I joined a gym and found a class I enjoyed. Then I hired a trainer and suddenly everything changed. The stronger I got, the more confident I became until now, at 47 I am in the best shape of my life—strong, healthy, and athletic. That’s not to say it was easy. There are certain challenges that being “40-something” presents. Hormonal issues, loss of muscle mass, loss of bone density and more are working against us----but those are even more reasons to get your sweat on!

It makes me sad to hear women my age throw in the sweaty towel because they think their best years are behind them. The point is, it is NEVER too late to get and stay in shape—and you should always make yourself and your health a priority—you deserve it! So to address the excuses above:

1. It does matter! More importantly—YOU matter! Do you really want to go into your 50s and 60s feeling tired or having health issues that could easily be improved or even avoided simply by staying active?

2. So. Not. True. I’m not guaranteeing you’re going to get a six-pack-- but you will lose weight and belly fat, thereby reducing your risk for heart disease and other health problems that come from carrying extra weight around your middle.

3. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Make one of them YOURS! It might mean getting up an hour earlier or eliminating an hour of Internet surfing from your day but your’re worth at least 60 out of 1,440 minutes aren’t you?

3. YOURSELF girlfriend! It’s your life, your health and your body. Enough said!

4. Do you enjoy walking? Hiking? Swimming? Dancing? Do you play golf or tennis? Those count! Exercise doesn’t have to be torture—you’re allowed to have fun!

5. Ok—this one kills me. Even some of the most fit women I know who religiously avoid sugar and fast foods will kill a glass or four of wine every night. Do you know how much sugar is in alcohol? I’m not saying you have to go cold turkey, but limit it to one glass every now and then and watch the weight come off. Bonus: your motivation might improve when you aren’t drinking a depressant every night.

6. Yes—sometimes it’s hard to stomach the impossibly adorable 20-something with her topknot, sipping her green juice while she lifts her toned leg over her head--- but don’t be a hater. See what you can learn from her. Personally, I enjoy my younger gym friends because they inspire me to step up my game, and they often come to me for advice from someone who’s been there done that. But if it really bothers you—there are hundreds of instructors and classes in the city—find one that suits you or take advantage of the online streaming so many gyms and studios now offer.

---bonny

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