“The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected”
If you are reading this page because you are in your forties and you want to get in shape then this quote probably resonates with you quite a bit. What’s that other one – youth is wasted on the young. An equally good quote that will no doubt have you nodding in agreement.
If you are over 40 and you aren’t already in shape then you probably fall into one of the following two categories:
1. you were a young athlete who has let it slip and you want to make amends for a couple of decades worth of takeaways, corporate ladder climbing and kids.
2. You are a terminal couch potato who has recently started worrying about the very real possibility of falling victim to one of the seemingly endless number of potentially life ending health disorders out there – maybe you’ve already had your first heart attack.
NOTE: I recently heard about an old school friend who had a heart attack 2 months after his 40th. This guy is your typical English dude. Eats like he’s going to live forever, drinks coke with every meal. This is off on a bit of a tangent I know, but doesn’t it just give you the absolute shits when people are like “I can’t believe he had a heart attack” or “he was so young”. You really can’t play daily games of Russian roulette with your health and expect to win. Sooner or later (probably sooner) we all have to pay the price for those poor decisions.
Anyway. Whether you once a stud athlete or you are in chronic health special needs class, this post is for you.
Taking control of your health at any age is an awesome thing to do, and the number of people getting back in shape or beginning their fitness journeys past the age of forty is growing fast. The internet has made us way more aware of the health issues facing us than our parents EVER were. All that knowledge at the touch of a button. Unfortunately, the vast majority of this information is based on non-scientific views and from advertisements promising super fast results in almost zero time and with minimal effort on your part. This has made the internet of health things confusing as hell! Believe me, If I had a penny for every new client who asked me if they needed to begin cycling carbs, eating paleo or going on some crazy cabbage juice diet. Well, let’s just say I would have a fair few pound coins.
I will be going into lots of depth on the subject of FAKE HEALTH AND FITNESS NEWS over the coming months but I wanted to start by giving you a few tips that will make your journey into health a little easier.
- Make time or you’re dead in the water before you even set sail:
You are in your forties so chances are you have a bit more going on in your life than you did a decade ago. Regardless of whether you are the CEO of an ASX top 50 business or you have 5 kids and pet zoo at home, make time to train and prepare food. Ring fence this time. Schedule it in your diary, and protect this time as though it was a major business meeting. Do not make excuses and do not put it off until tomorrow. As we all know, tomorrow becomes next week, next week becomes next month etc. Oh, and Monday is not a good day to start a new fitness or diet regime either. Next Monday is even worse. The best time to begin is right now. There are 86400 seconds in a day. That is a lot of opportunities to pull your finger out and get going.
Plan as though your life depends on it – it does. Set some realistic goals. It is difficult to make a significant change to your lifestyle, and you make it even harder if you decide to change too many aspects of your lifestyle in one hit. Instead of giving yourself a hard time for not being able to fix your shit. Make your goals manageable, achievable and short term. There is no point setting a big goal for 12 months away – unless you have a track record of success doing this, or it is for a task specific goal such as a marathon. The chances of you achieving a long term goal without having some short term markers (goals) is going to be very limited. For example: If your plan is to lose 10kgs bodyweight by the end of the year, set yourself an decremental goal such as aim to lose 1kg per month. Celebrate these small wins as though they were massive. Reward yourself! If you fail along the way, it gives you much more time to reassess and recalibrate your focus. It may even be worth punishing yourself for the fails. You might want to impose a burpee penalty something similar.
- Give up one thing that you know is detrimental to your health for 30 days (As a follow on from planning). The 30 day life hack.
This could be caffeine, it could be bread, alcohol. It can be anything. Write a diary about how you feel without this thing. A day-to-day log charting every success and failure. Don’t give up. 30 days is a manageable amount of time. If you are changing your diet, it might be worth journaling about something you added in for 30 days. Maybe month one is taking out bread. Month two could be going paleo for 30 days. It doesn’t matter what you change, it is just important that you make a positive change. Some of these changes will become habits and will stick for life, others will fall by the wayside.
For example, I recently gave up caffeine for a month as part of an attempt to deload the stress on my adrenal system. I’m 40, I train hard with a group of 2o somethings, and I didn’t feel that body needed the additional stress. After the 30 days were up I reintroduced a single cup of great quality coffee into my day – 30 mins before I train. Why? because I love coffee and I feel it helps prep me for a big training session – and it’s way better than pre-workout which is full of crap – flavourings, colourings and sugar. This is symbolic of a win.
Another example. A few months back I tried meditation. For 30 days I meditated for 10-20 mins in the morning. I used an amazing meditation app called Headspace. After about 5 days spent using the app, I came to the realisation that I wasn’t really meditating at all, I was just sitting there listening to the guy on the app talk and thinking about what I had to do that day or what I had done the day before. On the last day I decided that I wouldn’t continue this practice until I have had the chance to immerse myself fully in an environment more conducive to learning about meditation. This was a fail, but a productive one. You learn a great deal about what works and what doesn’t from these short 30 day mini-hacks.
- Don’t make excuses (especially not to yourself)
If you fail at something because it is just too difficult or you just fuck it up, know that this if ok. It is ok to fail. The toughest days in a persons transformation from sickness to wellness are those first few days and weeks when you are adjusting to the changes you have made. Even if you are making a single change per month it will still be hard. There are just so many opportunities to fail. When things do go wrong the worst thing you can do is start listing to that inner demon. You know the one: “I didn’t succeed because ….”or “The timing wasn’t right”, “It wasn’t my fault”. These are bullshit excuses and you shouldn’t listen to them. You need to find a way to quieten this internal dialogue. Silence the voices that make it ok to quit the training plan and pick up a doughnut. It is neither OK or acceptable to do this. These internal lies that we tell ourselves need to be ignored. Here are a couple of ways to shut up the negative voice and reaffirm the positive message that you bought into when you made the decision to get fit in the first place.
- Write down your original goals, or goal, if you are following a 30 day change. Say this outloud every morning. Make it your personal mantra.
- Each time you mess up turn it into a new beginning – every second is a chance to begin again. Don’t use this as a reason to throw in the towel. Simply learn to re-adjust and get back on the correct path. Learn the lesson and put the mistake behind you.
- Your current social set don’t want you to stay the course.
This is a tough point and what I am going to type next will not be very popular, but it s an important part so screw you. If you didn’t want my advice then you should have stopped reading before now.
Here goes. If your friends don’t support you when you want to get fit or change your life get better friends. We need a rich tapestry of relationships in our lives, but if one of those friends is telling to eat another cheeseburger or to put off training until tomorrow then you need to ask yourself the questions. Is this person worth more to me than my health? Does this person REALLY have my best interests at heart?
We come into this World alone and we leave it alone. If you aren’t making your own decisions based on what is going to best for health then you need your head examining.
Family is a bit tougher, but similar rules need apply. If your have a partner who doesn’t support you then they either need to get on board with the changes you want to make or they start looking for somewhere else to sleep. Be selfish with your health. It’s not the same as being selfish with other things in life.
I hope some of this is helpful.
NEXT WEEK. Directionless training. Do I need a coach?