It's easy to dismiss 40s as "over the hill" when you're in your 20s and even throughout your 30s. I was always curious how it would be for me when I rounded that corner. Would I feel old? Would I feel fit? Would I be strong?
Some of my most cherished memories are now 20 - 25 years old. That's the "old" part. But reflecting on the past makes me thankful and provides me with a greater sense of self-awareness. I recognize what makes me happy and acknowledge what does not. The mantra 'to each their own' speaks very clearly to me in a way it hadn’t even a few years ago.
There was a time during my mid - 30s when I was surrounded by people with whom I did not share similar interests. I started losing sight of my personal priorities. I made a conscious decision to redirect that outside negativity in a positive direction. I channeled my efforts into becoming stronger both physically and mentally and my bodyweight-only BODYpow program began to take shape.
No one at any age is immune to stress or pressure. But I believe that the warewithal we acquire as we gain experiences and navigate through life’s challenges have the ability to make you stronger.And mental fortitude translates well into physical fitness.
It does not come as a surprise to me that the most consistent group of people in my BODYpow classes are 40-somethings. My class participants are high school and college athletes to veteran fitness and starter-upper 50/60 year olds. Anyone can BODYpow and they do. But the 40-something age group is always strongly represented.
This group understands that results are more than just physical. They self-regulate to their own fitness level a make adjustments as their strength increases.They are patient with themselves.They do not judge or compare. They overcome vulnerability with internal focus.This group sees fitness as a top priority, understands the overall health benefits of a consistent exercise routine, and knows that taking personal time to feel strong is actually a very selfless act.
There's no reason to stop working out as you age. I workout just as hard today as I did when I was training as a national level swimmer 20 years ago. The bounce-back rate just isn't the same. Training at an older age requires more behind-the-scenes diligence so that workouts can continue to be effective and injury-free. Proper nutrition, enough sleep, and "muscle pampering" are key elements to maintaining my personal training style and my chosen way of life.
Exercise preferences vary.Goals differ. But these are a few simplified tips I use which can help maintain any fitness regime as the years start to accumulate.
- I eat plenty of protein to help repair worked muscles. I don't avoid carbs completely, they are important for energy. I try to avoid refined sugars and processed foods to avoid feeling lethargic. I workout hydrated and replenish immediately after training and I practice portion control.
- I turn in early most nights and take a 25-30 minute power nap during the day fairly often (that's the "old" part again). Lack of sleep directly affects the energy level I need for my workouts.
- I incorporate stretching into each BODYpow class I instruct but I also take more time to stretch on my own when I'm feeling stiff. Epson salt baths help alleviate sore muscles and monthly massages and/or acupuncture have become more of a necessity than a treat.
So now that I have reached my 40s I have my own answers. Fitness in your 40s is about channeling your acquired mental strength to build and establish physical strength. It's about patience, consistency, and taking care of yourself for the other hours of the day when you're not working out.
Can you be fit in your 40s? Yes. Because strength in your 40s is already there.