The Path to Effective Fitness After 40 and 50
Hey guys, I’m Damon Ogando. As a new regular contributor to #couchkills, I’ll be sharing on topics such as 50+ fitness/wellness, workplace wellness, and wellness technology. I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself to the community and tell a short story about my path to fitness after 40 and 50. Professionally I’ve been working in technology for the last 20 years with a focus on rugged computers and computer mobility solutions, which is why I’ll be talking about technology for wellness in the coming months.
Personally I’ve been a fitness junkie for as long as I can remember but, like a lot of you, not always as successful as I wanted to be up until about 8 years ago. I’ve always had an on again, off again relationship with the local gyms where ever I lived. I showed up five days a week but I never really seemed to accomplish any really great results. l was in decent enough shape, but not much more than that.
When I was around 40 years old, I was on a business trip with a group of colleagues, all about my age, give or take a few years. The conversation turned to talk of another colleague who had died from a massive heart attack while visiting a customer. The conversation then became what medications each of them was on for blood pressure, cholesterol, and a host of other things, mostly related to their weight and an unhealthy lifestyle. I thought to myself, while sitting there with a cigar in one hand and a glass of bourbon in the other, “That’ll never be me, I work out…..sort of.” I went back to my room hotel room that night looked in the mirror and realized that I could stand to lose a few pounds. If I didn’t watch it, I’d be participating in the medication conversation very soon. I decided then that I would do my best to not let that happen to me.
At this point, I went out and bought a couple of books that were recommended to me on fitness and weight training , revamped my stale, old work outs and changed my eating habits. For example, I cut way back on the amount of carbs that I was taking in. My favorite snack since I was a child has been a Coke and bag of potato chips; still is. But I now limit how much I eat, and only partake once a month or so. I also love bread, I mean I really love it. That was the hardest thing to cut back on, and it still is. The other major change that I made was to limit myself to one serving of food at dinner. This was also a very hard thing to do because my wife, who is the primary cook at our house (she is far better at it than I am) is a superb chef and it’s hard to say “no more.”
I also started working with a personal trainer that was a “senior” class body builder. I choose him because we had a shared experience of being forty+…. ya know….seniors, which actually helped me a great deal because he knew what it was like physically to be 40+. Pat taught me a lot and we worked together successfully for a few months. Then after I went back out on my own, I hit another plateau, both physically and mentally. I had herniated a disk in my lower back and started to put on a few pounds while recovering. I was floundering for a while ,trying to find something new and challenging.
The challenge came when I turned 44 and was up late watching TV one night and saw a P90X infomercial. I was intrigued by the fact that the creator, Tony Horton, was two years older than me. I thought “If he could work out at that level why can’t I?” So I bought the program, did it and never looked back. It was the hardest and most satisfying thing, as far as fitness goes, that I had ever done. The exercise routines were so much more intense that what I was used to that I would be useless after doing a session. There were many times that I though “Why am I doing this to myself?” but I kept going because I don’t like to quit and, the biggest reason, that I started to notice results after a month. I began to shed pounds and inches at the waist and gain muscle mass along the way. Tony has been my virtual mentor ever since.
Now I’m 52 and still going strong, doing extreme work outs of all kinds and can honestly say that I’m in better shape now than when I was 20. If I could do it with a bad back at 52, anyone can. Think of it like driving your car to work: if there’s a road block or traffic you don’t turn around and go home, you modify your route and find a way around the problem. It’s that same with your fitness: you have to modify your routine to work though whatever you struggle with to accomplish your goals. You can start with just a few minutes a day and build upon small achievements. It’s not as hard as you think, you just have to do your best, that’s always enough!