What’s really keeping you from being fit after 50?

Thousands of midlife women recently responded to a survey about their greatest challenge with exercise.

They shared what they most wanted as a result of the “perfect program.” And the resounding answer was… a toned, tight, firm body and the confidence to live life more fully.

Now, the survey respondents had been a part of a community receiving free videos, emails, free workout suggestions and recipes to help them reach these specific kinds of results.

With all that information right in front of them, you would think they’d already be at those goals or well on their way, right?

But what held them back is what holds a lot of us back…

So, before you read any further, ask yourself this question: Do you believe you can have the toned, tight, firm and healthy body you want to live your life more fully?

Be honest. If the answer is no, jump to the next paragraph and ask yourself another question. If your answer is yes, jump to that paragraph and answer that question…

No: What if you could be a non-believer and still get results by making a few changes in your diet, exercise, and lifestyle habits? Then would you be willing to commit to making those changes?

Yes: Are you willing to trust a process that’s worked for thousands of women but is opposite of everything you may have been conditioned to believe?

Now, sitting with your responses, continue reading…

With a coaching and exercise psychology background I’ve gathered information for over three decades about the “why not” as well as the “why,” and I share below some insights that may get you moving in the right direction.

The easy part

Getting the formula for toned and firm body parts is easy. You can get tips all over the internet. Granted there are fewer targeting women 50 and over, but they’re there.

If that’s true, why isn’t your body where you want it to be? Do you ever wonder?

Because it’s not something that “one” exercise or that one special, pricey piece of equipment can make magically happen… Here’s the secret to getting toned:

  1. Lift heavy weights twice a week.
  2. Focus on compound exercises like squats, lunges, chest press, rows, and pull downs (you can see how to do some of these exercises here).
  3. Include lighter weights for smaller muscle groups as you have time to add this after your heavy lifting.
  4. Rest at least 48 hours between weight training sessions. Rest up to 72 hours if you find you aren’t fully recovered or if your schedule demands it.
  5. Sleep according to your need. When you’re reaching your quota, you go to bed when you’re tired and you wake up naturally feeling rested.
  6. Eat as if you were an athlete. No dieting, no deprivation included.
  7. Drink water according to your needs — between 6 and 10 glasses a day.
  8. Ignore messages that you need to snack or eat 5-6 meals a day. If you’re eating high-quality foods at each meal you may never need to snack. If you’re highly active you might need to between 3-4 hours after a meal. Each of us is different.

You could watch episodes of Flipping 50 from the Wellness TV app and get specific routines that help you reach your goal for free. You could get the formula for doing it in 10 minutes two or three times a week.

So if you have access to free programs — and free posts, like this one that solve your time challenges — and you can conveniently do them at home… what’s still holding you back?

The hard part

The flabbiest part of you is not your thighs. It’s not your belly or your bat wings. It’s your mindset. You’ve heard of the placebo effect, right?

Placebo testing works like this: one group takes an actual substance; another takes an inert substance that has zero impact on them physiologically. It need not be a pill or substance. The placebo effect is also apparent in studies done with belief systems.

Hotel housekeeping staff members were all told that physical activity was necessary for health and weight loss. Half of the staff members were told that what they were doing all day at work qualified for physical activity. The other half was not given this information. Both groups were subject to signage reminding them of the importance of getting daily exercise. At the end of the study the group of housekeeping staff members who believed they were getting what they needed in order to lose weight did lose weight. The other group, equally as active at work, did not lose weight.

But the placebo affect can work both ways…

Are you constantly telling yourself how your sedentary job is killing you or making you fat? Stop it. The mind is a powerful tool.

Start getting up every hour for five minutes and stand during times when you’re on the phone. Walk at your lunch hour. Stretch instead of coffee break. Those little things make your day active enough to influence weight loss.

Use of placebo effect is done with marketing and positioning all the time. If you believe that the perceived value of a product is higher than another, you are more likely to be willing to pay more for it. If you are faced with a choice between two like-priced products the one you feel the best about will seem like the better value for you.

Small steps

If only changing the brain was as easy as a bicep curl. Yet, it all takes practice. But if you start easy, you’ll find a few regular repetitions later that you’re on your way to where you want to be.

Here are some baby steps to help you get past whatever it is that’s holding you back:

  1. If you don’t have time: identify something you do daily that takes 10-15 minutes. Brainstorm creative ways to couple exercise with this activity. Do you read the paper? Do it while you ride an indoor bike. Do you watch the news? Do it while you stretch, lift weights, or walk on the treadmill. Do you make phone calls? Only do them while walking briskly.
  1. Do you find exercise painful? Ask friends, colleagues, and your medical support team for a referral to a trainer who works with the specific problem you have. Make an appointment for a consult. Make it a priority to get answers. You are not the only person who has ever had this problem. Get advice. Take it.
  1. Be real. If you have resistance to 1 or 2 above and you’re long on reasons neither will work — you may be stuck. You’ve decided that you can’t fail if you don’t try. Something about doing nothing is working for you. If you knew what to do and it worked you wouldn’t be reading this. When you’re open to more possibilities than you are to wrong answers, you’ll start seeing progress. Until that, all the great advice in the world won’t help you.

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Debra Atkinson

By Debra Atkinson

Debra Atkinson Is the founder of the Flipping 50 movement and host of the Flipping 50 podcast and TV show available on your iphone, ipad, and Apple TV. She is the author of four books including You Still Got It, Girl! The After 50 Fitness Formula For Women and Navigating Fitness After 50: Your GPS For Choosing Programs and Professionals You Can Trust.

Debra is a contributing blogger on the Huffington Post, ShareCare, Prime Woman, and Livingbetter50. She provides solutions for women approaching 50 or who have already turned the corner on what to eat, how to move, and the mindset for lifestyle change with hormone balance that will make the next years as the best years. Find her resources here.