Fit For Life

I spend a lot of time in gyms these days, either trying to improve my weight-training performance or working on removing some layers of fat – usually both. For this week’s blog, I thought I’d explain why I’m doing this in the first place – and how this spreads into other areas of life. I hope this will show that the level of addiction with gym-based stuff brings benefits outside of the weight room – and I my case, how it’s changed my life completely and forever.

A little personal history first, if I may. Up until the age of 50, I was lazy – did no exercise and ate all the wrong things. I hit my 50th birthday at a weight of nearly 18 stone, officially obese and with a bodyfat percentage figure that I can’t imagine. Something else hit me at the same time – a doctors warning that I was in a pre-diabetic state and was heading for some other serious health issues.

I used that message as a serious jolt to my system, and spent the next few years getting fit – lots of cardio in the gym, and eating much more nutritiously. After a couple of years, I added resistance training to the mix. Which brings me to where I am now – about 11.5 stone, with a bodyfat level of 11% which has dipped to about 7% for fitness and muscle model contests – including my win for my age group at the Miami Pro World Championships in April.

So I could talk and write for ages about nutrition, cardio and resistance training. Indeed, I often do. But there have been many benefits to my adoption of a fitness-focused life – and I hope that describing these will encourage you to spend more time on fitness activities.

Firstly, there are obviously the health and longevity benefits. If I hadn’t changed course 7 years ago, I think I’d now be over 20 stone and pretty much immovable, being out of breath just walking across the room. If I was still breathing at all. Now I hope I have many years of fit life ahead if me and will reach 60 in a couple of years fitter and healthier than ever.

I’ve discovered sports I couldn’t dream of doing – I ran my first ever 1k fun run six years ago, then progressed through 5k’s and 10k’s and now regularly participate in marathons. I’ve also bought a bike or two, and now cycle up to 100 miles on some days. Add in the swimming, triathlons and mountain walking, and the fact that Is I have discovered the joy of exercise – something alien to me 10 years ago.

But there are other benefits. I feel much better about myself mentally, more positive for the future. I now believe it’s never too late – for anything – rather than the pessimistic outlook I used to have.

I share many activities with Jenny, my wife. She had pretty much given up on me from a fitness perspective, and we spent too much time apart – as she went off for a run, while I stayed in and watched TV (and probably phoned for a pizza). Our time together has probably doubled, and is much more enjoyable.

Outside of my family life, I’ve become involved In the community through the local running club and organising and presenting fitness training sessions for other, local, over 50-year olds. My oldest regular attendee is well Into his seventies and has progressed in fitness to have a metabolic age of 44 and is still improving. At the other end of the age range, I’m a mentor to Dan Wynes, a fitness star of tomorrow. It’s a particularly good feeling to be able to pass on the benefits of fitness I’ve had to others from 20 to 70 and behind – and be respected as a result. This level of respect, the feeling that I’m doing something that genuinely helps others and be appreciated as a result, is a feeling that was unknown to me in my past life. ┬áSo, yes, I have the trophies and a bit of glory on the way, but they are matched in every way by the other joys of being healthy, enjoying life and making a difference to others. It’s infectious, and I hope – well, if you haven’t caught the bug yet, that maybe this article has helped.

By the way, I’m the co-host of a new fitness magazine TV programme. Called ‘Fit Happens’, the show is on Sunday evenings at 8:30, repeated on Wednesdays at 9:00. It’s on the Community Channel – which is FreeView 63, Sky 539, Virgin Media 233. Each week I’m joined by sports nutritionist Keith Cormican, and I hope you get the change to watch – and maybe get some further inspiration towards the benefits of a multi-activity, fitness-focused life!