How does a sixty-one-year old woman in a short denim skirt and a tight T-shirt look as good as a teenager? The truth is, she looks better—because her fitness is emotional as well as physical. “The beauty of having been on the planet for several decades is you know yourself, what makes you feel good, and how to achieve that feeling,” explains fitness-buff Wendy Ida. Wendy feels that pursuing fitness in middle age is double-edged. While we may have a keener appreciation for the “glow” that comes with a good workout, that workout will need to have a greater focus than the one we did (or maybe didn’t do) in our twenties. That’s because in our late thirties, our muscles start to atrophy, rather than grow. So as we age, building muscle and weight training are the keys to staying physically fit.
Wendy didn’t begin exercising and eating healthily until she was forty-three years old. I asked her about her exercise regimen; how many sit-ups it takes to get a washboard stomach and how to get cut arms when you’re getting into middle age. Interestingly enough, Wendy’s answers had more to do with how a person thinks than what a person does. I pushed her for answers that might explain those abs. “At forty-three, I had to get my thinking right,” she said. “I had to shift into the powerful person I really was inside. I was a fast-food junky, and I’d been in an abusive marriage for years, but I didn’t feel like I could escape. I couldn’t be myself. Not until I realized that I really wanted to be myself more than anything else was I able to finally make a change.”
Here are a few changes to your lifestyle that Wendy suggests:
1. Remove bad food choices from your house.
Wendy doesn’t have anything in her house that will lure her away from her healthy eating. When she does allow herself to eat sugar, baked goods, or sweet treats, she does so out of her home.
2. Get your partner on board.
Wendy says one of the greatest challenges to maintaining a new eating and exercise program may be our partners. If those we share our lives with are on board and supportive, we’re much more likely to succeed in meeting our fitness goals.
3. Make conscious, consistent health decisions.
When changing your diet and exercise habits, consistency is crucial. Your new routine must evolve into a real routine, not a few days of mindful eating. You’ll find, even though it may be hard to imagine at first, that eating more fruits and veggies as a way of life is a great pleasure.
Wendy’s now a personal trainer, and every day she encourages clients to stop believing that being a certain age means that they’re stuck, that they can’t change, that they can’t be happy. She’s adamant that fitness is as much a mental exercise as it is a physical exercise.
“Okay, say you’ve decided that you want it; you’ve changed your mind,” I said. “I know that making good health choices is important, but I’ve got to ask, what’s your real secret?” Her answer: “Balance. Life is a mix of pleasure and work.” Listening as Wendy talked about spending time with her husband and helping others achieve their goals, I noticed that she’s managed to create a life with more pleasure than work, or so it seems. Her work has in many ways become her pleasure and her pleasure, getting massages and vacationing, is intertwined with her work. The two shift from one to the other almost imperceptibly.
Of course, Wendy turns heads wherever she goes. She entered her first bodybuilding competition at age fifty-seven, and she took first place in the forty-five and up bracket. In 2012, she was crowned Ms. Culver City, and she’s received innumerable other awards and honors. She’s not shy about her fabulous physique, and she has no problem with the attention her looks bring her. Wendy’s a walking advertisement for healthy living, and she accepts it unabashedly.
Now sixty-one, Wendy has simply found what she’s passionate about—eating right, and staying fit and healthy. Wendy looks how she does because health and fitness are her passion. Loving what you do really can produce amazing results. Wendy finds pleasure in these things, and she’s made it her business to help others experience just a sliver of the pie she eats from each day.
So how does a sixty-one-year-old woman look the way Wendy Ida looks? She loves how she feels, what she does, and who she helps. She loves that as a breathtaking manifestation of a balanced, vibrant life, she inspires others every day. She loves it, that’s how.