You’re Not Too Old

I’m 52 years old. I run three times a week and I lift weights three times a week. I’m in the National Guard Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) as a Fire Control Staff Sergeant. I am very physically active, and my wife and I like to go on hikes, long walks, and exploring together. I can do this now that I’ve taken control of my eating and my health by doing a Whole30 and adopting The Paleo Diet.

I was 48 years old and morbidly obese. I am only 5’7″ tall and yet I weighed 320 lbs. Climbing up one flight of stairs left me winded. I was a Type 2 diabetic, taking Metformin to control my blood sugar. I had Fatty Liver Disease. I was beginning to experience circulation and nerve issues in my lower extremities. My vision was deteriorating due to the diabetes. I was too young to have all these issues, and my cousin Sarah, a Physician Assistant, talked to me about it. She told me that I didn’t have long to live if I didn’t change something quick, but I told her that I’d tried diets and I tried exercise, and nothing worked. She asked me, “What would you do if I told you that you can lose weight and get healthy without exercise?” I told her that I didn’t really believe that it was possible, but she persisted and told me that she lost a bunch of weight doing Whole30 and Paleo. I was intrigued. I trusted her, and if she said it would work, I would give it a try. I talked to my wife, and after a few weeks of discussion and planning, we went into a Whole30 with everything we had. Less than a year later, I was no longer diabetic, no longer had fatty liver disease, my vision improved, and the circulation issues I’d been experiencing with my lower extremities had ceased to be a problem. Within a year, I was talking to recruiters about re-entering military service (I had already served 11 years on active duty in the Marines).

At age 49, I enlisted into the Army National Guard. I passed the height and weight standards, and I scored a 273 out of 300 on the Army Physical Fitness Test. I was scoring better than men 30 years younger than me. I was able to do this not because I paid anyone or for any product to help me lose weight. I was able to do this because I changed my lifestyle and adopted a healthy diet while eventually adding exercise (after losing 130 lbs first).

Not once did I ever think that I was too old to do this. Even now, as I’m doing 6-mile ruck marches with 45+ lbs in my pack, running APFT’s in uniform, or going through challenging obstacle courses am I thinking about my age. When it gets hard, I’m reminded of it, but I don’t let it stop me. I use it as fuel to propel me past the obstacles. I aim to persevere, and I don’t allow anything to get in the way of my goals. The LAST thing I will allow is anyone younger than me to think that I don’t have the ability to be where I am. I’m not the fastest or the strongest, but I’m not the slowest or the weakest either. I don’t come in last.

Age is just a number. Your body will put up with a lot more than you think it will. It will deteriorate if you let it, and it will try to trick you into thinking that you can’t do any physical activity because being stationary is definitely easier than getting up and doing some exercise. Start slowly, allow recovery/rest time, and you can do anything! Eat right and you will lose weight. Exercise and you will not only get fit, but you will also find doing things around the house will get easier.

I’m 52 and doing things I couldn’t do when I was 30. I’m in better shape now than I was 22 years ago, and I even weigh less. I am more flexible, I’m stronger, and my mind is clearer from all the exercise and good food. I’m not a gym rat, and I’m not missing out on life because of fitness; to the contrary, I’m living my best life because of it and eating well. I know you can do this, too. You just have to want to do it and get age out of your mind. It’s just a number.

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