Forever Young: 5 Tips for Improving Your Lifestyle Before It’s Too Late

workout tip

Howdy, you might know me as the guy who wrote such memorable post as From Elegant to Elephant: When Your Woman Gains Weight and the remix When the Woman You Love Gains Weight. When you write post with titles like these, you kinda sorta have to put your money – or weight, as the case may be – where your mouth is.

Let me warn the younger readers right now while you still have a chance to save yourselves: thirty is not the new 20. I don’t know who started that vicious rumor, but it is NOT true. I went into my 30s thinking it was the new 20s, and therefore, I wouldn’t have to make any major changes to my normal routine because I would simply be reliving my 20s all over again – except with more money and wisdom.

WRONG!

this is 30

There are any number of differences (and horror stories) I could traumatize you with about your 30s, but today I’ll focus on some changes you should make to your eating habits and gym routine if you want your 30s to remotely mirror your 20s. If you’re over 30, hopefully you’re already doing these things, and if you’re under 30, hopefully you’ll learn from my mistakes.

Diets Are for Teenagers

When you’re in your teens and early 20s, you can diet all you want. I personally think diets are pointless and stupid, but I recognize they serve a purpose. Diets are like the Tyler Perry’s of the health & fitness world. I don’t care for them, but I assume – given their popularity – that they must do some good for some people. That said, if you’re in your late 20s or older, give up dieting immediately!

In this age group, you can no longer “diet.” Diets are temporary solutions. When you hit your mid 20s or later you need to make  lifestyle changes if you want to see any lasting impact on your health or waistline. I don’t care who you are, your metabolism – if it hasn’t already – will slow down. I’m a naturally slim guy, so like most idiots, I assumed I would be the exception to the rule and that my fast metabolism would be a personal gift from God that would never abandon me.

FALSE! AND YOU WILL BE NO DIFFERENT MY FRIEND!

Tip: Start making lifestyle changes as soon as possible. Lifestyle changes are sacrifices. Unlike diets, which are temporary solutions to permanent problems, sacrifices entail giving something up for good. For example, I “gave up” smoking, drinking sodas, fruit juices that aren’t 100%, and fast food. I put “gave up” in quotes, because this isn’t a punishment; however, whatever you give up should become the rules not the exception. You’re only hurting yourself by continuing to eat and do things you don’t need a doctor to tell you is bad for you. The longer you wait, the more time it has to do damage. Stop making excuses and living on fad diets. Give up your vices today, and your future-self will thank you.

“Skinny Fat” People Are Not Healthier

By the time I came across a health article on Skinny Fat, I was already in the midst of attempting to get back into shape. Skinny fat is defined as, “excessive belly fat—and relatively little muscle mass… [or] … ‘normal weight obesity,’ this type of build is linked to increased risk for diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease, the leading killer of Americans.”

Most people assume if they’re slim or skinny, then they must be in shape. This is a hugely inaccurate assumption. The fact is you can be skinny/slim and be out of shape or you can be big/husky and in shape. Although I fell into the earlier category, I was getting more and more out of shape and I wasn’t doing anything about it.

Tips: Like most things, the easiest way to get into shape is to never get out of shape. That’s not realistic for most people. Most of us need a wake-up call before we’ll make the necessary changes. If you’re not in shape or you’re not in the shape you want to be: 1) start SOMEWHERE, anywhere. This couple lost a combined 500lbs in two years by doing something amazing…WALKING. 2) If you’re already working out, but not getting the results you want, DIVERSIFY YOUR WORKOUT. It sounds simple, but I got amazing results by simply adding to and diversifying the workouts I was already doing.

I was going to the gym 5-days a week but I wasn’t getting a real workout. I was doing the same thing boring workouts I’ve been doing the past 10 years, and I never sweat. Now I  change up my routines every 4 to 8 weeks, use varying sets to create muscle confusion  (think P90X and Insanity, both of which I’ve used intermittently), and if I don’t sweat I don’t consider it a real work out.

Click over to the next page for more tips and my own “before and after” photo.

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  • 12 Point Buck

    I co-sign all of this right here. Without a healthy lifestyle, you wont be able to stop the rollercoaster of unhealthiness– it'll get worse and worse.

    To add, its not just about stopping the decline, but also about genuine improvement. One thing I noticed after I made my own lifestyle changes was that I eventually reached a point where I could kick my 20 year old self's azz in just about every category. Appearance, strength, intelligence, endurance, fashion– it's kinda funny.

    Especially for guys– every year is an opportunity to stunt on your younger self. And if you keep it up, you can constantly improve. Don't let the typical american western diet and lifestyle make you physically disabled and dependent on the system.

    This will be me at 80: http://www.insideedition.com/images/stories/1302/

    My great grandkids will be like "holy shyt…"

    • WIM

      LOL Idk about that 80-year old guy. I wouldn't even know what to do with all those muscles, especially at 80. Try to get at 50-year old women?

      But, I see your point. I think a lot of people (self-included) get to a point where it's like "I'm XX year old, so I can let myself go" or "I'm married…" or "have kids…" etc etc. Excuses are limitless. I thought I was getting out of shape because I was 30, but in reality I was getting out of shape because I wasn't adjusting my workout to keep up with my age. I added in some cardio, diversified my workout, and changed my diet and started getting better results. I'm roughly in the same shape I was at 25, which is funny because I was in worse shape at 27 than I am now. Gotta overcome yourself – that's the hardest part.

    • Bree

      lmbao at that pic. If only…………….

  • Bree

    Damn Wis u like a light-skinned Tupac…lol Niiiiice. *smile*
    I need to come to Colorado if brotha's look like you….lol
    One thing I will say about kids. Everybody I know that has kids has told me some things u will Never understand until u have ur own kids and have to deal with them 24/7. I've found there is some truth to that.
    You have a lot of single parents who live in a city/state with no family or close friends where they are. Not to mention people from other countries with no family in the US. Hell even married people just don't have much free time if they don't have a good strong, reliable and trustworthy support system.
    I wrk with a Nigerian woman who is married with 2 young kids, a 3 yr old and a 6 yr old. Her and her husband both have no family in the US.

  • Bree

    The people they know are from work, they both went to college in the UK. Granted the woman is a little to overprotective but its kind of understandable cause there are some crazy sick folks in the world and sometimes u don't know what they could do until something happens. So she doesn't trust anyone to watch her kids. Her and her husband don't even really get to have date nites because they never have a babysitter. I also know a woman from the Caribbean with 4 kids. Not easy for her to even get her in-laws to watch all 4 of her kids.
    So for people with children if they do not have convenient and reliable babysitters its not easy to schedule time away from your kids. Now if they have the money they can join a gym with a daycare center or something. But again they have to have the money for that and those gyms are not cheap.
    I'm not saying its impossible for people with kids to work out, but honestly it all depends on their situation and circumstances and finances regarding child-care. Cause unless u got close family and friends right there; good, reliable, trustworthy, affordable child care is not easy to come by. So people with kids I give them the benefit of the doubt.

    • WIM

      Let me be clear, I'm not advocating for people to abandon their kids on the streets while they go to the gym. I'm just saying a lot of people use their kids as an excuse not to accomplish any number of feats – working out notwithstanding. However, this is also why I pointed out the 80/20 rule. A healthy diet/lifestyle benefits both you and your children. Further, instead of (some) people using their children as excuses not to do some kind of aerobic exercise, why not use them as an excuse to do so. Kids have all kinds of energy, which parents can use to their advantage. Again, it's about prioritizing it. If it's not a priority to you, of course it's not going to be a priority to your children (once they're old enough to understand).

      Lastly, just like we all know parents that have children and don't prioritize a healthy lifestyle, we all know parents that do. Keeping it 100, most people didn't have a routine before they had children. Having children simply solidified their excuse. I'm not throwing parents under the bus. Again, it's everyone's personal choice to live whatever life they want.

      • Bree

        true…for the people I know personally though, only solutions for them would be work out at home and/or during lunchbreaks.
        I did belly-dancing on demand on Comcast. Now I have a Blu-Ray/DVD player with wifi and I exercise with that at home if I can't get to the gym. But yeah many people do use kids as an excuse when they have babysitters and a lot of help. But the people I know seriously don't have people readily available to watch their kids while they work out for even 30 mins. Especially folks with 3 or 4 kids….thats a lot.
        The woman I know with the 4 kids, works out during lunch or she walks around the job facility and neighborhood. I will say our job has great fitness programs right onsite and they have a pretty decent gym too. One thing is if folks are really active with their children when they're older and run around with them and ride bikes with them and play with them and just interact with them more that in and of itself is a workout. I've played football with both my little brothers and that was a workout.
        Teaching my baby sister to ride a bike was a workout as well.

      • Poetic Justice

        "A healthy diet/lifestyle benefits both you and your children." <— +1

        Making lifestyle choices that include your children in your exercise time allows the parent to get their exercise and at the same time sets a great example to children that exercise is important. Simple adjustments like jogging with your baby in the stroller (which often lulls them to sleep), run behind your toddlers to the park while they are on their tricycles, play a game of basketball with your teenager that wants to go out for the team, do water aerobics/ laps while your girls are in the community pool this summer…etc

        We make time and we make a way for things that are a priority… health and fitness should be a non-negotiable priority…

  • Bree

    I agree with all of the other points you made though. I love that u made the point about Lifestyle Changes and not diets. I've said that many times to people. Diets are mostly fads and rarely last. What will improve your overall health and your body is a Lifestyle Change, not a diet.
    Its so sad to me that more and more people are dying before they even reach 60 or 70 yrs old.
    I work with a girl now who is mid 30's and taking blood pressure meds. My great aunts took those and my grandmother for a while. You should not be taking blood pressure meds in ur 30's. That is something u can control simply with your diet. Plus I never want to have to take any meds for the rest of my life for something I can control with a good healthy diet and exercise.

  • Bree

    My ex wasn't even 30 and this kneegro was taking pills for high cholesterol. I'm like are u out ur damn mind….smdh. Your not even 30 and u gotta take meds for high cholesterol….??? Again if u eat the right foods u shouldn't have to take Dr. prescribed meds for a damn thing. I don't take any meds except birth control pills, and even those I am currently researching alternative herbs and things that I can do to not have to take bc pills anymore. Definitely more young folks need to take better care of their health. My grandmother lived to be 94 yrs old. She lived by herself and still cooked and cleaned and never even needed or wore glasses. She read and her vision was great. She is my inspiration and the reason why I can make the sacrifices I do to keep my health in check.

  • Peter Parker

    Good post WIM. As a healthcare professional and avid promoter of improving the health in minority communities, this article was dead on. We definitely need to educate ourselves more about alot of the preventable chronic illnesses plaguing our communities that can be prevented through minor changes. Definitely like the comment about making a lifestyle change vs. just a simple diet because that's what it really is. While the lifestyle change may take awhile, when you are there completely you look at your body as a temple and read everything!!!

    • Peter Parker

      Again, always refer to the Pareto Rule of 80/20 for everything. Again doing little things like taking the metro or riding your bike to work, walking to the store, or buying 100% juice and staying away from anything with sugar/fructose in it can go along way.

      • WIM

        Thanks for the comments, especially this part. A lot of people seem to "talk" themselves out of ever doing anything because they think it'll take some grandiose "Biggest Loser" -esque change in their lives to see noticeable gains. For some people, cutting back on salts, sugars, processed food and walking – by whatever means – is enough to have significant positive changes. But, "you can only lead a horse to water…"

  • WIM

    PS…

    I forgot to mention this in the post. Many people are familiar with the generic "2,000 calories a day" mantra, but like most things, caloric intake isn't one-size fits all, no pun. A good, simple calculation I heard to determine your specific caloric intake:

    1) 12 x your body weight = average amount of calories your body naturally burns. If you want to gain weight eat more than this amount, if you want to lose weight, eat less. Alternatively, you can eat this amount (or slightly more) and do a workout that burns a designated amount of calories each day.

  • http://twitter.com/inomallday Shamira

    WIM out here setting thirst traps…I see you, lol.

    Great tips overall though.

    • Streetz

      I was just about to post this. LOLOL

      • WIM

        A brother can't win with #YouPeople! lol

        If I write about working out, and don't post pics, it'd be "WIM aint really about that life. He all talk." If I post pics it's "WIM setting thirst traps."

        Jesus be a protein shake!

  • 12 Point Buck

    For people who cant go to the gym, my suggestion is to invest in some free weights. Dumbbells can cover just about any muscle group for toning or bulking. And a jumprope because jumproping is one of the best cardio exercises you can do: all the benefits of running/jogging, but not nearly as harsh on your knees and you only need about 8 square feet of space.

    I personally dont like gyms, so I only do freeweights and cardio at home. If you have time to watch Game of Thrones, you can make time to workout a couple of times a week. No excuses.

  • Irma

    People make a ton of excuses as to why they don't work out, but as Point Buck mentioned, if you can't go to the gym, then invest in some free weights, a jump rope, etc. Your health will thank you for it, and you will be happy with the way you look and feel…

  • Streetz

    Cosign all tha tyou've said. Once you hit 30 that metabolism will betray you quick!

    Make those changes and work out!

    Also, you can eat right 100% and still look flimsy because you don't work out. Working out is VERY important. Diet is definitely overall but dont sleep on the weights/cardio

    • WIM

      iAgree.

      EYE am just trying to give people who wont do weights/cardio a little country to live in. At least eat a vegetable or fruit or two.

  • Uncle Hugh, BP

    I want to be clear, I’m not a personal trainer. I’m not a “fitness expert.”

    From a personal trainer, I cosign this entire post.

  • http://whatyouallow.com/ Wildflower

    All I want to know is who is in that featured image picture? Dont let me find out lol.
    My recent post Closet Freak II

  • langwichartz

    Good post, my biggest weakness is my diet…Ive been single for a while now so I know I eat horribly…I know I ate healthier when I was in cohabitation in my relationship…lmao!

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