I don't need to be bulging with muscle - it wasn't my goal to look like a body-builder. I wanted a sleek but ripped body that was flexible, strong, and still light enough for me to fling about if I wanted to. AND I wanted a flat tummy.
AND I got it. And I'm extremely happy with it. A simple pleasure, but after years of holding it in, feeling depressed and embarrassed because of its ugliness, I feel joy now every time I lay my hands on it. I can even see the makings of a six-pack.
Really, for a man over fifty, a flat tummy is the greatest morale booster. I recommend it to everyone.
My 6 week Shapeshifter program has been over a while now, but I"m still enjoying the benefits. I don't have to workout everyday, and I don't have to be strict with what I eat.
One of the most trying aspects of the program was cutting out all the sugars and grains from my diet. I used to eat biscuits and chocolate almost daily - and of course bread was a staple part of my diet. I missed them. But it was only for 6 weeks. I can eat them again. I don't go mad stuffing my face, but I don't have to avoid them like the plague. And I can enjoy potatoes and pasta now and again too.
I wondered for a while if this would pile the pounds on immediately, storing fat on my belly again. But it's not happened. And I know why this is.
I exercise now, not by doing the Shapeshifter workouts everyday, but by just being more active in my daily life. I run a couple of times a week; I've been trampolining (that really burns calories); I throw in a couple of push-up sessions per week (can do one-armed push-ups again); and when I feel I need to give my whole body a boost, I do one or two of the more intense Shapeshifter workouts... after each other.
But I also still eat mostly low-carb, AND I fast at least once a week. Everything's in balance now. I don't have to work hard at keeping the shape... THIS is the reward for doing the program in the first place. And this is what some people forget. It's easier to stay in shape than get into shape. Following a program like Shapeshifter doesn't mean you have to deny yourself those simple eating pleasures for ever. It took 5 years for my belly to get the way it did... it took 5 weeks to get it flat again.
I think it was an excellent investment.
I want to share my thoughts on the value of following a workout and diet program that you've downloaded from the internet.
When I first announced to friends that I was starting a workout program they were enthusiastic up to the point that I told them I'd bought the program on the internet. They thought it must be some kind of scam, but mostly they just didn't understand how such a program could work.
Even after explaining the setup, they still doubted the value.
This just shows that most people aren't yet aware of the opportunities the internet offers. Now of course, there are scams on the internet, but if you do your research and don't rush into anything, you can pretty much assess the risk. One of the main safety outlets for this, is that most programs offer a money-back guarantee – so if you're not happy you can always get a full refund. And this is a real option, I've done it myself with certain programs. Getting your money back after 2 months gym membership is, in comparison, much more difficult.
But money matters apart, there are a number of advantages to following an online program.
One of these is the freedom to follow it at your own pace. You aren't tied to specific times or session appointments, or under pressure to be at a session when you don't feel up to it. And if you miss a session you don't lose your fee; the session is always waiting for you when you are ready. Like having your own personal trainer on call 24/7.
The personal trainer aspect is also a pluspoint – working without a program, at home or in the gym you're very much on your own – getting the attention of an expert when you need some help is not always an option. And unless you are wealthy enough to afford a personal trainer, you're going to be on your own a lot of the time.
A personal trainer would always be the best option, providing guidance and encuragement tailored to your needs... without them, very few of the top Hollywood celebs would ever look so good. However, online programs, consisting of professionally filmed videos and run by professional committed trainers, give you the best alternative.
A program like Shapeshifter, doesn't just consist of a series of follow-along videos any more – the videos are supported by a multi-layered platform of community and professional support on a continuing basis. This is what gives it the extra added value above the basic training and dietry advice.
The commumity plays a special role, in that it maintains your privacy while still giving you the chance to talk to people about your quieries and experiences... and the community is usually much greater, easier to make contact with, and more welcoming than a similar group in your local sport-school.
But one of the major problems we encounter when training, is motivating ourselves, especially at the beginning. This problem isn't eliminated when you follow a program, but it is considerably less than if you try to work out without one. Having invested in something for a goal, you have already taken the first important step. The program takes all the organization out of your hands which leaves you free to focus on following the steps and instructions. If we succeed in following it for two weeks, we are well on our way to establishing a new pattern of behavior that will become more and more normal as time passes. We need this structure to consolidate this new activity into a behavior pattern. The structure of a program ensures routine. Consistency and routine are the fathers of habit, and habit creates the cumulative affects that lead to progress and success.
Many of the programs available are created by professional trainers and nutritionists, and the internet gives us the means to affirm that with research. So it would be a shame to waste all that expertise when we have the opportunity to take advantage of it. These experts are often the top of their field, and I believe we can trust their advice as much as, if not more than, our local gym trainer.
And because the competition in this field is so great, you can expect the information to be right up to date. Of course, training systems are much like diets – there's always a new one that's all the rage, but you are in control, you have the choice according to which system suits your needs, and you have to utilize that control.
Another advantage of a program is that they are usually project based – meaning they have a beginning and an end. Completing a program to the end, gives you a high level of satisfaction, further motivating your effort, and rewarding you with pride and self-esteem.
And finally, when a program is finished, you can start again, cover what you missed, go back, select the parts that worked the best and leave the rest. In this case it's superior to following a course at the local community center.
The reactions I received at the start of my program were quite typical of people who distrust anything that is outside their knowledge and experience – but you can't let yorself be influenced by these sort of people. You have to assess your own risks, and make your own steps towards your own goals.
Most important though, you have to understand that you are not fully dependent on the program – it is a tool for you to use to fulfill your wishes. You are in charge, and you are still responsible for the level of success you gain from it. From this viewpoint, you can see that there really is no risk... because you are the factor that makes it work for you or not. This is the case for everything of course, but at least a well-constructed program supplies the structure, the knowledge, and the insight to be able to get the very best out of your training.
I want to talk about bodyweight exercises as a means to achieving optimum fitness.
Bodyweight training is consistent with our evolutionary history. Just like our animal brothers, we evolved in nature using nothing but our own bodyweight to get by. We are genetically programmed to get the most benefit from any kind of exercise which uses what we have.
Other exercises tend to isolate muscles with the intention of bulking the muscle up. This may create "pretty" muscles, but the functional strength and lean muscle you get from bodyweight exercises is more powerful and healthy.
Bodyweight exercises work your entire body and strengthen it from the core. When you workout you engage all the organs, the glands and the muscles.
One of the main reasons I chose shapeshifter was because it uses bodyweight for the workouts. My personal goal was to train my body in such a way that I would be fit enough to try-out any physical activity I wanted– and that meant training all muscle groups for optimum flexibility, strength, endurance, balance, power, and coordination, throughout the whole range of my body's potential mobility.
I wanted to be able to move as freely and confidently as I could when I was young. It's surprising to realize how limited our range of movements become when we leave childhood behind us. We used to move in three dimensions as a child – jumping and springing, toppling and turning, twisting, flipping, rolling, falling, stretching, balancing, sprinting, crawling, standing on our hands and heads...
...as adults we limit ourselves mostly to a few two-dimensional movements, designed just to get us from A to B – walking, bucking, bending... sometimes stretching to get something out of a cupboard. It's really no wonder that we get stiffer and less agile with age. And this lack of mobility is more often the norm even among the younger generations. We seem to be consciously helping the aging process along, from 20 years onwards.
Our natural daily activity isn't sufficient to keep our bodies in optimum physical condition. It's just too limited. Unfortunately, the extra training we usually do to make up for this is also mostly two-dimensional – or focussed only on limited and specific aspects of our body's physical condition.
We run and do cardio exercises to improve our metabilism and stamina; We use diverse equipment to strengthen selected muscle-groups; we play a number of different sports that improve our expertise in that one sport; we diet to take in less calories in the hope of burning fat, without building muscle to replace it. To get our bodies optimally fit, we'd have to do a bit of everything – but who's got the time to do that?
The body is capable of an enormous range of movement – and we use only a small fraction of that range. It's like owning a multi-purpose vehicle that you use just to get to the shops and back. Our bodies are built to move... and we need to move them.
Getting back to my decision on choosing shapeshifter for my training – I wanted to train my complete body, completely, and the bodyweight exercises in this program were designed to do just that. No exercise-equipment, or single sport, supplies the body with the opportunity to use it's full range of mobility, and so train the body completely – only the body itself can supply this. By putting the body through a wide variety of movements, in which it is required to balance, lift, carry, support and extend it's own weight – the body is compelled to use all its muscles in a natural manner, working in coordination – and this assures that every muscle is trained – even the ones we wouldn't think we were training.
It is now widely known that if you want to lose the fat around your belly, or thighs, or to build a six-pack stomach, the best exercise is exercise for the full body – this improves your metabolism, and spreads the demand for energy through your whole body; resulting in overall fat loss – which eventually extends to the major storage points (the belly for men – thighs and buttocks for women). Once the fat is at a low level, the muscle definition becomes visible.
This is the basic picture of getting in shape... lose the fat, train and build the muscle for improved performance. Only full-body training can give full-body fitness. And the best way to get a full-body training is to put it through a demanding and diverse series of mobility exercises using it's own weight as resistance.
Your body, and the effect of gravity on it – is a walking gym and the most efficient workout machine you could ever need. It's free, and it's always ready to use. You really don't need anything else to get in the best shape of your life – right here, right now. If you want to know what you're body is really capable of, you have to give it the opportunity to perform.
Motivate yourself consistently to make the most of your home workout sessions, with these powerful tips to keep you on track towards your goals.
1- Divide your main goal into a series of short projects – instead of focussing on the completengoal of, for example, getting in top shape for the summer... focus on the experience of mastering the exercises in one week; or losing that first two centimeters around your middle; or drinking a liter of water every day for a week; or living without one of your less useful daily habits. Short-step one or two-week projects are much easier to stick to than a bigger goal that seems so far away. The small results over time all add up in the end.
2- Measure your results constantly – This keeps you focussed on the purpose of your home workout... to get results. Expect fluctuations in your progress but don't let it bother you, it's normal. But having a consistent overview of your results day-by-day will give you more insight to how your body is reacting to your workouts. And this gives you a stronger feeling of being in complete control.
3- Don't weigh yourself – this seems like strange advice, but think about it for a moment. It's not the weight that is an issue here... but your appearance and your physical improvement. If you feel better, and look better as a result of your workouts, then it's working fine – regasrdless of your weight. Working out will burn your body-fat, and build your muscle – the end result could be that you end up heavier, but looking thinner. Do you see how vague your weight is as a measurement of your physical condition?
4- Get dressed for action – look good before you start, and you'll “feel” good before you start. It's usually advised to wear loose fitting clothes for working out in – but this can often give you a feeling of “shabbyness”. A better alternative is to wear tighter-fitting but stretchable clothes – these make you feel tighter in your body, which is similar to the effect you are after – a tightness and compactness of your muscles and skin – lean and solid!
5- Design your ideal – The easiest way to do this is to find a photograph (online) of the sort of body that you aspire to. Keep this photo on view as do your home workout – and use it to boost your committment levels, visualizing the time when you have that body yourself. This will increase your determination, and motivate you to put more effort into your workouts – and the more effort, the greater the results.
6- Remember this – every workout has an effect on your body. You may not see or feel it immediately, but it's a cumulative process, and every little bit is important, and a little bit closer to your goal.
7- Log your performance – Take stock of what you acieved in each workout session, and compare that with your performance in the last session, and the session a week earlier, and the session before that. Seeing how your performance improves week by week, day by day, gives you unquestionable proof of your continual positive development.
8- Stop making comparisons – Comparing yourself, and your body, to that of others, has no practical purpose. You are unique, your body is unique... your decision to workout is “your unique project”. Focus only on yourself and the progress “you” make. What other people do, how they look, how they live, what they eat, how they exercise (or don't exercise)... that's their business. You are your business.
9- Don't set an inflexible deadline – Goals are ok... they give us somewhere to aim for. But deadlines cause stress, doubt, frustration, and dissappointment. They work “demotivating”. This is because you are focussing on the deadline instead of on the gradual, but real and continual progress you make every day and every session. What is the use of a deadline that isn't met? It just gives you a false impression of the level of your success. Every small improvement is a success in itself – and you will reach your goal, in time, without the deadlines.
10- Believe in yourself – You have no idea of your real potential. You can achieve almost everything if you put your mind to it. Getting your body into shape, burning stubborn body-fat, building your strength and muscle-tone... all this is easy when you decide to believe just how great your potential is. Be better than your conditioning, because it's your conditioning that's created your limiting beliefs. Be the best “YOU” you can be. It's all about you. Be one of the few in the world who understand this and succeed in their goals, because they are not limited by the same habitual beliefs of incompetence and incapability that hold others back.
We have the strong tendency to put ourselves down and make excuses for not doing what we need and want to do. We demotivate ourselves consistently. You are stronger than you think – go out and prove it to yourself.
So my third session - third hour on the mats.
I'd hoped to attempt a backward somersault, but seems that was a little ambitious. But the forward somersaults are more than just attempts now. as you can witness in the video below (I told you I'd get it on video!).
It's interesting to analyse this process - what's holding me back from doing the back-somersault? Some would say I shouldn't be so impatient - hell, this is only your third hour session, and you can already do this much. And I am happy with my progress - no question about that. But I don't think I'm being impatient - one hour of jumping up and down in one spot gets tedious very fast... learning the stunts is what makes it interesting.
The thing is, I know how to do the somersaults... I know the technique, I did them at 19 and that experience doesn't go away. And I know I'm quite capable of doing them now. But there's a certain amount of fear holding me back from making my first attempt. I remember this from when I was young too.
But maybe it's not just fear - I have to improve my balance in the jumps, up to the point where I get more height and still be in control. I think once I get that height and balance together, I'll feel safer at making the first backward flip.
Oh oh oh! - maybe I shouldn't be analyzing it at all, but just enjoy doing it. In a couple more sessions, I'll improve on what I can already do, and the back-somersault will come when I'm ready for it. And then the back-flips, and the somersaults off the wall, and the forward flips without hands, and, and, and....
I'll keep you updated of course. For now I leave you with a little video of my present achievements. To think, only a couple of years ago I was laid-up for a year with chronic back-pain!
Just a quick update. Session 2... did a forward somersault!!! Goal for next session - backward somersault; backflip. I'm the oldest guy on the mats... by about 20 years!
Jumping is something we don't do so often anymore, once we leave childhood behind us. That's a shame. Why did we stop?
We were built to move in a variety of ways, but as we get older we limit ourselves to the basic movements that get us from A to B... and we wonder why we get stiff.
I've decided I want to get back my abilities to move with the ease and grace of a child again... and that includes jumping. I caught a local news-report a time back, on a trampoline hall that was open to the public here in Amsterdam - and I made a mental note. One day I'd try that out. Today was the day.
It magnificent place - a whole hall covered wall-to-wall with trampolines fixed to each other... no way to fall off.
I did some trampolining, some 30 or so years ago when I was studying. It's probably the only time in my life since leaving school that I did anything sporty. I'd spend a couple of hours, once a week, just jumping. I taught myself to do forward and backward somersaults. I had my fair share of accidents - getting caught in the springs, and springing too far to end up crashing to the floor - but in the end I got quite good at them. So good that I could do them from a stand-still, perched on the edge of the trampoline.
My interest stopped abruptly though when, feeling way too confident, I thought I could do a somersault on the mat. I should've been able to do it too. But fear of landing on my head made me curl up my body at the wrong moment... and I landed on my head.
I've been on a trampoline a couple of times since then, but I never did find the courage again to try to do a somersault. This has always annoyed me personally... but now that I feel in such good condition, now that I feel strong again, now that I've got my determination back... now's the time to give it another shot.
So I went along and just jumped for an hour, just to get the feel for it again, get my balance back. I did some twists and turns... some bounces onto my butt and my knees... even managed a cartwheel... but no somersault. Oh no... not just yet. But soon. Maybe the next visit (in a couple of days)... maybe then I'll get my nerve back... I just know I can do it.
I promise you - when I achieve this, I'll make a video of it. But until then I can give you an idea what it's like with this video... I definitely recommend it.
Let's be honest and truthful here... 50 is NOT old!
It used to be... but times have changed. The problem is that society's view of being 50 hasn't changed. It's still locked in to the belief that 50 is the definitive end to our prime years, and that it's too late for dreams and ambitions, for new learning, for new practices and new goals. Everything is so much more difficult after 50 than ever before.
But there's a huge discrepancy with this view - because when we DO reach 50, we realize that we don't actually feel any different in our hearts and heads... we don't feel old there, we feel the same. And yet our bodies tell a different story. They seem to confirm our fears, and tell us that it's time to slow down, that we shouldn't expect too much, that we've probably only got another 20 years or so left on this earth, so we need to take it extra careful.
But society is lying to us; our bodies are lying to us; our fears and conditioned minds are lying to us. It's all a lie - complete and utter nonsense.
At fifty, you are still very much in the prime of your life... and your life is bursting with potential. Especially on the physical level is this important to realize. At 50, and for many years after, we have the capacity to be as fit, strong, sleak, toned, flexible and active as we've ever been.
Ask yourself how you would like to be physically. Think back to your youth and ask yourself if you reached your physical potential then. Probably not - only top athletes get close to that. But just as in your youth you only used a fraction of your potential, so is it now. And using more of your potential NOW, is very likely to see you in better shape than you allowed yourself to be when you were younger.
To use myself as an example: I'm 53, and I'm in better shape than I've been most of my adult life. This isnt the result of years of training - far from it. I've led a rather sedentary, unsportive life, relying on my natural metabolism (and under-eating) to keep me thin, and a little manual labour to keep me strong. But then came the hormonal changes that slowed my metabolism, and started storing fat around my belly and eating away at my muscle tone.
My body followed the "normal" patterns of middle-age. But I was convinced that it didn't have to be like this - and that's when I bought the Shapeshifter program and transformed my physique in 6 weeks. Just 6 weeks to turn around the effects of years of physical neglect.
A return to the youth of 10 or 20 years ago? We can't have that. But we don't need it, because there's enough youthful vitality still in our "aged" bodies. And we don't want it either, because we would probably take it for granted and waste it again as we did back then. The point is to NOT waste your potential now, but rather discover it and develop it - so you're not looking back in another 10 years from now, wishing you could be young again like you were when you were fifty.
You've got to understand that the "magic source of eternal youth" is within you... it IS you. It's your committment to yourself, your respect for your body, your belief in your still undiscovered potential - it's your "decision" to be a better physical you... now. To be your own role-model... be your own hero.
Let the world think what it wants. You can still be any shape you want, be as fit as you want, live any life that you want. Fifty years has given you the life experience, the self-awareness, the insight and the wisdom to understand this.
If you don't believe this, let's look at what it takes to get in shape. What you lost from your youth was muscle-tone, strength and mobility. What you got in return is body-fat. This is the simple result of the slowing of your metabolism - partly due to hormonal changes; partly to your lifestyle habits and physical inactivity. To get back your youthful figure, you just need to get rid of the fat, and build up the muscle-tone - right?
Can you lose fat after 50? Yes. I did. It's simple when you combine the correct nutrition with exercise designed to increase metabolism.
Can you build muscle-tone after 50? Yes. I did. It's easy when you combine exercise that is designed to increase strength, with eating enough of the muscle-building nutrients.
Does it take long? I got my results in 6 weeks (not long). The more fat you need to lose the more time it takes; the more muscle you want to build, the more time it takes. The older you are, the more time it takes. But time shouldn't be an issue - regardless of the time it takes, improving your body at any age, is always better than never.
No, you can't go back... but you CAN go forward in excellent shape.
What is it that you want to hear? That you ARE old? That it's dangerous to try to improve yourself physically after a certain age? That it's so hard that it's not worth it? Some people really DO want to hear this - it gives them a good excuse not to do anything... to continue neglecting their bodies and blaming it on their age. But there are no excuses. You're body may require more attention than it used to, but that is not an excuse to give it none.
After fifty, we can look back on a life rich in the experiences befitting each life-phase:
*Our 20's were a time for self-discovery and definition,
*Our 30's for establishing our role in society,
*Our 30's and 40's for the sacrificing of our egos in the service of our children...
All these phases have made us wise - but not old.
Now, in our 50's, we are free'er. We have more time for ourselves. We can reflect on who we've been, how we played the "societal" game, and we can define ourselves anew. We are above the game, we can choose our own values, independent of peer-approval. We can be our own creators in mind and body.
So who are you?
Some people are old at 35, others are young at 75 - which are you?
Some people are grunting and groaning already at 40 - others are running marathons into their 90's - who do you want to be?
YOU can decide who you want to be - and then recreate yourself in the image of that "ideal".
The chances are good that you will reach 80, or beyond... but in what state? The more attention you give to your body now, the more you increase those chances in your favour. The choice is always yours: to take charge of your body and improve it, optimize it for a rich experience of the next 30 or more years... or lay down the towel now, at the halfway stage, never discovering your potential, continuing on a well-trodden path to an expected demise - getting old and worn-out by 70, helpless and dependent by 80 - giving away what may be your BEST years, just because you don't believe in them.
It just occured to me how dependent we are on the advice of experts. And how easy it is for them to tell us what's good for us and what's not. Seth Godin
– I read his blog often, looking for words and ideas that will make me feel good. For words that motivate and reassure me. One of his latest posts was, funny enough, on the reassurance of the lizard brain
in us, and how this brain holds us back from just moving forward.
.How easy it is to do something once you've already reached the goal, already got the results in from your efforts, and they've proved successful.
I'm a fan of Seth Godin – but it's easy for him to talk – he's got his success, he doesn't have to struggle – he doesn't have to face doubt, ride on hope – if something new doesn't work, he's still got his success to back him.
It's easy for him to say – go out and just do it, be courageous, believe in yourself – when it's already worked for him.
For the rest of us, we're still at the beginning – we're hoping for success but there's no guarantee that we'll succeed. We're still facing the dangers, we've still got the obstacles to climb over, still got the fear to conquer.
I know this because I quit my job and I'm putting all my hopes in my dream of creating an online income. I also know this because I have just finished a workout program to get rid of my bodyfat and build me a new, better looking, better functioning body.
In the first case I'm still haunted by thoughts of “what if this doesn't work?” And it doesn't matter how much I read Seth Godin's insightful and motivating words – all the pressure is still on me and I know it won't go away until I've got the outcome I hope so desperately for.
In the second case I've succeeded, and I never have to go through that process again. I'll still have to watch my diet, and I'll still have to exercise to stay in shape – but I know it works for me, I know I can make it work, I know I
have the control to get the results I want.
So I share this with others – and I offer advice, saying – believe in yourself, be courageous, and go out and just do it. And I realize that it's easy for me to talk – I've got my success, I don't have to struggle, face doubt, ride on hope.
What this tells us, tells me, is that ultimately we are alone. We can search and find motivating words, find our rolemodels and heroes, follow their advice and use their tactics, use their stories and successes to comfort us in our own trials... but we are alone. We still have to take our own steps, and we won't feel release from the pressure until we
get the outcome we hope so desperately for.