Getting Fit And In Shape After 40 – My Story, Living Proof

Getting Fit And In Shape After 40 – My Story, Living Proof

Not only is it possible to get in shape, but easier than you think. The principles described in the following paragraphs documents my story and how it applies to you. This really is aimed at men and women of all ages but will be especially useful for everyone over 35, all the way up to your sixties and over.

Hi, My name is Wessel. I am the creator of AgelessInShape, and gym and fitness enthusiast for almost three decades. At age 46, with almost 30 years experience in the gym, health and fitness industry, I experienced almost all the ups-and-downs you can relate to.

I think this story is very relevant for anyone who wants to get into shape and be fit, no matter what stage of your life you find yourself in. Let's get started.

The Early Years

I first got interested in getting in shape as a very skinny and tall 16 years old. Getting tired of all the teasing, I desperately needed to do something about it. I started visiting the gym on a regular basis to gain weight, specifically muscle. After starting to see results, I was completely hooked.

This growing love and dedication for working out and getting into even better shape continued to grow.  Throughout my tertiary education and the first couple of years as a young employee, it reached its peak. I worked out for up to 6 days a week for up 1-2 hours at a time. Obviously, this could not continue.

Adult Life Intervenes

The increasing responsibilities of everyday adult life, combined with work stress started to take its toll. Drive and motivation started diminishing,  combined with less and less time available.  A few bad habits also started to develop. Although I managed to "convince" myself I was doing enough, my long infrequent workouts were not practical, to say the least. But most importantly, I definitely wasn't following a fit and healthy lifestyle anymore.

My first wake-up call came in 2002 An "innocent" bump on my shoulder, turned out to be Stage One Hodgkins Lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes). Luckily it got caught very early. After 5 months of intensive radiation therapy, I was in remission. The therapy took its toll, however, and my bone structure and energy levels were permanently compromised. 

Would you think a stint with cancer would be serious enough to take a serious look at my life and way of living? Well, not in my case. The experience was soon "forgotten". Life continued, as did my bad habits. Long story short, this continued for the next 8 years. Then, I guess I needed a proper reality check...

The Big Wake-Up Call

In the beginning of 2011, my health really started to deteriorate.  I was constantly tired and nauseous. An appointment was made for blood tests to be done. Guess what, my "old friend" was back. This time around it was much more serious. My body was littered with cancer cells, from a tennis ball sized tumor next to my heart, to my lungs and intestines. Now it was Stage 3 Lymphoma, bordering on Stage 4.

"My apologies for the long, sometimes graphic story, but I honestly think you need to see this in the whole perspective to get the message"

Back to 2011.  An intensive course of chemotherapy started on a weekly basis. I tried to continue working throughout the treatment, but my energy levels and my immune system started dropping drastically. As a result, working basically came to a standstill during the latter part of the year. Needless to say, any form of exercise was discarded. 

Severe breathing problems started to develop in November 2011, and a battery of tests followed. Things just went from very bad to dire. My cancer developed a resistance to the chemotherapy, and my whole body was now littered with malignant cells. I was told there was nothing more the oncologist could do for me. 

I was referred to a hematologist, specializing in blood disorders and related cancers, and he is living proof that miracle workers actually exist. He let me take a break from treatment to give my body some rest before the next BIG fight started.

Some pictures I took during my mid-thirties, after regaining some weight (including love handles and some belly fat) after my 1st stint with cancer, before loosing it all again. I put them next to ones I have just taken as I am writing this bio. Judge for yourself.)

A Small Miracle An The Road To Recovery

That's how 2012 started. The plan was drastic and straightforward: Use the strongest possible chemotherapy to kill every possible cancer cell, put me in isolation where my bone marrow will be destroyed as well, followed by a bone marrow transplant. That was my only slim chance left to survive. I will not bore you with any more graphic details. Let's just say the next 6 months was "rather unpleasant" and I won't wish the experience on my worst enemy.

In July 2012, I walked out of the isolation ward, which was my home for more than a month.  I was finally in remission. Obviously, it was incredible news and a small miracle. I went home to recover.  So I lived "happily ever after" correct? Not quite...

The following is very important, as I think anyone who went through a dramatic life-altering experience can relate to this.  All the specialists know how to treat you, tells you what to do and you get all the support from family and friends throughout your ordeal. The ONE thing that is very seldom talked about or catered for, is your state of mind after such an event, and how you "reboot" your life, and start living again. 

I was literally and figuratively a shadow of my former self. I was left skin and bones, with a weird "empty" feeling, drained of almost all emotion.  Hard to explain, but I have a suspicion quite a few of you may know this feeling too well. 

I knew I had to start getting busy again and started working a couple of days a week whenever I could find the energy, even though I didn't really feel up to it. This is where the discipline, developed during my years of working out, really started paying off. (Which also helped me through some of the toughest moments of my treatment.) 

From years of experiencing it firsthand, I knew that just taking that first step and start doing something you don't feel like or even dread, will always leave you grateful and glad you did it afterward.  Finally, I started feeling like my life wasn't in limbo anymore. Still, not much seemed to excite me or remotely made feel motivated to really start living. 

A New Beginning

Getting into shape was furthest from my mind. After losing everything I worked so hard for over so many years, it just seemed like a futile and impossible goal to reach, especially at the age of 42. 

However, for no particular reason, I decided, to "get some exercise"  one day. I definitely had no intention or plan to start working out regularly again. After this "spur of the moment" decision, I ended up in the gym doing a light workout for about 30 minutes. And that small unplanned workout changed everything...

More pictures I took during my mid-thirties, after regaining some weight (including love handles and some belly fat) after my 1st stint with cancer, before loosing it all again. I put them next to ones I have just taken as I am writing this bio. Judge for yourself.)

Afterwards, I experienced a vaguely familiar euphoric feeling. Everything looked and felt a little better. I even felt more energized than I did in years. Yes, I know what you are thinking: "This is far-fetched, all in my head, or I am simply over exaggerating or flat out lying."  However, I will bet there is quite a few of you who know this exact feeling pretty well.  A quick science fact... 

Physical exercise releases endorphins, that "feel good" hormone that is sometimes released by other activities that excite and exhilarate. People experience that relaxed and pleasant feeling after a few drinks or having a smoke to cope with a stressful situation. You probably find it hard to believe, so go ahead and Google it. 

The point is, it changed my mood and mindset enough to want me to go back and exercise more. Even if its simply lifts my mood and makes me feel more positive in general.  Long story short, I started working out more regularly, started feeling more healthy in general, and obviously, my body felt stronger and I even started noticing some small changes.

I reached a point where I started thinking about the possibility of making a real effort to get in shape again. A few problems though: I was already in my forties,  I didn't have the time to spend hours in the gym anymore and the severe treatment left me with a lot less energy than I had before.

Accidental Discovery, Making The Change And Thriving Again

During this period, I stumbled across an article written by a trainer/author who I  had a lot of respect for. Throughout my almost 30 years of working out and devouring hundreds of magazines and books (and thousands of article), you learn to sift through the garbage and "noise", and who to trust. The article outlined a few steps to follow and offered a complete workout regime and diet plan, aimed specifically at people over 40 years (although it works for men & women of all ages). 

I was very interested, as the training programme included spending a lot less time working out and the author was already in his late fifties and looking awesome (no, NOT Photoshopped).  I started following the regime and diet but was not holding my breath. I followed too many "new fitness recipes" and "body transformation programmes" throughout the years that promised "small" miracles, only to be disappointed.  

After six weeks, I was pleasantly surprised. My body actually responded quickly to the new programme. A year later I not only managed to get back into shape but actually started looking better than I did in my late twenties. And the best part, I am still improving to this day!

A Welcome And Very Positive Conclusion

This is by far not the only training programme that works, and I even made adjustments to this one to suit my own body and metabolism. It just happened to suit my needs and is easy to follow, and a perfect starting point for anyone just starting out or trying to get back into shape. The point I am trying to make is this:

You can get in shape at ANY age, and you don't need to spend hours in the gym or starve yourself in the process. 

Right, I have spent way too much time talking about myself. I just hope my story is evidence that it is possible, no matter what stage of your life you find yourself in. If I managed to just make you think twice, I will be happy.

My goal is to use my 30-year experience to try my best to help you start your new journey, encourage you to get back into shape, or get past a frustrating situation you've been stuck in, not making any progress. Through proving useful and interesting articles, addressing specific topics, sharing motivational stories, providing helpful hints and tips, and answering important questions you may have, I really believe we can do this!

As always, feel free to leave me a comment or suggestion, and remember to join my  mailing list  to get informed whenever a new article is released, as well as helpful hints & tips and news on new developments.

Speak to you soon.


About the Author

Wessel Wessels owns his online web and social media design company. However, with nearly 30 years experience in the fitness industry, working out and staying in shape have always been a big passion. After a life-altering close shave with cancer, this experience helped him get back into shape and regain his health. He is now dedicated to helping men and women of all ages to get fit and in shape, and promote a healthy lifestyle.

Leave a Reply 2 comments

Mlb - March 10, 2018 Reply

Thank you for your transparency. You willingness to be open I find immesly inspiring.
I can’t imagine the depth of the courage you must have needed to not yield to the impact sicknesses and disease left.
I salute you for not giving up and applaud you for reaching out to inspire others like myself.
Thank you and may your journey of growth continue

    jessie321 - June 4, 2018 Reply

    Thanks, much appreciated!

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