Is it possible for me to stay in very great shape over 70+ years of age?
Yes! I’m 70+. Look at me! How do I do it?
ALL the photos you see below were taken in my 70th and 71st year. I am wrinkly. No facelifts, botox, tummy tucks or bottom lifts (I’m not against such procedures, I’m just too scared!!). And, my body has never been in as good shape as it is today!
In the following, I will take you through my particular journey, all the challenges along the way and what it takes to achieve a great shape at 70+.
Let’s start with what we mean by “very great shape”.
For me, an excellent shape is an upright body without excess fat, a good waistline, a flattish front (some of us will always have a small tummy) and toned from tip to toe.
An excellent shape is NOT to be defined by height nor figure type. You can be small or tall. You can be curvy or straight up and down (my husband’s nickname for me when I’m tanned is “liquorish stick”!). Or you can be anything in between.
So, I am not talking fashion or glamour model stereo types here. I am talking about the body we all know to be great when we see it.
This universal response of approval towards a great body expresses a natural attraction towards all that is good regarding health and beauty.
For instance, take 2 equally proportioned bodies. One is upright and strong looking, its slimness gained by exercise and good food. The other is hunched and weak looking, its slimness gained by no exercise and survival food rations. We all know instinctively which body to describe as being “in very great shape”.
Some years ago, in the world of modeling, the cat walks were awash with anorexic looking models. Their look was described as “heroin chic”.
There was a similar wave in the 60s, figure headed by a model called Twiggy, who was the epitome of “heroin chic”, a look I too aspired to in that era as a young model.
Back then, if someone had bet me a million pounds that I would have a better body in my 70s than I had then, I would have laughed in their faces. The idea of someone at 70+ having a better body than me at 20, was totally unimaginable. That I was suffering from the “heroin chic” look was neither here nor there. I was young. Young was beautiful. Old was ugly. That was the mindset.
That the elderly had a wisdom that was unique to them, wisdom in the old was, and, still is, unrelated to aesthetic sensibility. It merely mitigated the ugliness of the aged body.
That was 50+ years ago. At that time, there was no such thing as “a great body shape” at 70+. Indeed, you were lucky to be alive at 70+. Those who were alive often suffered from the effects of rickets and poor diet. All looked as if they had one foot in the grave. You were just OLD! And “old” was synonymous with “decrepit”.
Today, to be 70+ is not rare.
Most of the ailments that people in their 70s complain about are NOT due to aging. Mostly, these ailments could have been avoided.
Certainly, aging is NOT the cause of a badly shaped body.
A great body like mine at 70+ is still rare. But, this is NOT because of aging. I see many great bodies coming up behind me, snapping at my heels. It’s happening.
Fabulous bodies at 70+ are set to become the norm.
I am living proof that it IS possible to improve your body shape into your 70s….and, I trust. into your 80s, 90s and a 100 + too.
In my 71st year, I can honestly say, my body has never been as good a shape as it is today. Far better than when I was 60, 50, 40, 30 and even 20.
Despite major blips along the way, I have witnessed my body slowly evolve in shape, from a slim, rather shapely teenager to an athletic looking middle aged woman in her 50s to a sleek and streamlined 70+ year old.
The photos you see are of me now. How did I do it?
The road that led to my great body was strewn with boulders that threatened to adversely block the space between me at 20 and me at 70 +.
I have had to recover from TB, IBS, secondary amenorrhea, mental health problems, alcoholism, drug problems and eating disorders. And my genetic background includes TB, killer heart disease (both parents) and extreme cases of varicose veins.
Suffice to say that I have dealt successfully with all my health issues. And, today I have none. Tempting providence, I know. But I’m telling it as it is…..
Indeed, it is my contention that health issues and body shape are intrinsically related. For instance a person who has excellent posture is more likely to live a longer life than if they have bad posture. A rather extreme example. It’s all to do with airways, blood flow and circulatory systems.
The very look of your adult body often reflects the state of your health and vice versa. That this look can be misleading at times does not invalidate my assertion. That athletes can drop dead from an not diagnosed heart condition makes them the exception that proves the rule.
My rocky journey from a child to a 70+ with a great body is a particular illustration of the intimate relationship between health and beauty (aka great body). I shall share it with you in brief……
As a child, my build was that of a sturdy “tomboy”. I climbed trees and jumped off high walls. I ate nothing but mashed potatoes and doorstep toast, infused and layered with masses of butter.
Then, at aged 9, I was diagnosed with TB and packed off to a sanatorium where I was entombed for 2 years and confined to bed. My diet consisted solely of boxes of Smarties sent to me by my mother because I could not eat the hospital food.
I was released from the hospital as a fat little girl aged 11. By the time I was 12, I had grown much taller and become slimmer, despite a diet of chocolate buttons purchased several times a day from the school tuck shop.
I met a boy, a year older than me, and we were together for 15 years. I was obsessed with him. He was from a wealthy family and every day from school we lunched in expensive restaurants. This was terribly embarrassing for me because I had never eaten “proper” food. And I didn’t much care for it.
I went on the pill at 15 and immediately I ballooned. At the end of one month I ceased taking the pill but the damage had been done. I did not have another period for 8 years. Worst of all, I became slug like with absolutely no energy. And fat again!
I began to diet….. apple and date diets, the Atkinson’s diet, vegetables only diet, box diets that consisted only of diet fudge, starvation diets. And my weight yo-yo’d up and down for years to come.
During a thin period, in my late teens, I became a fashion model in London. It was a profession that I didn’t enjoy for a multitude of reasons, not least because of some of the horrible clothes I had to wear !
My body was a perfect size 10, I was 5ft 9.5 inches tall and I weighed about 9.5 stones. But, knowing nothing about nutrition and the benefits of exercise, my body did not remain as such.
In any case, my modeling career came to an abrupt halt when I failed to turn up to shoot a McLean’s tooth paste advert due to a savage attack of impetigo, oozing sores all over my face. Without telling anyone, I fled back to my boyfriend’s home in Blackpool and holed up there for a year, the time it took for the impetigo to clear up.
Back to London, this time as a fashion designer. Moved into a mews flat with friends in Grosvenor Square, affectionately known as “the typhoid pit”, where within the year I had contracted a bad case of bronchitis.
Once again, back to Blackpool to my boyfriend’s home, at which point I was hoping he would marry me and we would live happily ever after.
No such luck!
So, back to London ! This time I moved in with a group of models and, thin again, I got jobs working as the glamorous door girl at the newly opened Hard Rock Cafe in Green Park and at the extremely fashionable Mr Freedoms in Kensington Church St. At both places, I was photographed by paparazzi and my photos were published all over the world simply because of the fame of the venues.
In this heady world, I was offered another job as a fashion designer, which I took. But it bored me and I quit after a year or so.
Again, ignorance of diet, nutrition and exercise had got the better of me. The imbibing of illegal substances hadn’t helped either. I’d become fat. Yet again. This time, depression struck, big time.
It seemed that after years and years, I’d got nowhere. I was at rock bottom, no job, no money, a boyfriend who didn’t want commitment, several relationships on the side that weren’t working, secondary amenorrhea, fluid retention and eating disorders. Back in my slug like state, I wanted to die. And I even failed at that…
I joined a night class. An “A” level class in Logic because this was the only course left with a spare place. And I badly needed some guidance in how to think.
I admired the young lecturer. Paul. I was going through a slim period. We married within the year. He was younger than me by 4 years. I was 27. He nurtured me and weaned me onto healthy food and exercise.
I started to walk as part of an exercise regime. I became slowly healthier. My weight remained slim for the first time ever.
By the time I was 30, I was weighing in at just under 10 stones. I had remained stable since meeting and marrying Paul. I was happy, even though the old boyfriend remained in my mind as the great love that got away.
At the age of 30, Paul taught me to swim. We were camping on Loch Lomond. It was freezing. But I took to it. Back home. I started fast lap swimming in a local pool for an hour a day, most days.
We moved from London to the Kent countryside without a car. So, I started to cycle every day, anything between 7 and 14 miles a day, most days. There was no public transport.
When I wasn’t cycling or swimming, I walked 4 miles a day.
One day, at a dinner in a friend’s tree house, we buy a ruin in Umbria, Italy on a handshake. I had just signed a contract for my 1st full time job as a Philosophy lecturer. And my new salary afforded us this adventure. It would be our first visit to Italy.
We arrive at our ruin on top of a mountain in the middle of the night. Rats tight rope walk through tangled vines, pausing on tip toes to sniff the air, the full moon silhouetting them through a large hole in a wall. The place is frightening space. No electricity, no water, no gas. No nothing. A true ruin. We lay down our sleeping bags surrounded by candles on top of layers of rat droppings. We attempt sleep to an orchestra of scooting, squeaking and heavy thudding of our disturbed inhabitants.
Dawn delivers ecstasy. Michelangelo visions project a palette of colors across blinding shafts of light. Deep blue sky, a sea of swirling cloud, a fiery ball of sun pierces the mists. And shimmering green valleys unfold below.
I’d found my spiritual home. I want to live here forever.
Not so for Paul, the chess master, PhD on Kant and composer. The place lacks culture, he said, surveying the monuments and faded frescoes in every candle lit alcove in the 6C Church, above every low doorway and on every corner of the arched cobbled lanes of the oldest inhabited village in Umbria, San Mamiliano. There’s no one to play chess with, he said.
2 years later, a new job. I row with a member of staff on the 1st day. She is a bitch. I take my grievance to the Principal. He looks like a Toby Jug with triple chins and a portly belly. He offers me HIS swivel chair behind an enormous desk. He prepares tea and biscuits. And he advises me about the bitch. We go to lunch. The next day, we go to breakfast and lunch. The pattern is set.
I’m still slim. And I am cocky, confident and determined to succeed in my mission to move to Italy.
The Toby Jug is amusing and it’s fun being with him.
Within days, I dread going home. I want to stay laughing with the Toby Jug.
One day I tell the Toby Jug that I want to live with him. He laughs and laughs and laughs and laughs. I was hurt. I thought he loved me. Turns out he had this effect on everyone. Hours after my rejection, he tells me the answer is YES!!! Cloud 9 arrives to whisk me to Paradise.
A few years later, we arrive at San Mamiliano in the land of “no culture” as a married couple and move into our newly restored ex rat ridden hovel.
I am now 50 and looking better than ever. Lean body from years of swimming and cycling.
Several winters in Sydney and a holiday rental business later, now in my 71st year, my body is in the best shape ever.
Over the years, I have amended my exercise regime in various ways. But, fast walking for at least 4 miles a day remains the core exercise.
At aged 65, I joined a gym in order to strengthen my core and build some muscle because I noted that my body was beginning to soften.
Just a couple of sessions each week with a personal trainer for several months of the year is sufficient for maintaining a firm body. And I continue to fast walk about 4 miles a day most days.
I have been approached by a model agency. I may model in the Milan shows next year. I say “may” because, while I have the body, I am not sure I have the grit and determination to hit the cat walks again!
So, yes, absolutely, it is not only possible to stay in great shape at 70+, it is possible to continually improve your body, despite life’s obstacles.
I trust that by the time I am 100 years old, god willing, my body will be in even better shape than now.
However, there is no getting away from the hard work it takes to maintain and improve your body shape.
Certainly, you can ease up a little as you reach your 70s because all that earlier hard work reaps dividends – your body starts to “set” into a great shape, which you need only maintain and tweak a bit with regular supervised work outs and regular aerobic exercise to prevent weight gain.
And, it is NOT all about being tall and slim. That’s just me. I see women and men of all shapes and sizes, usually younger than me, all of whom are traveling in my wake, all of whom are becoming increasingly improved versions of their former selves.
The secret is in adopting a lifestyle as early as possible (I advise not before 20) that includes having a great looking body as part of your goal. FOR LIFE!
And, the earlier you start to look after yourself, the more you minimize the possibility of health issues that can adversely affect this goal.
You may already be in your 30s, 40s, 50s or even 60s, still youngsters from my standpoint, and think it’s too late. It’s not!
The good news is that you can improve your shape whatever age you start at..
The bad news is you cannot do away with loose skin that you may have acquired along the way, either as a result of childbirth, losing a massive amount of weight or simply aging.
Except for surgical removal, you are stuck with belly flaps, wrinkly bottoms and flappy arms. Nonetheless, the unwanted loose skin can be easily tucked away in Lycra. And, once you have improved your body shape, you can still look better than your younger self, just not in the nude!!
Skin texture and firmness of flesh cannot be improved with age. At least not yet. If we can all hang on for another 10 years, then the development of stem cell technology may enable us to grow new skin.
Nonetheless, if/when this development occurs, you still need a great basic shape to cover with your new skin.
Until that point, you must retain your old skin to cover your beautiful new shape unless you opt for a complete surgical body lift. Not for me! I am too squeamish to even have my ears pierced!!!
I have learned much about mind, body and health on my helter skelter trip through life to date. And, I want to share with you some tips and tricks that will enable you to improve your shape as you travel forward through the years….and to have a better body at 70+.
The 7-Guide line guarantee for a great body in your 70s + :
- BE KIND TO YOURSELF. You can relax your regime whenever you want. Best to go for a slower walk, an easier workout, than to do nothing. Same with food. Best to eat that extra goodie than to continue craving it.
- BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF. you are trying to lose weight and it’s not happening, continue your regime regardless. It will happen eventually. Sometimes your body can be stubborn but given gentle nurturing, it will respond in the end. Sometimes, losing weight can take a LONG time because it is about developing new habits. And habit forming takes time.
- INDULGE YOURSELF. If you feel like eating a giant bag of crisps, a litre of ice cream, a box of chocolates or 20 packets of savoury biscuits or all of the above, accompanied by a whole bottle of good red wine (or more), give yourself permission ! That’s all it takes … (health issues permitting!)
- YOUR BODY IS MADE OF MAGIC. Release the conjuror in you.
- SELECT A ROLE MODEL. An attainable image to aspire to and to be inspired by.
- LOVE YOUR BODY. A loved body will respond to you better than an unloved body. Look at those big calves and wonder at their strength. See those big hips as perfect for child bearing. As for the big tummy – roundedness is sexy.
- ACCEPT YOUR VICES. Virtues versus vices is a balancing act – the ying and yang of our nature. Encourage your virtues. But, allocate space for your vices too.
Please feel free to contact me……