A Road Map to Become Fit and Stay Fit after 50

NYC Dietitian


I love health success stories – stories about people who change the course of their lives in meaningful ways. So I felt happy when I read Mitch’s story in NutritionAction   – a success story how one day a 54-year-old account decided, enough. He didn’t want to be the “fat dad” anymore.

NYC DietitianSo, at 242 pounds, he joined Weight Watchers and turned his life around. He’s now 66 years old, and since he began the program, he has lost 80 pounds and has kept it off. He even treated himself to a hike to Everest Base Camp when he initially lost the weight and has returned several times.

There are some critical points I want to discuss about Mitch’s success. Because his success can be anyone’s. And it doesn’t necessarily have to happen with Weight Watchers or his specific program. But there are four basic elements to make fitness possible at any age.

  • Have a plan: Mitch’s was Weight Watchers. I recommend you make an appointment with a registered dietitian because not everyone has one-size fits all nutritional needs. A dietitian will do something similar to Weight Watchers but with an individualized approach, more suited to your body and dietary preferences and needs. Also, a dietitian can educate you to make good choices when going out to dinner or lunch (which many of my clients do on a regular basis), portion size, and mindful eating habits.
  • Find a support system: The goals of a support system are to decrease stress, keep you accountable, and motivate you to reach your goals. This is critical for success. Think about how your family, friends, co-workers’ attitudes affect you in your life. Getting healthy demands positive support, not cynicism. Mitch found his support in Weight Watchers. You may find yours with your family, friends, in a yoga class, with the people you meet walking your dog at the park, a dance class or at the gym.
  • NYC DietitianFind your motivation to continue working out and eating well. Mitch mentions he weighs himself every day. I never recommend this for any client. Because health isn’t a number  and many people could fall into a dangerous obsessive mindset. So I actually recommend you step away from the scale and your BMI numbers and get more accurate readings of fitness with a registered dietitian through body composition testing, waist to hip ratio and a thorough fitness assessment. Also, Mitch set a goal to hike to Everest Basecamp. This is a great motivator – getting fit for something you’ve always wanted to do: backpack a stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail or the Camino de Santiago. Go scuba diving in the Caribbean. The prize of getting healthy should be doing something you maybe couldn’t beforehand! Also, health is intuitive. Do you have more energy? Do your clothes fit better? Can you play longer in the park with your kids? Are you looking forward to a 5K? These are great motivators.

  • Believe:
    Now this may sound lofty, but it’s the truth. If you don’t change your relationships with food and exercise, change your approach and perspective, success may be short-lived or not come at all. Exercise isn’t a punishment for eating cake. It’s a celebration of what our bodies can do. How we approach food, with gratitude for how it nourishes us, is important. So believe you can do it, even when it gets tough – especially when it gets tough. Because it will. So you stick to your plan and take it one day, one step, one bite at a time.

It’s never too late to get fit. There are four essential elements to getting fit: have a plan, build a positive support system, find out what motivates you and believe. Are you ready to start the rest of your life today?