As my 53rd birthday approaches, I am proud to say that I am feeling as good as I did when I turned 23. I’m fortunate to have a body that loves to move and have not encountered any major injuries.
While my memory may sometimes fail me (#ADHDproblems), my cognitive abilities are still running tickety-boo, and I am loving how I feel in my 50s. In this blog post, I want to share my personal journey towards staying fit and healthy as I enter my mid-50s, and hopefully inspire you to keep your own fitness and health a top priority.
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At 53, My Fitness + Health Goals Have Changed
In the past, my focus has always been on aesthetics. Wanting to look my best is not a bad thing, and I still enjoy looking my best, but my focus has expanded to wanting to feel my best. I have moved away from being maniacal about my diet for the sake of maintaining a body fat percentage, and instead, my priorities have shifted towards what feels good, what's easy and enjoyable, and what I can easily maintain.
Being Fit at 53 is Less About Aesthetics & More About Thriving
From a fitness standpoint, my focus has shifted away from physique sculpting towards expanding my mobility and flexibility because those are the things that will serve me in the long term. As a woman in her fifties without children, I need to ensure that I am as independent, strong, fit, and healthy as possible, so the quality of my life is as plentiful as the quantity of my life.
I am still focused on strength training, but I have leaned into low-impact, high-repetition movements such as barre workouts, Pilates, yoga, and yoga sculpt. My priority is how my joints feel and how my body feels immediately following my workout, rather than how many calories I burned.
I have also changed my expectations of how I push myself. I no longer push my body to extremes, but instead focus on invigorating workouts that make me feel better afterwards than before.
Being Fit at 53 is as Mental as it is Physical
My fitness journey has mostly been centered around how my body looks and feels, but in the past few years, I’ve started to truly understand how it impacts my mental health. I’ve mentioned before that my consistent fitness routine was the one thing that kept my undiagnosed ADHD under control.
As I entered menopause and my estrogen dropped, workouts where no longer enough to maintain my mental health. Post diagnosis, I now prioritize my brain health and emotional wellbeing because that has everything to do with the quality of my life.
I prioritize my mental health by getting outside and walking every day, being out in the sun and fresh air, and listening to uplifting podcasts or music. I also sleep like a BOSS. If I have a bad night’s sleep, it impacts my mood, my ability to workout and I tend to eat like crap.
I don't obsess about macros and calories (because I already know them)
My priority around food and nutrition is to enjoy life, keep it simple and not get obsessed with counting anything. That said, this comes at the result of understanding what portion sizes and macro-breakdowns work for my body, so there is already a foundation of knowledge that I'm working from.
If you don't know about macros and you're unsure of what your portion sizes should be, then you might be interested in my Macro's Made Simple program. It's an easy breakdown of how to understand what your body needs in terms of calories.
Now, I'm not suggesting that you should get hyper-fixed on counting calories or macros, but having a basic understanding of what and how much to eat can go a long way to creating lasting results.
How I'm eating these days
My dietary approach is simple and sustainable, with a focus on vegetables and protein for meals. I do allow myself treats like wine or a built bar, but try to limit my intake of high-sugar or processed foods and I NEVER have things like chips in the house (because I will 100% eat them all).
Getting Fit Over 50 is About Small Steps and Sustainable Changes
If you’re looking to improve your health and fitness in your fifties or beyond, my advice is to focus on small steps and sustainable changes. Whether it's going for a daily walk, trying a new workout routine, or making small dietary tweaks, every little bit counts.
The one thing I see that never works is big dramatic changes. These grand gestures never last because they’re way too hard to sustain. And when we invest tons of money into diet programs or fitness gurus we feel even worse when they don’t work out because we’ve wasted money and proved that we can’t follow through - I speak from experience here.
I’m not suggesting that it’s wrong to invest in your fitness journey. Just make sure it’s something that’s not over-the-top hard or that is too far out of your comfort zone. I’ve been using Beachbody workouts and supplements for years because they fit my lifestyle. It’s easy to do, and I find the workouts and trainers to be motivating. Mostly, I love online workouts because I don’t want to go to a gym. I’d never get myself to go.
How to keep yourself motivated to get fit after 50
If you want a really fun way to get yourself motivated, look for examples of what is possible at any age. I love following fitness influencers who are 20 or 30 years older than me who look amazing and vibrant in their 70s and 80s. I think that’s so inspiring!
Another important thing to keep in mind is that your fitness routine shouldn’t feel like a slog, and if it hurts or feels dreadful, then you're doing it wrong. Find something you enjoy doing. If Zumba lights you up, start there. If you prefer pickle ball or power walking with friends, awesome! You’ll probably find that the workout you start with will expand into other fitness-related activities because your confidence will increase as your strength and endurance improves.
10 Tips for Getting Fit After 50 (or Maintaining Fitness)
- Focus on prioritizing feeling good both mentally and physically, rather than just aesthetics or weight loss.
- Expand fitness priorities to include mobility, flexibility, and low-impact exercises that feel good.
- Prioritize mental health by incorporating daily walks in nature and finding uplifting podcasts to listen to.
- Change expectations of workouts to focus on sustainability and feeling better afterwards, rather than pushing to the limit and causing joint pain.
- Avoid getting wrapped up in obsessive thinking about food, and instead focus on enjoying life and finding balance.
- Look for inspiration from people who are older and still living a high quality life.
- Focus on the long term benefits for maintaining your health and fitness, rather than just aesthetics.
- Prioritize intentional movement every day, even if it's just 25-30 minutes.
- Find simple and sustainable dietary habits that work for you.
- Take small steps towards improving your health and fitness, and don't be afraid to ask for support from friends or online resources that resonate with you.
Caren is a certified yoga teacher, fitness instructor and ADHD Coach. As the founder of The Fit Habit, she shares ADHD-friendly self-care, food & fitness inspiration, along with practical ways to foster mind + body wellness.