Stu: Some people freak out when they enter a new decade in their lives, and 40 seems to be a catalyst for many a mid-life crisis. When I turned 40 I joined CrossFit and decided to become fitter and stronger than ever before (mid-life crisis I hear you say). This is where we met Ewan, he seemed to be doing things that defied logic so we asked him to share his secrets.
Over to Ewan…
Ewan: The BIG four zero, for some, is a time to hang up the boots and find a hobby that isn’t quite so demanding on the old joints. For others it’s a time to make a new start and change some bad habits you’ve picked up over the years.
Where did my journey begin?
My fitness journey started almost 30 years ago. I was packed off to boarding school where it was either rugby or running. I had the hand to eye coordination of a fish, so, by default I became a runner. The school gymnasium wasn’t discovered until I turned 15 and was only used during French lessons! I stuck with my love for running until my mid 20’s when I discovered wakeboarding. If you have never tried wakeboarding then you’re missing out. It has similar skills required for surfing with a much faster learning curve. Fast forward 8 years and a move from the UK to Australia had me searching for a new sport. A nagging mate, a global gym membership, one workout later and I had found this thing called CrossFit.
I’m willing to bet that these days, most readers have heard of CrossFit. Either if you love or hate it, you can’t deny that CrossFit has now reached the masses. Hell, your mum has probably heard of it and even possibly tried it.
Fit at 40
Being fit when life is supposedly supposed to begin will mean different things to different people. If your New Year resolution didn’t include a checkbox for getting back into the gym or going for a run with the dog then the good news is that you don’t need an excuse to start. There isn’t a big bang moment when you go from being unfit to fit; it is a journey and an adventure. My training today looks very different to my training in my twenties. Back then it would be a case of turn up at the gym, lift some weights, rest, repeat and finally shower. The age of the internet has made everybody experts and the knowledge available has enabled me to give mother nature the middle finger and continue to improve. Gone are the days of getting changed and being good to go, a few life lessons later and I recognise the importance of nutrition, a thorough warm up and rest. Lots of rest.
Food, glorious food
My wife loves to remind me that in my teens and 20’s my diet consisted of pasta and cheap sausages. Thankfully both have now been replaced with zucchini noodles and steak (I know, very hipster). For me personally, I would describe my diet as primal, I love dairy too much to give it up for the paleo diet. Breakfast will consist of bacon, eggs and half an avocado, lunch and supper will be some seasonal veggies and fish/meat. I’ve switched from eating quantity to quality; meat purchased these days has to be grass fed. You really can taste the difference. Any snacks will be a handful of almonds and a 180 shake.
Having a family with three kids has to be about compromise, we do have bread in the house and I’ll occasionally make a baconator, as much bacon, egg and avocado as I can fit in two slices of bread. Guilt levels on a baconator day = Zero. My four nutrition tips for a healthy lifestyle are:
- Whatever you do make it sustainable. If you have a bad day, don’t give up, simply recognise the trigger and get back on the wagon
- Drink a minimum of 2l of water a day
- Avoid sugar and sweeteners
- Eat real food. Stick to the outer isle of the supermarket and select what is in season
To supplement or not to supplement
Recovery has been one of my main battles since I hit 40. I can’t always do multiple training sessions in a day unless I have my nutrition dialled in. For me this means supplementing my meals. Over the years I have tried most supplements out there and now have a small list of what works for me:
- Fish oil: The benefits of fish oil are amazing, google “benefits of fish oil’ and you’ll get over 8 million links to click through. For me I choose to use it for its anti-inflammatory properties. Forget your generic supermarket brand where you can get 400 for $20. Instead choose a good quality fish oil
- Glutamine: Glutamine is found in over 60% of skeletal muscles and is one of the amino acids that make up protein. I take about 5-10g a day. Again this is taken for recovery
- Greens: I take a product called Green Fusion from bulk nutrients, It’s a combination of Barley, Wheatgrass and Spirulina and taken instead of a multi vitamin
- ZMA: Zinc, Magnesium and B6. I first tried this 10+ years ago and gave up on it as a gimmick. I decided to give it another try 18m ago (around the time our twin girls came along and sleepless nights started). I do find I sleep much better when taking ZMA. Or rather I don’t sleep as well when I run out.
- 180 Nutrition Superfood: The versatility of this is amazing. I use it with almost everything, from a humble protein shake to a scoop in my sweet potato & cinnamon mash. I typically have a large bag of coconut and a small bag of chocolate on the go.
- Coffee: My drug of choice. Nuff said!
There isn’t a magic pill when it comes to supplementation, you’ll typically only notice any difference when you stop taking them. If I had to pick one it would have to be fish oil (Sorry Guy & Stu, you came in a close 3rd after coffee).
A daily routine
My day typically starts at around 5am, I’ll make some breakfast before jumping on the pedal bike and heading to coach at one of the two CrossFit boxes I work at. Taking the class through the warm-up is a great way for me to grease the groove and flush out the body of any kinks. After class I’ll head into the CBD where I work for a large international bank where I’ll spend most of my day sat on my bum. At the end of the day it’s back to the box to lift heavy things and move fast. I’ll either focus on a weakness or join in the class. After class it will be back on the bicycle to see the family. I’m a lightweight when it comes to burning the candle at both ends and will typically have lights out between 8:30 and 9pm.
The old saying ‘Routine is the enemy’ is true when it comes to exercise. Change now if your exercise routine is like watching the movie Groudhog Day. Your routine stops as soon as you pull on that t-shirt and training shoes. If your New Year resolution was to start running then mix it up with some sprint sessions or some hill runs. Embrace the change and challenge yourself. My tips for getting and staying fit are:
- It’s never too late to start, even if that start feels like you have been run over by a truck, good for you for starting!
- Set yourself short and long term goals. Write them down, stick them on your wardrobe door, tell your partner & friends, make yourself accountable. Start the short term goals with ‘This week I will’ and surround yourself with a supportive network of family and friends
- Record your progress, You’ll be amazed when that run round the block which took you 10min three months ago can now be smashed out in under 5. It doesn’t matter if you use pen and paper, a Fitbit or an online tool. It is a powerful motivator being able to see your results
- Have fun!
You are never too old to start, be open to change and have fun saying yes to new challenges.