“Am I destined to be fat and slow now that I’m over 50?”
It’s this question I hear so often from people I work with… and the answer is no.
If you feel dismayed or frustrated by (what seems like) the inevitable “slowing” of your body after 50, I’m here to break through that misconception.
I wanted to take a minute and introduce myself, and the question you are probably asking: “Who is Debra Atkinson?”
I’m actually pretty normal, a fitness professional, who spent years hearing client lament about getting older and their metabolism slowing. Not yet 50+ at the time, I encouraged them as best I could and stayed positive with them.
As a fitness professional for many years you could say I fit the stereotype of “exercising all day.” Then in my early 40s I cut my physical activity teaching load by 6 hours a week! Talk about bad timing.
Even though I wasn’t exercising nearly as much any more, my job as a personal training director still had me actively moving around much of the day.
Call me crazy, but at 49 I stopped doing that and began sitting behind a desk for 10-14 hours a day. You know, the dream of your own business and that relaxed pace… Let’s just say, call me before you do it.
On top of that I had about 5 major life stressors occur in about six months. (it turned out about 8 major life stressors in 14 months) Suddenly I was getting my front row seat to what aging, stress, sitting, and not sleeping could do to someone who until moments ago was in good shape. It wasn’t pretty and I didn’t feel pretty. I didn’t feel like “me.”
You could say I earned my MBA in hormones, the aging process, sleep, stress and how it’s all affected by exercise and nutrition… through the school we all hate: hard knocks.
I was not willing to settle. I had colleagues in their 50s, and 60s who looked fantastic and had no problem staying fit. I had role models who were older than that still competing. I decided I was going to figure it out, whatever it took.
It wasn’t exactly easy to “figure it out.” The real “break” came when I was locked to my desk.
The less I exercised, the better I felt…
I was the most shocked of all. Here I was, an avid runner, fitness instructor, triathlete whose idea of fun was to go for an hour run or spending the afternoon on a bike ride.
…and I dropped weight and inches exercising less. Much less. Barely able to fit it in some days I would make myself detach from the computer for 20 minutes at least. Some days that was it. Some days it was 20 in the morning and 20 in the evening but rarely for two years was there more.
What I stumbled on accidentally about myself began to ring true as I poured over research and began coaching clients and saw the same kind of results. It’s not all what you’re thinking: it’s not all high intensity exercise. Nope, the results were astounding and the signs and symptoms of each client pointed to a unique combination for each client. Some only did yoga.
I have now come to believe something that I think is very important…
If you don’t understand all the factors that play into health and weight loss, then you’re probably going to walk through life feeling like you’re stuck with a “slowing metabolism”. It’s not an easy thing to explain to someone who hasn’t done the research, but I’ll bet that you can appreciate what I’m talking about.
On the other hand, if you DO know how to work with your body as it ages, you’re going to have an inner confidence and “radiance” that other people can sense.
They’ll be like, “I’ll have what she’s having.”
My Professional Experience
Debra has been speaking on fitness and life-enhancing topics for more than 30 years. As a prior member of the National Speakers Association she has spoken to hundreds of audiences of all types and sizes including church groups, women’s groups, bankers, professional fitness associations, sheriffs associations (hold the fire!), insurance groups, Health Care Associations, and Golf Pros. Personal responsibility for physical activity and nutrition is the common theme in her message, whether that message is for greater productivity at work, decreasing stress levels or improving life satisfaction. She’s a Barely Boomer and speaks frequently on Active Aging.
Debra is a Certified CoachU Graduate. She coaches clients in the areas of wellness, personal relationships, academic choices, career moves, and growing their personal training business; ultimately creating the changes they want to create the life that they want. As a coach, she’s not one to step over many things. She hears what you don’t say. You could find it irritating if you prefer to stay stuck. If you’re ready to move and get where you’re going, you’ll get along famously. In 2013 she was Live Healthy Iowa’s Dream Team coach. She is America’s Boomer Babe Fitness Expert.
Debra’s first lemonade stand included an assortment of broken, discarded toys pulled from the dark confines of her closet. Her mother set her up with a muffin tin and coins to make change for customers. While business was slow she dropped the quarter she was fiddling with into the grass and lost it forever. She proceeded to the Bank-of-Mom to ask for a replacement. Mom informed her that that’s not how it works and she realized this being in business stuff was hard! Since closing the stand, she’s run a profitable in-home personal training business, led a team of over 20 trainers at three facilities to their best seven years ever in the worst economy ever by applying marketing and sales training techniques that work, and knowing that never was there a time that people needed the positive attitude and environment fitness provides more.
Getting what you want requires energy management. Debra knows a little about that. She is a five-time Ironman starter and a four-time Ironman finisher. She completed an Ironman (with a smile) in the same year her first book was published and she traveled to and attended all of her son’s golf matches during the summer and fall as he went through the college recruiting process, led a team of trainers to the best year of personal training and two record breaking months; in addition to being a single mom and tending to all the daily details we have in running a household. Knowing when to embrace chaos and when to work and when not to work, both with intention, is her key.
Debra earned both her B.S. and M.S. in Exercise Science and Exercise & Sports Psychology, respectively, from Iowa State University where she later served as a Senior Lecturer for 14 years. She taught core courses for Kinesiology majors that prepared students for leadership roles in fitness and continued to supervise internships for Kinesiology majors after she left the classroom.
She is certified by the American Council on Exercise, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and has been an international presenter at events including: IDEA Personal Training Institute, Congress, World, and Fact Fest (‘02, ‘03, ‘04, ‘07, ‘12, ’14), Can-Fit-Pro (‘05, ‘06, ’19) and National Strength and Conditioning Association’s Personal Training Congress (’08, ‘09) and National Conference (’15). She’s presented for the International Council On Active Aging (’13, ’14, and ’15) and Athletic Business Conference multiple year. Debra is an ACE Faculty CEC provider specializing in … of course Hormone Balancing Exercise Prescription via the Flipping 50 Fitness Specialist along with customer service, marketing and sales for advancing the business of personal training. She was honored as selection committee member for Personal Trainer of the Year award for IDEA, and a Subject Matter Expert and item writer for ACE’s Advanced Health Fitness Specialist exam, and Health Coach, and Personal Trainer certifications. When she is not presenting, she makes a point of attending to listen to her peer colleagues and is a life long student.
- You Still Got It, Girl! The After 50 Fitness Formula for Women
- Hot, Not Bothered: 99 Daily Flips for Slimmer, Fitter, Faster So You Can Master Metabolism Before, During, and (Long) After Menopause
- You Still Got It, Girl! A Collection of Blog posts
- How to Make Every Woman Over 50 Want You: A Trainer’s Guide to Hormone Balancing Fitness