The 78 Year Old Body Builder

Updated: Mar 3, 2019

Ernestine Shepherd is 78 years old and in 2010 was declared the World’s Oldest Performing Body Builder. Today Shepherd can be seen sporting a flat stomach, toned arms, and exceptional health. Unfortunately, it wasn’t always this way. Many, many years ago Shepherd and her sister, Mildred, were trying on swimsuits at a store. Not liking what they saw, they both decided to get in shape together. This idea never came to fruition until Shepherd was 56 years old, when her sister Mildred died.

After Mildred’s death, Shepherd found herself overweight with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, panic attacks, acid reflux, and even depression. Her life in shambles, Shepherd went to bed one night and dreamt of Mildred, her sister, telling her to pursue their dream of fitness. These days you can find Shepherd without high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, or panic attacks, or acid reflux, or even depression. You’ll find a healthy Shepherd teaching her fitness class, reading bible devotions each morning, going for runs, and lifting weights.

Her fitness class started with just ten people and now is too big to fit everyone in the room. Ernestine had once described herself as a “prissy woman” who “didn’t want anything to do with exercise”. Despite where she came from, she now tells her class “Don’t forget: Age is nothing but a number and you can get fit.”

This week’s health blog is all about achieving the body of your dreams. It doesn’t matter what that dream is. For some, they dream of being pain free or to feel better. For others, they dream a dream of bodybuilding proportions. It doesn’t matter how strong you want to be or what body fat percentage you want to have, it is possible to see those dreams through!

“But how!?” you might be saying. After all, as we get older it becomes harder to get into shape doesn’t it? It certainly feels that way. But, lucky for us, this couldn’t be further from the truth. A study performed by the University of Oklahoma flies directly in the face of this belief. In this study, 24 men aged 18 to 22 and 25 men with ages from 35 to 50 followed the exact same weightlifting routine for 8 weeks. The results? At the end of the 8 weeks the subjects were DEXA scanned and it was found that both groups made nearly identical strength and muscle gains! Nearly identical. So, who came out ahead? The middle aged men actually built slightly more muscle.

The human body is an absolutely incredible miracle of engineering and too many times we sell it short of what its full capabilities are. The fact is, your body is capable. You are capable. In order to succeed, you only need two things. For one, you need the right tools and philosophy. (Which we will discuss in detail below) For another, you need drive. This drive is something I can’t help you with. It has to be your own. Are you determined to not follow the road to a nursing home? Are you unhappy with how you look and want to change it? Or maybe, you’ve had enough pain and simply want to be healthy again. Whatever your drive is, it has to accomplish one thing: It has to make you want your goals more than you want that cookie on the counter. Your drive has to make the prospects of success taste better than any desert ever could.

This drive doesn’t come right away. In fact, I almost promise you it won’t be strong right away. But if you keep nurturing it, if you keep making it a priority, your drive will become strong enough to take you anywhere. Just make sure it’s a healthy one. We want your motivation to spur you towards healthy habits more than anything else. So, tell us your goals! We want to help motivate you forward and cement your goals so they can become a reality.

So, how exactly do you achieve your goals!? Here are four things you need to do to reach any fitness goal you can come up with.

Eliminate Sugar

Sugar is without a doubt the most toxic substance we ingest. Excessive Sugar intake has become an epidemic destroying the health of millions and leading to a plethora of medical conditions some even causing death. In the last few decades sugar (in various forms) has been linked to reduced cognitive function, memory decline, dementia, cancer recurrence and death, heart disease, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, increased visceral fat (fat around organs-worst fat to have), type II diabetes, premature aging and metabolic disease, disruption in ovary function, and decreased testosterone levels. In fact, things have gotten so bad that experts now say sugar should be controlled like alcohol and tobacco in order to protect the public. Sugar has even been found to cause inflammation within the body itself. Inflammation is the one commonality between diseases. In the world of health, sugar isn’t your enemy, it is your nemesis.

A diet or lifestyle fraught with a high intake of sugar cannot coexist with health. This is probably one of the most painful truths out there because I too love chocolate. Nevertheless, what you eat has a direct result with your health, wellness, and appearance. As they say, “abs are made in the kitchen”. If you want the body of your dreams, you are going to need to change the diet you consume. The first to go: Sugar.

One of the most important tools you need to get rid of sugar is the understanding that a calorie is not a calorie. In other words, all calories are not equal. This flies directly in the face of the common understanding in the health community. In fact, it flies in the face of some health experts! Most proponents of weight loss claim that all calories are the same. This is the opposite of what was found in a 2010 study.

In this study, some rats consumed high fructose corn syrup while others consumed regular table sugar. The results? The rats who consumed high fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than the other rats. Even when their caloric intake was equal! A calorie is not a calorie. Different calories impact us differently affecting our metabolism and sugar is the worst of all. Bart Hoebel from the study (a Psychology professor specializing in the neuroscience of appetite, weight and sugar addiction) is quoted as saying “When rats are drinking high-fructose syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they’re becoming obese – every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don’t see this; they don’t all gain extra weight.”

While “calories in calories out” is proven by the First Law of Thermodynamics, what people don’t understand is that the calories you put in change the calories that come out. Calories affect your body, your metabolism, your hormones, your energy levels, and so much more. That is why in execution a calorie is not a calorie.

Sugar gets even worse from here, like cocaine worse. Sugar in junk food has been found to be eight times more addictive than cocaine in one study. Eight times! Do you sometimes feel like you are addicted to sugar? It’s because you are! The problem with this is that sugar further increases our cravings for other high-calorie foods. (Including more sugar!) We haven’t even brought up what sugar will do to your blood sugar levels, endocrine system (hormones), increased fat storage, and the harmful effects it has on your liver. Before you know it you can find yourself in a vicious cycle heading towards weight gain and even obesity.

So how can we avoid it? This can definitely be a challenge seeing as there are at least 30 names for sugar! (Designed to trick you of course) It seems that the safest bet is to go back to the basics with vegetables, fruits, nuts, berries, fish, and meat. These are foods that contain vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants, and a whole host of substances that are amazing for the health of your body. (There might even be some good stuff in that food we don’t know about yet!) Whatever you end up eating, I can guarantee it’ll be better than sugar which is devoid of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants, and anything else that might be considered good for you. Sugar in excess is only good for three things: obesity, inflammation, and disease.

But yes I admit, it tastes good.

Fueling Your Body

That brings us to the next of the four, if you want the body of your dreams you need to fuel your body properly! If we put cheap gasoline into a $500,000 Lamborghini we wouldn’t be surprised when it didn’t perform well. The thing is, our bodies are far more impressive than a Lamborghini. Our bodies are incredible feats of engineering more sophisticated and more capable than even the most advanced piece of mechanical or technological innovation. Our. Bodies. Are. Incredible. In fact, they are miracles. Walking miracles.

You own a fine piece of machinery there. What are you doing with it? Your answer will always be nothing if you aren’t fueling it properly. Things like junk food and sugar contain nothing that the body finds valuable. Your body wants the good stuff: Nutrients.

It is the iron from spinach that carries oxygen to your entire body. It is the vitamin E in eggs that help form your very blood cells. Beta carotene from carrots allow you to see. Niacin in beef burns fats, glucose, and alcohols for use. Vitamin C from broccoli heals your wounds. Calcium in kale contracts your muscles. Magnesium from avocados relaxes those muscles. With everything good you eat, you fuel and supercharge your body.

Not only that, but each vitamin mentioned above is used in many, many, more functions of the human body! Magnesium alone is involved in over 300 reactions in the human body! What you eat matters. Pizzas, pastas, breads, French fries, and a million other foods in the American diet do little for you. Your body wants nourishment.

Food is fuel. Food can be used for celebration, socializing, relaxation, and even comfort but at the end of the day we only eat food for its fuel. So, what kind of diet should we be eating? That question is enough for an entire blog post, for an entire series of blog posts. I will do my best to give you the core basics of it.

There is much argument over the ideal diet in today’s health fields. Lucky for us, there is one thing almost unanimously agreed upon: protein works really well. High protein diets have been studied for some time now and the results are incredibly encouraging. In one study, 19 subjects were placed sequentially on a 15% protein diet for two weeks and then a 30% protein diet for 12 weeks. When participants doubled their protein intake, they noticed a clear decrease in hunger and by the end of the study they had achieved significant weight loss. In fact, by 12 weeks they had lost a little over 10 pounds of fat.

High protein diets have another huge bonus for those wanting to lose weight. As you diet and undergo a calorie deficit your body will tend to cannibalize your muscle tissue for energy. This is a problem because muscle is the engine that burns fat! High protein diets have been shown to prevent muscle loss during times of caloric restriction.

Protein is also excellent for muscle gain. Protein is the basic building block of the human body and so makes up most of your body’s tissue, including muscle. When you workout you create microscopic tears within the muscle that the body repairs with protein. Once your body repairs the “damage” it reinforces it so that your body becomes stronger! It would make sense then that studies have shown that exercise increases the protein needs of the body and a high protein diet builds more muscle and strength.

High protein diets also prevent sarcopenia (losing muscle as we age) and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.

So, how much protein do we need and what exactly is a high protein diet? Accounts on this vary widely. Some people claim anywhere from 10% of your daily intake to 50%! One route you could take is to replicate the study on satiation mentioned earlier by sourcing 30% of your calories from protein. (A very good approach) Luckily for us, we have a pretty reliable study to make things somewhat less complicated. In order to reach your muscle building and fat burning potential eat anywhere from .6-.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight. This route should be ideal for most of us.

Whichever method you choose your protein should come from meat, fish, and eggs as those are the highest quality and best sources. Please also keep in mind your activity level. The more active you are the more muscle you have the more protein you need to consume. (And safer is better than missing out on muscle development) If you are very active, you should probably consider the 30% method rather than 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

So what’s the best way to eat? For many of us simply being told to eat more meat and vegetables isn’t helpful. We need a diet plan. While the studies are conclusive that a high protein and high vegetable diet is best, when we start talking about specific diets things get more controversial. Because of this, I can’t promote a “best diet” or one “guaranteed to work” but I can make a recommendation. I would look into a Paleo or Mediterranean diet as each one promotes a “back to the basics” food approach. If you want the body of your dreams you need a plate filled with meat, vegetables, fruits, berries, nuts, and fish. It’s these types of food that not only provide energy to the body, but nourishes it by supercharging you with vitamins and minerals. Luckily for you, the Paleo or Mediterranean diet advocate eating exactly these types of food.


Now that you’ve got the fuel down, it’s time to start using it. What is the best method of training? How often should I train? Do I need to do cardio?

Well, first off, guess what: Gone are the days of hour-long grueling cardio workouts. No more boring jogs, no more living at the gym, no more spending countless hours each week that could be spent doing something else. There exists one method of training that not only burns calories, but burns more calories than that hour long jog. It helps you lose that fat, preserve your muscle, and increase your stamina, agility, and power. Plus, it comes with a whole host of health bonuses that you wouldn’t believe. What is it?

High intensity interval training. Perhaps the best thing about this style of training is what it does to your HGH levels, your levels of Human Growth Hormone. HGH is an anabolic hormone that stimulates cell reproduction, regeneration, and growth. It is also responsible for increasing bone density, muscle mass, breaking down fat, and stimulating protein synthesis. Basically, HGH is the hormonal equivalent of the fountain of youth keeping you strong, lean, and healthy. It does far more than that, and if you’d like to read a bit more about the benefits of HGH click here. (A nice little summary) These are all the benefits of HGH supplementation and HGH from HIIT has been shown to be twice as effective and much, much safer. The higher your HGH levels the healthier you will be overall.

When we turn 30-years-old we begin the see the reduction of HGH being produced by our body. Actually, that’s not a fair assessment. When we turn 30, we begin to see HGH production drop like a rock over the Mariana Trench. (Okay that’s not an entirely fair assessment either) By the time we’ve hit 30, we’ve seen a dramatic reduction in HGH and this is actually one of the greatest driving factors of aging. This is why many of us begin to age so quickly once we are “over the hump” and heading towards our 40’s.

Thankfully, you don’t have to put up with life being that way. HIIT, specifically Peak 8, has been shown to increase HGH levels by 771%! How long does it take? About 20 minutes. Not only that, but one study found that even doing the equivalent of one half of the full Peak 8 program resulted in more fat being burned than 60 minutes of incline treadmill walking.

Research shows that HIIT also dramatically increases your metabolism for 24 hours, improves insulin sensitivity in muscles, increases the muscles ability to burn fat, spikes catecholamine levels (chemicals that mobilize fat for burning), and even decreases post-exercise appetite. If you want the body of your dreams, a body with reduced fat, more muscle tone, firmer skin, less wrinkles, more energy and libido, and greater athletic performance, you need high intensity interval training.

So, how do you do it? There are many ways to do HIIT but the one we recommend most (the one that increases HGH by 771%) is called Peak 8. Peak 8 can be done while running, on a bike, on an elliptical, or almost anywhere else that you can think of. Whatever piece of equipment you choose should allow you to push yourself to the max while still maintaining your safety. Therefore, most likely the best place to do it will be on a bike. (But not necessarily)

Once you figure out the equipment you’ll do it on, here’s how to actually perform it.

  1. Warm up for three minutes

  2. Sprint at full intensity (100% of possible effort) for 30 seconds.

  • You should have difficulty breathing

  • You should be sweating profusely.

  • Your muscles should be burning

  • At 20 seconds you should feel like it is impossible to continue. Keep going.

  1. Recover for 90 seconds

  • If you were running during your sprint a recovery period would be a light walk while catching your breath. Just keep moving!

  1. Repeat step 2-3 seven more times. In total you should sprint for 30 seconds on eight separate occasions.

  2. Cool down until your heartrate is 30 beats above resting. (Usually about three minutes)

In total, you’ll spend 21 minutes and earn more than 1 hours’ worth of effort (Plus all those insane health benefits and hormonal changes). Absolutely nothing can top the “bang for your buck” like HIIT can. If you are pursuing the body of your dreams you need to make HIIT part of your consistent routine. How often should you do peak 8? No more than three times per week. Because of the intensity required to perform peak 8 training you should not be physically able to do more than 3 of them per week. Also, make sure you space out the sprints equally throughout week.

Before we move on to the next and final topic of this blog it’s important to make a few final mentions. For one, it’s perfectly okay if you can’t do all 8 sprints at first. Something is far better than nothing and so you might want to start out doing only 2 or 3 sprints. Remember, it is INTENSITY that delivers these amazing health benefits so it would be better to do only 1 sprint at full intensity than it would be for you to do all 8 sprints at a slower pace. (Less than 100% of your full ability)

The second, and last, important mention is that you should avoid all carbs and especially all sugars for 2 hours after your HIIT session. When you eat sugars and carbohydrates it can create an insulin blood spike. Since insulin is a hormone, this hormonal reaction to carbohydrates has the potential to effect the hormonal HGH reaction taking place. Since you worked hard to earn that HGH its best to play it safe and not tamper with it. Let it do its job!

Strength Training

Any health goal you’ve got, any dream you want to accomplish can be achieved through lifting. Don’t believe me? Try me.

Losing weight? Lifting. Getting shredded with muscle? Lifting. Staying out of a nursing home? Lifting. Getting rid of pain? Lifting. Improving your mood/depression? Lifting. About the only thing that lifting doesn’t help is your brain. Oh wait… it helps that too. (Here is an interesting article on that study)

Lifting is the key to a long life well lived. So, how do we strength train? I mean after all, lifting isn’t as simple as picking up something heavy and putting it back down. You need good form and technique in order to make sure you don’t injure yourself and to maximize your results. Also, what do you eat before you workout? How about after? How frequently should you workout? What are the best exercises to do? Should I do high weight and low reps, or low weight and high reps? How often should you change your routine? What should my routine look like? What does this exercise work? Is it best to stretch before, after, or both? What kind of equipment do I use? How many exercises do I do for a muscle before I can move onto the next?

Is your head swirling yet? Luckily, that is why we are here. While you are in charge of avoiding sugar, fueling your body, and making sure you do your HIIT cardio, our Personal trainers at ReVibe will handle your weight training. We’ve spent 10 years building and refining our methods to create the perfect programs for strength building, toning, and fat loss. It’s taken us a while, but we’ve assembled the best exercises in the business to functionally activate multiple muscle systems within the human body. This skyrockets your metabolism and unleashes the full potential of your body to build strength and shed excess weight. Not only that, but we’ve selected the perfect equipment.

Whole Body Vibration technology is the primary equipment used within ReVibe. This amazing piece of machinery contains a platform vibrating your entire body in three different planes simultaneously. The impact of this supercharges the performance of your body in a number of amazing ways. With each vibratory shift of the platform your body reacts reflexively in order to re-stabilize you. These reflexive contractions happen up to 50 times per second as your body frantically tries to regain its balance while at the same time lifting weight and engaging in movements of exercise. This immense amount of activity has the potential to create profound hormonal changes within the human body. Like, Human Growth Hormone (HGH) profound. That’s right! Whole Body Vibration is the only form of exercise, aside from HIIT, that is also known to release Human Growth Hormone (HGH)!

This is one of the key reasons we use Whole Body Vibration. Imagine how much younger you can look, feel, and perform when you boost your HGH levels 771% three times a week and then lift on HGH releasing platforms another three times a week. This is one of the reasons why we are so good at what we do. Here at ReVibe you don’t have to worry about a thing. Just make an appointment, show up, and we’ll keep you guessing what’s coming next. There is just one thing you need to do: Work hard.

You see, there is a limit to how much a personal trainer can motivate you and that limit is determined by how hard you want to work. No matter how good a personal trainer is, we can only push you so far over your comfort zone. That push will make a huge difference in your results. But now imagine how much more profound those results could be if we were able to push even further past that comfort zone. As we learned from HIIT, it is intensity that creates those unbelievable transformations. It is intensity that makes you feel younger, faster, and healthier.

No matter what your goals you can get there. Not a single human being has ever achieved the full potential of the human body. It is awe-inspiring to imagine what that limit might be. No matter your age, no matter your limitations, and even no matter your current determination, you can be where you dream of being. Tell us your goal. We’ll guide you from there.

“The best time to start was yesterday, the second best time is today"

#motivation #nutrition #wholebodyvibration #weightloss #agingwell

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