March 2020

How to be a Fit Female at Any Age

Author: Becca Edwards | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

Don’t start a fitness regimen solely to lose weight. Studies show that working out to “slim down” often backfires. First of all, because muscle weighs more than fat, some women gain weight with an increased exercise program. Also, many women who soldier through that early morning gut- and butt-burning bootcamp inadvertently end up consuming more calories than they expend via energy drinks and bars, meal replacement products that do not specifically address a woman’s nutritional needs, and/or the erroneous logic that, “I can eat whatever I want today because I already worked out.” Furthermore, sports coaches and nutritionists will tell you that it’s not just what you eat but when you eat, and they often recommend consuming macronutrients like fiber, carbohydrates and protein at specific times.

Don’t join a fitness facility because you simply think you should either. Of the approximate 45 million adults in the United States who have joined a gym, 80 percent do not go, and 12 percent sign up in January and quit or stop going after 24 weeks. Attempting to work out for perceived external benefits or unrealistic internal expectations often leaves people feeling guilty, and that guilt builds into resentment—not muscle mass—resulting in conscious and/or subconscious rejection of a wellness routine.

Do, however, be driven because you appreciate and adhere to the key concepts of being fit at any age. To illuminate these key concepts, meet three dynamic, inspirational, and fit women who lead by example.

Denise Agee
Denise Agee is the director of tennis at the South Carolina Yacht Club. She is 61 years young. Her father turned her on to the sport of tennis when, at a young age, he took her to a Virginia Slims professional tournament, where she watched Billie Jean King kick ass. From then on, every single weekend Agee played tennis with her brother and father. “I was not groomed at the Country Club of Virginia. I had to fight,” Agee said.

And her hard work paid off. She earned a partial scholarship to play tennis at Clemson. But, during Agee’s sophomore year, she listened to her heart. She, as well as other teammates, left the team because of a negative coach. “It was very hard to call my parents and say I was quitting,” Agee said. “I think I heard a heart breaking over the phone.”

Agee then became a competitive runner until, at age 35, she returned to tennis and began competing in local, state and regional tournaments. After a several years of competing, Agee decided to be a tennis instructor.
This year Agee will be inducted into her high school’s hall of fame for her contribution to her alma mater’s tennis team, and she will celebrate almost two decades of coaching.

Hilary Hattler
“When I was six, I was thrown in the pool. My mother made me swim because I was a klutz and she thought the pool was the place that I would do the least damage,” 62-year-young Hilary Hattler joked.

It worked. Hattler swam competitively until she was 13 years old. “Swimming was not a forgiving sport for girls back then. This was before goggles, so we had red eyes. Your hair turned green. You didn’t go to parties because of practice, and swimmers get huge shoulders,” Hattler said. “Plus, I was living in Puerto Rico, and swimming was not popular. It was volleyball, volleyball, and more volleyball.”

Though she played volleyball and ran in her 20s and 30s, Hattler, like many of us, said life got in the way and prevented her from being focused on fitness. “My job was very time consuming, and I was a single mom of kids below three years of age.”

But, as someone who believes in setting goals, Hattler made a promise to herself. She would do an IRONMAN triathlon when she turned 50. And she did just that. “My sister Andrea turned me on to triathlons. I completed my first one right after my fiftieth birthday. I was second out of the water, first on the bike, and last in the run for my age group.”

Since then, Hattler has competed in numerous races of various lengths. She considers sprint triathlons (a 750-meter swim, 12.5-mile bike, and 5K run)—something most people half her age cannot do—to be a warm-up. She is currently training for the IRONMAN 70.3 in Puerto Rico on March 15.

Freda Mooncotch
Freda Mooncotch knows firsthand the negative physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual effects of chronic pain and illness. She struggled with both chronic pain and illness for almost a decade before she took charge of her health and became a competitive athlete and contortionist. Now, at 48 years young, she is no longer bedridden from auto-immune conditions like Lyme and Crohn’s diseases and does some pretty wild things with her body without the use of pain management medication.

Mooncotch’s story began after the economic crisis of 2008, when she “was 35 years old and had lost everything.” By the time Mooncotch was 41, she was so ill she was not sure if she would live or die. But then her father gave her a Yoga Journal magazine. “These women were doing such beautiful things with their bodies that, despite all the pain it caused, I started trying the poses,” Mooncotch said.

She also began experimenting with magnesium chloride, eventually launching an all-natural, organic pain relief and skincare line called MOONMAG.

“I am in better shape now than ever in my life, and I can honestly say it is because I never gave up on my health. I found and fell in love with a sport that I did not even know existed,” Mooncotch said.

Key Concepts
Find something you enjoy.
“If you’re going to commit to a sport, find one you enjoy,” Hattler said. “For me, it’s triathlons, but it might be something different for you.”

Challenge and compete with yourself.
“I do not see why anyone would be afraid to compete. In the end, you only look to compete with and improve upon yourself,” Hattler said.

Set goals.
“Goals allow you to have a positive outlet for your energy,” Agee said.

**Be okay with where you are. **
You do not need to be serious, but you do need to be conscientious. You may be too old to do some things, but that doesn’t mean you’re too old to do something. [To improve or progress], you need someone to evaluate where you are andsomeone like a coach to lead you,” Hattler said.

Dig deep.
I struggle with digging deep every day. Sometimes I think I’m too old to do things, but then my body surprises me. You have to get over your mental limitations. We are brainwashed that after 40 it’s downhill, but that’s not true,” Mooncotch said.

“Training is my psychiatrist,” Hattler added. “Plus, if I’m going to hurt, I’m going to hurt because I did it to myself and not because I’m getting old. I hurt not because of arthritis. I hurt because I ran 11 miles.”

Make it a lifestyle.
“There is no one-size-fits-all with fitness. Take me, for example. I’m a carnivore. I eat two steaks a day. It might not be for everyone, but it works for me. The point is, find what works and commit to it,” Mooncotch said.
Reflect on your achievements.

“It really gives me a buzz when my Garmin says that I am in the top five percent of my age group and that I have the fitness of a 25-year-old,” Hattler said. 

Becca Edwards is a wellness professional, freelance writer, and co-owner of Female IQ Podcast.

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