I love this blog from JillFit Coach Tara Ballard so much because I have been able to watch Tara grow as a person, as a competitor and as a fitness professional over the last 2.5 years and it has been one of the most rewarding things for me as a coach. When I met Tara, she was beautiful and in great shape, it was obvious she was a serious fitness enthusiast. I found out just how enthusiastic when she told me she was doing upwards of 4-5 hours of exercise a day! Classes, running, toning, more classes, etc. Day after day, starting at 3:45am. She admitted to me that she had not had one year without an exercise-related injury in her adult life, and that she often felt tired. Tara wrote up her entire transformation story for JillFit here. I love her transformation because it demonstrates that you can do less exercise with smarter nutrition, and actually get stronger, more fit and with less likelihood for injury. In this picture below on the left, Tara is 34 years old and she told me she was in pain during this entire race due to a stress fracture. In the picture below (right) Tara is 41 years old, fitter and healthier than ever, on stage at the OCB Mid-Atlantic Supershow, where she took 4th in the Masters 35+ Division and 5th in her open class, up against a large class of fit ladies. Go Tara! ox Jill
By Tara Ballard
As I approached my 40th birthday nearly two years ago, I was bombarded with (unsolicited) negative comments about turning the big four-oh: “everything goes downhill when you turn 40” and “your body starts falling apart after 40” and “you better stop working out so hard; a 40 year-old body can’t handle all that exercise”. It seemed that turning 40 was some kind of death sentence!! But instead of wallowing in self-pity waiting for my body to head south (ha!), I decided to get busy and set some goals.
As a runner, it had always been a dream of mine to run a marathon; hence, my first goal. I started training for my first marathon in the summer of 2008, which I completed right after my 39th birthday, I proceeded to run two more marathons before my 40th birthday. And while I don’t run long distances anymore, I am really proud of those accomplishments!!
My second goal, was to compete in a figure competition. Back in 2004, I started training with weights, as well as started reading Muscle and Fitness Hers. It was then that I became intrigued by the figure competitors who were featured in the magazine. I loved how most of the women looked strong, yet feminine. Looking at those magazines is what first planted the competition seed, although I never thought back then that I would ever actually step on stage!! Five years later, just a couple months before my 40th birthday, I stepped on stage for the first time.
One of the things that stood out to me at that first competition was the large number of competitors who were over the age of 40! And not just a little over 40, we’re talking 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and there may have been a couple bodybuilders who were over 70! How refreshing and inspiring this was!! Turning 40 wasn’t a death sentence after all!!! On the contrary, I had finally found a sport that I can do for as long as want, no matter my age! Running had been my first love for so long, but it definitely was NOT kind to my body, and I knew that it was something I would eventually need to scale back. Discovering a new outlet for my fitness cravings was just what the doctor ordered!
The lesson learned in all of this? You are NEVER too old! Don’t let your age dictate what you do and don’t do…it’s just a number!!
40…a death sentence??? No way, I’m just getting started! :)
For all my 40+ buddies out there, how did you feel as you approached the big four-oh? Did you feel like life was over or did you use it as impetus to get busy? I’d love to know – email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Facebook.
Until next time – train hard and find happiness in every day! Tara