Why do people say maintaining a fit body is extremely difficult as you age?

I'm 22 but have always been in amazing shape because of my eating habits and overall lifestyle. However, I keep bumping into that one sucker who's 25-30 that "breaks the ice" by talking about my physique and always talks about how hard it is to maintain as u get older. 

So what is it? I maintain a visible six pack year round and I don't think I'd ever let myself go to getting a beer gut no matter what. Even if I go out and drink alot or eat alot I just skip eating ahead of time or just run it off the next day.

I get it, young people have it easy, are spoiled, and never have to work for anything but even during COVID and WFH up until now with a sedentary lifestyle weight gain was super easy to keep at bay from just eating clean.

These people are super discouraging.

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Comments (59)

Jun 13, 2021 - 12:50pm

Stop flexing, especially when interacting with women. Advice from a old guy…

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  • Prospect in HF - Other
Jun 13, 2021 - 1:51pm

I hear ya loud and clear. I would also ask older people stop being so bitter towards young-folk (like the instance I psoted above) and be a little more uplifting. Anytime I'm around those types they're anything but uplifting and motivating about aging. 

  • Investment Manager in HF - Other
Jun 13, 2021 - 12:56pm

There are a few things to consider as you get older:

1) testosterone: this will normally peak around 20 years old and decline as you age

2) protein: many studies have shown that as you age your body has a harder time breaking down protein, so you are required to have more to keep up with your younger self

3) time: this is more in your control, but life generally becomes busier as you age. People have kids, more time/stress at work, other family obligations, etc. 

So it is possible to stay in great shape as you age, but if you look at averages most people will be in worse shape later on in life. Especially when compared to college where you tend to have much more free time (and resources available to stay in shape). So most people will tell you it is harder to stay in shape (generally true) and will also use it as a reason to make themselves feel better about being in worse shape. 

I'm in my late 30's and still believe I'm in great shape (as good or better than I was in college) - it just takes time and effort. 

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jun 14, 2021 - 5:58pm

will also use it as a reason to make themselves feel better about being in worse shape. 

I'm in my late 30's and still believe I'm in great shape (as good or better than I was in college) - it just takes time and effort. 

This. People who say "just wait til you're my age" just didn't make it a priority in their life and now are upset other people do. Yes it takes more effort and discipline than a 20 yr old, but it's very possible. I'v seen many people who're successful in their career, have families, and are still in better shape than the average 20 yr old. 

Respect to you for being in such good shape.

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Jun 15, 2021 - 2:45am

Just want to add that as you age your NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis), a significant part of your total calories burned during the day, decreases. It's essentially all the calories your burn doing involuntary movements during the day (such as walking and fidgeting). Less calories burned will likely put you into a calorie surplus and cause weight gain. 

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jun 13, 2021 - 4:31pm

The metabolism of every mammal slows as they age, it has nothing to do with a thyroid disorder (which isn't to say a thyroid issue can't exacerbate this). This is literally high school-level Biology 101 genius. 

  • PM in HF - Other
Jun 13, 2021 - 4:16pm

No one is bitter to 22 year olds its just science and lack of time. As you said you can set your sleep/eating schedule no one with a young kid can do so. Also unless you were a pro athlete mentality it becomes super difficult to not stress eat, thats why many people get into cycles (4 months fit, then nonfit sort of thing). 
Also to be clear, having a "6pack" at 22 or 32 or 42 does not mean you are super healthy automatically and your doctor will say this dude gonna live forever. So figure/physique takes a stepback to "general health, cardio, etc..." when sole purpose is not to go out and slay 20 year old college chicks nightly.

Jun 14, 2021 - 2:43pm

No one is bitter to 22 year olds its just science and lack of time. As you said you can set your sleep/eating schedule no one with a young kid can do so. Also unless you were a pro athlete mentality it becomes super difficult to not stress eat, thats why many people get into cycles (4 months fit, then nonfit sort of thing). 
Also to be clear, having a "6pack" at 22 or 32 or 42 does not mean you are super healthy automatically and your doctor will say this dude gonna live forever. So figure/physique takes a stepback to "general health, cardio, etc..." when sole purpose is not to go out and slay 20 year old college chicks nightly.

I agree that cardio health should be a priority as you age.   I think every male would like to have six pack abs but the reality is that no one is going to see them most of the time.  I work out regularly and I try to get in one hour per day about 5 days for a week.  I do mostly cardio stuff like jumping rope.  For a male, I spend an unusual amount of time on hair, skin and clothes because I feel that  these things get noticed regularly.

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Jun 14, 2021 - 3:48pm

Having zero visceral fat is generally known as being very healthy.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jun 14, 2021 - 6:11pm

 Also unless you were a pro athlete mentality it becomes super difficult to not stress eat, thats why many people get into cycles (4 months fit, then nonfit sort of thing). 

Lol come on... pro athlete mentality? Just be more disciplined and self aware. Look, maybe you fall off the wagon and have a massive cheat day every couple of months, maybe it's even once a month... but if you're cycling between fit and unfit every four months, then that means you let yourself go for weeks-months which is a problem you should address. Also to your point of focusing on general health- if you're eating crap that's causing you to gain 10+ pounds of fat every 4 months, then you're spending a good amount of your time in "poor health" since those foods are nutritionally deficient.

Jun 13, 2021 - 8:57pm

After 22 it requires sacrifice to keep up that lifestyle. I've also gotten positive comments on physique (not a six pack though lol) but let's think about what it takes 

1) Eating clean/fairly healthy 

2) Workout 3-5X week consistently for at least an hour

3) Proper sleep routine (a late night here and there is ok)

To follow through on these 3 steps think about the career sacrifices you may need to make. If you're in a job where you're on call all the time or work varying long hours many of these go out the window. If you reach home at 1AM are you going to be doing meal prep for tomorrow? Are you going to to for a quick lift after being in the office 16 hours? You could probably check off the sleep here but think about later nights. And it's really not just IB. B4, Consulting, Law, Medicine, etc. will all have periods in the job where it is like this.

Let's say however you manage to get past the barriers above and you have the time to do all 3.

Now you have to make it past societal pressure. Let's say you get off work and your buddies are like "Hey bro, let's go to [insert unhealthy restaurant] and then let's get hammered tonight (weekday)." Are you going to say, "No I have already prepared a meal at home" or "No I need to get some sleep tonight." Maybe you have the willpower to do that but it's certainly not easy. It's worth noting that the ability to catch up as you mention is greatly diminished when you're working. You have to start at 8 or 9 no matter what you were doing the previous night. In college you can sleep in and skip class if the previous night was a crazy one (let's be honest we've all been there lol). Obviously with work you have to show up. Because of that you will probably feel crummy and not workout , eat unhealthy etc. and you see very quickly you've gone off course. 

If you manage to make it past all of this, remember you still don't have kids in my example.

I would imagine kids add more stress

But don't be discouraged after reading what I wrote. Personally knew some single moms who work full time and were able to stay fit (which is more extreme than the situation you'll find yourself in). It's doable but takes significantly more discipline and sacrifice to achieve post college.

Array

  • 1
  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jun 14, 2021 - 6:01pm

IncomingIBDreject

2) Workout 3-5X week consistently for at least an hour

You do not need to be in the gym for 1+ hours... You can fit most workouts into 30min, 45 min max.

Jun 19, 2021 - 6:45pm

None of that is true. I played d1 sports, I know a bunch of pro athletes. This fucking picture that these guys are super disciplined, counting calories, never 'cheating' is such nonsense. Some of them maybe, but the vast majority live life and let go sometimes. What matters is what you do 300-365 days of the year, not if you have a few bad days. Especially if you also work out super hard during some days when you take other days off. 

Array

Most Helpful
Jun 14, 2021 - 8:40am

older dude checking in here. I'm well into my 30s and in the best shape of my life when measuring by body fat %, cardiovascular markers like resting HR, BP, bloodwork, etc. (even considering I was in good shape in high school and college, played sports in high school and stayed active in college). here's what I've noticed from my contemporaries: it's all about discipline. plenty of people use their newly stressful jobs as an excuse and instead of removing the late night netflix binge in favor of more sleep and an early morning workout, they complain about how they don't have time to exercise. when they go to conferences and shit, they complain about how bad they eat yet lack the clarity of mind to turn away the fettucine alfredo in favor of roasted chicken with seasonal greens and rice. it is very possible to achieve & maintain a killer physique well into your 30's provided you have the discipline.

I will say this, I've had to increase my dietary discipline. I could eat shitty foods in college and get away with it because your metabolism is naturally higher when you're younger, but I'm also in better shape now than when I was 22, for whatever that's worth.

another thing that's changed is recovery time. I've been through a few injuries from powerlifting and essentially do maintenance lifts. I used to do 4x8 sets of squats at 1.2-1.7x bodyweight, now I have no interest in squatting much more than 1.2x bodyweight at the highest and deadlifting no more than 1.5x. my muscle mass is still on point, but after going past fatigue and finding a muscle tear on the other side of that, I'm more focused on maintenance, speed, avoiding long term injury, rather than trying to hit new maxes or becoming a bodybuilder (already hit my all time maxes in my 20s and have no interest in pushing higher than that, I don't feel good when doing powerlifting training). that said, I exercise M-F for about the same time I would do in my younger days, the workouts just look different. so as long as you're willing to adapt your training to your body not recovering as well. I can still hit it hard, but the days of me having a great workout the day after going out on thursday with the boys are over as are the days of me being able to do 2-3 intense powerlifting sessions on the same muscle group every week.

TLDR - T slows down, but you don't have to, just have to be smarter because your natural hormones won't be as big of a bandaid anymore. fuck the haters, exercise discipline and you'll be fine

  • Managing Director in PE - Other
Jun 14, 2021 - 11:25pm

Brofessor you make some great points but you are also a financial advisor I believe and have way more control over your situation at your age Vs others. You could still have let yourself go so I applaud you but shit gets very stressful when in a deal environment and have kids etc 

Jun 15, 2021 - 7:33am

you are correct, I have a tremendous amount of autonomy, that's always been a goal of mine so I've arranged my life and career as such. this is probably the main reason why I'll never be making millions in a given year, but I'm very comfortable with that (hell, I'm comfortable where I am and could stay here forever). 

my clap back was more directed at the supposition that age in and of itself is the reason why it's "extremely difficult" as OP alluded to, inferring that it's impossible and so we should just all resign ourselves to dad bods (maybe I read into it too much), I say bullshit. all good things in life are difficult, I just take issue with some of the excuses I hear when I have close friends in fields equally as stressful as deal environments (think ICU doctors working graveyard shift, sales managers covering 2 time zones travelling 50-75% of the time with little ones at home, sweatshop attorneys pulling 70-90 hour weeks during heavy caseload, stuff like that), and the differentiator in health status is rarely anything more than them deliberately making time for their health. maybe you sacrifice time with close friends because being a good father and being in shape is more important, whatever. life's about choices, make them and don't apologize for them.

I don't fault someone for the choices they make, I just bristle when someone says a lie like they don't have time to exercise or eat healthy. sure most people may not be able to put in 2 hour workouts 5x a week, but if someone doesn't have 30 minutes 4x a week plus the mental fortitude to eat healthy at least 5 days a week, then I'd suggest they need to reevaluate how their time is spent if health is a priority.

Jun 14, 2021 - 4:10pm

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"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Jun 14, 2021 - 6:27pm

I'm in my mid 30s 

During my college days, I could party, eat junk food, and just fuck around in the gym - still saw results. Then I could just cut for 3 months, starting in February, and have a decent body come May. 

These days, it's much harder. I need to control my died, count my cals, and stick to regular workouts. As someone mentioned above, your hormones won't help you like they did before, but it shouldn't be hard to get in shape, and maintain that. If it's truly difficult, you need to get your levels checked, or if there's anything else. 

I'd say that it's first in your 50s that you really need some help - I know plenty of older dudes (50s-60s) that workout and stick to a diet religiously, but they also use gear on the side. At that stage, it's probably going to be more preventive maintenance, than anything else. 

Jun 14, 2021 - 8:39pm

tackytech

I'd say that it's first in your 50s that you really need some help - I know plenty of older dudes (50s-60s) that workout and stick to a diet religiously, but they also use gear on the side. 

Yeah exactly.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Jun 14, 2021 - 8:26pm

I've heard at 50 years old is when you really have to keep T levels in check, but before then you're not going to see a major drop if you stay healthy with good exercise, nutrition, and sleep habits.

-  

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Jun 15, 2021 - 3:52pm

thebrofessor

I'd love to see T tests done on people like jocko, goggins, laird hamilton, rogan (assuming he's not on TRT) and other successful but non athlete dudes that seem to be fighting mother nature and exercising a lot (see alex gorsky of JNJ, james gorman of MS, and scott minerd of guggenheim)

Yeah it would be interesting. There are a lot of things you can do naturally to ensure your T levels are ok. I think Rogan is publicly on TRT:

https://www.bjjee.com/articles/joe-rogan-explains-his-trt-growth-hormon…
 

I wouldn't be opposed to going on TRT at 50 depending on the circumstances.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Jun 17, 2021 - 2:45pm

I am not sure it's possible to naturally boost your T levels in any appreciable way. Sure, you can exercise, eat clean, etc but what if you already do that? Your T levels are dropping every year, it's an exponential fall, you're basically fighting an avalanche. 

The real question is: why do men today have less than half of the T levels that men 100 years ago had?

Jun 14, 2021 - 9:24pm

Prospect in HF - Other

I keep bumping into that one sucker

You sound like the sucker to me.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Jun 15, 2021 - 3:54am

Two other reasons are because people take an all or nothing approach and do not manage expectations. When you're in college, it's easy to find 1-2 hours to hit the gym but as you grow older and have more on your plate, it becomes harder. Some people just throw in the towel thinking if they can't get at least an hour of exercise in it's not worth it. But even 20-30 minute every day or 5 times a week can do wonders when done consistently over years, be it cardio or weights. Secondly, people in their late 20s or 30s still think back to the times where you could do 5 bench press reps, eat a chicken breast and get a huge pump. You're going to have to settle for gaining muscle at a much slower pace or even having to put more effort into maintaining what you gained. Much of it is just science of how the body reacts to aging, but some of it is also a shift in mindset. Bottom line is that you have to put as much effort as you can and get happy with whatever result you achieve. 

  • Prospect in HF - Other
Jun 15, 2021 - 9:12am

You know I have to admit, the constant rhetoric of "20 year olds can drink beer, eat fast food, and not sleep and be jacked" is the biggest crock of shit. Not that I care, but I rarely see people on campus or at bars who are actually muscular and fit hence why being muscular is so striking.

At the end of the day, the obesity rate in the 18-24 group is 1/4 and 1/2 for the 30-50 year old group or something so demographic matters. Whenever I traveled to the islands all those old farmer people are fit as fuck 

  • Associate 1 in PE - Growth
Jun 16, 2021 - 12:45am

I hear this sentiment all the time - especially from older coworkers. I am in my late 20s, and am in the best shape of my life - and in college I was a competitive athlete. Now that I can afford a great gym, an extensive skincare regime, and an incredible diet - paired with more autonomy and free time now that I'm no longer in IB - it really shouldn't be surprising that I'm in the shape that I am. If you are working <80 hours a week, are single, and have a decent income, you really don't have an excuse to stay out of shape. 
This comment of "once you get older, you can't keep off weight" is toxic and frankly depressing. 

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jun 20, 2021 - 7:02pm

Were you able to keep in decent shape in IB? Working out and sleep are my biggest concerns going into IB tbh

Jun 16, 2021 - 10:04am

It's not that hard to maintain a good physique. Mine has improved over time. Most strength athletes peak in their 30s anyway

That said there are a few considerations:

1) Metabolism will drop and you will need to eat less over time

2) Long term sleep deprivation will wreck you. If you can get a good nights sleep each night it'll be a huge factor

3) Incremental increases in stress will make your workouts worse as responsibilities grow when you age

Jun 16, 2021 - 12:02pm

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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