When you were young your flesh was fresh and you felt strong and energetic, invincible, yet as you began to age, going from 20 to 30 years old things began their downward slide, you felt just a little more tired after a day of work, your waistline began to expand a little, with a layer of fat blurring any muscular definition you may have had. If you were an athlete in school or college the muscle tone you once had is now a faint memory, yet at this point you don’t realize you are on a downhill slope that will speed up with time becoming ever steeper until you are looking at a sheer vertical wall in front of you with no way back up and over the large out crop ledge above that you swung under on your way down to 40+years old.You can’t remember how you got here and don’t know to get back the way you came. So there you hang with low energy, sagging libido, middle age spread, narrowing shoulders, man boobs and carrying 30+ pounds of unhealthy body fat with things looking like there is only one way to go, down, to weakness, chronic fatigue, limited mobility, little or no sex life, depression, dependent on several expensive medications just to keep your body stabilized.How did you get here? Are you doomed to further degeneration? Can you reverse this prognosis? If so how do you go about reclaiming your health and fitness?How did you get here? Probably by taking your body and health for granted and not paying attention to the subtle negative changes that came slowly over time and even as you began to notice things degrading you bought into the insidious myth of the effects of aging, increased tiredness, shortness of breath, feeling weaker than you once did, aches and pains in your joints and muscles when you have pushed your body a little harder than normal, inability to perform sexually that is starting to become the norm instead of the exception.Instead of becoming alarmed you pacified yourself with the myth of aging and started taking it a little easier on yourself and as you gave way to age, age took more and more, a little older a little more inactive until you were conditioned to passively stand by and be robbed of your health and vitality without putting up a fight to hold your ground. Age did not take everything away, it was abuse and neglect.How long would your automobile, house, yard, relationship with your spouse or anything else that needs regular maintenance and upkeep last if left to fend for itself? You would divorced, sitting in a junk car that didn’t run parked in the driveway of a broken down shack in a yard over run with a jungle of weeds and all this didn’t happen simply because time went by but because you didn’t do anything to prevent the degradation as you noticed it.Are you doomed to further degeneration? That depends on how badly you have abused you body with drugs, smoking, alcohol, bad diet, and reckless abandonment leaving numerous injured muscles and joints due to unsafe lifting or work practices. Sadly you can’t expect to escape unscathed from such wanton past activity and I won’t lie and spare your feelings, but you can get back some of what you lost and this will be in direct proportion as to how badly you abused yourself and for how long.Can you reverse this prognosis? In most cases yes, to varying degrees depending on how far you slid downhill and how long you’ve been there, but with enough time, energy, and motivation you can make amazing improvements in reversing your present physical condition, but probably not by trying to copy others your age at the gym whom kept up with their fitness from youth to midlife, because you and they may be the same age chronologically but years apart in fitness levels, their bodies being as much as twenty years younger than yours.Do not despair, there is hope but you must approach things sensibly, not jumping into a program over your head, brushing off the notion of a full medical checkup because of pride or misplaced machismo. This approach could land you for a short stay in the hospital or a long stay in the cemetery. Better to be safe and humble than suffer the embarrassment of dropping to the floor clutching your chest in the middle of a crowded gym because of arrogance and pride.How do you go about reclaiming your health and fitness? By first realizing you are in danger of losing your health if you stay where you are. Secondly by deciding to do something about it.These two things combined are your first step to turning back your body’s clock and adding years of quality to your life. If you presently smoke, actively seek out a program to quit, join a support group, use the patch, ask family and friends to help you stay motivated, any or all of these, but most importantly resolve in your heart to succeed. Cut down on alcohol and if you have a problem with it stay away from it all together and get the help you need to quit. These two habits are real killers and it is easy to say get help and quit but another matter to do it, but if you approach these issues as if they were two facets of your total fitness plan and are just as important as training and diet and realize they are takers not givers, inner pollution, and a waste of money better spent on a gym membership and a trainer.If you don’t have these first two problems you are ahead of the game but whether you are or not you must start reading food ingredient labels and educate yourself to things such as high fructose corn syrup, modified corn starch, partially hydrogenated fats, saturated fats, trans fats, excess sodium and sugar. Choose meats lower in fat, eat more whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits, get both soluble and non soluble fiber in your diet, but introduce fruit and fiber slowly if you are not used to them as they can cause distress if added in large amounts right away, and drink plenty of water daily.Next decide upon an exercise plan to progressively bring you back to a high level of fitness. After you have your doctors okay and if you are a self starter and did your research or have previous experience in training start out slow with a full body workout three times a week with one to two sets of an exercise for each muscle group and don’t push yourself too hard for the first four weeks to give your body time to adjust to exercising and to prevent excessive soreness.Once this break in period is passed you can gradually begin to push yourself a little harder and as your workouts get harder drop to two full body workouts a week, say Monday and Friday and add a few more exercises and sets to work your muscles from a few different angles, but don’t suddenly pile on the exercises and sets because contrary to popular belief more isn’t always better. It took you a while to lose your level of fitness and it will take a while to get it back, but you will get there if you are progressive and consistent.As for aerobic exercise, start out with walking for thirty to forty five minutes everyday, then gradually choose routes with a few small hills, and walk at a good clip with real purpose, not speed walking but not lackadaisical either.If you have never exercised before or are confused about how to proceed, hire a trainer for a few sessions to educate you on proper form and function of exercising the various major muscle groups. Before long you will be less winded, less tired, stronger, have more endurance, confidence, and turn back the clock on your body to have a lean, fit, muscular body that defies age.