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Posted on Sep 14, 2011 in Next Cast
Fish Shape
by Chris Woodward

Many of our readers and web users have entered — all too rapidly — into their 50s and 60s, and those of you who haven’t will get there soon enough. As one of the former, I have noticed many personal physical changes over the last decade. But I won’t settle for a sedentary senior life catching bream from a rocking chair.

Whether you’re a male or female angler, your strength will naturally wane as you age. Your posture will wilt and your back and joints will ache at the slightest provocation. So if you want to keep fighting giant tuna, standing in the cockpit all day in rough seas and dropping jigs to bottom-dwelling behemoths, you need a plan.

For me, the plan involved modifying my diet and learning more about proper weight training. I’ve always worked out at a gym — both lifting weights and aerobically exercising. And when I say always, I mean, I really can’t remember a time when I did not work out at least four to five days a week, usually more.

But after busting through the metabolic barrier at 45, I found what had worked for 20 years suddenly stopped. My conditioning declined despite what I thought was a good amount of effort. It wasn’t pretty.

The hardest battle I fought was denial. But finally I accepted that my life — and my metabolism — had forever changed and that I needed to get back to a basic formula: calories out ≥ calories in. Finding that balance became my first challenge; my second was strengthening my back and joints.

Eating is really a mental thing. We all know that processed foods are bad. We all know that fresh fruits and vegetables are good. The information is there. But we have to be willing to make the right choices.

My answer for burning more calories involved a return to running — a weight-bearing exercise that not only helps my cardiovascular health but really shows on the scale.

Physical trainers helped me with the second challenge. Building the muscles in my back and legs has improved my stamina and strength in everything I do. I can stand up all day on a boat now without making excuses to sit.

Not everyone can or should make the choices I made — and I’m certainly not through battling my challenges — but those of  “a certain age” should at least start asking the right questions to the right people, be they dietitians, trainers or doctors.  

Will I take on another 300-plus-pound bluefin tuna on stand-up tackle? You know, I think I’m just about ready for that!