People are out there getting this done. Let’s talk about that.

Last week I attended a posing practice for a local bodybuilding competition, and wrote about it in this article. That engendered some wonderful comments, enough so that I felt the urge to share some of them with you. My point, of course, is to emphasize that first, if you’ve felt old or that the gas in your tank is low, you are not alone.

The man on the left has cerebral palsy and was told he would never walk. The man on the right is 66, and was nearly forty pounds overweight not very long ago. You tell me, please, that hard work doesn’t pay off for us. Julia Hubbel

I was back again last night and got more photos and more stories, some of which will follow. Some of the folks I met last night had low gas tanks at one point, too.

The second is that stories of people who are finding ways to get it done abound. I am hardly the only one out there pushing myself, and when I get so many terrific stories from my readers, you deserve to see them highlighted. I have permission to use all but one, whom I will call LG, until I have their permission.

We’ll start with that one:

I totally agree with this article. I spent a very sedentary life with my work and while I was never unable to function, I never exercised at all. Last summer, at age 68, I ruptured a disc, in the midst of the pandemic, and was absolutely unable to get out of bed. I mean, I stayed in bed for over two weeks and didn’t get up for anything. (The 2nd day after I hurt myself, I got up to go to the bathroom and passed out, fell and hit my head on the dresser!) Fortunately my 16 year old granddaughter was living with me and bless her heart she took care of everything. When I finally was able to get up, my muscles had atrophied so much that I couldn’t walk. I had to order a walker. To me, that was it! I was NOT going to be the decrepit old lady, by golly. Once I was moving around, I went to the Physical Therapist and started exercising faithfully, and joined an online group that help me stretch and exercises every day. I also walk as much as possible, trying for 7–8,000 steps that are monitored on my phone ... Most of us have the option, and it’s worth it to do the work. If I could go back to my younger self with only 1 piece of advice, this is what it would be — exercise healthy as much as possible every day.-L.G.

Leslie Funk writes:

I have been lifting weights since I was 18, now mid 50’s. I started to build a body from a long, thin frame that was not naturally muscular. I found the holy grail of how to live; build and care for my human vessel... I am challenged to find my niche and believe in myself to fill it. I think I can see it more clearly now…

And this from Karen Allison:

Spot on! I’m 61 and can do most anything I need to do. That’s down to doing the work. The last year of lockdowns has taken some wind of of my sails but it’s coming back especially as I feel even just the small losses begin in my ability.

Something could happen in the future that requires me to use an aid but you can bet I’ll be working my ass off to change it back! It makes me sad to hear so many of my friends just accepting that they have no say about aging well.

Cindy, likely in her fifties, with a tattoo that reads “I am Enough.” And she’s right. She’s a lot more than just enough. Julia Hubbel

And I want to finish with Brenda Young, who has an invitation not just for me but for all of us:

I came to strength training last year following a total knee replacement. I discovered your articles around the same time.

I am a late convert who has seen a marked improvement in function that I did not believe possible.

A qualified and knowledgeable trainer and a yes I can attitude goes a long way to reversing a lifetime of neglect. You are right, the body responds favorably to this work at any age. I’ll be 66 in a few weeks and I feel like I have turned the clock back twenty years. I’m even toying with the idea of training to enter a powerlifting competition just to see if I can do it. Who knows?

In any case, I’ll keep doing the work. You keep up the motovating (sic) articles. Deal? (author bolded)

I want you to see how and why I write what I do. This is partly why. YOU write stories that move people when you talk about living large, handling what is trying to handle YOU. This is what Medium does for you and me and all our readers. When we share stories about dealing with the hand life dealt us, and finding ways to get ‘er did anyway, this is what gives everyone else hope.

Again, from our group last night:

Julia Hubbel

Some of these women are well past forty, some well past fifty. They began where they began. Most have a small pouch on the tummy where they held and birthed life. That didn’t stop them from coming in here to work out, pose in practically nothing, and claim their geography.

Am I telling you to do this? Not at all. Am I barking at you to get to a gym? Nope.

I AM suggesting that, like the man I met last night, Don, who is easily in his seventies, you decide that you are going to take your health in hand. Here are Don, on the left, and Charlie, 66. On the far left behind them is Michelle, a nurse, almost sixty. The woman in the middle whose name I can’t remember is made for this kind of competition. Not many of us are. But that doesn’t stop any of the rest of them, who are stepping up, stepping out, getting strong, and staying engaged.

How you do that is entirely up to you. All I want is for you to see what’s possible, at any age, anywhere, if you decide to do something about your health.

Julia Hubbel

Don, on the left, works at a senior facility. He’s teaching older folks how to eat better, and is a living example of what he preaches. I hope to offer his story later on. As I’ve written before, Charlie’s a retired vascular surgeon. He transformed his body through powerlifting and weight work.

It takes great courage to undress to this level when you are well past what many consider your “buy date” and strut your stuff. The amount of work that has gone into sculpting these bodies is incredible. However, each one has an additional story about how getting strong changed their lives, and of those around them.

But this isn’t about bodybuilding per se. It’s about building strength, about being responsible for the skin we’re in.

In a world full of lousy news, this is what I’d rather be sharing. Most of these folks may not go home with a trophy.

Except they will: confidence, strength, courage, pride, a brand new body, a brand new version of themselves and a future rewritten. Just as did all my commenters, above.

What are you reading on Medium? Stories that reinforce what you can’t do? Or stories that invite you to “can do,” as Brenda wrote?

If your five bucks a month inspires you to get out and get going, that is a small price to pay for a much better life.

Photo by Filip Mroz on Unsplash

My heartfelt thanks to the many readers whose comments keep my gas tank full, keep me writing, keep me pushing and finding stories to share. You rock.