Determined. Dedicated. Disciplined. Ernestine Shepherd, the world’s oldest bodybuilder, lives by these three words. Indeed, these adjectives are the best to describe her passion for fitness, but clearly, the best noun is anomaly. At 74-years-old, Shepherd is a personal trainer, professional model, and bodybuilding diva that inspires her senior peers and women half her age to get fit. As an active competitor in 10K races and marathon runner, Shepherd touts a 5-foot-5-inch, 130-pound frame with 9-10% body fat.  While Shepherd’s success didn’t arrive overnight, it is a testament to the power of consistent, regulated exercise and good nutrition.

  1. She gradually conditioned her body with an expert personal trainer.
  2. She hired a nutritionist to map out a healthy eating lifestyle.
  3. Her husband (of 52 years) supports her unconditionally and also insures that the refrigerator remains stocked with all of her nutritional needs.
  4. She makes sleep a priority.
  5. She keeps a positive attitude about fitness and views her workouts as fun.

Yes, you may read Shepherd’s five points and say:

“I can’t afford a personal trainer or nutritionist.”

“I don’t have a loving partner of 52 years.”

“I barely have time to sleep with my job and household responsibilities.”

“And workouts damn sure aren’t fun.”

Almost twenty years ago, Shepherd would’ve described herself as a “prissy girl” and “slug,” when it came to fitness and nutrition. One day, she and her sister were trying on bathing suits and teasing each other about their joint need to get in shape. It wasn’t until she was 56-years-old that she decided to turn her life around. Her first step, she joined a gym with her sister and they started working out together. Nothing fancy, but still motivating each other to become their best fit selves. Shortly thereafter, her sister tragically died of a brain aneurysm and expectantly, the loss hit Shepherd hard. She withdrew from her fitness regimen, stopped going to the gym, and mourned the loss of her loved one. But eventually, she returned, knowing her sister would’ve wanted her to keep striving. And that’s how she slowly began to build her body and transcend the average body type of a senior citizen. Shepherd exercises frequently, but has no aches or pains. And she’s never been injured in the 17-year-fitness-journey that her sister inspired.

Instead of moping and losing the motivation to get fit, emulate Ernestine Shepherd’s three principles for fitness: determination, dedication, and discipline. Grab a sister and start a new fitness regimen. If she can do it at 74, so can you!

Read more posts celebrating Frugivore Month here.

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