As someone who felt she was “destined to be overweight,” Wendy Ida, a 64-year-old grandma, has changed her life with exercise. After leaving an abusive relationship at 43 with low self-esteem and weighing almost 200 pounds, Ida decided that she needed to change something about her life.
She is now a size six and a grandmother of three. She has won eight bodybuilding prizes. However, it wasn’t easy to make such a drastic lifestyle change at 43; it’s not easy to do at any age.
“At first, I felt over the hill,” she said. “I didn’t feel good about myself. My confidence was low, and I felt like it was too late for me.” Everyone knows what it feels like to get back to the gym after months of hibernating or a laziness phase. Your workout clothes feel a little tighter, and the desk receptionists give you a knowing look.
“The change wasn’t overnight,” she said, “I’d go down in weight then make mistakes and go up.” This was just while she was doing cardio and running outside, and she knew something was missing.
“I started weight training and found that helped me with my strength and maintaining my weight.”
Since starting weight-training, Wendy has lost around 70 pounds and is now an ab-bearing babe. At 64, she is commonly mistaken to be in her early 30s or around the same age as her daughter, Sky, who is 41.
She entered her first bodybuilding competition just before her 57th birthday and ended up taking home three trophies. She came in second place for “women over 18,” second for “women over 35,” and first for “women over 45.”
Continued on the next page…
As usual, the two most important components of her training include workouts and diet:
“Before each contest, I work out seven days a week and do weights every day. I go into contest mode and eat egg whites and proteins, fish, and vegetables. It’s hard on the body.”
It’s hard to imagine that this 64-year-old has such a rigorous training schedule, but Wendy has the body of a fit 30-year-old. She knows that her lifestyle pays off with amazing results.
“I’m 64, and I’m in the best shape of my life,” she said, “When I say how old I am, people don’t believe me and want to see my driver’s license.”
Wendy’s mission is not only to keep her body strong and healthy but to help other women who are in their 40s+ to feel sexy and empowered by their physical health. As a personal trainer, Wendy tries to give other women hope, and she reflects on the experience, saying,
I’ve helped women all over the map and have clients from Canada to Sicily reaching out to me. They come to me with no confidence. They say I’m their last hope, and my heart sinks.
Wendy’s help to these women starts with striving to boost their confidence by letting them know that it is essential for them to make time for themselves.
I counsel them over the phone and Skype and make a blueprint and show them ways to make themselves a priority.
It took Wendy over forty years to realize what her purpose in life is, and some of us never really find out, but she knew that she found meaning in helping others. After a past of abuse, Wendy was able to give herself the love she needed and turn her life around.
I found that helping women is my purpose. I found the reason I was born.
The 64-year-old personal trainer, who holds the 2012 Guinness World Record for the oldest active fitness instructor, has also helped her family start living more mindfully and healthily. She helped her daughter, Sky, lose 28 pounds. Her husband, 54, also lost 66 pounds in six months with her guidance.
Continued on the next page…
Wendy’s clients inspire her in turn, and she wants to, “be an inspiration to everyone who says, ‘I’m too old and can’t do it.'”
The key is constant persistence and moderation.
Do a little exercise and work your way up and don’t take no for an answer. If you don’t bother, you’ll lose energy, and it gets tougher. You need to take baby steps if you want to keep your body for a lifetime like I did.
Wendy Ida has not been the only one to pick up weight training and fitness in middle age. Another outstanding woman with a similar story is Ernestine Shepherd. A 79-years-old, she still bench presses.
Ernestine began her fitness journey when she was 56. Like most other women who are drawn to fitness, she was inspired after trying on bathing suits for a pool party with her sister, Mildred Blackwell.
When we looked at each other we both laughed because we didn’t look too good in those suits. She said, ‘Tina, we’re going to have to do something about this.’
The two sisters started going to aerobics classes together. Once they slimmed down, they started weight training. Just like Wendy Ida, this is when they saw the real results happen. Unfortunately, Blackwell died of a brain aneurysm shortly after the sisters began to see results. Shepard’s fitness journey spiraled downward in the wake of her sister’s death. The 56-year-old hid in her home and began to suffer panic attacks. She also stopped working out, until one of her friends told her, “You know your sister wouldn’t want you to do this.”
She eventually began hitting the gym again to keep the promise to her sister that they would work out and get in shape no matter what. Weight training was not all Ernestine did, as she began running in 2007. Since then, she’s completed more than eight marathons and has reported bench pressing 150 pounds and running 80 miles per week as well.
Like Wendy, Ernestine has been named to the Guinness Book of World Records. Once in 2010 and once in 2011 for being the oldest competitive bodybuilder. She took her sister’s ashes to Rome with her. “When I got to the Coliseum I cried,” she said, “I stood there, and I spread her ashes.”
Continued on the next page…
Ernestine promise to her sister paid off, and she has helped herself as well as other women. She is now trained by former Mr. Universe, Yohannie Shambourger.
She’s special because no one can have that kind of muscle at her age. Ernestine has a body where she can compete against younger athletes and actually beat them.
Ernestine and Wendy have similar diets and training routines.
Ernestine has a 1,700 calorie diet composed of boiled egg whites, chicken, vegetables, and a liquid egg white drink. An important part of Ernestine’s workouts are not only bench pressing and running but bicep curls with 15–20-pound dumbbells.
She stands at 5’5, weighing between 118 and 120 pounds and doesn’t use any performance-enhancing drugs or supplements other than good old vitamin D. She comments on this choice,
I don’t want to train my ladies and give them the false impression of supplements.
Ernestine is a grandmother to a lucky 18-year-old and is married to her husband, Collin, for 58 years. She is also a personal trainer and works hard to inspire other women in her age group.
These fitness queens are truly incredible for using their health and determination to help others and change their lives.