Fighting Fit For The Over Fifties

This is a guest post from a former colleague and good friend Paul Pasquale. He addresses a serious issue – possibly a life-ordeath issue for some of us.

The story starts in January 2019 when Paul was 51 and was written eight months later in August 2019.

Hope it inspires you.

Good Luck
The Barefoot Bohemian.

“I was overweight, unfit, lethargic and rapidly becoming a middle-aged, physical car crash.

Around 15 years ago, I was badly injured whilst on assignment in Iraq (seems like yesterday). Without going into detail, I struggled to maintain a grip on my physical, and some might also argue, mental well being.

I think I knew it, but I didn’t really consider it a problem. 

I was happy living at the bottom of Hagen Dass ice cream tubs, often more than three a week, beer, pizza and anything with enough sugar to kill a horse was my staple diet.

During this long period of self-neglect, I managed to stack on 2.5 to 3 stone in weight and, more worryingly, increased my body fat percentage to over 33%, I also had an appalling resting heart rate.

Of course, I was deep in denial, but trying to tie my waist belt using the same hole I had for 15 years, was now proving impossible.

There were my mini lectures to my guardian son Max, (he is 11 years old) explaining to him the importance of self-respect, the benefits of determination, hard work and discipline. But then I would catch a glimpse of my pot belly in the mirror after a shower or getting dressed for a night out, and I would feel like an absolute hypocrite.

It was just too easy to put this physical deterioration down to age and a hectic, sometimes stressful lifestyle. 

After all, I was in my 50’s, and in my mind I was virtually an old man, I should just accept that I’m way past my best and it’s impossible to turn it around and get back what I once had. 

0430 on a day in December 2018, I found myself rushing into A and E coughing up a small amount of blood.

My stomach had started producing way too much acid, and after various internal examinations and “probing” inspections of one kind or the another, the doc put me on 40mg a day of Omeprazole, and explained it was common for men in their 50’s.

So there it was.  My first lifetime prescription drug.

It finally dawned on me if I didn’t do something about my physical well being immediately, I was sure my life would spiral down much faster than it should and the doc would soon be prescribing a statin drug , then maybe insulin etc and before I knew it I’d be getting measured up for a wooden box.

The prospect of joining a gym and taking on a diet seemed like a nightmare, and the absolute last thing I really wanted to do, besides, I’d completely lost touch with how to exercise the right way, I had no clue where to start or how.

Now here’s where it all turned around.

Everyday, I walk  past a fitness centre called Pure Gym. Only one cold, rainy day in January I didn’t walk past. I was literally in a dream like state when my body walked me in despite my mind pleading with me not to.

Right away I was teamed up a PG PT expert and gym manager called Sam St Barbe (ex rugby player), and I found myself confessing to Sam my fears about training in a public gym, my injuries and declining health. 

Sam got straight to the point.

My age had nothing to do with my attitude, and that my first port of call before anything, was the kitchen. There was no way I could move forward without ditching the tubs of ice cream.

I needed to get my finger out, face my fears head on, drop the self doubt and get on with it.

70% kitchen and 30% hard work in the gym.

The right exercises were key, cardio and weights, do not ignore either.

The effort needs to be 100% and consistency was king.

Do not make excuses. Injuries, work, kids etc… None of those count as excuses. ALWAYS FIND THE TIME.

Work hard in the gym, have a goal in sight, and have a laugh! It can be fun! Don’t fear the small bumps on the road to well being. 


The first 3 – 4 weeks I won’t lie, were a bitch. But the physical changes were damn fast.

I restricted myself to 1600-1800 calories a day (down from around 2700).

My partner Karolina got right on board with the changes, she immediately emptied the fridge and cupboards of all the junk food. 

She helped make sure that I ate good food, heaps of quality protein through free-range low-fat meats, a daily low-calorie protein shake and limited carbs to home cooked fresh veggies, pastas and oats.

People, if you want to do this, then your partner absolutely needs to have your back, no dangling french fries and packets of crisps in front of them!


I now train 5 days a week, around 70 mins per session (initially this included 2 days a week with Sam – now down to just the 1)

I always start with a 15 mins HIIT training session and good heavy weights to round off.

In 7/8 months I shed over 2 stone of pure fat, and now at 52 years old, I’m down to 10 stone 10lbs with under 14% body fat (aiming for a level and consistent 10%-14%) and have a resting BPM of 44-47.

I’m now almost off the Omeprazole, from 40mg a day down to 20mg every 4 days, sometimes I even skip this dose. By the time you read this I’ll probably have no need for it at all.

So, now YOU’RE in your 50’s –

Empty your fridge of all that crap you know is slowly killing you.

And get to work on yourself for yourself. IT IS NOT TOO LATE!

Oh, and by the way, I don’t have a restrictive diet, I still enjoy a little alcohol, some sweet treats and a late liein. But I acknowledge these treats, importantly recognize they are “treats” and take the extra effort to make up for them.

So why the photos?

Because these photographs were my goal.

I made a promise to myself I would take these photos at the end of August and make them public.

This way I would have no choice but to work as hard as I could to achieve an image of me that I was happy for people to see and prove to myself and others in their midlife, that age should never be an excuse not to be fit and healthy.

Good luck fellow 50’s and book a gym today, tomorrow is too late!


PS Additional things that really helped me:

Find a great personal trainer and a 24/7 gym! (If it’s 24/7, there’s NO EXCUSE not to go!)

MyFitnessPal a calorie counting app, amazingly simple to use, scans bar codes and keeps you on track. USE THIS NOW! You’ll be astounded at how many calories you consume.

Blue Tooth Weight Scales* that measure body composition. (Some arguments surround the accuracy of these, but I found them excellent to help maintain a downward curve, allowing for a constant baseline measurement.)

AthleanX a YouTuber that guides through exercises, nutrition and focusing. The best YouTuber out there by far.

A good playlist and some decent headphones essential!”


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