Heres a message for those who dont think that they can still get into really good shape and maintain a high level of fitness well into their 40s, 50s, and beyond: think again. Tony Andriacco not only shatters that theory, but he is living proof that we can continue to make gains and retain a good degree of our physicality even as we approach our 70s. And, in Tonys case, dont bet against his ability to stay fit well beyond that mark (lets not forget about Jack LaLanne, who, when we last heard, was still working out regularly in his 90s!).
Mr. Tony Andriacco will soon be 69 years old, and has been lifting weights sporadically for most of his adult life. But his motivation to develop a consistent diet and exercise plan came in 2006. Tony and his wife were vacationing in Europe, and while they were in Spain, a friend took a photograph of Tony sitting on a wall at the Alhambra, a 14th century Moorish palace. A little while later, the friend sent the picture to Tony, and he was taken aback by how overweight he looked in the photo. Tony says, I was hitting the buffets pretty hard during that trip, and Ill bet I gained 8-10 pounds in two weeks. And in that picture, I noticed the overhang. Hed fallen into a mire of unhealthy eating habits long before that trip, and was not doing much at all in the way of exercise.
Seeing himself in that condition lit a fire under Tony. Soon thereafter, he joined a gym (Fitworks on Cheviot Road in Cincinnati, OH), and began his ascent towards a healthy lifestyle and a fit physique. Tony relates, I had nothing to prove to anybody, but a lot to prove to myself. He also saysand this is an important message to the curious, and to the skeptics who dont think that muscle growth is possible after a certain age, I didnt think I could gain muscle in my late-60s but I have. And at that, he flexed his bicep and the proof is in the pudding!
After Tony joined the fitness facility, he slowly began to work towards his fitness goals. (Note: anyone who is new to a fitness regimen of any kind should start SLOWLY; dont try to do too much too soon you are there for YOU, and not to impress anybody.) He says that he hit his full rhythm in around 2008, and has been working out religiouslyabout five days per weekever since. Tonys routine consists of lifting weights, and spending around a half-hour-a-day doing cardio on the treadmill. Tony admits that it is harder to lose body fat as you get older, and that its not easy or practical for him to attempt the intense cardio workouts that the younger folks can put themselves through especially since he experiences shortness of breath occasionally due to asthma (for which he uses an inhaler). But he does what he can on the treadmill for a half-hour, creating a comfortable pace for himself, and sometimes breaking up the half-hour into 10- or 15-minute increments. Its better than not doing it at all, Tony conveys.
Tonys weight lifting routine consists of focusing on a different body part every day. Biceps one day, chest the next, shoulders the next, etc. He also says that he changes rotations and exercises in order to shock the muscle groupswhich is a typical philosophy of most weight liftersso that those muscles dont plateau, as they will when they get used to a pattern. Tony reads magazines like Muscle & Fitness in order to get advice on new and different exercises for the muscle groups so that he can vary his workouts.
Tony also adheres to a strict diet. From what he describes, his nutritional habits are pretty close to being optimal for maintaining muscularity and keeping body fat to a minimum. He eats around five times per day, and ingests a good balance of proteins and carbohydrates in the attempt to maximize the results from his workouts, and for overall health. Tony begins his morning with ¾ cup of shredded wheat, a protein shake, and half of a banana. He then heads to the gym, and after his workout he drinks another protein shake. He eats turkey breast (2-3 ounces, sometimes on whole grain bread), skinless chicken, or fish in small portions throughout the day, and hes a big believer in the benefits of olive oil for the good cholesterol and antioxidant qualities. He cooks up a mixture of red, green, and yellow peppers, along with red onion and garlic, in olive oil, creating a healthy veggie supplement for himself. Tony also says that he limits his carbs after 5pm.
When asked if he had any parting words, advice, or philosophy, Tony states, Get yourself going; some improvement is better than none. There are so many benefits to exercising and paying attention to your diet, especially as we age. Its good for controlling insulin and diminishing the risk of diabetes and diminishing health risks, overall. Bottom line: if you dont pay now, youre gonna pay later.