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A Midlife Journey of Health and Strength With Denise Kirtley

In this week’s SuperAge podcast, we delve into Denise Kirtley’s vital midlife transformation from overweight and pre-diabetic to empowered and strong. Denise shares her journey of overcoming common misconceptions about fitness and weight loss in midlife, emphasizing the importance of a tailored approach to nutrition and exercise. She discusses how setting personal goals and dreams played a crucial role in moving beyond societal expectations. Denise also highlights the oft-overlooked impact of physical strength on mental wellbeing and confidence, inspiring others in similar life stages. The conversation is a testament to the power of self-care and the potential for transformation at any age.

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Key Moments

“Aesthetics was a goal of mine but, more importantly, as I had gained weight, my health declined. And what did that look like? I became pre-diabetic. I started having joint pain in my knees specifically. Unfortunately, I have 50 stairs from the ground level to my front door. I had to go up and down the stairs every day.”

“Before, I wasn’t even very good about getting my blood work done regularly. Now I do it twice a year. That’s a huge part of my health regimen. I take supplements based on what my blood work says. And I think you have to be intentional like this if you want to age strong and healthy and vibrant.”

“They see me muscular and in a bikini. And at 53, they say, ‘That’s not what someone should be doing.’ I do feel there is some of this ageism in those comments. I really do feel that. I also think we’re very focused on: ‘Well, you were fine before. Why did you do that?’

I wasn’t fine, right? I was pre-diabetic. I woke up exhausted. I felt like crap most days, right? My quality of life was poor. So I think we need to get beyond what we see and realize that this was a health journey.”

Connect with Denise
Rebellion Body
Contact
Instagram

Transcript

(time after start of interview)

00:00:00:02 – 00:00:01:06

David

Hey, Denise. How are you doing today?

00:00:01:11 – 00:00:03:10

Denise

How are you? David, it’s so good to see you again.

00:00:03:10 – 00:00:23:23

David

I’m good as you’re recording this. I got an email from my H. Okay. I live in Park City, Utah, and they said the largest storm ever, ever in Park City is expected this weekend. So expected 48 inches of snow in two days. That’s an inch an hour and 45 mile an hour winds. And they said we’re sorry, but our plows aren’t going to keep up with this.

00:00:23:23 – 00:00:29:13

David

I just came back from Whole Foods with like sacks of food because I might be marooned here.

00:00:29:15 – 00:00:39:18

Denise

So you’re going to be in survival mode? Well, I’m in L.A. It was 40 degrees when I woke up and I thought I was like in the dead of winter, got my big coat out. So that’s a different level.

00:00:39:20 – 00:00:43:17

David

Yeah, well, le 40 degrees is survival mode. I mean, come on.

00:00:43:18 – 00:00:49:12

Denise

Yes, I know. We’re suffering for sure. Well, good luck with that. That’s scary, actually.

00:00:49:12 – 00:00:57:18

David

I mean, if it happens the way they’re saying, if they’re not going to open ski resorts or like anything else, there’s just going to be like too much snow. Well, whatever.

00:00:57:18 – 00:00:59:12

Denise

Scary times. Good luck with.

00:00:59:12 – 00:01:01:07

David

Netflix.

00:01:01:09 – 00:01:03:18

Denise

Exactly. You can catch up on some good shows.

00:01:03:19 – 00:01:13:02

David

Okay. So let’s introduce you to the SuperAge audience. Tell me a little bit about some of your background and your journey and where you are now.

00:01:13:04 – 00:01:37:03

Denise

Okay. So I’m a middle aged woman. I’m 53 years old. I’ll start there. I had been on a transformation journey. So I think what women do is they do two things in life. They put their needs on hold for. Often either they’re raising a family or they’re focused on a career. I had been focused on my career. I was an entrepreneur and I kind of ignored myself, right, for a few decades like a lot of women do.

00:01:37:04 – 00:01:56:11

Denise

And at age 49, the things that used to work no longer worked. It’s a very common story. Perimenopause hit. I gained a lot of weight over a period of about four years. And in the middle of COVID, I just decided that was enough. And I started on the same day tracking macros, eating more protein and working out with weights, which I had never done before.

00:01:56:11 – 00:02:03:16

David

I want to stop you. Yes. Provoke that moment when it was like, this is okay to this is not okay. What happened there?

00:02:03:18 – 00:02:22:23

Denise

Well, I think it was a few things. One, I was home and like a lot of people during COVID, I was coping even more with food and frankly, alcohol. I was drinking wine almost every night for a couple of months during COVID. I told myself I was European and that was fine because that’s what the Europeans do.

00:02:23:00 – 00:02:24:04

David

But right a lot. Not all.

00:02:24:04 – 00:02:43:14

Denise

Yeah. And I had gained 15lbs, like within a few months and the biggest thing for me and I’ve talked about this, my aha moment was I had to take off my wedding rings because my fingers grew too large for them. And there was something that clicked in me and I was like, This is just enough.

00:02:43:14 – 00:03:04:12

Denise

I’ve had it. I’d hit my threshold and from then on I sought out a way to change my life and I had actually seen I’ll share with you. I saw Joan MacDonald on Instagram, Right. And she started weight training at seventy years old. Yes. I saw her photos and I could not get it out of my mind. And I was like, I want to do what she’s doing, right?

00:03:04:12 – 00:03:32:17

Denise

So I sought out macros. I started lifting weights the same day, and within eight months I had lost 50 well, actually about nine months, 55lbs. And I had increased my muscle mass more than anything. The most important thing was I was getting strong and along the way I had fallen in love with bodybuilding and I ended up competing from the day I started 27 months later, in about it, my first bodybuilding competition.

00:03:32:19 – 00:03:53:08

Denise

So it’s been a remarkable journey. And then from there I ended up leaving the company that I had formed 22 years ago. I founded a new company aimed at helping midlife women get strong in their bodies, because I think that’s critical as we age. So my company, Rebellion Body, was founded this year to help other women get strong, too.

00:03:53:10 – 00:04:11:15

David

I want to go right at some of this. Okay. There are a couple of things that people get stuck on with this. The one is the weight number, the pounds, which is something I like to stay away from. I don’t really think that’s the issue here, but talk to me about the number like that was the number that you referenced.

00:04:11:15 – 00:04:14:02

David

So yeah, talk to me a little bit about that.

00:04:14:04 – 00:04:34:08

Denise

First of all, I think we all need to be comfortable in our bodies. I felt one uncomfortable in my body because I gained, you know, so much weight over a period of four, four years. I was like most women, I had those clothes in my closet. I wanted them to fit again, right? I kept those old clothes. I personally think if you want to lose weight and that’s a goal, there’s nothing wrong with that.

00:04:34:08 – 00:04:56:11

Denise

We all have that choice, right? That was a goal of mine. But more importantly, as I had gained weight, my health declined. And what did that look like? I became pre-diabetic. I started having joint pain in my knees specifically. Unfortunately, I have 50 stairs from the ground level to my front door. I had to go up and down the stairs every day.

00:04:56:16 – 00:05:19:15

Denise

It had become painful. So I had gone to the doctor and he said, You have arthritis in your knees and you need to lose weight too, to take this pressure off your joints. I had to stop about 20 stairs up right each time I would get so exhausted. So it wasn’t just about the weight, but in to in order to improve my health and increase, you know, make these health markers improve.

00:05:19:17 – 00:05:25:00

Denise

That was one of the parts of my journey that was necessary for me. And it did improve.

00:05:25:02 – 00:05:47:23

David

You mentioned you were pre-diabetic and I got to remote. I can’t pull the statistic out of my head here, but it’s something like 80% of Americans are in some form of metabolic disease, diabetes being one of them. And pre-diabetic would also be sort of categorized in that. How did your pre-diabetic state, how did it change with your transformation?

00:05:47:23 – 00:05:49:02

David

All of that happened.

00:05:49:06 – 00:06:11:03

Denise

I started really paying attention and being intentional about what I ate and really monitoring. I mean, before, honestly, it was like there was a lot of pizza. I was a binge eater. I mean, I’ve been honest about this. I was an emotional and binge eater. The way I would deal with stress was I would eat and it would happen late at night and I’d go in my pantry and if there was a bag of chips or a big thing of chocolate, I’d eat the entire thing.

00:06:11:03 – 00:06:36:03

Denise

Right? And it wasn’t like a little like it would be the whole thing. And so clearly that caused it. So when I started eating more protein, I really prioritized protein. I can’t stress enough how important that is for muscle building and retention. I cleaned up my diet. I really aimed to eat 80% whole natural foods. Then when I got my blood work done again, you know, after it was probably a year later, I was in the normal range.

00:06:36:05 – 00:06:55:02

Denise

So, you know, I wasn’t very good about even getting my blood work done regularly. Then now I do it twice a year. That’s really part of my health regimen to really monitor. It takes supplements based on what my blood work says. And I think you have to be intentional like this if you want to age strong and healthy and vibrant, like.

00:06:55:08 – 00:07:06:12

David

I agree, 100%. I just want to circle back to this. Yes. Because I think people confuse vanity appearance and nothing or vanity. I think if any is going to get you healthy, bring it on. Right.

00:07:06:12 – 00:07:07:01

Denise

Exactly.

00:07:07:04 – 00:07:26:21

David

But. Right. Fine. Yeah. If that’s the channel that’s going to get you there. Right on. But I think there’s people confuse appearance with health and one of the things about building muscle, I’m going to diagnose you. I’m not a doctor. I’m not a psychological diagnosis. You have sort of two things happen. You reduce the glycemic load in the food you were eating.

00:07:27:00 – 00:07:50:03

David

Yeah, that cut down the glucose and insulin resistance essentially that you were experiencing in your body and by building muscle. So muscles does a lot of things for us besides like helping us lift things up and be confident. It’s a glucose sink. It’s the biggest glucose sink in our body. So the more muscle you have, the more glucose your body can handle before you go into overload.

00:07:50:05 – 00:08:13:15

David

One of the things that I found most surprisingly recently is that if you have these glucose spikes, you’re going to cause inflammation through your whole body. Very bad causes, all kinds of long term problems. But it also seems carbohydrate loaded. There’s nothing I eat a lot of carbohydrates because I need them for energy. Essential. Yeah, but it also it will convert to your blood lipids.

00:08:13:15 – 00:08:28:06

David

So your LDL, your apple B, stuff like that’s going to go up. And one of the more interesting things is by building muscle and eating more protein for a lot of people, their lipid levels go down in a way counterintuitive, but it seems to be what happens.

00:08:28:08 – 00:08:47:21

Denise

Yes. And I also think eating five times a day helps to keep those those levels more more a level. Right. That that really is improves things as well. And I eat protein dose throughout the day to really help with protein synthesis and I think all those things together combined with the weight training, you know, that really makes a huge difference.

00:08:48:03 – 00:09:09:20

David

I can be very prescriptive with people about like sleep and fitness and sort of food is really personal. So I know some people that are Olympic level sort of athletes and they’ll eat like once a day or twice a day. That doesn’t work for me. I don’t sort of eat all the time. I think that it’s this sort of goes into like, know your body, which is what you’re talking about.

00:09:09:20 – 00:09:15:05

David

Like, yes, get to know what works for you. And you know, different things work for different people.

00:09:15:07 – 00:09:33:10

Denise

I agree with that. And I talk about this a lot where I feel like I didn’t really learn about my body until I was 50, which is kind of weird because you’re living in this body for 50 years. But you know what? I didn’t really have to pay attention because I could just go along my day, right? And I was relatively healthy most of my life.

00:09:33:12 – 00:09:52:04

Denise

And then all of a sudden, you know, your hormones start to change. Permanent menopause happened, things change. And what you have to do is start learning about yourself, what works for you, getting very in tune with your body and being intentional about your health that is required if you’re going to, well.

00:09:52:06 – 00:10:12:14

David

100%. And I strangely, I’ve had a number of people who are either afraid to learn about how this works. They’re not dumb. I mean, it’s not like I can’t learn. They just sort of afraid of it. And then they also don’t believe they have agency in the situation. This is just some grim reality that must be accepted and they can’t have any effect on.

00:10:12:16 – 00:10:37:09

Denise

Yes. And that’s the narrative we have to change. I would even go so far as to say if a doctor tells me to do something now, I really don’t immediately say yes, I think about it and I sit with it and I think about if that’s the right choice for me. And sometimes the answer is no, because we know, I believe if we can really tune into what’s going on with us, we know best, right?

00:10:37:09 – 00:10:52:17

Denise

What works for us. For instance, I had a doctor say I needed to go off gluten. I was having some gut issues, so I wanted to explore that. I did. I was worse, my brain bloated, I was worse. And I was like, You know what? No, that isn’t right for me. I stopped eating gluten. I felt 100 times better.

00:10:52:17 – 00:11:05:06

Denise

Right? So it’s not always just about getting the health care. It’s then doing that check and saying, Yeah, but is that right for me? Because we are all unique. There is not a one size fits all when it comes to health.

00:11:05:08 – 00:11:22:21

David

I think one of the biggest changes like since I was young, where our practitioners were just sort of something that they worked in, a sort of mysterious sort of Wizard of Oz behind the curtain sort of thing to now I feel like they’re partners and they’re they’re highly informed, highly educated. They’re really good ones. Yeah, we need them.

00:11:22:22 – 00:11:37:18

David

We need these people. And then to sort of work back and forth and the methods suggest something, you know, if I’m going to try something new, if I think it’s I’m not quite sure what it’s going to do to me, I’ll contact one of my docs and say, Hey, I’m thinking about this. What do you think? Is this okay?

00:11:37:21 – 00:11:39:15

David

And I wait till I hear back from it.

00:11:39:17 – 00:11:57:11

Denise

You have a good doctor. I think those are harder to find, right? I think the ones that are interactive in that way, I do think it’s a trend. I think it’s becoming more common, but there’s still too few. There’s still way too few. It’s it’s it’s not I still hear from women all the time that even have a hard time getting their hormones tested.

00:11:57:11 – 00:12:00:03

Denise

They don’t know where to go. Right. Like because their doctor doesn’t want to record.

00:12:00:03 – 00:12:22:21

David

Don’t get me started on that. Yeah. Oh, my God. Like, oh, controversial things. OB-GYNs. I mean, my wife goes through this, She has an OBE. Joann told me what the doc said to her, and I said, This woman’s a moron. Like, fire her. What is she talking about? And sort of harsh words, but there’s a lot of organs are just essentially they’re they’re fertility doctors.

00:12:22:23 – 00:12:32:20

David

Yeah. And menopause and pre menopause and how to manage hormonal transition is just it’s just not the playbook and it’s hard to find people who are. You’re correct.

00:12:32:22 – 00:12:52:02

Denise

Yes. And you know what we’re seeing a lot of and I actually really love this is if you go now on Instagram, there’s a lot of women who are doctors who are very outspoken about this is what happens to your body in menopause. And they’re really focusing on educating women. We didn’t have that exposure before. You know, and they have these huge followings because women want this information.

00:12:52:04 – 00:13:10:14

Denise

And you would think you’re getting it from your doctor, but that’s just not always the case. So I love to see this trend of these popular menopause doctors who are really sharing, you know, this is what you’re going through and this is why and this is what you can do about it. We need more of that. And I think we’re only going to see more of it because women really want to learn these things.

00:13:10:16 – 00:13:30:03

David

For people out there, finding the right practitioners is really hard. I’m sort of going through this with a GP who’s in my local and asking around and I’ll say, I’m trying to figure out like, how do I screen one of the screens? I sort of thought I was like, okay, send me the blood test that you do an intake.

00:13:30:05 – 00:13:43:06

David

And of course you never get to talk to the doc. You get to talk like somebody in the front and they’re like, Well, that’ll be determined by your visit. And it’s like, Well, no, don’t you just have like a standard thing? Like, what’s the panel right now? Like, Well, no, no, you got to. So that was my adventure today.

00:13:43:06 – 00:13:50:09

David

It’s hard. And I think especially with women’s health for so many reasons, it’s extra hard.

00:13:50:11 – 00:14:10:17

Denise

I agree. And what I have found is sometimes the best person is not local to you. And so I’ve been taking advantage of like one of my doctors is in Florida. I’m in California, right. So I will do these telehealth appointments and they’ll I’ll get the blood work here done locally. So I would tell people, you know, if you can’t find someone that you think is great in your area, I think you can do a lot remotely.

00:14:10:17 – 00:14:13:04

Denise

I really do.

00:14:13:06 – 00:14:29:19

David

That’s a great suggestion. Let’s go to we are a just Instagram. We profiled you two weeks ago was great. Wonderful. So if anybody hasn’t read that, go to WSJ.com and you’ll see this amazing profile of Denise and her majestic red dress and tell thank you.

00:14:30:00 – 00:14:32:08

Denise

There was a moment I had a moment in that dress.

00:14:32:13 – 00:14:40:15

David

You did good. It was good. You worked it. It was fun. Yeah. We put a post up about that and we got a lot of comments. You want to talk about that a little bit?

00:14:40:19 – 00:15:02:13

Denise

Yes. So it’s funny because when I first, I really did not expect it to be controversial. Really, I really didn’t. But then after I started seeing some of the comments, I wasn’t totally surprised because I have had some posts on my Instagram. When it goes to a wider audience, sometimes you hit people that aren’t looking for like a fitness content and you get these variety of comments.

00:15:02:13 – 00:15:26:13

Denise

So there was a lot of comments about you looked better before, you know, because we had a before and after you looked fine, right? They were very weight focused. There were people that said you shouldn’t show women, you know, with the barbell doing squats because that’s very unapproachable for other women. And then there was a controversy about even showing up before and after.

00:15:26:15 – 00:15:53:00

Denise

So I was it was very interesting for me to read those. My first thought was, and I think this is true, I think if I were 25 or 35, some of those comments wouldn’t have happened because I do feel like we have normalized my before body as what midlife women look like, right? It’s kind of I wasn’t super overweight.

00:15:53:00 – 00:16:12:08

Denise

I was technically overweight. My BMI was overweight. But then you see me muscular and in a bikini. And at 53, that’s not what someone should be doing. I do feel there is some of this ageism in those comments. I really do feel that. I also think, you know, we’re very focused on, well, you were fine before. Why did you do that?

00:16:12:08 – 00:16:36:01

Denise

You were fine. I wasn’t fine. Right. I was pre-diabetic. I woke up exhausted. I felt like crap most days, right? My quality of life was poor. So I think we need to get beyond what you see and realize that this was a health journey. It was about getting strong. This is about living vibrantly as we age. And the person that I was before was not on that path, right?

00:16:36:01 – 00:16:58:09

Denise

I was on a downward spiral, if anything. So I think, again, those two things really bother me that we’re not willing to look below the surface and maybe like maybe this wasn’t just about weight, right? It’s about getting strong. Let’s focus on I’m obviously more muscular, but to I think part of it was my age and I think seeing a 53 year old woman in a bikini is unacceptable for 4% of the population.

00:16:58:09 – 00:16:59:09

Denise

I do.

00:16:59:11 – 00:17:01:00

David

Oh, I have so much to say about this. All right.

00:17:01:00 – 00:17:03:21

Denise

If we could just talk for hours on this one. Right. I know.

00:17:04:03 – 00:17:10:23

David

I agree. And I think that the weight thing is totally triggering. And I understand why.

00:17:11:01 – 00:17:12:04

Denise

Yes, I do, too.

00:17:12:04 – 00:17:36:20

David

I would really like to move all discussion of this area away from the weight thing because I just think it twist people up the problems, the health problems, pre-diabetes, things like this. So there are people who do not really retain subcutaneous fat, which is what we normally see as fat, and instead what they do is they store their fat, visceral, genetically.

00:17:36:20 – 00:17:55:00

David

Some people just don’t see on the outside of the body this on the inside of their body. So they’re essentially skinny, fat people. The visceral fat is around their organs and it’s going to cause exactly the same problems as it does with somebody who carries their weight on the outside in a subcutaneous manner, which is more visible to us.

00:17:55:01 – 00:18:27:06

David

Right. Both of these things are health conditions. Right. And the health consequences of being overweight, of having we’ll just say having visceral fat are well documented. Right. So we’re talking about heart disease. We’re talking about cancer, we’re talking about Alzheimer’s, we’re talking about diabetes, not to mention feeling horrible all the time. So this is something the body positivity movement, which on the one hand is love yourself the way you are.

00:18:27:06 – 00:18:40:21

David

And I’m 100% behind me, too. I think the only way you or Joan or really anyone that I’ve spoken to who’s gone through this, that’s like sort of step one, like, I’m worth it. I’m going to I’m going to do this for me. Right.

00:18:40:21 – 00:18:46:07

Denise

And the other thing, too, by the way, really love yourself to do a transformation. It comes from loving yourself.

00:18:46:09 – 00:19:09:07

David

Yes, that’s right. That’s right. It’s not. It’s and I think that that’s the first step saying to yourself, I am worth this and I can do this. So those are the two things that the one has to, you know, get in mind. But back to this body positivity thing, quite frankly, this is B.S. It makes me I need to look at the hate mail because.

00:19:09:09 – 00:19:38:17

David

But I like going there. Oh, boy. Okay. Here. Yeah, yeah. Going there. Obesity is a disease state. Let’s get real about that. What’s happened here is because 70% of the population is overweight, 30% is obese, and a large fraction that is morbidly obese. We have normalized this. We’ve said that, oh, well, under average. Now, suppose on average, people smoke two packs of cigarets a day, we’d say that’s okay.

00:19:38:19 – 00:19:39:02

Denise

Right?

00:19:39:02 – 00:20:09:02

David

No, it’s not. That’s what’s going on here. I think that there’s a lot of issues here. There’s the food supply, There’s this sort of advertising. There’s like a lot of stuff that goes into this and it is not people’s fault. And I really want to emphasize that enormous amount of pressures on this, like, as you said, the emotional pressure, oh, I just going to eat something or the societal pressure of it’s just like on and on and on.

00:20:09:05 – 00:20:13:02

David

That does not make it right. I feel strongly about this.

00:20:13:06 – 00:20:14:14

Denise

You know.

00:20:14:16 – 00:20:35:09

David

As I spent a year in a hospital with an autoimmune thing, like you do not want this. And that’s the trajectory. Hospital beds, tubes, bad stuff, nasty. You know, my mom died of cancer. This is not where you want to go, Julie, who we’ve had on the program, has said you get to pick your heart. And that’s really hard.

00:20:35:11 – 00:20:36:03

Denise

And no, I.

00:20:36:05 – 00:20:36:22

David

So.

00:20:37:00 – 00:20:37:07

Denise

I told.

00:20:37:10 – 00:20:39:23

David

I’m going to shut up. That’s the end of my soapbox.

00:20:40:01 – 00:20:55:08

Denise

No, I get that. And I think. Right. It’s a problem we have in this country. Other countries aren’t aren’t like this, right to this extent. So I don’t know what the solution is. But again, I think it goes back to we all have to be intentional about our health and it is about health. Yeah, it really is about health.

00:20:55:08 – 00:20:59:20

Denise

We get one life and you want to be able to live it twice.

00:20:59:22 – 00:21:00:14

David

All right.

00:21:00:14 – 00:21:13:05

Denise

Right. That’s my whole thing. I want to be like 90 and being able to climb up my stairs and it not be a problem and like, really get all the juice out of life. And you can’t do that if you’re not healthy.

00:21:13:06 – 00:21:34:22

David

I just want to tell people, like all you guys out there who are listening to this and thinking like, Oh my God, this guy is like some moralist asshole. No. Oh well, may be a more or less asshole, but you care. I just. I care. I want you guys to have the best possible life. You can guess. This is, of course, everybody likes to look good.

00:21:34:22 – 00:21:41:14

David

You want to look in the mirror and be like, Oh, yeah, I look great. That’s just part of this. It’s a very small part of it, but it is.

00:21:41:14 – 00:21:43:12

Denise

A very small part.

00:21:43:14 – 00:22:07:08

David

Healthy. I want you to feel great about yourselves. I don’t want you going in for dialysis or some kind of stuff Like you don’t want that. And this is heart like what we’re talking about here, being intentional, understanding our bodies. You know, we’re these practitioners. It requires work. It’s hard. Oh, which brings me to the question I want to ask you, because a lot of times I have a lot of fun.

00:22:07:08 – 00:22:24:07

David

So they know that. They know I have fun. But I want to ask you, like, you know, what you’re talking about here is a fairly you have to be you got to sleep. You got to you know, there’s like a lot of food you don’t eat. You got to like, go to the gym. But it’s not all like, you know, hair, shirt sort of stuff.

00:22:24:07 – 00:22:29:06

David

Right. Like, this allows you to have fun. Yes. Recreationally.

00:22:29:08 – 00:22:49:20

Denise

Exactly. No. And to do it fully. Right. You can travel. I feel I have. You know what it is? This is the most important thing. I have energy. Yeah. And I didn’t before. And that honestly changes everything. I would wake up in the morning tired like after sleeping, you know, I just opened my eyes that I’d be tired before.

00:22:49:20 – 00:23:06:13

Denise

And now I wake up and I’m ready to go. And you know what? I’m excited about my life and my future. Because when you go through a transformation and you have to be disciplined, right? If you’re going to not give up on yourself, you’re going to show up for yourself every day. You got to create these habits and you’re disciplined.

00:23:06:15 – 00:23:28:21

Denise

You’re also working on your mindset while you’re doing this. And I, you know, I have goals and dreams for my future now that are very compelling that I would never have been bold enough to dream before, right? I mean, I am excited about my life and I have energy to execute these things that is the gold that comes from transformation.

00:23:28:23 – 00:23:48:03

Denise

It’s not about me standing there in a bikini and feeling like, okay, whatever. This is what makes it worth it. This mindset, this attitude, this excitement for what’s to come. Because if you’re in your fifties or even you’re 60 or 70, you might have decades left. We’re not just going to sit in a corner right like we want to.

00:23:48:07 – 00:23:52:14

Denise

We want to live this life. That’s what it’s about.

00:23:52:16 – 00:24:13:20

David

I think that’s so beautiful, what you’ve done through your Instagram and the work that you’ve done. And really for anyone who does something like this, you’ve expanded your own personal imagination of what’s possible. Yes. But you let other people know, and this is the whole reason it just exists is because we just we say, like this is now on the menu.

00:24:13:22 – 00:24:35:23

David

You can do. Yes. You don’t have to do it. You can do whatever you want to do. I’m not going to tell you what to do. But if you want to, you can do this. And yes, everyone who’s listening out there who thinks you’re invisible, I got news for you. Not now. People See you wherever you go. And if you follow your dreams, if you do things like what?

00:24:35:23 – 00:25:00:17

David

Denise did people see that? And if you don’t, people also see that any time you leave the house, you’re sending out a message you are not invisible. And the work that you do on yourself is contagious. It is sends a ripple through everyone You guys count, you really count. That’s another reason why this is important.

00:25:00:19 – 00:25:19:12

Denise

I agree. Every person makes a difference in this world. Every single one. Right? People tell me I inspire them, which I to me is one of my biggest life’s honors. Right? I get emotional about that, but I’m not special. It’s just because I showed up for myself and I was consistent and people saw that I could do it.

00:25:19:12 – 00:25:41:08

Denise

And they started to believe they could do that too. We all have that power. There is nothing special about what I’ve done. I wasn’t like any sort of an athlete, right? I’m just a normal woman. Like, we can all do that. And if you set the example and more people believe, man, you could really make a dent in this narrative that, like, we have no living left to do in midlife, that it’s all about decline.

00:25:41:08 – 00:25:47:15

Denise

Like we can really change what this looks like. And that’s the impact I want my life to have.

00:25:47:17 – 00:26:03:18

David

Going back to something you said earlier, which I agree with, that a lot of the sort of pushback you’re getting is because of your age, this idea that and I think it’s multifold here that it is either a woman cannot or worse, could not.

00:26:03:20 – 00:26:05:17

Denise

Should not. Absolutely. Yeah.

00:26:05:17 – 00:26:20:01

David

That which is a whole other sort of like I don’t know, you know, if that’s the patriarchy or some kind of Calvinist bias or I don’t know what that’s about, but that’s definitely a vibe out there.

00:26:20:03 – 00:26:43:05

Denise

Oh, it is. It is. And it’s not just me. You see any other woman in midlife who’s wearing a short dress or even Joan gets this, you know, her little athletic outfit she looks amazing in. I know she she she loves to be fashionable, dress cute. I see that she gets this backlash. You know, when did we decide that at a certain age you had to fit this mold And if you didn’t, it just was totally unacceptable.

00:26:43:06 – 00:26:55:10

Denise

You know, like, why can’t we wear what we feel good and who cares? But you know what the beauty is about? Midlife is and I’m sure you’ve experiences too. When I hit 50, I stopped caring. You just don’t care anymore, right? What?

00:26:55:10 – 00:27:00:08

David

People think I still care. I absolutely care.

00:27:00:12 – 00:27:19:17

Denise

I’m like, I’m going to wear was going to wear. And if you don’t like it, that’s okay with me. I’m okay with that. Right? But it is a thing. And why I want to highlight this is I want to change this narrative. I think it all goes back to this narrative about decline, decline, decline, decline. That’s what we’re supposed to do is decline.

00:27:19:17 – 00:27:35:10

Denise

And if you’re not declining and you’re wearing things, you’re not supposed to, you have muscle and all this stuff, it’s a problem. It shouldn’t be. I want it to be like midlife can look amazing, you know, it can look like anything you want it to look like. My saying is my my followers know this. I always say we get to choose.

00:27:35:12 – 00:27:46:18

Denise

We get to choose how we age. And I choose to be strong. And you know what? I work damn hard and I’m going to wear a short dress sometimes. I’m going to wear short dress. You know.

00:27:46:19 – 00:27:55:07

David

That’s one of the other things that I’ve heard is that, oh, she’s just trying to like, look like she’s 20. She wants to.

00:27:55:09 – 00:27:55:20

Denise

Get that.

00:27:55:22 – 00:27:59:08

David

Age again. Yes. What’s what’s up with that?

00:27:59:10 – 00:28:23:15

Denise

I have no idea. I think, again, it’s about that’s acceptable, Right. I’ve get I get that I’m narcissistic, right. That I’m putting myself out there in bikinis or that I want attention. Frankly. I had a comment today on that post that said I look like a porno model. I’m wearing a bikini. Right. And I commented back, I don’t actually know what that looks like.

00:28:23:15 – 00:28:39:05

Denise

Softer. Take your word for that. But, you know, it’s like it is triggering. And I think it’s again, it’s just about you know, you get to midlife and it’s supposed to look a certain way. And if it doesn’t, it’s just not acceptable. It’s just not acceptable.

00:28:39:07 – 00:28:43:23

David

Again, I’m gonna get some hate mail for what I’m going to say here. No, I get hate mail. It’s all right. That’s a Oh.

00:28:44:03 – 00:29:03:06

Denise

You know what? I and I’ll tell you this real quick. I actually like when I get these comments, because what I have realized in social media, if you walk the middle ground and you’re just not saying anything controversial, you’re not inspiring anybody. If you want to inspire someone and be on one end of the spectrum, the opposite end of the spectrum is you’re offending.

00:29:03:07 – 00:29:14:04

Denise

And I know when I’m offending people are I get these comments. That’s a good post because now I’m inspiring others and I’m willing to offend in order to inspire that. To me, as a good trade off.

00:29:14:06 – 00:29:39:12

David

I just want to make the distinction here between acceptance and shaming. Yes, right. Shaming. No, go. I don’t care what you’re up to with that. That’s not acceptable. You’re not shaming people for their gender, for their weight or their religious beliefs for any of that. Stop that crap. That’s different than what we’re talking about here. I just want to be clear about that.

00:29:39:14 – 00:30:06:20

Denise

I agree with absolutely 100%. We have to love each other in ourselves, right? It just it it’s. Yeah, I think as a society, we’re so caught up in the physical and the appearance that we just miss what’s important a lot. I think that’s the overreaching thing. And again, I think what we’re both saying and what’s most important is that if you want to live a long, vibrant life, you’ve got to be healthy and strong.

00:30:06:22 – 00:30:24:05

David

So let’s let’s go to one of the sort of misconceptions here is and we get this a lot. It’s if you’re a woman and you lift weight, especially you lift heavy weight. Yes. You’re going to turn into Arnold, by the way. Arnold only look like Arnold because he was on massive doses.

00:30:24:07 – 00:30:25:12

Denise

Well, I.

00:30:25:14 – 00:30:28:20

David

Know Arnold doesn’t look like Arnold.

00:30:28:22 – 00:30:49:14

Denise

No, exactly. He doesn’t look like he used you, right? No. And all those weightlifters of the, you know, eighties and nineties, they were all on, who knows what. But no, that’s absolutely true. There’s this thing about bulking, and I get this all the time from women. I don’t bulk up. I don’t want to bulk up, I don’t want to get bulky and someone said once, that’s like saying you want don’t want to drive a car because you’re going to become Michael Schumacher.

00:30:49:14 – 00:30:50:15

Denise

Right? Like it doesn’t.

00:30:50:15 – 00:30:52:07

David

Happen like.

00:30:52:09 – 00:31:11:04

Denise

Right Like he or you know, you want to swim because you want to become Michael Phelps. You have to be for, you know, a decade or more. That’s your entire existence, right? You are so dedicated at this, believe me, like the average person. That’s never going to happen. And what I can tell you is what I have learned.

00:31:11:04 – 00:31:30:02

Denise

And I still have women that I coach. They’ll say, I don’t want to work my legs because I get bulky really easily. A lot of times that’s because it’s not just the muscles are growing real fast, like you’re not, you know, genetically so, you know, different than everybody else that your muscles are all of a sudden growing at at this exceptional rate.

00:31:30:04 – 00:31:43:19

Denise

It’s that a lot of times it’s about losing the body fat. So you reveal the muscle right? A lot of times it’s like you weren’t the size maybe that you wanted to be in the beginning. And then you start to lift weight and you start to see a little bit of definition. And it’s about to see that muscle.

00:31:43:19 – 00:31:51:19

Denise

You get lean. It’s not that you’re growing these enormous muscles eventually. Initially, it’s not. Yeah, it’s not a thing. It’s not a thing. It’s not going to happen.

00:31:51:19 – 00:32:13:23

David

I’m 511 and a half. Okay. £168. Well, I’m ski racing, so I don’t lift weight like I used to. But start April. I will again. So, you know, I’m in the gym five days a week. I eat a lot of protein. There is no reality on earth where, like, I’m going to be in the NFL, Like I just that my genetics aren’t going to allow that.

00:32:14:01 – 00:32:30:01

Denise

No. And I’ve been, you know, building five days a week for three and a half years to gain. Now you get new big gains. New big gains are an amazing thing. You can build a lot of muscle your first year, but after that, yeah, it’s a very hard and you build just a little bit every year and you work very hard for that.

00:32:30:01 – 00:32:34:05

Denise

So believe me, don’t worry about getting bulky. It’s not happening.

00:32:34:07 – 00:32:37:05

David

Oh, this is wonderful. I’m so glad you came on the show.

00:32:37:07 – 00:32:38:08

Denise

You know, I learned.

00:32:38:10 – 00:32:41:01

David

A lot of feedback on this. Well.

00:32:41:03 – 00:32:43:04

Denise

We’re just talking what’s in our heart.

00:32:43:04 – 00:33:13:11

David

It’s, you know, a few years ago, we interviewed Dr. Connie Mariano for ages. She was the director of White House medical under three presidents. First Filipino rear admiral, wonderful woman. And she’s now has a medical practice in Arizona. And we were talking about, you know, sort of stuff we’re talking about and about, you know, getting people healthy. And she said the favorite way to get women into the gym is if their daughters are getting married and they want to buff out their arms.

00:33:13:13 – 00:33:14:06

Denise

I love she’s.

00:33:14:06 – 00:33:22:00

David

Like she’s like, we use the vanity to get them in there. And once they start going, we just keep them going. Yes, Yes.

00:33:22:02 – 00:33:44:15

Denise

And I think actually a lot of transformations start that way, right? You think I just I want to look better and then you get into it and pretty quickly you realize it’s not really about that. You start to feel better, right? You see these changes, you start to feel strong. And I will tell you, I didn’t understand what feeling in my strong in my body felt like until I started lifting weights.

00:33:44:17 – 00:34:03:10

Denise

And then it became addicting. I was like I felt like I could do anything right. I can carry my groceries up the stairs with no problem. That was unthinkable. Before I can go on a plane and know I can put that luggage in the overhead bin, that is not a problem for me. You start to feel really capable and that is an amazing feeling that’s addicting.

00:34:03:15 – 00:34:26:19

David

I hurt my arm surfing and I couldn’t like my left arm slowly work for about a year and I felt terrible, like tendinitis issues. And while, you know, repetitive motion from the in surfing surfing is really not surfing. Surfing is just like endless spinning, senseless. They just like all about right this way it’s a lot flooded with battling.

00:34:26:21 – 00:34:53:09

David

So you know one of the things I notice when my arm was hurt was how vulnerable I felt like I felt really vulnerable out in the world. And I noticed this vulnerability made me more fearful of. Not just physical things, but everything like, yes, new ideas, new people. I just didn’t I didn’t have the sort of elastic city to say, like, Oh, okay, that’s all right.

00:34:53:09 – 00:35:22:14

David

Let’s let’s think about that. Or, Oh, yeah, you’re cool. All right. And then once my arm got better and I felt not vulnerable. So this sort of idea of strong body or feeling, having the sense that you feel strong within yourself, it goes across a lot of different other areas besides just being on pick stuff up, its ability to deal with with new things, things that would be threatening or fearful to you.

00:35:22:16 – 00:35:32:01

David

You’re able to say just like, Oh, okay, what’s that like? What do you like? Like, tell me about yourself rather than just like, Oh my God, I’m really scared. Stay away from me.

00:35:32:03 – 00:35:55:21

Denise

100%. I think that as you get strong, it builds confidence right in your mind. You really feel more capable in your body and therefore you feel more capable in life. And like I always say, you know, it’s like you climb one mountain, like, I got to what? That’s when I did my first competition. I you just like before that, when I was getting strong and I felt strong in my body, I felt like I’d climb this mountain and I was like, what’s next?

00:35:55:21 – 00:36:15:07

Denise

And then you start to see there’s another mountain in the distance that you didn’t even have a concept of before because it builds upon itself. The more that you show that to yourself that you can do, the more you believe that you can do, and your dreams actually become bigger as you’re building this confidence, it really again, it’s the biggest rewards.

00:36:15:07 – 00:36:38:21

Denise

Yes, It’s great to feel strong in my body. It’s amazing. But the biggest are these mindset rewards, these dreams that you have. And I’ll say I wanted to mention this before and I’ll say this really quickly, I find a resistance of women when I encourage my clients to have dreams, not just goals, but dreams. We just did a whole talk on this and I’ll ask my clients to dream and like share those with me.

00:36:38:21 – 00:36:55:07

Denise

And they’re very resistant to to dream. I think we get used to not dreaming. And I think at some point in midlife we tell ourselves we can’t. And so I really challenged them to do that, right, Because I think that’s hard, very important. It’s hard for people.

00:36:55:09 – 00:36:55:21

David

Scary.

00:36:55:21 – 00:37:17:22

Denise

Realizing it. It is. But why you have dreams like we need to have things that are longer term, big things that drive us forward, creative things right, that we can get really excited about. And I think that is another really key component to aging. You know? Well, to be excited about your future, I think is just really critical.

00:37:18:00 – 00:37:40:05

David

There’s a graph that I read recently. One of my favorite books is called Philosophy for Polar Explorers, and it’s a brilliant little book about this really articulate guy who walks to the North Pole with his body and then walked alone to the South Pole and climbed Everest. But that’s not really what it’s about. It’s about having a dream and going forward and doing it.

00:37:40:05 – 00:38:04:21

David

And he has this graph on the one axis, its capacity to carry things out. And on the bottom axis, it’s the dream. The two lines cross in the middle, meaning that as we get older we have much more capacity to carry these things out. But our imagination, our, you know, our dream becomes less. And he says in there, it’s easier to take the person out of the dream than to take the dream out of the person.

00:38:04:23 – 00:38:09:03

David

And so we we naturally remove ourselves from these dreams.

00:38:09:05 – 00:38:09:15

Denise

Right?

00:38:09:16 – 00:38:28:19

David

It’s kind of scary. It’s like, I really want to say that. Do I want to claim that? I mean, yes. Who am I just to say I want whatever. I have no right to say that. Well, yes, you do. It’s your dream. It’s not my dream. It’s your dream. Own it. It’s fine. Like. Like go big. What do you want know?

00:38:28:19 – 00:38:35:15

Denise

Exactly? I mean, I also think I mean this not to be more of it, but, you know, we’re all going to be dead one day. Like no one’s going to care.

00:38:35:15 – 00:38:36:18

David

That’s right. Yeah, right.

00:38:36:20 – 00:38:54:13

Denise

Like, just like your life. Because who cares? No one’s going to remember at one point if you did it or not. Just do it. Do all those. Don’t leave anything on the table. Do all the things that’s in your heart’s desire. At least try, you know. And they ask people, right when they’re on their deathbeds, you know, what their biggest regrets are.

00:38:54:13 – 00:39:00:08

Denise

And it’s that the risks they didn’t take, right? The things they didn’t do that they wanted to. It’s let’s not do that.

00:39:00:14 – 00:39:20:03

David

If you’re somebody out there who’s thinking about like this fitness transformation thing, that’s probably really good for me. I think I’ll probably live longer. I’ll live happier. It’s good for my family. But then maybe some people around you are saying, Oh, lifting weights are nothing. I’d better that way. Oh yeah, You don’t want a pizza. Why don’t you want the pizza?

00:39:20:05 – 00:39:39:11

David

Your dreams are yours, not theirs. And you know, be careful about who you listen to, about where you want to go, because it’s about you. And like you said, you get one spin of the bottle here. That’s it. Yes. Oh, How are you going to do it for you?

00:39:39:13 – 00:40:03:20

Denise

Exactly. And I think you might disagree, but I personally think even women, it’s harder because especially as mom, I’m not a mom, but I know a lot of moms go through this where they’re used to giving everything for their children. Yeah. And they stopped thinking about what they want for themselves. Like that’s just disappeared. And then when you start to challenge them in midlife and their kids are out of the house, too, like, okay, what do you want?

00:40:03:20 – 00:40:17:15

Denise

Like, they don’t know. I go through this with my class. I’m like, Yeah. I’m like, We got to come up with some things that are just for you, right? Like, that’s important. You’re still here. You’ve got decades left. You got to come up with some stuff just for you. It’s your time. I say it’s our time now, right?

00:40:17:15 – 00:40:36:18

Denise

Like it’s. There’s a beautiful thing about aging where now we really can just focus on ourselves, right? And it’s not selfish, but, like, really just chase the things that are important to us, you know, our careers. You know, if we’re retiring or our kids are out of and out of the house, it’s our time now.

00:40:36:20 – 00:40:57:15

David

And I just want to speak about kids and parents. Even when the kids are out of the house, they’re still watching you. Yes. And if you do something like, you know, you’re like, okay, it’s time for me to, like, really care of myself and take care of myself. What kind of message does that send your kids? Pretty positive.

00:40:57:15 – 00:41:06:03

David

One saying like, this is possible. This can be done. Look at Mom. Mom is kick ass Like that. Sounds like a pretty good role model.

00:41:06:05 – 00:41:13:12

Denise

100%. And you know, it’s kind of cool. I see a lot of young men now. I don’t know if you’ve seen this to go to the gyms with their moms and I hear a lot of these. I just love.

00:41:13:12 – 00:41:15:19

David

That. Interesting.

00:41:15:21 – 00:41:16:08

Denise

Yes.

00:41:16:08 – 00:41:18:05

David

I haven’t seen it. I love that idea, though.

00:41:18:08 – 00:41:30:12

Denise

Yeah. I have a lot of clients and I’ve talked to a lot of women that their sons will go show them how to use equipment and then they work out together. Yeah, I just love it. And I see a lot more younger people in the gym, like teenagers. I think it’s awesome.

00:41:30:14 – 00:41:38:03

David

I just. I love what you’re doing. Denise, I want you to take a moment here to do a little self promo. What do you do and how can people contact you?

00:41:38:05 – 00:42:02:22

Denise

Yes. So I started my company last year because I guess we’re 2024 already. So the end of last year rebellion body. So day I read out Rebellion Bodycon. I intentionally named my company Rebellion Body because we are rebelling against this narrative, right, of midlife. You know I said we are the rebels and that also my Instagram is 50 fitness journey 5050 fitness journey.

00:42:03:00 – 00:42:27:04

Denise

And what I do is transformation. I’m a transformation coach. I have a team of coaches and we get women on a macro nutrition plan. We make sure they eat protein. Most women under eat the vast majority of women dramatically underweight protein. So we teach them what that looks like and we get them on a workout program. You know, from beginners, if you’ve never lifted a weight in your life, you know, come to us and we’ll help you.

00:42:27:06 – 00:42:49:06

Denise

But my goal is in my number one goal for my company is to have impact and to change this this narrative around aging and to educate women that if you want to live a full, vibrant life as you age, you need to get strong. It takes building muscle and getting strong. It really does. And I want women to age fearlessly.

00:42:49:08 – 00:42:54:06

Denise

And that’s what we’re that’s our goal. That’s what we’re aiming to do.

00:42:54:07 – 00:43:16:02

David

I want all you guys out there, men and women who are listening to this to become the best versions of yourselves today. The way you define it, not the way I define it or Denise designs it, but the way you define it. And remember, we’re talking about you today, not you, 23 years ago. Let’s not compare that who you bring to the table today.

00:43:16:04 – 00:43:18:11

David

Let’s see what we can do about that.

00:43:18:13 – 00:43:20:00

Denise

I love that.

00:43:20:01 – 00:43:32:21

David

This is such a pleasure. We’ll put links in the show notes for people to contact you. You are one of the the great joys of my year. It’s been just wonderful getting to know you really appreciate this.

00:43:32:21 – 00:43:35:15

Denise

I hope to see you again. I really enjoy our conversations.

00:43:35:17 – 00:43:37:08

David

Absolutely. Take care now.

00:43:37:10 – 00:43:38:01

Denise

Thanks, David.

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The ideas expressed here are solely the opinions of the author and are not researched or verified by AGEIST LLC, or anyone associated with AGEIST LLC. This material should not be construed as medical advice or recommendation, it is for informational use only. We encourage all readers to discuss with your qualified practitioners the relevance of the application of any of these ideas to your life. The recommendations contained herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You should always consult your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or stopping any treatment that has been prescribed for you by your physician or other qualified health provider. Please call your doctor or 911 immediately if you think you may have a medical or psychiatric emergency.

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