What do you think?

I asked you and you told me.

getting rid of belly fat
Getting rid of belly fat can certainly be done

I ask my email subscribers (you guys) what their biggest problem or challenge is with respect to health and fitness when they sign up for my email newsletter.

Getting rid of belly fat and building muscle are common themes.

In Your Own Words

Following is a sampling of your responses, comments and concerns when asked “What is your #1 problem?“.

I reproduced your comments as is. No editing, spelling correction or interpretation was done.

Tips to build muscle, reduce aches and pains, getting rid of belly fat and other stuff

Reason #1

Hi Mark,
I am 55 and over weight (obese). I know most other aches and pains come from this issue. In the past its been laziness and thinking one day I will do something. The last time I saw my Doctor he said “you have put on weight ” “well give me something to get started” I said, he ok I will put you in touch with a surgeon.
What the F , reality check, that is not happening.

Whoa, it seems Doc is jumping to extreme conclusions. My recommendation: get a new doctor.

Reason #2

I signed up to your emails as you say that it IS possible for somebody my age to get stronger. I also liked your no BS approach and I wasn’t swamped with technical information. TBH, I haven’t a clue and need simple & reliable info. As well as hope that it is possible to become stronger and thus do this long distance hike in the next year or two. I used to think that once you’re pass 30 or so, you cannot get stronger but can only delay the weakening process of age.

If you don’t resistance train, you will get weaker. That’s a fact. But if you engage in a sustained muscle building program, you can build strength and muscle mass at any age.

Reason #3

My unique challenge is to loss weight and have some sort of life in retirement.
Not so unique I guess.

Not so unique. We all have a bucket list.

Reason #4

Approaching 66 in February I am interested in losing 10 lbs of fat and gaining 5 lbs of muscle. I’m 5’10” @ 166 lbs 21%BF

Love a guy who knows his numbers. Let’s do the math.

166 lbs @ 21% BF = 35 lbs of fat. So your Lean Body Mass (LBM) is 131 lbs. And if you lose 10 lbs of fat you’ll have 25 lbs left and gain 5 lbs of muscle puts your LBM @ 136. so your new body weight is 161 lbs and your new body fat percent is about 15.5%.

Can it be done? Sure.

Reason #5

I am 58 years old, 5’10”, 160lb. I am trying to build muscle mass and lose a little fat off my stomach. I have been using your advice of heavy weight and low reps and have begun to see results.

Cool. Just keep going.

Reason #6

Training consistently without getting injured every time I start a new program! And balancing working out and nutrition as a beginner 51 year old male with a full time job, work and 2 kids!!

Yes life can get in the way. If you’re working with a strategy that makes sense, a lot of this gets easier.

Reason #7

Mark: My goals are controlling my diet, losing weight, and gaining some muscle mass. These goals comprise my effort to control type 2 diabeties, which is my number one health challenge. I have developed an appreciation for the resourced available from your blog and emails. Thanks!

Diabetes and heart disease are the two most common modern diseases. And they both are exacerbated by poor diet, too little exercise and your resulting overweight body.

Reason #8

Getting older and needing to maintain or improve strength, fitness and ability to play with my young kids for a long time to come. Shoulders are a fairly critical part of the body – without them working properly most things are quite difficult!

OK this guy has some shoulder problems which are not uncommon. I have poor shoulder mobility from a few injuries along the way.

And the desire to be an active father to kids and then grand kids is a very common theme I hear. I know it is very important to me.

Reason #9

I have a little daughter of 4yrs, and a little boy of 6 months ,I want to be fit and strong for my self and my family ,I cant change my age,but I can change my over all fitness levels

This guy will make it happen. I guarantee it.

He has the two most important things going for him.

  • First, his “WHY” is very powerful. Nothing like the love of your family to inspire you.
  • And second, he has the right attitude. There is no question in his mind that he can do it.

I love it.

Reason #10

i have been trying for the past 9 months after initial gains have plateaued.


Plateaus are normal and should be expected. Read about it here.

Reason #11

Not enough time to research and put the research to useclock


The conundrum of the internet. The answer to every question resides somewhere in the ether. You just have to weed through a lot of shit to find it. And it takes time. That’s where I come in. I do the weeding for you.

Reason #12

i need to get back into the shape i once was. Motivation is stopping me. I once (less than 5 years ago) was in top physical shape. My drive is one of my main problems.



The pain of your everyday life has to exceed the pain of doing the work to make change happen.

Maybe you are just not there yet.

Reason #13

I am 59 years old and I want to live long enough to see my daughters marry and have children.


I am 59 years old and have the exact same desire.

Reason #14

I do not eat as well as I should. My wife does not recognize the degree to which I need help keeping “trigger” foods out of the house. I need to focus on meats and vegetables, some fruits, and eliminating as much as possible breads, sugars, and other foods that keep the weight on. This is complicated because of (1) weight, (2) type 2 Diabetes, (3) high blood pressure, and (4) a recent stroke that has left my left side without fine motor control skills.


This is interesting because it is quite common to not have the entire household on the same plan. It is tough to forgo your trigger foods when they’re staring you in the face. And I agree it is best to clear the pantry of crap when you’re trying to lose weight. But sometimes priorities conflict in a household. My wife buys sweets and some high GI (glycemic index) carbs that I’d rather not eat. But she has very good self control and eats only very small portions as a treat (unlike me). In the end, you cannot blame someone else for stuff you’re putting into your own mouth. I call it eating like an adult. Think first. Practice self control. Work on your habits. [adsense]

Reason #15

my wife just lost over 60 pounds. It’s motivation for me to do more to lose my belly fat.


You have your motivation. Congrats to your wife. Now go show her what you’re made of.

Reason #16

Thick fat layer cover my beautiful sixpack.


Hate when that happens. Your sixpack is under there. Just go get them.

Reason #17

I would rather have slim & lean appearance at my age.


No shitsky. Truer words were never spoken. Make a plan. Take action.

Reason #18

Fat in the mid-section I call gut cannot lose


Well you haven’t been able to lose it yet but only because there is some flaw in your approach. You can lose the fat. Just do this.

Reason #19

Want to look good and not have to go up in pants size


An honest guy. Yes we want to look good and we’ll suck our guts in to avoid buying bigger pants. It’s uncomfortable though.

Actually, the feel of my gut being in the way when I tied my shoes was what finally got me to take action. I was sick and tired of holding my breath just to tie my shoes.

Gotta lose the gut.

Reason #20

Cutting fat is my toughest problem.

Heard this many times.

Reason #21

Wish to lose weight and tone my old 66yr old body

It can be done.

Reason #22

I need to drop 20lbs or so

You need to know what to do and then just do it.

Reason #23

Hello, Mark,
Last year, I was involved in a motorcycle accident which shattered the bottom half of my left knee. As a result, I was fairly inactive for quite some time, and gained a bit of softness around my waist and lost some muscle bulk and tone.

When you have lived a full life, shit happens. You may not have it as easy as others, but you can still find a way.

Reason #24

I want to build back my tone and bulk, strengthen my legs to better support my knees, and look and feel better and “tighter.”

Knee problems are not unusual. And we all want to look better. You may not say it but you think it.

Reason #25

losing belly fat and toning muscles


Very common desire.

Reason #26

Losing 15 lbs and building muscle



Reason #27

losing body fat



Reason #28

fat loss, I am 59 and 5′ 9 3/4″ , 186lbs up 20 from 2 yrs ago, So let me tell a story in Jan 2012 I was 240 I dumped 80lbs by walking and then started running almost every day, today I get a little sore trying to run every day so I mix it up with weights twice a week.


Sounds like a success story to me.

Reason #29

I know I ate crap all summer but I trained and did an Ironman and a Rugged Maniac obstacle course. The weight just kept creeping higher. I dont get it. Is a severe diet necessary? Thanks


I love this. He is obviously kicking ass. An Ironman! I don’t know what a Rugged Maniac is but it can’t be for wimps. So this guy is training hard but his weight is still out of control. Is a severe diet necessary? No but you have to eat fewer calories than you burn.

I don’t care if you’re burning up 4500 calories a day with extreme exercise. If you’re eating 5000, you won’t lose weight.


Reason #30

Hello Mark, I signed up to your emails as I want to get stronger. In particular, I want to do some long distance hiking carrying tent, etc. on my back. I attempted to do this recently, but lacked the strength and had to give up.


I am a hiker and backpacker and there is nothing more miserable than finding yourself many miles from the trail head, out of energy and stuck with a 60 lb pack. Strength matters, especially if you want to enjoy activities that tax your system.

Reason #31

But as I’m nearly fifty, and I have NEVER EVER done any strength training before, I’m was worried that I’ve missed the boat in gaining strength?


Doesn’t matter. Everyone starts from where they are. No boats have been missed.

Reason #32

Weight training to combat muscle and bone loss.


Your bones are living tissue just like your muscles. Bones are constantly replenishing themselves by re-sorbing old bone and growing new bone. Bones are stressed by weight bearing exercise and by your muscles contracting and pulling on them. This is why they grow stronger. So yes, weight training to build muscle also strengthens your bones simultaneously. [adsense]

Reason #33

I’m getting started for the first time. Recently I’ve noticed I’ve gotten weaker. I recently bought a curl bar, weights, dumb bells and a bench. I’m trying to find a routine I can folo for beginners but effective.



Anything is better than nothing.

One of the benefits of being a beginner is that you’ll get results just from moving around more and performing basic, light weight movements. Just get started.

Reason #34

To maintain and improve my good health and fitness for another 50 years.


That’s the attitude we all need. Another 50.

Reason #35

Hi Mark , I am A fifty one year old male who has let myself go a bit and want to regain a level off fitness so as to preform my job better , I am a wild life guide who was promoted to management and so did not get out in the field much and was desk bond for some time , I now want to go back into the guiding field and need to lose some weight and pick up my fitness levels cheers . Kind Regards


The dangers of modern life and the desk job. I would love to be a wild life guide. For fitness, I’d just start hiking around with a backpack. Add weight into your pack over time. You’ll get there pretty quickly. Good luck getting back to what you love to do.

Reason #36

Hi Mark I am 54years and tend to overdo the exercises of which I will suffer with the muscles repairing. I need a good rhythm and have realised not to over exert myself.This is not easy as I am enjoying myself and will only have setback the following day. I Enjoy knowing that I am not the only one suffering and how you guys are dealing with problem Regards


Full disclosure. I am in minor pain just about all the time. But this is what I call “the good pain.” It’s from training hard, playing with young kids and just getting after it most days. This is not pain from injury. You have to be able to distinguish the two. I like the “pain from the pump” that I expect for a day or two after lifting hard. You’ll get used to it. It reminds you that you trained hard enough to make a difference.

Reason #37

Mark, I think my biggest challange is getting motivated and then staying motivated.


True dat. It’s hard to get motivated when you’re just getting started and not sure if you’re on the right path. Sometimes you almost expect to fail because it has never worked in the past. But once you start seeing results and your confidence grows, motivation is easier to come by. This is why an accountability partner can help. They provide extra motivation when you need it most, at the beginning, when your path is not clear. Get a partner.

Reason #38

I find that once I start, I go fine throught the achs and pain, and by the time I feel I can increase the intensity, I begin to lose motivation and/or other things pop up to do that get in the way of the set times I have planed to work out.


Your life is run by habits, good and bad. You have a well established bad habit of not exercising. You are trying to force a new, good habit of exercising using willpower alone. And it works for awhile. And then it doesn’t. You have to form a new habit to replace the old bad habit. Replace is the operative word. Old habits don’t go away. You simply build something positive it their place. But it takes work. Read about it here.

Reason #39

Lose weight (40 pounds, from current 215 to goal of 175) and build muscle.


Not enough info to “see the guy” but losing 18 to 19% of your total body weight is certainly doable if you’re carrying a lot of fat.

Reason #40

Gaining muscle AND losing belly fat.

Again, Can’t tell what’s going on here but losing fat and building simultaneously can be done, especially when you have a lot of fat to lose.

When you have less body fat to burn, it is typically better to focus on fat loss and muscle building separately as one requires a caloric deficit and the other a caloric surplus.

Reason #41

Get muscles back.get leaner.get stronger

Yes sir.

Reason #42

Building up the muscle then the strength then start the weight loss.

If you build your muscles, you will get stronger. And then you are on your way towards effective weight loss.

Reason #43

Added several inches yet added muscle and endurance. Can not seem to get rid of the fat while trying to eat enough protein to maintain muscle.

My guess is that it is not the protein but the total calories that is hurting you.

Reason #44

Im 50 pounds overweight. Im 53 years old, I have always been fit at 5’10 tall I feel I should weigh about 190lbs but in fact I weigh 240.

You can get back to 190 lbs. Just start.

Reason #45

Just a stronger desire to be fitter, healthier and look younger.

OK. The pain has to be greater to spur you to action.

Reason #46

Exercise is difficult due to bad knee and hip

Difficult but not impossible. Walking, bike riding, swimming, elliptical or maybe pool walking. There is something you can do.

Reason #47

Lose belly fat and maintain or increase muscle mass.


What is your #1 problem?

Comment below with your #1 fitness challenge. What is the one thing you need to solve to get your life back on track? Is it getting rid of belly fat, building a muscular physique, lack of motivation or just not knowing what to do?

Write Your #1 Problem in the comments section below.

photo credit: howtogetflatabsfast.org

About the author 

Mark Fickler

Mark aka The Old Spartan and Over-50 Fitness Savior is a 64 year old coffee guzzling father of five wandering the outdoors around Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mark helps Active Boomers get lean, healthy and strong so they live rewarding, fun lives using his signature 2 Rule Easy Fat Loss training program.

  • 50 year old formER college hockey player. Spent last 15 years driving kids around the country playing sports. Got about 40lbs over weight. I do 45 min cardio a day and lift six days with one day off. Do push one day, abs next day, pull 3rd day, back 4th day, legs 5 th day, and rotate the 6th. Doing 150-180 reps a work out 10-10-fatigue. Been doing for 3 months and enjoy being back in the gym. Is that to much?
    MSU Dad

    • Sure sounds like it. I know for me, recovery is vitally important. Much more so than when younger. If you’re keeping track of your workouts (which you should be) and you’re making steady gains, it’s hard to argue with success. If you’re not progressing and you’re energy is low, you are over-training.

  • David Holloway says:

    Yes I need to loose weight, but motivation is my greatest hurdle.

    • Not uncommon. Lack of motivation is driven by uncertainly. You’re not sure you can do it or if you will be successful or why is it going to be any different than the last time. My recommendation is to start very small like just walking 5 minutes the first day. Add 1 minute each day but go every day. You want to build the habit of exercising. That’s what is important. In a month, you’re walking 35 minutes and you’ve built a pretty good habit. Now you’re motivated to continue and get into other things.

  • Great post Mark. It’s always good to see we’re not alone (at “our age”) in the desire to get fit. While I have multiple challenges to tackle, I think my #1 at the moment is learning to (consistently) eat correctly. I have a workout routine, but as you’ve mentioned, a bad menu will not help the goal to drop dreaded belly fat and maintain (or add) muscle mass.

  • Mark, my goal is to drop 4 inches in waist size (from 40). I am 52 years old and weigh in at 110kg. I have started doing light circuit weight training 3 times a week and walking 1 mile the other 4 days. I will increase this as i become fitter. I am not on a diet but have stopped eating the following foods – chips, biscuits, alcohol, full fat milk, crisps, sweets, chocolate and butter. From 6pm till bed time is the most difficult time – what I call the grazing period. 3 weeks in and no real results yet but it is getting easier so that’s a result in itself.

    • William, yea the grazing will kill ya. I’d say a couple of things. Don’t be fat phobic. if you’re going to drink milk, I’d go with the full fat version. And butter is way better than margarine. Fat and protein are more satiating than carbs so they can help alleviate grazing binges. In the end, you must create and sustain a calorie deficit to lose weight. Read this post on losing weight fast

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