6 Key Elements and 7 Critical Steps to Reclaim Your 40-Something Body

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Last Monday, I came clean about the state of my 40-plus, partly broken body and health…

A lot of folks commented on my Fat Bottom Blogger (aka “The Comeback Part 1) post and e-mailed me privately. Seems I’m not the only one who needs to mount a mind-body comeback.

And, though, I’m already in the very early stages, it’s become apparent I can’t just do what I’ve always done.

A decade ago, I’d have committed to some standardized 8, 12 or 16-week plan of action to get myself back into phenomenal shape. But, I’ve now reached both an age and a level broken-ness that cry out for something far more intelligent than a fixed timeframe and a standardized approach. Still, I know I need structure and accountability or else another year will fly by and I’ll find myself in deeper pain, huffing up the stairs and comparing the size of my ass not to farm animals, but to state capitals.

I owe myself more. I owe my wife and daughter more.

So, I’ve spent a solid chunk of time over the last few weeks thinking about how to draw upon my experience in the health and fitness world to become my own client and formulate not a program, but a “framework” that will:

  • Integrate all of the critical elements required to get an over-40, partly-broken dude back to health and balance,
  • Deliver the dynamic structure needed to accomodate my current physical challenges, but, at the same time, keep me taking action, and
  • Provide the internal and external accountability I need to make it all happen.

Step 1: Define the Critical Elements:

The first step was to determine what elements I’d need to include in this framework to make it as powerful and effective as possible. After making a bunch of lists, then forgetting where they were along with my keys, and starting over, I boiled it down to these…

6 Critical Comeback Elements:

  • Exercise: how to move your body when your over 40 and partly broken
  • Nutrition: how to fuel your body for recovery, then optimal health & vitality
  • Mindset: How to develop a highly focused, stress-free mindset
  • Sleep: How to recapture a full, deeply restorative night’s sleep
  • Workflow: How to build your work flow around your optimal lifestyle
  • LifeFlow™: How to align your time and energy with what you hold dear

Okay, step 1 done. But, c’mon, we all know nothing ends with a Step 1. These 6 steps gave me the “content” of my comeback, they let me know what areas I needed to focus on. But they didn’t really give me a solid roadmap, an intelligent “process.” So, it was time for Step 2.

Step 2: Create a bigger-picture comeback framework

In Step 2, I created a 7 stage framework that was intelligent, incremental and dynamic enough to allow me to respond to whatever feedback my body, mind and lifestyle throw at me, without derailing my quest…or causing me to swap my lifestyle comeback for a Miami Ink baseball cap with a built in ponytail and a candy-apple red Ferrari. Two different kinds of feel-good.

I’ve laid out these 7 phases below, along with the purpose of each and shown what my personal goals are for each of the 6 critical elements during each phase.

Here are the 7 Comeback Phases:

  • Foundation: The purpose of this phase is to clear the decks, remove obstacles, do a bit of research, set up my physical setting, stock my cupboards, see doctors or other healthcare professionals to both rule out causes of pain and discomfort that need medical intervention and diagnose what needs diagnosing if needed and set daily actions in motion for each of the 6 critical elements. My specific personal goals for this phase are:
    • Exercise: Begin to integrate basic cardiovascular and assisted bodyweight exercises on a very moderate level
    • Nutrition: Decide upon the most intelligent approach for my current health status, stock the kitchen to maximize ease of compliance and commence 10-14 day detox
    • Mindset: Begin a daily early morning mindfulness practice
    • Sleep: Research latest strategies for improving sleep quality & length
    • Workflow: Research technologies that might be used to make it easier for me to integrate work, movement and being outdoors.
    • Life-Flow: Commit to allocating my time in a way that reflects what I hold most dear and create feedback a daily feedback mechanism to ensure this happens
  • Repattern, rebalance & rebuild:
    • Exercise: Repattern connective tissue through movement and bodywork, rebalance postural dysfunction and activate stagnant muscle, begin to introduce strength training
    • Nutrition: Move into “clean” fuel phase, more about whole foods than weight loss
    • Mindset: Deepen daily meditation practice
    • Sleep: Commit to bedtime routine. Also impacted by exercise, mindset & nutrition
    • Workflow: Continue testing tech & ergonomics to optimize time spend moving and outdoors
    • Life-Flow: Implement concrete time/energy allocation system
  • Explore:
    • Exercise: Explore and try novel ways to integrate cardio, resistance and flexibility training that are both effective and engage the mind
    • Nutrition: With strength training now integrated, begin to focus on weight loss
    • Mindset: Add a second pre-bedtime meditation/visualization
    • Sleep: Continue bedtime routine. Also impacted by exercise, mindset & nutrition
    • Workflow: Select technologies & strategies and practice intgrating them ona daily basis
    • Life-Flow: Sustain time-allocation and feedback systems
  • Expand:
    • Exercise: With pain reduced and strength growing, expand the range of exercises to include less controlled, more game-driven activities
    • Nutrition: Continue with dual emphasis on fueling muscle growth while losing fat
    • Mindset: Continue morning & evening meditation, but increase to 25 minutes
    • Sleep: Continue bedtime routine. Also impacted by exercise, mindset & nutrition
    • Workflow: Continue implementing & refining
    • Life-Flow: Continue implementing & refining
  • Demand:
    • Exercise: With pain reduced and strength growing, and more comfort with freestyle movement, add higher intensity activities that demand more exertion, coordination and focus.
    • Nutrition: Continue with dual emphasis on fueling muscle growth while losing fat
    • Mindset: Continue morning & evening meditation, but increase to 30 minutes
    • Sleep: Continue bedtime routine. Also impacted by exercise, mindset & nutrition
    • Workflow: Continue implementing & refining
    • Life-Flow: Continue implementing & refining
  • Overcome:
    • Exercise: Identify physical resistance points and develop strategies to overcome them
    • Nutrition: Continue with dual emphasis on fueling muscle growth while losing fat
    • Mindset: Continue morning & evening meditation, 30 minutes and add a once a week 3-hour moving meditation retreat
    • Sleep: Continue bedtime routine. Also impacted by exercise, mindset & nutrition
    • Workflow: Continue implementing & refining
    • Life-Flow: Continue implementing & refining
  • Manifest:
    • Exercise: Full body, full range-of-motion, strength, flexibility and cardiovascular exercise fully integrated into daily life
    • Nutrition: Shift to sustained health nutrition for life
    • Mindset: Continue morning, evening and once a week meditation retreat
    • Sleep: Integrate routine as second nature
    • Workflow: Build workflow around technologies and strategies for life
    • Life-Flow: Allocate time and energy intrinsically in-balance

Now, if this were a video game, simply getting to level 7 would be reward enough for me. But it ain’t. It’s life. My life. And, I’m not looking for the high score, I’m looking for something much bigger.

As I come out of this process, I want to…

  • Become pain-free
  • Lose 35 pounds of fat, while adding 10 pounds of lean body mass
  • Return my posture to as close to functional model posture as is feasible given injuries
  • Return to high-intensity, free-range exercise
  • Integrate a substantial amount of my workflow around movement and being outdoors
  • Balance my time to honor my love of and commitment to being present for my family

And, after working out each of the 7 phases, I realized the first letter of the each one spelled out the word…FREEDOM.

So, I’ve decided to call it my Freedom Framework.

Within each phase, I’ll address and evolve a set of practices for every one of the major elements (exercise, nutrition, mindset, workflow and life-flow).

For example, in stage 1—Foundation—I’ll explore the fundamental fixes and “set-up” actions needed to deal with my injuries so that I can begin to move my body intelligently, set the stage for incrementally improving the way I fuel my body, hone my mindset, explore work and life-flow. This stage should unfold over the next 10-15 days, depending on how my body responds. Then, I’ll move on to stage two—Repattern, Rebalance & Rebuild.

During each of the 7 phases, I’ll explore a variety of activities and practices to see which works best for my body, my life and my vision of optimal fitness, wellness and peace of mind. Then, I’ll report back to you what’s working, what’s not and why. Partly, because I love to share the knowledge that’s taken decades to amass…but also, because it’ll help keep me publicly accountable to my comeback.

So, here’s what you can expect from the rest of this series.

Over the next handful of Mondays, my posts will include—knowledge & application.

Each week, I’ll lay out an extensive knowledge foundation for a major element. For example, next week will be “How to Exercise When You’re Over 40 and Partly Broken.” I’ll be sharing a lot of information, from breaking research to my experience working with thousands of clients over a dozen years. I’ll lay out how each element needs to evolve through each of the 7 phases and why. When appropriate, I’ll also bring in experts to share their knowledge.

Then, in my Daily Comeback Journal on Posterous, I will reveal what I am personally doing, what phase I’m in, how my body, mind and health are responding every day and, on a monthly basis, yikers…I’ll even publicly update my stats.

So, if you don’t want to miss these parts of the series, be sure to subscribe:

  • How to move your body when your over 40 and partly broken
  • How to fuel your body for fast recovery and optimal health
  • Mindset Tools: How to develop a highly focused, stress-free mindset
  • Sleep Mastery: How to rebuild a full, deep night’s sleep
  • Workflow: How to build your work flow around your optimal lifestyle
  • Life-Flow: How to balance workflow with life-flow

And, if you’re inclined…feel free to join me in launching your own comeback and implementing the Freedom Framework as a tool to guide your own personal mind, body, health & fitness comeback.

And, as always, if you have questions thoughts or resources to share, would love you to share them all in the comments…

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33 responses

33 responses to “6 Key Elements and 7 Critical Steps to Reclaim Your 40-Something Body”

  1. steve weaver says:

    Thanks and great timing. I’m close to 49 and just subscribed to your feed a few weeks ago. It’s perfect timing since I really need to start doing the same things you’re rebuilding. I’ve made some changes already over the last 6 months but really believe that having a blueprint like the one you have going will be a major boon. I look forward to your progress reports and maybe even sharing a few recipes when appropriate. Thanks again.

  2. tim says:

    Hi Jonathan

    Have you read “integral life practise”? It is a similar theme, but involves other elements as well.

  3. Victoria says:

    Wow Jonathan you are very organized and systematic. What you’ve laid out has every chance of working as you work it. I’ll be watching your progress with interest.
    Also, as a holistic health care practitioner, I applaud your realistic expectations and attitude. I’m 49 and rebuilding, using integrating activities like yoga, bicycling, kayaking, and dancing. All are multi-faceted and satisfying, therefore viable. All the best to you with all of it.

  4. Dude, should I put down my Moon Pie and Mountain Dew now?

    I’m worn-out already.

    Jonathan, on a serious note, inspire me buddy because I need it as well.

  5. Dude, great stuff! Wow. Can’t wait to see how this goes.

    Also, I’m a bit younger than the other posters, but all of my big trips are definitely taking a toll these days. I’m still trying to decide if I should sign up for a fall marathon or not. A half-marathon, no problem – but as you know, a full marathon is a different animal that I’m definitely not ready for now.

    All that to say, if you can lose 35 pounds of fat (not to mention your other ambitious goals), maybe I can get my own ass together to run that marathon. We’ll see.

  6. LisaNewton says:

    Wow, you’ve really packed a punch here. I’m past the 40s body, but your idea is great for any age. Over the last few months, I’ve also had trouble getting by blogger body to do the things it used to do. I’d like to join you in your journey. 🙂

  7. jeanne says:

    me too, me too! for me it’s a sacrum injury i sustained years ago and i never honored by doing what was needed to heal it properly. i just wanted to keep doing what i thought i “should” be able to do — and kept reinjuring it. ah, and this is how we learn.

  8. Allan Bacon says:

    Jonathan – inspiring and complete. very nice. I can relate to the “i sit and write all day” syndrome. For me it was shoulder injury from misplaced mouse + weight gain.

    I saw a PT who taught me some simple exercises (that also fixed my posture). Also I set up my computer on a standing desk over a treadmill. That helped both of my issues.

    Really looking forward to following along. My approach has been more ad-hoc – fixing the broken things along the way. It will be fun to see how the integrated approach brings results that cross over into the different areas.

    – Allan

  9. There are few things in life which impact everything else, and one of them is health. So many people live unhealthy lives. Not slightly unhealthy, dangerously unhealthy, and often times for lousy reasons.

    I’m glad you’re taking control over your health and pushing forward with getting back in shape. Remember to build up over time, focusing on steady improvement, instead of crashing back in (and probably breaking another foot).

    @ Matthew Ray Scott – inspire yourself. Do you want to be active with your grandkids? Do you want to move around without a walker when you’re 70? Heck, do you have any muscle or joint pain right now? Losing weight and getting in shape will help you with any of that. Find one great reason and remind yourself of it every day. Just remember, steady improvement. Results take time.

  10. Jon Pietz says:

    Jonathan, ten years ago, when I was your age, the exact same things were going through my mind. I’d get up out of bead with a stiff, sore back each day and think that it was going to be all downhill from there.

    Now I’m stronger, more flexible and most people I meet assume I’m about age 40. How did I get here from there? Picture Egyptians building the Pyramids: slowly, carefully, one stone at a time with a vision of the final result burned into their minds. Taking one small step toward your goal, then making it a habit, one step at a time.

    I’m not sure I could ever get my mind around a 36-step program, but by making one small change at a time, over time, that’s what has happened.

    I wanted to share one interesting exercise technique I learned about this past year: body weight exercises. They can actually make you stronger than lifting weights and as flexible as yoga. I practice them at my gym, but many of them could easily be done in a living room or hotel room (Chris—this is a great way to get a workout while you’re traveling).

    One good resource for this is Combat Conditioning by Matt Furey. This guy is a bit of a nut-job, but his stuff has worked great for me (side benefit: injuries are rare).


    Here’s another resource with a lot of free info:


    The three indispensable exercises for me are the Hindu push up, Hindu squats and reverse push ups, along with various ab exercises.

  11. Jonathan

    Excellent article. Very detailed. Creating the system and making it easier to follow than not follow is the key. We all talk about will power and how we must motivate ourselves. You speak to making it easier to follow than not follow. Let the law of inertia work for you. Clean out the kitchen, develop the system and feedback loop and let it flow.
    I love how you talk about integrating work, movement and being outdoors in a holistic way. When all aspects of our life are working together it makes us far stronger. The same as a business that has systems in place to make it easier for us to follow. Its also why coaches work so well. They can point out when we aren’t following our system or don’t have one at all.

  12. LisaNewton says:

    Jonathan, I thought you might enjoy reading a tweet I received after tweeting your post this morning:

    @LisaNewton re: Need a little boost of motivation? http://bit.ly/NtFcz Thanks for this; after my accident & +20lb in recovery = much needed.

    This was from @enlightphoto

    Oh, the power of blogs, Twitter, and spreading the good words. 🙂

  13. slvrnmph says:

    I have spent the last 8 months recovering from a 3 year downward health spiral. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and in my search to get better found the books “From Fatigued to Fantastic” and “The Stress Effect” to be vital in my recovery. Both books are full of excellent information that is useful to anyone. I highly suggest checking them out.

  14. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Everyone – Thanks so much for all the wonderful support and suggestions. As I began to discover last week, apparently a few of us are in the same boat.

    But, the great news is that this ship is setting sail into immensely more empowered waters. It may take some time, but that’s okay. The best things always do!

  15. […] I want to thank that I’ve resorted to linking to their latest blog posts in this sentence; in fact, I even extended it to fit a few more in. It’s not just bloggers I want to thank though, […]

  16. […] Jonathan Fields wrote an interesting post today onThe Comeback Part 2: Creating Your Freedom Framework | Awake At <b>…</b>Here’s a quick excerpt […]

  17. CareerAnnie says:

    Perhaps I’m the only one with a visceral negative reaction to (insert number)-Step plans. It sounds to me like you’ve been too hard on yourself for gaining weight and having reoccurring injuries and that you’re making up for it with “extra discipline.”

    Why not take it one step at a time and work for small goals? Why not make one goal: pay attention to my body and mind?

    Your current system takes for granted that step #3 will directly follow step #2. Why not make some flexibilty in the plan to allow for the inevitable journey that is life?

  18. Randy Zeitman says:

    Loved it…my only comment is that there needs to be more about patience and expectation (and timeline…how long should it all take? how do we stick to something realistic?)

  19. Jon Pietz says:

    I agree with Annie. Baby steps before planning out the next two years of my life. Doing one thing is a lot easier to contemplate than a list of 36 steps. It brings to mind the old proverb—How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

  20. Erik says:

    I salute you for the determination to get your 40 something body. One main benefit is actually for your health. You are very precise. I am sure you will be in your 40 something body in no time.

  21. […] Jonathan Fields: 6 Key Elements and 7 Critical Steps to Reclaim Your 40-Something Body. OK, I admit it, I’m a “40-something” in need of a little help. Following my […]

  22. Martin Lopez says:

    Hi Jonathan

    i love your blog and I thank you sincerely for it. There is so much wisdom there.

    As for this post I do not offer advice, but prophacy.
    You will fall into the Oprah trap.You will accept the advice of the most popular experts, who are mostly wrong. You will do this because you are successful and can afford the highest paid advisors. These advisors are successful and rich because they say what is popular.Life is not democracy. Just because most people think so, don’t mean it’s true. Like Oprah you will find yourself fat and frustrated, trying to be happy settling for less than you want.

    For diet, forget everything and go lo carb. I am a great fan of Atkins, but Eades is the best. For exercise do resiseance work. Cressy has a great post with a very doable 40 day program that covers a lot.

    As regards the rest, you are already an expert as anyone can see from your blog. Follow your own advice.

    Sorry if this sounds harsh, bot sometimes it is better to be frank than diplomatic.

    May your quest be successful.


  23. I am a 24 year old that has big butt syndrome, I just got a gym membership and I am eating great, and feeling even better. I was previously a symbol of healthiness and physical appeal, then I worked from home and became a lump of lumbiness. I am excited to get back in to great shape and feel better about not being lazy.

  24. […] part 1 of this series, I revealed what I called my Freedom Framework, a 7-phase approach to reclaiming your body, health and mindset. Every Monday, in the weeks that […]

  25. This is something I should show to my father. He has become quite paunchy over time, and he always creates a plan to do crunches and push-ups every evening and so.. he does it for a few days then slowly falls out of the routine, even though he *really* needs some exercise at the age of 48. 🙂

  26. agyeman says:

    amazingly organized. i’m 43, female and feel like i’m dying…have definitely passed critical mass…at 300#. Going to borrow a page from ur list and set some goals. will keep checking in to see how u r doing.

  27. I enjoyed your post. Don’t lose the motivation, ur a role model.

  28. Oscar says:

    Great post – just hit the big 40 and (as everyone else) feeling it a bit more than I used to. Important to engage the mind and take each level a step at a time. Look forward to getting back on track with the Freedom Framework and following your progress….good luck

  29. jena says:

    Great post! Need to have a strong mind to defy the age!

    How to Become Skinny Fast!

  30. Eddie says:

    This was an excellent article. I really like your holistic thinking as, holistic is always the best possible solution. Really inspiring!

  31. Jenny says:

    You are so right! Goal setting is the most important of all I think. If you don’t identify where you want to get to, then how can you possibly get there?

  32. Abs says:

    These advisors are successful and rich because they say what is popular.Life is not democracy. Just because most people think so, don’t mean it’s true. Like Oprah you will find yourself fat and frustrated, trying to be happy settling for less than you want.

  33. Eric Medemar says:

    You’re 6 critical comeback elements are basically a framework for EVERYONE.. Because so many of us are trying to comeback from a place we didn’t know we were.