At 81, Ernestine Shepherd has washboard abs and encourages others to get fit.
When she was growing up, Ernestine Shepherd never exercised. She was exempt from physical education at school due to an injury from a car accident. The Baltimore native loved chocolate cake and all kinds of junk food. But at 56, the high school receptionist was trying on bathing suits with her sister when both of them had a moment many of us can relate to: they looked in the dressing-room mirror and didn’t like what they saw.
The duo decided to take a healthy approach to the problem and started aerobics classes. Weightlifting followed, and Ernestine’s sister, Velvet, began competing in bodybuilding competitions. Initially, Ernestine was less than enthusiastic about pumping iron.
“The myth was if you did weights as women you would end up looking like a man so I didn’t want to do it,” she recalls.
Velvet also became a motivational speaker. She and Ernestine would work out together in matching outfits. But Velvet fell ill. Before she died from a brain aneurysm, she made her sister promise two things: to continue motivating others and to grab a spot in history with her name in the Guiness book of world records.
Ernestine was devastated by the death of her sister. She went through a period of depression and panic attacks that left her wondering if she could ever fulfill the promises she’d made. Eventually, it was those two vows that motivated her to resume training and in 2010, Ernestine garnered the title of world’s oldest female bodybuilder.
These days, Ernestine still walks 10 miles every morning even though she says her days of running marathons are over. After her walk, she arrives at the gym at 7:30am to lead classes and work out for another four hours.
Her 1700-calorie diet consists of six small meals a day that often starts with oatmeal, a handful of walnuts and crushed pineapple for breakfast. Another meal might include a baked potato, chicken and asparagus, while a third could include brown rice and turkey. Tuna, spinach and sweet potato often appears on her menu with daily servings of egg whites, both cooked and raw.
Ernestine gets a mere four hours of sleep.
“I find that is enough sleep for me. I don’t take naps. I’m so happy to do what I do and I thank God for giving me the energy, strength and willpower to do this,” she says.
“Ernestine Shepherd,” Wikipedia.
“Meet the 80-year-old bodybuilder who started working out at 56,” The Independent UK.
Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors