Mrs. Gray Iron Fitness

by Patty Reyes Franklin
(Northern California)

Patty Reyes Franklin, 10/6/06

Patty Reyes Franklin, 10/6/06

I was born in 1949. As I write this today (10/7/06), I'm 57 years old. Other vital statistics include brown eyes, gray hair, 5'8" tall, post-menopausal, and a size 6 or 8 dress, depending on the manufacturer. I've had two children and I'm a grandmother.

Usually this information shouldn't be of interest to anyone but my husband and me. But because we maintain a fitness web site and teach exercise classes, people are curious. You know what I mean. Does she walk the talk?

Logan and I met 14 years ago when I was much heavier. He was a fitness buff, and I got interested. Eleven years ago I joined a health club. At first, my workouts were sporadic. I felt better and I'm sure there were health benefits, but my shape and body fat percentage stayed about the same as it had been.

One day I stumbled across an article in Modern Maturity about a couple my age who transformed themselves from paunchy to super fit. They had followed Bill Phillips' Body-for-LIFE program. I bought the book, devoured it, and entered the Body-for-LIFE Transformation Challenge. That was in the summer of 2000.

Previously, a 14 had been the smallest dress size I'd ever gotten into. And there were times when I'd balloon up and get really fat. Then a size 14 would seem “small” to me. I'd pretty much accepted that I was just meant to be heavy.

Though I'm not petite, I was wrong about being sentenced to carry around all that extra body fat. Today I'm in the best shape of my life. Logan says that Mike Meyers in Wayne's World would say, "She's a Babe!"

Was it easy? No. If it were, nobody would be fat. Unhealthy food choices surround us, and we're cajoled from all directions to eat them. In general, America is a fat nation, and it's getting worse. On average, young kids today are fatter and in worse shape than preceding generations ever were. I'm a school teacher, and I can bear witness. It's a serious problem.

When you make big lifestyle changes like I did, some friends want to see you succeed. But let's be honest here. Some people, even family members, can be less than encouraging. Remember, although you are rejecting unhealthy habits, they are habits that unfortunately have become accepted as normal. You are challenging the status quo.

On top of that, many people figure that after reaching fifty, you ought to "act your age" and accept ever expanding belt sizes. I'm a realist. Of course age gradually takes it toll. But overeating and eating the wrong foods, coupled with a sedentary lifestyle, greatly accelerate the rate of decline.

We all have different body shapes that are genetically determined, but carrying around excess body fat and being physically unfit is a choice we make. Don't blame your genes. Sure, some of us have to work at it harder than others. But a healthy lifestyle is an option for each of us.

So is it worth it? Well, first of all, my body is far from perfect. But after lugging around all that unnecessary fat all those years, nothing — and I mean nothing — compares to getting into a size 6. And if my husband thinks I'm a "Babe" ... well, trust me, that isn't hard to take, either. But the greatest benefits of all are boundless energy and good health.

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Mar 26, 2015
by: Happy

Patty Reyes Franklin, you are awesome. At the age of 65 you are looking like a teenage girl. Your vital statistics are also great for a senior. Your life and your body will be an inspiration to many of the obese and overweight persons out there.

Mar 24, 2015
by: Anonymous

So how old is she? Her face looks 55, but her body looks 40. How is this possible? She is so fit that I am going to take myself to the gym from this Monday. I am going to work hard and maintain a good figure like her.

Jul 01, 2013
Where are you now in your fitness walk?
by: Susan K

Patty - I'm the same age as you, working toward a healthier and fitter future. Since this post is dated 2006, am curious as to your routine these days.
Do you mix it up? Is swimming a part of your program? I love the feeling of having more energy and waking up without that 'heaviness' that comes with overeating or eating the wrong things. Always open to learning more!
Thanks for being a role model for the rest of us!

Jun 10, 2013
Mrs. Gray Iron Fitness
by: Tim

Patty, I just read your whole post and have to tell you that you have hit on a few of my "hot buttons". The easy one first... Body For Life. That's where I started too! That was 2002. I entered the BFL competition and came in 6th in the country. I got a T-Shirt and a Body For Life sweat towel!!!! I was 52 at the time. The number one finisher that year was 83 years old! The guy was amazing!

Second, the obesity issue in Amercia. Wow, what happned there? No matter, what are we going to do about it? I think seniors who are challenging the status quo about fitness ought to organize an alliance, form an offical mission and purpose and go on the march from coast to coast punching the message home that the older you are the better life can be when you have a healthy & strong body. And then challenge the young people to not be out done by a bunch of 50, 60 and 70 year olds! (ha!) We should also tell the truth about the food that's being sold to us and advocate for better standards... and smarter food decision making. Plus, people are complaining so loudly about the state of our economy. I'd just like to say that if Americans (collectively) would do what they each need to do so that the nation wasn't losing billions of dollars in the bad effects of our out of control body fat stores, we could breathe easier. (In more ways than one.) I think that message should be coming from the mouths of seniors walking their talk. I've not said everything I want to say on this topic but I'll shut up about for now anyway.

Third... well, just want to say thanks to you and Mr. Gray Iron for putting this website together. It's outstanding! I wish you both many blessings and success in your work.

P.S. The word I need to enter to submit this post is "libido"! How funny!

Feb 13, 2012
You look Amazing
by: Heather

Hi Patty,

Firstly I want to say how amazing you look. I have just found your wonderful website and am so glad that I have. I am a 52 year old woman. I have always been reasonably fit and exercised all my life. Although not as regularly as I should have at times. I have started to exercise again after a minor back operation. I do have a question that I hope you are willing to answer. I have found dvd's by Joyce Vedral. I was wondering if you have heard of her and if you are able to give me any advice on her weight training exercise videos? I prefer to exercise at home and like to follow dvd's. I also have a treadmill which I do enjoy using.

Once again, thanks for your motivating website!

Thanks, Heather. It's great that you are returning to training. I have a book, "Hard Bodies," by Joyce Vedral and Gladys Portugues, but have never seen one of her videos so cannot comment. -Patty

Nov 25, 2011
Belly fat question
by: L. G.

Dear Mrs. Gray Iron,

I am 66, 5'1 and weight 114 and am in very good health. I am not overweight but am trying to find the right exercise and diet info to lose more inches on my waist and arms. I exercise 3 times a week at a 1-hr. senior fitness class (aerobics, weights, stretching) and on the other days I walk on my treadmill for 30 minutes. Also, I have been on the Dukan Diet (high protein, low starch vegetables, 2 qts. water) for the past 3 months and have lost weight and feel very good and notice I am stronger. However, my waist and arms (where I have the most excess fat) have not lost inches at the same rate as my hips and legs (as they have done when I was younger). So I want to find out from an experienced person who is about my age, like you, what your insight is into this problem, and what one can realistically expect at this age in terms of losing belly fat. Thank you in advance for any comments you may have.

Hello L.G.

Wow! Congratulations on your commitment to fitness. It looks to me like you are doing the right things. However, you say you aren't losing inches on your arms and waist at the same rate as when you were younger. We are not in our 30s or even 50s anymore. It does get a little tougher as we age. Please don't be discouraged. Improvement takes a bit longer, but we do improve. If you are following sound dietary practices and balancing your workouts to include resistance training and cardio, you will be successful.

Patty (Mrs. Gray Iron)

Nov 23, 2010
You look AMAZING
by: Anna21


You look so AMAZING. You and your husband look so full of vitality and so healthy. You are my new inspiration. You see, I am in my late 30's and carrying about 20 or so extra unwanted pounds. I was wondering if I was too 'old' to change. Now I see that 'old' is a state of mind, and has nothing to do with age. You and your husband are so fit and full of vitality, and look so much younger than you are. Thank you for showing people what is truly possible when we stop making excuses.

Jun 24, 2009
Good for You
by: Anonymous

I am the same age, I love to work out and want to do it forever. Do you believe in hormone replacement of any kind?

Dear Anonymous:

I've never taken hormones of any kind. Generally, I'm suspicious of hormone therapy and wouldn't consider it unless a doctor I really trusted recommended it. -Mrs. Gray Iron Fitness

P.S. When I went through menopause I noticed that my hot flashes and night sweats went away when I lifted weights. I don't mean "dinky" weights like 1, 3, or 5 pounds. I mean heavier. I say this because once during menopause I pulled a back muscle when moving a piece of furniture and I didn't lift weights until my back was better. The hot flashes returned. When I started lifting weights again - the symptoms went away.

Jun 05, 2009
by: Jennifer

You look great Patty. What an inpsiration to women of all ages. It is also the kind of role model our children need to see in the classrooms. It has been my experience that there are too many treats and unhealthy foods floating around the faculity rooms, furthering the expanding waistlines of our teachers.

Good for you!

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