52-year-old who 'aged backwards' reveals the tips that transformed her body

A woman who now looks ‘younger than ever’ at 52 has revealed the three ‘pillars’ of her body transformation.

Californian Denise Kirtley put on weight during the pandemic, turning to comfort food when feeling lethargic – something that became more regular in her 40s and which she puts down to perimenopause.

But when the recruitment consultant noticed her wedding ring no longer fit, she decided she needed to make a change.

Denise set to work on her journey two weeks before her 50th birthday, not only shedding the 44lbs she’d gained but finding a love of fitness in the process.

Sharing before and after pictures on Instagram, she says she’s ‘never felt stronger, healthier or happier’ since overhauling her lifestyle.

And followers – who claimed Denise was an ‘inspiration’ and had ‘aged backwards’- were so eager to learn her secret that she started a fitness agency to help them follow in her footsteps.

Denise now regularly partakes in bodybuilding competitions and coaches other women at the gym, following three core principles that she believes allow her to ‘get the most’ out of her days.

The first pillar she swears by is strength training, building muscle through lifting weights five times a week using progressive overload.

The second is nutrition, and Denise (who is a pescatarian) tracks macros – the breakdown of protein, carbs, and fats – with everything she eats. This ensures she’s getting the nourishment required to reach her fitness goals.

Initially, she aimed for a deficit to help her lose weight, yet while she continues to track her consumption she now looks to maintain her physique through a balanced and protien-rich diet.

The third pillar Denise follows is mindset. She believes a determined outlook is the key to making lasting change, advocating for positivity in everything she does.

Denise’s three core pillars to a healthier lifestyle

Strength training: Lift weights 5x per week using progressive overload.

Nutrition: Track macros and make sure to eat enough protein to support muscle growth and development.

Mindset: Maintain a healthy, positive, and determined mindset

Source: FiftyFitnessJourney 

Some of Denise’s go-to meals throughout her journey include courgette fritters with salad, protein waffles, salmon, and banana protein oats. 

Alongside meal prepping, she started exercising five days a week using dumbbells and resistance bands – spending two days focusing on her upper body twice and the rest on her lower body.

And though this drastic change was difficult at first, Denise says she ‘would have missed out on so many new friends, opportunities, and fulfillment,’ had she not taken steps to improve her confidence.


‘We really do get to choose how we age,’ she added in an Instagram post.

‘It’s all about your mindset. “Old” and “aging’ are very different – there’s nothing wrong with aging, I embrace my age. But the word ‘old’ makes me think of decline, and like my best years are behind me.

‘What we tell ourselves matters more than anything else. I’m aging, but I’m strong, vibrant, and spirited.’

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