When does life really begin? When we're 25, 30, 40, 50? The correct answer is “whenever we're ready to begin it.”

When does life really begin? When we're 25, 30, 40, 50? The correct answer is "whenever we're ready to begin it." The old notions of being more physically active at 25 than at 50 don't hold water anymore. The obesity epidemic with teenagers and young adults and the contrasting emergence of older men and women winning marathons, and forming athletic leagues show the changes in priorities with generations.

I see this every day with clients that range in age from 20 to 65. Sometimes it's high blood pressure, weight gain, or aches and pains from injuries that causes us to make a lifestyle change. Whatever the reason, when we make that change it can really feel like a new life. Those first steps don't have to be grandiose either. You can start walking a half hour three days a week. Then add bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, and pushups; then add resistance training with some free weights. The entire thing can be an evolving journey, because like life, it is.

I saw a story not long ago about a woman in her 70's who decided to compete in a bodybuilding competition. It had been a dream of hers for some time, and she found a mentor and coach who believed in her and her dream as much as she did. She competed successfully and went on to compete on the international stage, and afterward she became a life coach for other women of all ages. I was so moved by her story, I shared it with a few of my clients, both older and younger, who were tip toeing that line of making a lifestyle change. Each time without fail, I could see that moment in their eyes when the tiptoeing was over, and the decision to just jump in with both feet was made.

I felt the same connection with a client in his 20's who struggled with weight and health issues, and decided he was going to take control of his life and not let life take control of him. His family has a long history of health issues, including obesity and heart disease. When he told me he was going to change his life, he said it with such conviction, I could see the amount of time, thought, and prayer that went into it all in his eyes. I carved out a plan for him, and taught him the importance of taking everything I taught him as a gift that I could never take back. It was truly a learning experience for him; from learning the importance of eating for performance and not hunger, to exercising properly to lose body fat and build lean muscle. True to his word, he stuck to it, lost a significant amount of weight and body fat, and became a living example and inspiration to both his family and friends.

The reasons for making lifestyle changes are always consistent: vanity, longevity, love, family, and health. Whatever your reason maybe, the bottom line is that in many ways when we make that decision and take that leap, at that moment our old life ends and our new one begins.

Michael Shaw is a certified fitness trainer, sports performance nutrition specialist, owner of Shaw Fitness, a member of the Maryland Advisory Council on Physical Fitness, a BLS CPR instructor, and a fitness model coach. He can be reached at www.michaelroyshaw.com.