The 23 Biggest Pains In The A*s About Getting In Shape After 40

and how to work around them to keep making progress ;-)

Chris Davidson
Over 40 Freakin Awesome
9 min readFeb 21, 2024



I love a good moan sometimes.

I’m really settling so well into my late-40s, I just know I’m going to make such a good Grumpy Old B*stard.

Yes, complaining is OK in my book, because getting in shape after 40 isn’t easy. Of course it’s doable, but surely at this age we’ve earned the right to moan about it while we’re doing The Healthy Thing?

Allow me to share with you my Top 23 Pains In The A*s about getting in shape as we get older, so you know you’re not alone in finding this tough.

However, as much as a good old moan is OK, I’m still going to sneak in some workarounds so these hurdles don’t derail you…

#1 Stupid Lack of Time

Why does bloody everyone want a piece of us all the time? Spouse, kids, boss — if we just had 10 spare hours for working out and prepping healthy food we’d be in such good shape, right? As*holes.

  • Solution: Schedule your workouts like meetings. Fit in 2 hours of exercise, sliced and diced whatever way you need to. Plan weekly meals on Sundays, shop accordingly. Use what time you DO have.

#2 The Pesky Energy Deficit

You want to go work out or to make a healthier dinner but your brain is fried after a tough day at work and some sleep deprivation. The sofa and some takeout beckons…

  • Solution: Just turn up and start your workout, or begin prepping a healthy meal, and tell yourself you can stop after 5 minutes if you want. Starting is the hardest part.

#3 Motivation Is A Rollercoaster

After the initial buzz of being virtuous and starting to work out regularly or eat better, the novelty wears off, and doubts about whether this is ‘working’ creep in.

  • Solution: It’s a lifestyle habit, not a project. Recognize not every workout or meal has to be fun and exciting. 80% of the time it’ll be average and that’s OK.

#4 We Have Conflicting Priorities

You have big plans for multiple workouts and healthy dinners, then Work goes crazy and your kids have extra-curricular things every night. Bah!

  • Solution: When was your last Perfect Week? Never, right? If your less-than-perfect week includes a couple of workouts and limited junk and booze that’s great. Do what you can, when you can.

#5 We’re Overwhelmed by Information

I just scrolled on Instagram for 15 minutes and now I want to try 10 different diets, 5 new supplements and “this one weird-but-awesome exercise the gurus don’t want you to know…”.

  • Solution: Lots of diets and workout plans ‘work’, but if you have one that’s based on solid science and that works for you — stick with it. Social scrolling messes with our heads.

#6 There’s A Lack of Immediate Results

“I’ve worked out for 3 weeks, said No to cake multiple times and had a salad last Thursday — why am I not in cover model shape yet? I really am trying here!”.

  • Solution: First off, have realistic expectations, like 1lb a week fat loss, some visible body shape changes after 6 weeks. And track your weight and measurements so you know if it’s all working.

#7 Being ‘On A Diet’ is Hard

All diets seem to have rules to remember that don’t necessarily fit in nicely with how we (and our families) eat ‘normally’. As such, the extra effort required means we eventually just can’t be *ssed any more.

  • Solution: Don’t be ‘on a diet’ at all — eat in a Waistline-Friendly way forever — high protein breakfasts and lunches Mon-Fri (google for recipes), controlled portions for family dinners. Weekends whatever.

#8 Balancing Social Obligations Is Also Tough

If you never went out there’d be a lot less temptation to overdo things calorie-wise or with booze. You’re too hot and funny for your own good though, so people keep inviting you places…

  • Solution: It’s about balance — a couple of beers and a dessert after a meal isn’t going to kill your progress. But if this happens multiple times per week, AND you can’t stop yourself consumption-wise, that WILL stop your progress.

#9 Feeling Old & Creaky Sucks

It can take you a while to get moving in the mornings, clicking & crunching around the kitchen. Then when you work out, you’re avoiding things that make your body angry. It can feel like your body fights you constantly, leaving you demotivated.

  • Solution: Any niggle that doesn’t go away after a week, go see a physio. Stop trying to self-diagnose with Youtube! Living with pain and tightness is zero fun.

#10 And Stress Wrecks Everything

You’ve a plan in place to be in shape in no time — then life throws you curveballs. Family strife, work deadlines, financial worries (see #13), it all weighs on our minds, and exercising falls way down the priority list. AND we self-medicate with food.

  • Solution: I’ll cover this in #11, but get to bed — sleep gives you the mental recovery time you need to cope with life. Add in some walks in nature, and removing Mood Hoover People from your life and your stress levels will drop significantly.

#11 I Can’t Get No Sleep

Sleep deprivation kills your motivation, messes with your hunger signals so you snack more, and leaves you feeling zonked after 5 minutes of working out even when you DO get to the gym. Sleep has the power to wreck (and fix) everything.

  • Solution: Don’t over-think this — Go to bed at 10.30pm Mon-Fri. Take Magnesium so your sleep hormones kick in at the right time. Leave your phone downstairs.
  • * You’re halfway. You’re doing well ;-) If you feel you need a reset of your 40+ body and mind, check out my $7 7-Day 40+ Reset Course here *

#12 There’s Nobody To Answer To

You can easily convince yourself in the moment that it’s logical to blow off the workout, eat the cheesecake or stay up late. Your Inner A*shole is very persuasive.

  • Solution: There needs to be a consequence for not doing the planned workout or eating right. Whether that’s a habit-building app, a workout partner, or an online coach, get some accountability and you’ll be flying.

#13 Why Is Being Healthy So Expensive?!

Fancy gym membership, pricey supplements, lots of meat and health food — it adds up quickly, and getting in shape becomes an added cost each month alongside other bills. You feel you can’t afford to get in shape.

  • Solution: Don’t let lack of funds be an excuse. Work out at home with second hand weights. Use ground meat as your main protein source. And ignore most supplements. Moving more and eating less don’t cost anything.

#14 More Injuries & Longer Recovery Times

There’s your sciatica, your knee-thing, your dodgy hip… you seem to constantly get hit by some little niggle just when you’re building up a head of steam with your training. The thought occurs to you that you’re ‘too old’ for all this.

  • Solution: Build a mobility routine into your day — in bed before you get up, or after your shower — stay limber and injury-free. And again, see a damn professional to get those niggles fixed for good.

#15 We Just Can’t Get Started

You’re waiting for life to calm down so you have enough time and energy to devote to Operation Get In Shape. But that magical week of calm never seems to come around. So you wait. And wait…

  • Solution: Start now. Only time for a 20-minute workout this week? Great do that. Can’t prep healthy dinners this week? Fine, eat less of your unhealthy dinners. No time for mindfulness or a stress-busting walk? Ok, just get to bed early.

#16 Feeling Like A Technophobe

You’ve a workout app, and some Garmin running map thing on your phone. You use MyFitnessPal to track calories. You wear a FitBit. You’ve data coming out of your ears about how much you’re training and eating, but no idea what it all means.

  • Solution: I use a notepad and pencil to track my workouts. I don’t track calories, I learn to eyeball portions. Wearables are great if you know what to do with the data, otherwise they’re a waste of money. Technophobes unite!

#17 Your Pesky Family Gets In The Way

You want to eat more healthily but your family doesn’t. You want to work out but your family needs you to drive them places. You want to get to bed early, your spouse wants to watch TV. Bah!

  • Solution: Don’t change your family dinner favorites, change YOUR portion sizes. Agree workout times with your household so they know you’re unavailable. Get family on board and supporting what you’re doing and there are fewer bumps.

#18 Your Workplace Makes Things Hard

There’s cake for so-and-so’s birthday. People are going out to the pub for lunch to celebrate Mr X doing Thing Y. Plus you’re sitting down all day and staring at a screen, hardly moving. The workplace can really suck when trying to get in shape!

  • Solution: The existence of cake does not mean you must eat said cake. Going to the pub does not have to mean a feast of beer and wings. Go for a walk in your office every 30 minutes, even if it’s just to look at your phone in the bathroom.

#19 Derailed By Work Travel

I used to travel with my corporate job. I always had big plans to work out, I even brought a Swiss Ball and small hand pump to Australia once. I just hung clothes on it. Jet lag, boozy client dinners, feeling like meals should be exciting caused weight gain.

  • Solution: Work travel isn’t a vacation, so don’t treat it as such. You don’t need a 4-course breakfast in your hotel. Use the hotel gym if it has one. Just leave your Swiss Ball at home ;-)

#20 Mental Health Struggles Keep Us Stuck

When I was younger I thought my 40s would be plain-sailing — more money, fewer worries. How wrong I was. If anything we have more to worry about the older we get, and our mental health can suffer as depressive thoughts refuse to go away.

  • Solution: Getting in shape needs to come from a place of deciding Hey I’m Worth Taking Care Of, and then building habits from there. If you don’t think it’s worth taking care of yourself, reach out and talk to someone.

#21 Everyone Online Looks Hot

You can be feeling quite good about your progress, then you have a quick scroll online and see dozens of 6-packs, glistening bodies, talking about their snazzy programs. Hmm, maybe I don’t look good after all, I’ll never look that good…

  • Solution: True, you will not look as good as some buff 21-year-old online guru. You can’t compare your Day 1 to someone else’s Day 1000, never mind someone who hasn’t been through what you have over the last 20 years. You do you.

#22 We Can’t Find The ‘Right’ Info

Guru A says do this, but Guru B says the opposite. A study says drink red wine, another says it kills you. There’s so much conflicting information, it’s impossible to know what’s the ‘right’ thing to do. I miss encyclopaedias…

  • Solution: Find a couple of Youtubers, podcasters or writers you connect with, whose approach you like, and stick with them. You don’t need to keep playing the field and confusing yourself.

#23 Long-Term Planning Is Dull

Getting started — check. Sticking with it for a couple of months — check. Wait, I have to do this health sh*t FOREVER?! That’s a loooong time.

  • Solution: It’s vital to start getting in shape by building sustainable habits, instead of anything high maintenance. Yes, commit to taking care of yourself forever. Then when you build the habit you’ve time to explore different approaches.

Let me know in the Comments which ones ring true for you. And if you’d like to discuss how my coaching can help you overcome ALL these pains in the a*s, reach out at



Chris Davidson
Over 40 Freakin Awesome

Lifestyle Coach for fed-up, out-of-shape Over-40s • Dad of 3 • Irishman • Trainer • Writer • Reset Your Body & Mind in 7 Days: