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58 and Fit

58 and Fit


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"What inspired me to get in shape? I was disgusted with myself." ~Cindy One of the best things about being the Editor of Figure & Bikini is being able to meet amazing women all over the globe. And this woman, Cindy Swiech, is no exception. I hope you enjoy her story as much as I did.

Name: Cindy Swiech
Age: 58
Height: 5'4"
Before weight: around 124
After weight: currently 105 - 107
competition 100
Before body fat: 24% or so
After body fat: currently 17%
competition 14%


What inspired me to get in shape? I was disgusted with myself.

No one else viewed me as overweight or out of shape. Perhaps because of my small frame, they saw quite the opposite...a "fragile flower", according to one sister-in-law! I had no muscle definition, and had gotten really good at disguising my widening pear shape with flowy skirts and long tops, so there was no way they could see what I saw.

My weight was the same as it was in high school but the mirror reflected a much less toned and much lumpier girl. My clothes were getting tighter and tighter. Jeans, especially, were uncomfortable, and I would never, ever, ever, ever put on a pair of shorts! Not even at home! To top it all off, the cellulite that had taken up residence on my backside and thighs was spreading to my belly! No matter how I dieted, the pudge wouldn't budge! I felt frustrated and depressed.

Appearances aside, I had no energy and couldn't get up off the floor without first getting onto my hands and knees. And grunting. I've been hypothyroid since my mid thirties, and thought my fatigue was due to needing a medication adjustment, even though all tests were fine.

What was going on here? Could this all be blamed on menopause? Looking at the future, all I could see was a steady decline into fat frailty and just couldn't accept that.

Two years ago I made a decision to change and joined a gym. At first I felt really out of place and wondered what I was even doing there. I had no idea how to work a treadmill and was totally clueless with weights so I signed up for personal training. That was the best decision of my life!

58 and fit

After a few months with a trainer who "broke me in". I was bored. If this was going to be a lifetime change, it had to be more interesting. Then I met my current trainer, who definitely knows how to keep things challenging! He never treated me like an "old" person, but learned my capabilities as well as my limitations. He also knew that I don't like to be babied! We got started with some serious weight training. Upstairs. Where the big boys work out...a place I wouldn't dare venture into on my own. I felt a bit foolish, but, maybe due to being older, I didn't really give a hoot what anyone up there thought.

I am, however, sooooo very thankful that no one had a video camera handy my first time squatting with a could've been an internet hit! Couldn't keep my balance to save my life. I went home and practiced with a closet dowel in front of a mirror. Before long we were going for PRs. Leg days were a blast!

I was never in this to compete, and when my trainer mentioned it one day I said I'd rather have a hornet stuck in my underwear. But the idea grew on me...not necessarily getting on stage, but the challenge. If he could get me into the kind of shape I needed to be in, I'd do it!

There's just something about a challenge that I can't resist, and when Hubby added fuel to the fire by saying I was "too old for that stuff", well, I had no choice but to prove him wrong!

That was around April 2012. The competition was in April, 2013. The whole time I kept insisting that if the fat didn't come off, there was no way I'd wear that suit! He kept telling me "wait it will happen". When I read your article about the "Miracle Three" weeks, I just had to write because it was utterly amazing! After 40 years...(40 years!) of battling those saddlebags, they were melting away right before my eyes!

The whole process of getting into shape and the competition itself was such an incredible experience! I learned so much about myself and also about my family and friends. Many of them were supportive while the rest thought I had gone mad....especially when i started carrying my meals with me...even to family parties.

I didn't care what they thought. Their negativity strengthened my determination.

My husband, who didn't understand the whole "fitness thing" and thought it was "too extreme", still cooked all my chicken, even outside in snowstorms on the grill because he says it's better that way. He made sure my car was gassed up and the snow cleaned off before 5 am cardio. What a guy! (As a side note, he's now been doing cardio on a regular basis and is starting sessions with my trainer!)

Now that the competition is over, I'm concentrating on staying healthy, putting on some much needed muscle (fragile flower THIS) and then, if the stars align, competing again. I need to build up my upper body and keep the chub off my lower half... I do not want to see that cottage cheese on my thighs again! My formerly fat-filled fifty-eight year old butt skin (sorry for the not-so-pretty visual) needs to be filled with muscle, so am also looking forward to lots of lower body work too. Scratch "work". Make that "play". I don't consider my sessions at the gym as work, but more like a highlight to my days. Yeah, I might be weird that way.

As we age, exercise and good nutrition are more important than ever. Heart disease and diabetes are major problems which, in many cases, can be controlled through a healthier lifestyle. I know from first-hand experience how a clean diet can get high cholesterol under control.

I often wonder how people can continue to eat the way they do, but think that in many cases, they just don't know HOW to eat to improve their health. I didn't. We eat the way we were taught to eat. When we finally discover how beneficial a clean diet can be, we have to make a committment to change. That's not easy, specially when our friends and family are ordering the chicken wings with extra blue cheese dip. Peer pressure makes a lot of dieters lose their willpower.

Meals often have to be prepared ahead of time, which takes effort. Not everyone wants to put that work in, when take-out is so much more convenient.

A good workout program can strengthen your skeleton and your muscular structure. We naturally lose bone and muscle mass as we grow older, but it doesn't have to be that way. While it takes a bit of effort, we can stay strong and maintain youthful physiques...just look at Ernestine Shepherd...oldest female bodybuilder in the world...she didn't start training until she was in her mid fifties! She's in her seventies now and looks pretty darned great!

It's also kind of cool when a 20 year old tells you she hopes to look as good as you do!

A typical day of eating before would start with cereal and fruit for breakfast. Except on weekends, when we went out for bacon and eggs. Or bacon and pancakes. Or bacon and bacon.

Lunch was usually some kind of sandwich with processed meats on whole wheat bread. Whole wheat...see?..I was trying! Or maybe just a cheese stick and fruit.

When the hungries hit mid-afternoon I'd eat whatever I could get my hands on, from potato chips (mmm barbecue!) to candy...anything to carry me till dinner.

Then there could be meatloaf and mashed potatoes, or lasagna, pizza or anything on a take-out menu. We went out to eat a lot. We drank way too much wine.

A late night snack could be a whole bowl of popcorn or an ice cream sundae with double whipped cream...and more wine.

When I got hungry between breakfast and lunch, I just fought it off and wondered why I felt so tired and weak.

Now the day starts with oatmeal, almond milk, maybe some walnuts and fruit, AND egg whites (sometimes a yolk) with veggies. Breakfast is my favorite time of day!!!

A couple hours later I'm hungry again, so maybe have some plain fat-free greek yogurt . I add my own flavoring along with some nuts and berries.

Lunch is a small salad with chicken breast and balsamic vinegar as a dressing. Maybe some sunflower nuts if I remember to put them in when Im prepping it. I usually work out after lunch, so I like to keep that meal light.

Post workout is lean protein and carbs. Lately it's homemade protein bars.

Meal number 5 is an apple with almond or peanut butter. I Love that meal! I would have no problem eating that every day!

Dinner is usually chicken, but sometimes red meat (fillet is my favorite!) or salmon a couple times a week. Lots of veggies and maybe a sweet potato or brown rice. If I want something sweet, one or two pieces of dark chocolate do the trick.

Please don't hate me for this...with ALL THIS FOOD I still have trouble keeping weight on! Between working out and eating clean my metabolism is just cranking! I might have add a bedtime snack or increase portion sizes somewhere. Poor me.

I do like to have a basic diet to follow, sort of like a safe haven. My trainer, who is very well versed in diet and nutrition, gave me a specific cholesterol reducing diet, which has worked wonders in that respect and kept me from gaining a lot of weight post competition. It's been a learning tool for me, as I'm figuring out how to read what my body needs and how to change things up and make it work in the real world. If I feel myself losing control, I just revert back to my written diet for a while.

I never had a problem sticking to any diet, maybe due to a mile-wide stubborn streak. The competition prep diet was no problem...all I had to do was think of that teensy little posing suit. It's funny...when working out, we'd talk about what we were craving most...strange motivation, I know, but it worked.

If you want to get into the best shape of your life, no matter what your age or size, I would urge you to just do it! It comes down to a simple decision. Decide to make yourself your number one priority.

If you can't go to a gym, you can work out at home. The internet is bursting with information on exercise and diet.

Start right here at Figure & Bikini. In addition to tons of information on diet and exercise, you'll find so many inspiring stories from people who have been through incredible challenges and came through the fire victorious! Many are going through the same struggles you may be experiencing, from weight loss to dealing with family and friends' reactions to the new you. The "Fabulously Fit Friday" articles are super entertaining and always relevant to living a fit lifestyle.

If you want to work out at a gym, but are intimidated like I was, take a friend with you or hire a trainer to teach you the basics. Once you find a trainer you trust, FOLLOW HIS OR HER ADVICE. If you come across different workout or diet information that you think might work for you, run it by him/her. You're a team.

One thing that surprised me was how genuine and helpful most people in the fitness industry can be. I expected condescending attitudes and ridicule, but found that most people are there to become their best selves and are more than willing to take a minute and answer a question or show you how to use a machine. These people are also the ones who might turn out to be your support group.

Last but not least.....DON'T QUIT! Fitness is a lifetime commitment. Your perfect body might take longer to develop than you would like. Are we ever satisfied? I would love to someday have the beautiful womanly well muscled curves of so many figure athletes, but if I never get there, at least I'll be in darned good shape for an old lady!

Sometimes you'll be a bit sore... ice helps. Sometimes you'll be bored.... switch it up. When you're discouraged, surround yourself with people who share your passion for fitness. Ignore the ones who don't. Get your stubborn on!

Then just enjoy the changes you're making in your appearance, your health and your life!

Author: Kristin Shaffer

Member Comments

Keep it up, Cindy, you look amazing! :)

Isn't she something?

With love,


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