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Sarasota Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019 2 years ago

Exercise is for more than just looking fit

The diminishing health effects of age work hard. Dia Wilson works harder.
by: Sten Spinella Staff Writer

As a Realtor, Dia Wilson's job requires that she keep up appearances, but that isn’t the reason for her staying in shape. She maintains her fitness for the sake of it.

“I've always worked out, but I wasn't consistent,” Wilson said. “It was a trip to the doctor probably seven years ago that said, ‘You know what, you're on the borderline of needing cholesterol medicine.’ And I said, ‘What can I do to change that?’ Well, the No. 1 thing is eating right and exercising. I needed to get more consistent. So that's what I did. And I love it.”

The Longboat Key resident has long resisted the temptation to slow her exercise regimen. In fact, Wilson said she’s almost addicted to working out. “[It's] like any other addiction, but it’s a good addiction,” she said. "And I think you age differently when you take care of yourself."

When speaking on the subject of exercise, Wilson returns repeatedly to several themes, one being, of course, longevity of life. For fitness to have such an impact, addiction — or rather, a deep belief in the objective goodness of what you’re doing — is key.

Consistency, too, is a refrain of Wilson’s. She said she hopes to be an example for younger people working out.

“You can still keep your consistency, and at any age, you can look fit,” she said.

There are certain days when consistency is more difficult, such as when Wilson wakes up early in the morning and doesn’t want to make her way to the squat rack (her least favorite exercise). An almost debilitating guilt sets in, though, when Wilson doesn’t stick to her regimen. “I torture myself all day,” she said. Nothing like self-flagellation to keep you focused.

And Wilson is entirely self-disciplined. She doesn't have a trainer, and she usually works out alone.

Wilson lifts weights five days a week. She does abs 10 minutes per day and cardio at least 30 minutes per day. “It’s a two-hour commitment every single day,” she said.

All of this activity usually takes place in the morning; it starts Wilson’s day off right.

“That is a problem with a lot of people,” she said. “They'll say: ‘Oh, I'm going to get this done. I'm going to do emails. I'm going to clean the house.’ And guess what? By the time they get to the time for themselves, it's bedtime. And another day comes, and this is the vicious circle of not doing it.”

During a typical day, Wilson jogs to Beach Fitness, which is right in her neighborhood. She arrives, works out and jogs home. Sometimes she will bike up and down the Key, which she said can be the fun exercise she does on weekends. She appreciates the freedom of being outside of the gym. For extra cardio, she occasionally swims laps in a friend's pool.

“It's an addiction, just like any other addiction, but it's a good addiction.” – Dia Wilson on working out

A new challenge

Wilson is often described by others as "pretty buff," but she isn’t content with being buff only for her well-being. She’s ambitious, which is why she’s planning on beginning an arduous training process for weight-lifting competitions.

“This is gonna be my next step,” Wilson said. “I've been thinking about this, of really getting down and training and doing some sort of a competition. I’m in my late 50s, not many people are really committed to exercise in their late 50s. And why not? You only live once.”

There are several classes of weightlifting competitions. Wilson said you start out local, then go state, then country, before going worldwide.

While Wilson’s favorite part of exercising involves working on her shoulders, she can sometimes work them too hard.

“The older you get, the more prone you are to injury,” she said, “So you've got to be real careful about not training too much. You want to do supplements. You want to get plenty of sleep. The most important thing is water. But you know, you have to take care of your muscles.”

Now that Wilson’s desire to change her lifestyle into a contest is public knowledge, she knows she will have to hold herself accountable. She has already been indirectly preparing for decades.

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Sten Spinella is a Town Hall Reporter for the Longboat Observer. He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Connecticut and his master's degree from the University of Missouri. 

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