Remember the hype? “DHEA, the Amazing Anti-Aging Supplement!” DHEA , it was alleged, could increase longevity, boost your sex drive, improve your immune system, and give more muscle mass – among other things. Wow - :”Goodbye 60!” “Hello 40!” Geez, you just know that someone is going to come along and burst that good news bubble. Sure enough in December, the government’s healthfinder web site funs a story. “Anti-Aging Supplement May Clog Arteries.” Dang! “Goodbye 40! Hellow cath lab!”
So you get it now right? There is no magic pill, no secret herbs, and no wonderful fountain of youth potion that will keep you from aging. There are, however, four sure fire principles that have helped me turn back my own physical clock. They will work for anybody – but for those of us who were the object of AARP’s insensitive appeals to join the “old folks” as much as 25 years ago – these are critical issues. For any of you who have accepted an “over the hill” mentality, I want to say, “Don’t buy the ticket.” The notion that we have to buy into the “aging game” and start thinking, feeling, and acting old is a lie from the pits of hell. So here goes:
1. It is not how old you are, but how you are old that counts
Arterial sclerosis is way more dangerous in our thinking than it is in our physical bodies. Some folks begin “thinking” old way before their time. If growing older means a rocking chair, a pair of knitting needles, or a large print book of crossword puzzles to you, then I urge you to join in a cry from way back in the Vietnam era when some folks were shouting, “Hell no we won’t go!”
When my grandmother turned 60, she jumped into a drab gray dress, put her hair up in a bun and generally “acted her age.” Yea it was a different era – but please, growing older often comes with a whole set of myths and expectations that we really need to resist. Somehow, there is this idea that we need to begin the process of gradual decline. At least AARP has been trying to “get it.” With a new look and a new focus on “active” as over against “being old.” A recent article, “Sixty is the new Thirty,” was wonderful.
Personally, I haven’t felt this good since I was – oh, about 22! For decades I was doing the “growing older” thing in my head. Now that I am older (much) I’m letting the internal “young folks” take over. Sure, I know that everyone necessarily grows older, I’m just hanging on as long as I can to the possibility that there will be an exception made in my case.
2. You CAN turn back Your Physical Clock
A change in a sedentary lifestyle will turn back your physical clock. You will continue to put on chronological time, but physically, you can be younger. A while back I bought a stair stepper (don’t go cheap with these) that included a heart rate monitor and not so long ago bought a Polaris heart rate monitor for triathlon training. I punched in my age and the monitor told me when I was safely in the training range for my age. In just a short time I was training comfortably above my age range. The long and short of this story is that I continued to lower the age setting in the monitor and am now training at a heart rate that is 15 years younger than my chronological years.
Weight training in nursing homes has shown that even the very elderly can benefit from strength training. Some patients have gotten out of their wheel chairs after years of confinement. Most of us could turn back our physical clocks with consistent exercise.
3. It is NEVER too Late to Start (But you may have to fire your doctor)
When is it too late to begin a lifestyle turnaround? If you are no longer breathing and the last words have been said at your funeral and your headstone is firmly in place - then it is probably too late. Otherwise – no excuses. The phrase, “I’m to old for that,” should be relegated to the scrap heap.
I was talking with my doctor just about the time I was moving my head into a change in the way I was living and telling him about some aches and pains. You may have heard something like his response from your doctor. “Well… as we get older…” I wanted to slap his little face, send him to his room, and ground him for a week. (He looks more like a high school kid all the time anyway.) But we have an agreement now and he is one of my best partners in my wellness. “We,” don’t give in to any “dis-ease” without me first getting all possible information as to what I can do to fight this thing. (Most of the aches and pains are gone anyway.)
4. The Clincher: Participate in a Community
There is not just safety in numbers – there is power. Fellow travelers bring joy to the journey. Absolutely nothing beats the encouragement, inspiration, and great advice that is available at a place called beginnertriathlete.com.
When I first began to think in terms of doing a triathlon, I found this site. It is this online community that has provided the place where I was able to embrace a goal that will change my life forever. It can be that for you too.
Come back, often. Join in the discussions. And most especially for you boomers who are peeking out at what comes next, and you AARP veterans who have been a round for a while – How about that Lauren Hutton article? She’s the one who came up with “60 is the new 30.” Join in our community.
Trade in the chair in your living room for the cheer on the sidelines,
You’ll forget you were sore when you swim to the shore!
Keep the crutches at bay with your clutches on the bike.
Exchange the ruin of a sedentary life for the run of a lifetime!
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