“You can observe a lot by watching.” – Yogi Berra
I don’t like “average”.
The typical, the common, the ordinary.
No one has ever accused me of being “average” though. In fact, I was so disturbed with being identified as “average” that in the very first seminar I ever taught, the first slide was this:
The average person says that he (or she)…
The average person does….nothing to get what he says he wants.
I should know.
Average caught me. Over the years, I developed the typical, middle age man’s big belly, low energy, all the aches and pains, and a heart that worked too hard. I slipped into the average abyss by doing what most people do to avoid it. Nothing. I worked way too much. I ate what I wanted and did what I wanted. I didn’t exercise much, if at all.
But I escaped the clutches of Average.
My blood chemistry, blood pressure, heart rate, strength, flexibility, and aerobic capacity are now the equivalent of a man in his 30’s. I effectively rolled back my biologic clock nearly 25 years.
And here’s the thing. You can change too but you need to know and accept the path you’re on first. And if any of the things in the list above resonated with you, then the path you’re on, unless you just happened to be in the favored end of the gene pool at birth, is one that leads to feeling, looking, and acting a lot older than your chronologic age.
You’re on the path that I was on. It’s a path that leads you to Type II Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoarthritis, metabolic syndrome – the diseases of “old age”; a path that ends with you spending that last thirteen years of your life in ill-health and spending a lot of money.
Of course, you might feel just fine right now which is part of the problem. We have some “alarms” in the body – like severe left arm pain or chest pain when your heart is seizing up – but the one we don’t have, but should, is a “fitness alarm”.
Nothing really happens to you, quickly at least, as your fitness fades from your life year after year. In fact, the decline is so slow that it’s only when you can’t do something really simple – like walk up or down a flight of stairs – that you then realize just how weak and unfit you really are.
Body fat shows up but most will either ignore it or adapt for it (as I did) by wearing looser clothing or pants that expand easily.
But you write that off as “normal” for just “getting older”.
Sound familiar at all?
That was me. And, no I’m not 25, and really don’t want to be either. And yes, I’m occasionally a pain in the butt, complain about stuff, and some days feel a little older than I want to.
Life isn’t perfect just because you over haul your lifestyle nor is it a guarantee that you won’t have problems.
But it’s not how you start. It’s how you finish. I drastically altered the course I was on and continue to improve it week by week.
A recent study showed that your level of fitness in the middle age years is a good predictor of what your “golden” years will be like. Those people who were more fit, had fewer health problems and the problems that showed up, were much later in life.
The more fit you are, the more likely you will not just live longer. You’ll live better.
You don’t need to be fit to be alive but you do need to be fit to feel alive.
1. Decide what you want. Sounds cliche’ but it’s true. Don’t go for generalities like “I want to lose weight” and avoid the next mistake most people make, “I want to lose 10 lbs”. Instead, decide what you want to be able to DO or FEEL. In my case, I wanted to feel stronger, more agile; to be able to play golf, run with my dogs, shoot some baskets. I wanted to feel younger; more alive. What about you?
2. Measure, measure, measure. You’ll quit if you don’t know how much progress you’ve made and your progress must be something other than how much you weigh or how big or small your waist is. You need some physical bench marks in addition to body weight, fat, waist size, etc. You need to know how many push ups you can do, or how much strong your legs are. These things will give you some much needed positive reinforcement to keep going (we have a series of tests you can take for free to help you get started).
3. Build your knowledge. I had a lot of things to learn and unlearn. I had the mindset that a low-fat diet was “heart healthy”and because heart disease runs in my family, I thought I was doing the right thing. But, I hadn’t critically explored this assumption. Once I did, I learned how wrong I had been and why eating more fat was key to managing body fat and actually help gin your heart function.
4. Control the calendar. I use iCal and schedule my training sessions. Now here’s the secret to making it work. Honor those appointments as you would any other appointment. You are just as important to you as anyone else. Make the appointments. Keep the appointments. Show up. Work. Shout “Hooah!”
5. Get moving. Exercise is a key ingredient for lowering your biologic age. Set aside at least 30 minutes, 2-3 days per week for a program that challenges your strength, balance, flexibility, agility, and aerobic fitness using as many natural movements as possible. And cycling, swimming, and running – only – are not enough.
6. Rest. This was hard for me, even with my training and background, to actually do. I felt like life was slipping by me and that if I kept training and pushing myself I could somehow magically catch up. Well, that lead to an injury – not proud of that for sure – but I share that with you so you can understand just how powerful your ego can be and how critically important rest and recovery is to your ultimate success. The benefits of working hard are always realized during the rest period. So, schedule your rest days too.
Now, if you just get started with the above, you’re already above average. And, if you’re a ActiveAge member, well, you are way above average and I congratulate you because it’s awesome.
Just don’t let Average get its hands on you. It can ruin your life.