I’m not sure how it happened. That is, how I got to be 49 years old…
I mean, holy cow, that sounds old!
I guess it is OLD if you roll out of bed with aches and pains, feeling fat and sluggish like many of my clients tell me they feel.
I can tell you, I do NOT feel this way: I’ve never felt this way and I don’t intend to ever feel old, fat and sluggish.
I do intend on getting older, but I prefer to equate age with good wine. I intend on just getting better.
I think we can all agree that aging is a double edged sword. With age there are a few benefits that are undeniable.
If you believe in the ‘10,000 Hour Rule’, I should have had plenty of time to invest in a number of skills and behaviors that would benefit me now.
10,000 hours is 416.6 days, 59.5 weeks or just over 1/49th of my life…what could I have done in that time to reap some rewards?
Obviously, I’ve invested in my health. This comes in the form of training, eating and sleeping. (Don’t discount the investment in rest as a form of self-care and health.)
I’ve also invested time in molding my thoughts so that I can be a happy person, many may think that this is an impossibility, but actually, controlling the thoughts in your head is one way to get what you want out of life.
First of all, training….
Yes, as you know, I’m a bit of a freak in the training department, although I like to think I have a healthy balance here. I train every day, but my workouts are short and effective. I control my workouts, versus having my workouts control me.
Many mistake quantity over quality time where working out is concerned. It’s consistency over time that really matters. The fact that I’ve trained consistently for my whole life is probably the reason that I’m as lean and more muscular now as when I was in my teens.
The most time I’ve taken off of training is probably a week and that was when I gave birth to my kids. I trained pretty much up to the day they were born (with a modified program of course) and I got right back at it right away.
I don’t have an obsession with my weight or anything, although I’d be the first to admit that one of the main benefits of fitness is to look good. My body just needs to move in order to keep my head happy.
Self denial can be a good thing. If I gave into every piece of chocolate or bread that I wanted to have, I’d probably be 200 lbs of buttery sludge and I’d be able to do a total of zero pull ups.
I take every meal and snack one at a time and make a solid choice to take in food that will nourish and fuel me. I know and crave food that makes me feel good.
On occasion I’ll eat all the ‘seemingly yummy’ foods I feel like I’m missing out on and I feel horrible. It’s self-correcting behavior.
I was the only kid I’m sure that had a self-imposed bedtime. I knew early on that I couldn’t function without sleep. Since I always had 5 am swim practice, I learned to value my rest. Once my swim days were over, I still valued rest, knowing that whether I needed to recover from a workout or from the stress of life, sleep was key.
Obviously, even if you do all the things to take care of the body, but the head is messed up, happiness will be elusive.
Over time I’ve figured out who I am and what I want out of life. I know this sounds sort of silly, but I’ve met many people that have an unclear definition of who they are. Their behavior is incongruent with their values. I’ve read a number of books and spend hours on end aligning and defining who I am.
Here are a 10 ‘must do’s’ that have helped me ‘grow up’, I certainly haven’t ‘arrived’ but these tips have helped me this half century, maybe they can help you:
I have journals from when I was 10 years old, chronicling silly things like when I beat Michael H. in an arm wrestling match. They are hilarious to me. I need to make a pact with someone to burn them when I die (before they’re read and I roll over in my grave). The fact is, they’ve been invaluable in helping me figure ‘me’ out. I need to write things down to clarify things in my head. This works for me and I recommend it to everyone. It takes time to develop this skill, so stick with it.
2. Be positive to a fault
Divorce or limit exposure to negativity. It’s a contagious cancer. Surround yourself with positive people and bring value to them. It’s clichéd, but seeing the cup half full is just an easier way to look at life. I haven’t always been positive; it’s taken a lot of work and mental energy to choose to see the bright side of things. This is a mental training exercise like squatting; with continued practice it’s possible to get better at it.
3. Choose your hill to die on
Will an issue matter in one year, five years, ten years from now? There are some things that really don’t matter all that much in the scheme of things. I try not to lose too much sleep over them and I try to focus my energy on the things that really matter. I’m not going to battle for everything. Learning to let go of things I can’t change or control has been a helpful anti-aging tool.
4. Have a generous nature
I don’t spend money that I don’t have, but I’m learning to enjoy my money. Be generous with not only money, but also time and spirit. Living with an attitude of scarcity is a lonely life.
5. Write it down, more journals
This time make it a training journal. I have loads of them that have kept me accountable over the years. It’s cool to see how my training has morphed and how I stack up to myself from 20 years ago.
6. Weigh yourself daily
This may sound like strange advice, but if you want to know your body, pay attention to it. Learn how your body reacts to food, hormones, stress, travel etc. Your weight is a simple tool to help to that end. One reason why I’ve never gained weight is because I know my body. As long as getting on the scale isn’t a head game that ruins your day, do it to help you stay on track.
7. Strut your stuff
I’m no fashionista, but I wear current fashions that make me look and feel good. I’m sad for women that forever go strictly for comfort over style. (Then again, I’d be the first to admit there’s always a time and place for sweat pants and pigtails.)
8. Get a dog!
I’ve had dogs for over twenty years. Dogs teach so much about love and loyalty. I try to emulate this, although I’ll never come close. I love my dog and hope that someday I can love as unselfishly as my dog loves me.
9. Have sex!
Okay, I know that’s a little weird to say on this kind of blog…but the truth is, we’re sexual creatures and it’s important to find a healthy way to express sexuality. That’s all I’ll say about that…;)
10. Dream big
Think about what you want out of life and then never give up on your hopes and dreams. By thinking positively and surrounding yourself with positive people, it creates opportunities.
Seriously, I re-invented myself in my forties. I went from a conservative Catholic schoolteacher to a risk taking successful business owner. I could never have done this if I listened to negative talkers and if I put a lid on my dreams.
I’m going to celebrate the fact that I’m nearly a half a century old. I’ll never lie about my age. Although I’d prefer my 20 year old knees, I’d never trade in my 49 year old head and life experiences.
Happy Birthday to me on April Fool’s Day (yes, I’m a fool, but you probably already knew that…)