Rooney Rule: You are not losing your strength because you have grown old. You have grown old because you are not using your strength.
This weekend I was in St. Augustine, Florida to present at our annual Training For Warriors Winter Conference. If you know anything about U.S. history, then you might have heard that St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied European settlement which was founded in 1565.
If you are also interested in legends from history, you might have heard the St. Augustine area may have been the first landing place in North America by Spanish Explorer Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513. You may have also heard the reason Ponce de Leon landed there was because he was in search of the Fountain of Youth.
Whether that legend is true or not, there is a Fountain of Youth archaeological park and tourist attraction in St. Augustine that has been visited by millions since the late 1800’s supporting the tale. Regardless of what you believe, I know one thing is as true today as it was then: we all eventually find ourselves searching for a magical fountain of youth.
As people age and begin to understand their mortality, they become more concerned with slowing down the aging process.
Today you see this desperate search happening in many ways. Whether it is purchasing “miracle” skin cremes and ingesting “miracle” diet foods or subjecting themselves to plastic surgery, botox, or liposuction, people go to as great (and risky!) lengths as Ponce de Leon once did to turn back the hands of time. And why would you experiment with some of these methods? Maybe just to get a compliment like the one I got three times in just the last two weeks: “You look and act a lot younger than you are.”
Even though those comments are also a reminder I am getting older, I took still them as compliments. But let’s get something straight. The philosophical reason why I workout and eat the way I do has made a big transition over the last decade. My current training routine has a lot more to do with sanity than it does with vanity.
This sanity comes from knowing I am doing my best to prolong both the quality and length of my life.
Years ago my training was more about seeking 6-pack abs, big weights and big arms to show off with sleeveless shirts. Now my dedication to training, diet and sleep has shifted toward a bigger and more important purpose: living a healthier and longer life. Although you may not have made this switch yet, I promise there will be a time when the quality of your life will be more important than the quality of the coconut oil or shea butter in your skin creme.
Don’t get me wrong about sharing the compliment I received. At 47 years old, I feel great, but I know I am not immune to the effects of aging. Although I am doing my best to slow them, I am noticing the classic changes that occur with age. Whether it was finally giving in and getting my first pair of reading glasses, noticing my signature goatee is starting to have as much gray hair as brown, or being a little more hesitant before I jump off something dangerous to get a good Instagram or Facebook photo, I too am realizing aging is inevitable. This realization led me to 5 simple truths about the aging process that you need to know:
There is a predictable pattern to aging.
Although aging is inevitable, you can stall the effects of this predictable pattern.
Stalling the pattern can be accomplished with a few simple actions.
These simple actions over time can improve the length and quality of your life.
Chronology, therefore, isn’t synonymous with quality.
Regardless of your age right now, here’s another important truth: You only get one life so you might as well live it at the greatest length with the highest quality. And how do you do that? Well, before you can slow the effects of aging, you have to be familiar with the predictable pattern! Then once you know how Father Time is going to eventually wear you down, you can take some simple and scientifically recommended actions to keep him wondering why you look and act so young.
I complied the following list of what you can expect as you age. Of course, there are other areas (I really didn’t want to address incontinence here), and I didn’t share the list to scare you, but to “aware” you. Although this list may not sound exciting, you should get excited about how applying the action items can stall the effects of aging.
10 Ways To Battle The Way You Age
1. Your Skin
As you age, your skin is going to get thinner, drier and less elastic. Along with these changes, wrinkles will become more apparent and “age spots” can appear as well. If that wasn’t enough, moles and skin tags can also become more pronounced.
Action Items: Your skin is one of the most important organs of the body. In order to keep your skin from prematurely aging and protecting you from the environment, there are a two simple things you must do: First, make sure you use sunscreen, a mild soap and moisturizer. Second, perform regular checkups on your skin and notify your doctor if there are any changes of concern.
2. Your Bones
As you age, your bones are going to get smaller and less dense. Not only is this going to lead to you getting shorter over time, but you will also have a greater chance of bone fractures.
Action Items: To keep your bones strong, you are going to need a diet rich in sources of vitamin D (get some sun and salmon) and calcium (broccoli is a good choice!) as well as a consistent resistance training routine (pump some iron.)
3. Your Muscles
As you age, your muscles will lose both size and strength. It’s estimated that after your 30th birthday, you can lose 3-5% (sarcopenia) of these per decade. With these losses, smaller arms may be the least of your worries. These losses can also affect mobility, coordination and balance.
Action Items: To keep your muscles strong and supple, you again need to apply a steady routine of exercise and diet. Make sure you fit in some resistance work and get adequate amounts of protein, the building blocks of muscle.
4. Your Mobility
As you age, the changes I have mentioned with your bones and muscles can start a vicious cycle in regards to your ability to move. As your muscles and bones get weaker, your movement will become slower and less; hence leading to weaker bones and muscles and less movement.
Action Items: In addition to the recommended changes in diet and resistance exercise above, you should also add walking, running, or a sports-related movement you enjoy to your training routine.
5. Your Weight
As you age, I have just mentioned your activity levels can slow down. Unfortunately, your metabolism can too. As these changes happen, some people to continue to eat as much or unfortunately more than when they were more active. This can lead to unwanted and unhealthy weight gain.
Action Items: To keep yourself at a healthy weight for your age, you need to stick to the basics of nutrition: smaller portions, avoid processed foods and sugars and eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and lean proteins.
6. Your Teeth
As you age, you are going to experience changes in your gums and teeth. Unfortunately, if you haven’t taken proper care of your mouth, those changes may include losing many of your teeth by the age of 65.
Action Items: To protect your teeth, of course you should brush your teeth twice a day. But you should also be flossing daily too. Without maintaining gum health with flossing, you could lose some of your “pearly whites” sooner than you’d like. Finally, bi-annual cleanings and checkups with your dentist are critical to make sure dentures aren’t in your future.
7. Your Eyes
As you age, focusing on things either close up or farther away is going to become more difficult. At around 40 years old, these changes with your eyes, as well as impairments with night vision and glare, can make life more challenging.
Action Items: Your eyes, like your skin, need protection from the sun. Make sure you wear good sunglasses outside. When you are inside, watch how much phone and computer screen time you are logging and be sure to get your eyes checked to be aware of changes with aging.
8. Your Ears
As you age, your ability to hear is going to decrease. Whether it is hearing at certain frequencies or volumes or being able to pick up sounds in crowded places, you may find yourself saying, “What did you say?” more often.
Action Items: The simplest way to protect your hearing is to avoid things that can damage your hearing like loud headphones, ear buds or putting yourself in loud environments. Like sunglasses for your eyes, ear plugs can also be a option to block out loud sounds.
9. Your Mind
As you age, in addition to your skin, bones and muscles, your brain will undergo changes too. In particular, it can decrease in size, weight and cognitive ability. With these changes, there can be decreases in memory, problem solving and multitasking.
Action Items: Your brain is like your muscles and bones; with constant work you can keep it stronger for longer. In addition to the benefits of exercise and a good diet on brain health, you need to also constantly stimulate your brain with activities like reading and writing or new experiences like a language or skill.
10. Your Heart
As you age, a combination of your blood vessels stiffening and the viscosity of your blood increasing can lead to a more demanding workload on your heart. With this increased demand, issues like high blood pressure and thickening of the heart can result.
Action Items: Like many of the actions listed above, your heart will benefit from regular exercise, a healthy diet lower in salts, saturated fats and sugars and a good night of sleep. In addition to these, making sure to do your best to remove or reduce stress from your life.
For thousands of years, people have shared and chased the legend of the Fountain of Youth. Until this magical spring that restores the youth of a person is finally found, I would suggest sticking with the following simple action items:
Sunscreen, Sunglasses, Floss, Exercise, Diet, Sleep, Regular Checkups. And don’t Smoke.
You cannot turn back the hands of time, but when it comes to your body, you can effectively slow them down with the right approach. And that approach is not a secret you need to get in a boat to go find. That secret is stuff you already know. They are just unfortunately things that few people do.
So, perhaps the biggest fountain of youth is not a magic pool in Iceland, a mud mask from the Dead Sea or a superfood from jungle in the Amazon. The real fountain of youth is a philosophy. And that philosophy should also include moderation and delayed gratification while eating right, getting the right amount of sleep and working the body so it doesn’t get rusty too soon.
Every heard someone say, “40 is the new 20?” They aren’t talking about chronology, they are talking about quality. You cannot stop time, but you can control how time is going to affect you.
Aging is inevitable.
How you age is not.
Yours in Strength,
P.S. – I hope this email has helped you. Whenever you’re ready, here are 3 more ways I can help:
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