Aging is a Choice – Part 1
Daily practices are doors to conscious transformation.
Ten years ago, at the age of fifty-seven, I had a wake-up call that changed my life. While finishing up a long run by the beach, a tremendous pain engulfed my left side. I staggered home and collapsed on my bed where I remained in agony for the next five hours. It turned out that I had a kidney stone. This led to the ultrasound that revealed I had small growths on both my kidneys. A month later, with two successful robotic surgeries behind me, I began my journey of healing. I realized that as painful as it was, the kidney stone was a blessing. I decided to be thankful for the experience and see it as an opportunity to be healthier. I was determined to live a long, robust, life. I made a conscious choice to defy aging and not accept traditional notions about the aging process.
Today, I am pleased to report that I have not had any reason to look back. I feel better than I did twenty years ago. I am bursting with energy and feel better than I did in my thirties. I owe this to a series of changes I made to help me feel and look younger than I did before my two surgeries. The changes I made to my lifestyle and the protocols I developed are things that I feel anyone can do.
Here are a few of the practices I followed to help me feel so vital and youthful. Now, I’m not wagging my finger or preaching what is right for you. I’m simply telling my story of how I got to feeling far younger than my chronological age and how I came to believe that aging is a choice.
After the robotic surgeries on both kidneys, I asked myself, what was to stop more tumors from surfacing in my vital organs? How could I be sure that it wouldn’t happen again? Serendipitously, around that time, I happened to interview a renowned physicist who recommended ayurveda. He posited that a body’s imbalances led to disease and post-surgery, it was important to address these imbalances to prevent future disease. So, I began an ayurvedic protocol at an institute in New York City to clean up my internal landscape and environment. It involved non-intrusive procedures and high-end natural supplements. Following a six-week protocol, my body’s toxicity measurement was cut in half, and I felt terrific. The ayurvedic procedures were a good start to managing my health more mindfully and slowing the aging process.
Let’s face it. A good portion of western culture revolves around alcohol consumption. It starts with teens getting fake IDs to get booze and college keg parties, then moves on to business after-work drinks and cocktail parties, and of course, the dating scene which is often built around having drinks. With so much of Western culture centering on alcohol, is it at all surprising if our livers are often overworked? And having spent thirty years advertising distilled spirits, I have seen firsthand the toll alcohol often takes.
When I decided to stop drinking alcohol three years ago, it wasn’t easy. There was a lot of rituals around drinking that I had to get over. It was tough going for a while, but I am glad I stuck with it. Since then, it’s been easier to lose the extra weight, think more clearly, sleep better, and I don’t get as upset as I did when I drank. I’ve also saved a lot of money. However, I must admit, I do miss the rituals and here’s some good news. The new generation of “mocktails” and alcohol-removed products allow you to join the social scene without feeling left out and you can still have the familiar rituals such as cracking open a cold beer or pouring yourself a glass of wine with dinner.
They say if you want to change your experience, you need to go inside. This has been true for me. I begin each day with a thirty-minute meditation. This has helped create a peaceful start to my day. The good vibe often lasts all day. At first many struggle because they can’t stop their thoughts. No worries. Start by doing a few minutes and slowly build a foundation. You are not alone. There are books, videos, groups, and classes available everywhere and many forms of meditation. Take your time and find the one that feels right for you.
I’ve played sports and worked out at the gym my entire life. Yet only recently have I experienced the incredible benefits of swimming. There is nothing better for overall conditioning at any age. My breathing, flexibility, endurance, and mood have all improved since I began hitting the local pool regularly. After years of pushing weights, running marathons, and playing any sport I could, swimming is far less strenuous on my joints, tendons, skeleton, and overall body. Swimming is helping me feel young and vital.
Not only do we drink too much, but we also eat far more than our bodies require. Our foodie culture has taken gastronomic enjoyment to heights never seen before, but at what price? So much of our health and who we are is based on what we eat. And, as many are learning, the western “meat and potatoes” diet is not necessarily the healthiest way to go. Fasting allows me to take back control over what I put into my body, and gives my body the rest it needs to keep me internally clean and healthy.
I’ve reaped incredible benefits by intermittent fasting over the past few years. There are many ways to do it, but maintaining a 12-6pm eating window with an eighteen-hour break from food seems to be the most popular form. The benefit? My body has more time to purge itself of toxins, my energy has increased dramatically, and I’ve lost weight and kept it off. Even the shape of my body has changed for the better. I feel young and vital.
These five changes made a huge difference in managing my aging process. My suggestion is to talk to experts and do your own research to find the practices that feel best for you. Once you have identified your preferred modalities, be consistent in your practice, and remain open to adding new disciplines and adapting them to keep you feeling young and at your best. I’m not suggesting you won’t continue to get older, but you may find you feel far younger than your chronological age. Good luck!