The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Aging Part 4: Aging Gracefully
In our youth-oriented culture, the greatest challenge for many is recognizing and accepting the cold hard facts about aging. Regardless of how the botox, tummy tucks, hair restoration procedures, and teeth whiteners temporarily hold back Father Time, the clock keeps ticking.
We’ve all seen those attractive cougars pumping away at the gym or photos of them on social media in their bikinis on tropical vacations, and their male counterparts showing off their cars, guns, or trophy wives. I get it. We all want to stay relevant.
But as we age we need to come to terms with the reality that God-willing, we will all grow old. The party is not going to last forever. So what’s a Guy’s Guy to do when his hair is streaked with gray and his scrotum sags? You can plumb up your ball sack and hope for the best or you can take a deep breath and tell yourself, “Hell yeah! I’m a man of experience. Don’t mess with me.” I suggest the latter, and that’s my inspiration for this week’s post. I want to help us guys step into their unknown future with pride and élan. Heck, we’ve made it this far, so let’s show some class as we when approach the third semester of our lives.
1. Learn to adapt – I’ve got news for you. If you continue eating and drinking the same way you did in your twenties, unless you have Jagger’s metabolism, you’ll pack on the pounds by the time you hit forty. The real problems arise, though, after you gain the weight when you are not really aware of it and continue your indulgent habits. By the time you enter your fifties, your body will probably respond to the abuse with adverse reactions and begin its long descent of breaking down systematically.
There is some good news though. The world changes and you do, too. Your body replaces all of its cells every few years, so you are constantly regenerating and evolving. That means it’s important to step back every so often and take stock in how you eat, sleep, drink, how much you work, and how you either love or loathe the person you’ve become. Your cells are changing and so can you. So, get with the program, consider your life and lifestyle and what it is doing to you and make the necessary changes.
2. Stay fit. Eat well. – If you’ve been following my blog, by now you know how much importance I place in maintaining a healthy diet and physical fitness. Your diet comes down to choosing this or that during every meal. It’s that simple. Of course you don’t want to eat before bedtime, but beyond that, a healthy diet is built on choice. Beware of longevity’s enemies like sugar, alcohol, processed foods, and meat. Yes, meat. The average American consumes 212 pounds of meat every year. I stopped eating meat ten years ago. That means I’ve avoided eating more than one ton of meat over the past decade. I’m sure that has saved an immense amount of wear and tear on my internal organs and systems that have to break down all the burgers, steaks, chops, and bacon strips. If you are concerned about a lack of protein from going to a plant-based diet, don’t. Beans have way more protein and far less fat than meat.
I stay in shape, no matter what else is going on in my life. It has been a lifelong commitment that has always served me well. I do basically the same workouts as I did twenty years ago and maintain the same weight. It’s a fun challenge and a point of pride for me to keep my body clicking on all cylinders. And it helps buffer the ravages of aging. Cardio health and bone density are important markers for a strong and fit body. If you stay in shape, when something goes wrong, as things do, know that you’re doing all you can to stay fit. Following back-to-back robotic surgeries three years ago, my doctors continue praising me for how well I bounced back and maintained my body. That’s beyond looking fit, which I admit I like. It’s tending to and taking care of the totality of my body, mind and spirit. This is what keeps your Guys’ Guy’s engine running smoothly. If I sound cocky, forgive me. The thing is, I put a lot of work and I’m glad I have.
3. Accept the truth – Let’s face it. We’re getting older each and every day. There is no escape. So what’s a Guy’s Guy to do? Embrace it. Own it. Love your life and make the most of each day. Treat yourself well. Forgive yourself and others. Ignore the haters. Keep moving. You, and only you, chart the course for your life. Might as well do what you like and take those shots when they present themselves.
Forget about your chronological age. New opportunities arise every damn day. If you take care of yourself and make solid choices there is no reason you can’t keep rolling and rolling. Don’t fret about screwing up in the past. It’s over. Karma happens quickly so don’t worry about what was. If you stay positive, your energy and attitude will show. You’ll be a beacon to others. Love them, but don’t think just because your friends or family members have certain health issues that you will, too. Your body consists of ninety percent microbes. There are trillions of them inside of you. They are constantly at work killing off bad stuff. Thank them, support them, and tell them you love them. I promise you will feel a difference. You don’t have to succumb to disease. Stay positive. Your microbes are listening.
4. Be mindful of what you wear – If you’re like me, you like feeling young. That means I, like other boomers, need to be careful what we wear. That does not mean we have to wear beige khakis and a yellow polo shirt all the time. You can let your style evolve as you age. Pick jeans that fit well and look good. I dig raw selvedge so I spend a few extra bucks and wear them repeatedly. I never wash them either. Depending on your body shape and size, slim fit is fine if you can swing it. Say no to skinny jeans. Once you hit forty, rethink hockey jerseys, Zubaz pants, tank tops, and wearing your Yankees cap backwards. Keep the bling simple, buy a good watch, and ditch the cropped pants. If you really feel a need to wear a rock band t-shirt, keep it simple. Nothing wrong with the Stones logo, but dudes in their sixties don’t look totally awesome in Duran Duran, Star Wars, or WuTang Clan t shirts and caps. As you age, update your closet and give your choice in clothes some thought. Only wear what feels right for you. And ladies, if you are in your fifties, you probably don’t need to still let your hair grown down to your ass. And while you’re combing through your closet, think about giving that ocelot print mini skirt to your daughter.
5. Know yourself. Manage your emotions. – It certainly feels like we live in an angry world these days— a function of our dysfunctional collective consciousness. I’m a Guy’s Guy, but I get angry, too. My pet peeve is people saying and doing stupid shit. That has occasionally made things kind of tough for me. So, I continue investing in extra time working on managing my thoughts and emotions. We are all works in progress, so even if I still blow my stack now and then, I do my research and I’m usually right about the issues that push my buttons. But at times I need to do a better job of softening my delivery of the truth. Over the years I have come to know my behavioral triggers and flaws. Self-awareness, living one’s truth, and reducing anger can help us live longer. The truth absolutely sets us free. The question frequently is, can we handle the truth about ourselves? Life is a school. Learn your lessons well, amigos.
The week’s GUY’S GUY of the WEEK is Jeanne Louise Clament, the longest living person on record. She died in 1997 at the ripe old age of 122. I’ll bet she knew herself well, maintained her optimism, and managed her anger all those years. Stay classy…