The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Staying Young
I usually agree with Mick Jagger, but not when he sings, “What a drag it is getting old,” in Mother’s Little Helper.
Aging is something we all face, but it doesn’t have to be a drag. Genes play a role in how we age, but we can’t let that be an excuse for inactivity and not fighting the good fight versus Father Time. We all know Gen-Xers who look like overweight, fading boomers, and we all know boomers who run marathons and look great. It comes down to life-altering decisions about how we deal with getting older.
Science has proven that the human body replaces all its cells on a regular basis, so you’re not the same person you were five years ago—all of your cells have been replaced. Wounds heal, we gain weight, and some of us keep the hair on our heads. Studies have proven that regardless of your family’s history of a certain disease, it does not necessarily mean you will get it. But, your chances for contracting an illness skyrockets if you allow your subconscious to believe you’re destined to get sick. The point is, when it comes to aging, you can’t leave it up to your genes or family history. Your health and quality of life often comes down to your attitude, beliefs and the choices you make in how you live each day.
With this in mind, I offer you The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Staying Young. Listen, I’m just a Guy’s Guy. I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one of television. But I’m a survivor, and have experienced health scares that forced me to look into the abyss. I’ve done my research, practiced what I’ve learned on my own body, mind and spirit, and have lived to tell. And, I’m better than ever. So let’s get started. Here are a handful of ways to age like a Guy’s Guy.
1. Diet – You are what you eat, amigo. And if you want to age well, look younger than your years, and stay in shape, you need to give that old single-guy diet an overhaul by the time you reach forty. Otherwise, as the years roll on, you’ll have a much tougher time changing your eating habits and making the right choices for your health around the dinner table. It’s not that hard. Simply put, at every meal you make a series of choices to eat either this or that. Start making more of the right choices, and I promise you the process will get easier and pay off in spades in the long run. Start by eliminating or cutting way back on sugar, meat, processed foods, GMO-based foods, dairy, and table salt. Unfortunately, that means staying away from the bacon, too. Of course, go easy on the alcohol, and no smoking. Although most guys like myself considered themselves to be indestructible when we were in our twenties, by the time we hit forty our metabolisms change and it starts taking more time to bounce back. And if we keep abusing our bodies the way we did in college, we pay via expanded waistlines, toxic organs including fatty livers and heavy hearts, and a decline in life force energy.
2. Exercise – I ran my first marathon at age forty. And fortunately I did it the right way. Instead of diving into an intensive three months of training and long runs, I began laying the groundwork on the road a full year before the race. And I’m glad I did. I cruised through the finish line of my first NYC Marathon feeling elated. After a shower I met my friends for a festive Mexican meal and a few shots of good tequila. I should have counted my blessings and taken some time off and healed my body. But, no, I decided to run another marathon a few months later and paid a stiff price. I hit the wall hard in that second race and avoided long runs for a few years. Four years later I ran my third and final marathon. I was in the best shape of my life, but ran the worst race. Maybe it was due to my advanced age. I’m not sure. But I listened to my body during that grueling race when it told me in no uncertain terms that this was our final marathon. I might run a half marathon, but I’m done with the 26.2 miler.
Partially through proper fitness, I have been fortunate enough to preserve my joints, tendons and knees over the years. So, I’ve kept to a steady regime of running, elliptical training, push-ups, and intervals of weight training to keep me toned. I walk everywhere and almost always take the stairs. Maybe I’m lucky, but I’d argue that I’m somewhat responsible for creating my health through my choices and a lifelong investment in maintaining my body.
Anyone can get in shape at any age. But the longer you wait, the tougher it gets. I suggest starting slow, and staying consistent. Even if you get an injury, try not to let yourself fall too far out of shape. It gets harder and harder to make your way back as the years roll by.
3. Rest and stay positive – You work hard. You play hard. Your body, mind, and spirit need rest. And as you age you’ll need more time to recuperate from working out, a long night out, or a whole lotta love. Sleep is a gift. Your body will thank you. And when life knocks you down, don’t take it personally. We’re here to learn and you can bounce back. A positive outlook goes a long way in your preservation.
4. Meds – When my check ups and tests don’t go as well as I’d like,I do my research I read, talk to people—many in the holistic field, and try various natural remedies before succumbing to meds. Case in point: after a very high cholesterol reading, my doctor suggested that I either go on a vegan diet or take a statin drug. I told him I would see him in a year before making a final decision. I stopped eating meat and cut back on fried foods and foods with high cholesterol for a year, while also working out consistently. Happily, when we tested the following year, my number dropped 90 points and then dropped another 35 the following year. Of course there are times we need meds, but ultimately you need to consult your physician, consider your options and do what you feel is right for you. Keep and open mind and consider trying out natural remedies. You’ll be surprised at what Mother Nature provides us.
5. Never stop learning – Keeping your mind sharp as you age is as important as staying in shape. Throughout our lives, humans only scratch the surface in tapping less than 10 % of our brains’ potential. For many, especially, many of the boomer guys I know, reading is defined as working on the computer as day, scrolling through their phone, or a quick pass through A.M. New York while riding the subway to the office. What ever happened to reading books? Nurturing and feeding your mind through reading helps expand our horizons and keeps our minds sharp.
Quick story. I exchange texts with an old friend who is a big fan of our current president. His texts read like a rehash of whatever some Fox News host griped about the previous night. I routinely rip him a new one because my pal leads with his chin and does not show a trace of discernment about any issues. Everything comes down to bad versus good, us versus them, and black versus white. People who read know our world is complicated. When a television show needs big blocks of text to support the host’s point of view it shows a lack of depth or an open mind on the subject. It’s called brainwashing and unfortunately, it works on lazy minds.
6. Choose love over fear – When it’s all said and done, do you want to face your final days having lived a life based on making important choices based on fear or love? Choosing love keeps you young. It empowers you to the possibilities that come your way each and every day. Having an open mind is critical to keeping a youthful attitude and a spiritually grounded perspective, especially when we face life’s inevitable challenges. Choose love, amigos. It will keep you young.
7. Enjoy sex – When you’ve been married a long time and have kids and pressure and all the rest of the stuff that eats up our time, it’s easy to forego sex. Often, we pass out on the couch in front of the television before sleepwalking into the bedroom and crashing. Sex is important, amigos. If it gets overlooked for too long, relationships sour, bitterness ensues, and our body rebels when it’s not getting its fair share of intimate pleasure. Folks, please find a way to keep your love alive and the sexual fires burning. A good romp in the sack is good for the heart and the soul and if you ask me, it’s life affirming.
I could go on and on, but I think we’ve covered a number of simply practices that will keep you feeling, looking and being young for many, many years. Life can be a long, beautiful trip. All you have to do is strap in, make positive decisions, and enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts. I hope yours lasts a long, long time.
This week’s This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is Jack LaLanne, the man who opened America’s first fitness gyms. Jack’s long running television show in the sixties was built around wellness and staying young. And as a show of his commitment to his message, each year Jack would conduct a physical feat far exceeding the expectations of someone his age. At age 54, he defeated a 21-year old Arnold Schwarzenegger in a fitness contest. Jack lived 96 healthy years. You can do it, too.