"I'm fucking OLD." A 51 year-old writer shoves his shovel into the hard dirt with this comment.
Call me a crabapple. I guess I am. However you can also call me a lot more youthful than THAT guy. I turn 69 in just a few days, greet the day with enthusiasm, and work hard to exercise and eat in ways that perpetuate good health.
So when I stumble on a public comment like this on LinkedIn, combined with a photo of a much younger man fully in his prime but complaining about being "fucking old," it gets my goat.
The reason? He's a coach.
What kind of life coach operates out of such a space?
Nobody I would hire.
Not on your life. Because one of the better speakers of the last century, Jim Rohn, said:
You're The Average Of The Five People You Spend The Most Time With
So imagine your own life coach who has given up on his own life at the ancient, doddering, decrepit age of 51, and you're already past that. What the hell kind of life advice is he going to be able to offer, pray tell?
If I may. Here is a story about how I handled that very thing.
Back in 2015 I was in Iceland, riding horses for three weeks. I was 62 at the time. Then I hired a rental and began driving the Ring Road. I stopped off in Ísafjörður, a very small but active town way out on the northwest corner. There, I rode more horses and was kayaking some pretty epic waters.
Tired as hell, I packed up my bag to continue the trip, then made to carry my big, heavy pack down the hotel's concrete steps to my car.
My big fat bag had other ideas. It commenced a death dive, and went wheels over handles down the stairs. Problem was, I was still attached.
Suffice it to say, I was very badly banged up at the bottom. That was my sixteenth concussion. I had a smashed pelvis, a broken elbow, broken wrist and a serious coconut bump. However, I was back on a horse in six weeks, because I am in that kind of shape, and I am that disciplined.
I didn't know at the time that within a few months, I would begin to suffer from post concussion syndrome.
Back then I worked with a very strong-willed spiritual coach. A Toronto girl who had recovered from both cocaine and alcohol addiction, she was now just as focused on her spiritual work. Much of this was exceedingly positive, but for one thing. She was considered, and very proud of the fact that she was, in this line of study, a master.
It was well-earned but for one thing. She began to pontificate about things she knew nothing about, like medicine. This is where I'm going with this.
I began to show all the typical symptoms of post-concussion syndrome. That was exacerbated at the time by a cocktail of meds that doctors I should not have trusted had put me on for a condition I didn't have.
I slept a lot. Brain fog. One symptom after another. My coach announced to me that I needed to nap more because I was "getting old." She started to bark at me about how I was slowing down physically and this was just natural.
I should accept the inevitable.
I was, and still am, a very serious athlete. Not happy with that answer, I turned to my sports chiropractor, who had known me much longer. He quintupled my workout program. Immediately I felt better.
I also began working with an oxygenation machine* which also helped with the symptoms. Ultimately I bought one, and use it every day. That machine, which I use to train on as well, has kept me upright after fully twenty-two concussions. My symptoms are managed, I stay engaged, energetic and vibrant.
And very, very youthful. My body is strong, my brain is active and sharp, and I move like a twenty-year-old. That takes work, along with an excellent diet of mostly vegges and fruit and lean meats.
Above all I do not allow toxic Wordfood, a term I coined for my prize-winning book on the topic, to get into my brainpain and fry my thinking.
When I challenged my coach, she booted me out of her practice immediately. How dare I question her, I guess. This is a woman with far more experience in folding tea towels than how the body responds to repeated concussions, who likely carries at least sixty pounds of additional weight on her own aging body. But she decided she was my doctor.
Well, that's inappropriate. She might have been feeling old (she was eleven years my senior), but I sure wasn't. Age had nothing to do with what I was feeling. I took my health in hand, cycled off the meds. All the symptoms, ALL of them resolved.
The medical literature is full of examples of how medications, including over the counter (OTC) drugs, can mimic symptoms of advanced age. Remove the meds, increase activity, change the diet to remove ultra-processed food and too much alcohol, and voila! Instant energy, clarity, youthfulness restored.
While not all of us can do that, for the most part if you and I ate better and moved more, reduced the stress from too much social media, we would likely see a vastly- improved brain, body and attitude across the board.
I can't even begin to countenance how many legitimate doctors bark at their patients that they are "just getting old," and thereby condemn them to decrepitude right at the time that revving up the aging engine might give them a whole new lease on life. What's worse, and also known as illegal, is when non-medical people give medical advice.
Aaron Rodgers, who got Covid, famously turned to famous Covid expert and internationally-known physician Joe Rogan (you will forgive me if I vomit). You can't legislate stupidity. And kindly, plenty upon plenty of lazy, sloppy doctors who have no business being doctors will talk you out of exercise as you age, telling you that you need to rest more when your body is actually screaming at you for work.
Increasingly as countries see their aging populations burgeon and become more burdensome as a result of poor eating and exercise habits (to say nothing of pollution and a whole host of other factors), there is more research on how we age, and how we can improve how we age. Much of it is ridiculously simple (eat better, move more, improve the quality of your social circle, have a purpose). Above all it's what kind of Wordfood you are feeding your noggin, which affects your attitude.
In a recent article by David Robson in The Guardian, he lists some of the studies which have begun to twist our narrative around the aging process. What is most important for me as a prize-winning author on a book about how we wield words, most particularly how we speak to our selves, the results are critically important.
Later studies have since reinforced the link between people’s expectations and their physical ageing, while dismissing some of the more obvious – and less interesting – explanations. You might expect that people’s attitudes would reflect their decline rather than contribute to the degeneration, for example. Yet many people will endorse certain ageist beliefs, such as the idea that “old people are helpless”, long before they should have started experiencing age-related disability themselves. And Levy has found that those kinds of views, expressed in people’s mid-30s, can predict their subsequent risk of cardiovascular disease up to 38 years later.
The most recent findings suggest that age beliefs may play a key role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Tracking 4,765 participants over four years, the researchers found that positive expectations of ageing halved the risk of developing the disease, compared to those who saw old age as an inevitable period of decline. Astonishingly, this was even true of people who carried a harmful variant of the APOE gene, which is known to render people more susceptible to the disease. The positive mindset can counteract an inherited misfortune, protecting against the build-up of the toxic plaques and neuronal loss that characterise the disease.
Imagine, even if you have that awful genetic APOE gene, you can protect yourself against Alzheimer's by HALF.
It's all in your head, indeed.
So you will forgive me if I suggest that you be very, VERY careful of who you allow in your head. If your friends spout ageist beliefs, back away. If your doctor doesn't prescribe better food and more movement, and instead simply tells you that you should expect to deteriorate fast as you age, fire the stupid bastard.
Because he IS a stupid bastard.
More importantly, check the walls of their office. If they have all kinds of ads for prescription meds plastered on the walls of their office, run like the wind. Find someone else. Big Pharma already owns their ass. You own yours, but it is forfeit the moment you hand your brain, your body and your future over to a doctor who is owned by Big Pharma.
Invest in and read good books chock-full of the kind of positive, energizing information about what you CAN do to improve your lot as you log more years. I sure am. Robson wrote one and it's already ordered. Others which speak to the forces lined up against us by all the Bigs are by folks like Dr. Robert Lustig, who focuses on food, fat and how to get your brain back.
Above all, follow the money behind so many of the claims, fake science and voodoo cures. Too many physicians have no clue about the most recent research and still spout advice that's so old, Rumplestiltskin would consider it grandfathered in.
Own your own life and aging process.
This morning for breakfast I am having acorn squash with a touch of butter and honey. LOTS of water. A bowl of blackberries and blueberries with a splash of cream and stevia. No sugar. No bacon. No junk food like granola.
I've got more energy and enthusiasm than should be legal. And folks accuse me of being lucky. NO, honey, it's hard work.
As soon as I hit "Publish," check once more for grammar and typos just in case, I head downstairs to my elliptical, my oxygenation machine, my weights and my workouts.
I am in training to attempt a second summit of Kilimanjaro in 2023 at the age of 70. I am just getting started. That's because....
I own my body, my brain, my aging process.
I am in training for my eighties and beyond. Part of that is making sure that those whose words are in my head most often are positive, life-affirming, aging well and vibrantly.
I will not allow other's toxicity to infect my positivity about aging.
Are you digging yourself an early grave with ageist, self-hating beliefs?
Or are you willing to train for a full life of challenge, joy, adventure and all that life has to offer until Mama Nature calls you home?
Up to you. I've got some training to do.
*Please note that I do not have a financial agreement with LiveO2; I am a fan of their product.