Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash

Here are two boxed giftsets for those of you seeking inspiration, and people to emulate. And no, they aren’t baby-faced influencers.

Earlier this morning I penned a piece which was inspired by two articles by fellow Medium writers:

Two comments which absolutely underscore why I love my readers inspired me to write this article.

First, there’s this (used with permission) from fairly new-to-Medium commenter

Kara Myers:

Age is a mindset, an attitude. The number is irrelevant. I know people in their 20s who already have an “old person” mindset. In her 90s, my grandmother was still hauling firewood and splitting logs without breaking a sweat. She lived alone in the mountains of Southern California until she finally passed at 103. My 82 year old neighbor just completed a 10K race and placed 3rd in his age group, yet he was disappointed in the result since he had hoped to take 1st. His response? There’s always next year. It’s that kind of mindset that I aspire to embrace as I continue on this journey of life. I’m in my late 50s and plan to stay as active as possible for as long as possible. As for Unsplash and other photography sites, maybe it’s time for the curators to wake up to an aging population that aspires to do more than sit around in rocking chairs. (author bolded)

Another commenter, 75-year-old multi-certified coach/trainer body builder Nurit Amichai added this to the discussion:

Myriad are the quotes that include these words: Age is a state of mind. While somewhat cliche, I think there’s definitely truth there. If you were to ask me what it feels like to be 75 years old, I would have to respond, “Fabulous!” Then, I think, I have no idea what that really means because 75 is just a number. I feel good. I look good. I’m strong. I can keep up with and pass a lot of people a lot younger than me. I do things people half my age don’t do and I do it with panache…

I have three kids and raised all of them in the gym. They learned physical fitness from me, not from school (which hardly taught it and doesn’t at all now). They, in turn, have very active and athletic children. Fitness, wellness, mental prowess (enhanced by physical fitness), and the ability to handle life and what it hands you, comes with discipline, hard work, focus, and a serious drive to take yourself to the next level. That’s missing in today’s young people and, dare I say, “older” (as in 40 to 50) people as well. The laughable part is that they call us old. How ironic. (author bolded)

Deposit photos

I don’t give a crap how you personally feel about Mick Jagger. I really don’t. But stay with me for a sec here.

I have regularly used his example to make points about fitness. And here I’m going to do it again. Jagger’s father was a phys ed teacher. This echoes Nurit’s point- when we are raised to be fit, we carry those values. Jagger is fit as he slides into eighty, and nobody but NOBODY calls him elderly for damned good reason.

Elderly is a state of mind. So is fitness. Lazy, sloppy, distracted parents raise kids with those values. By lazy I mean not that they don’t work hard, but that they aren’t willing to do or sometimes can’t do the physical work which will keep them healthy. They aren’t willing to do or can’t do the discipline to eat well, which feeds a healthy lifestyle. Those take much harder work today than ever, with all the visible results surrounding us.

And kindly before you bite off my head, I’m well aware that it is much much harder right now to eat well, given the cost of food, and the fact that so many folks have to work multiple gigs to survive. I get it. However, there are ways to work physicality into our lives even if you can’t afford a gym membership, and there are ways to eat better without spending your life savings on a bag of groceries. But this isn’t that article.

We too often choose comfort over being fit. And then as a society we bark insults at people like the above two women and a great many more of us out there getting it done, day after day, at the gym, the pool, the mountains, the bike paths. Simply because they are older.

All we can do is teach by example. To that, a final note:

I had a very small but important victory. I sent my surgeon, a guy who knows me well enough to know better, a friendly but crisp email about his notes about my post-shoulder surgery visit. In it, the notes refer to me as “elderly.”

The hackles on the back of my neck rose for damned good reason.

You will understand when you get to fifty or sixty and you’re out, well, IF you’re out, riding horses and camels and climbing mountains and hiking summits and body building and doing all the work to keep yourself in that kind of shape, why that’s offensive. When your doctor refers to you as elderly and you’ve got better muscle tone that he does, or where the nurses calling you “honey” and “sweetie” are obese they couldn’t make it across the parking lot to climb the mountain that is your regular training run.

Those nurses will be lucky to make it to forty, much less up a mountainside.

You get it.

His staff called last week to say that the offending term had been removed. Small, but important. Words matter. I was kind, but I was clear. The medical community needs to clean up its irritating, infantilizing language. They load everyone from 60 to 105 into “elderly.” Imagine if we loaded everyone from 20 to 65 as “middle-aged,” the hue and cry from all those offended folks.


So mind your words. Your attitudes about ageing — and research bears me out here- dictate how you will age. So if you’re engaging with age-hate, ageism, abuse of the greybeards and grey hairs like me, you are setting yourselves up for a very poor future indeed.

Now again, you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take a break and head to my downstairs gym and do some reps. I have another mountain to train for next year. There’s always next year.

“Elderly” doing Macchu Picchu Julia Hubbel

With warm thanks to Kara and Nurit for their comments.

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