Photo by Elza Kurbanova / Unsplash

No two ways about it. No matter the research project, the end results are the same

My body was nearly screaming at me this morning, the result of an energetic brand-new martial arts class as well as equally-energetic sessions at the gym. I rolled out of bed- no really, my futon is on the floor-with my head hitting the pillow placed there for just that purpose.

Three times I rolled, then used my core to pop up, stretch out and slowly respectfully, ease up. My newly-repaired left foot has all kinds of new metal and screws, and it isn't quite there yet. Perhaps another few months, but the soreness is part of getting said foot back in shape.

At newly seventy, battling a few Covid pounds I really don't need, the last few weeks have been instructive. Not only have I been researching the web for new information but I've also laid out some new plans for the first six months of the year. Most involve exercise and some adaptive eating plans. What I learned, and what I nearly always find out, is that what we already know is reinforced every single time someone conducts research on how best to stay in shape, especially as we age.

I've been lifting for fifty years. The last few years have seen some interruptions due to shoulder surgeries (three of them) hand surgery (one down and one to go) and this foot surgery (one down and one to go). Those have made my badass workouts impossible, and finding a way to maintain the muscle I worked so hard to earn has been, well, impossible.

This is the body I had at 64:

Julia Hubbel

That's not the body I have right now. In 2017, above, I was in THE best shape of my life. That year I got my shoulder, ribs and face caved in by a horse, and when a horse threw me in Kazakhstan I broke my back in eight places.

That was the year that began the repair journey. Beginning in 2018 I got rotator cuff surgery. It was also clear that too many horses had stood on my dogs, and that eventually led to more repairs. For the last five years, it seemed interminable as I underwent- and am still undergoing- procedures to lace me back together and give me bionic hands, feet, and eventually, knees.

That body went away. The key words are, for now. I kept weights around the house, hiked when I could, worked out when I could. But Covid, a big move and much else weighed on me and like many others, that showed up in places I've not seen weight since I was thirty.

Happily, not too much. And happily, like all things, much of that will likely resolve when I can get back to my basics. Those basics are what I want to reinforce here. First, this:

Part of the wisdom of aging is recognizing that there will be times when we simply have to be down, whether is depression or injury or disease. Part of what you and I get to learn is that what we built comes back. That is the gift our bodies give us when we choose to do the work, even if we begin very late in life. We learn to be more patient with the healing body and to trust it, most especially if we are feeding it well and moving it much, and our attitudes include the expectation of fine health.

Tired of hearing the same damned thing?

Many Americans are. The problem is that the "same damned thing" is precisely what works.

Here is that broken record that I found today:

7 Incredible Benefits of Lifting Weights That Have Nothing to Do With Building Muscle
Boost your mood, reduce back pain, and much more.

You and I keep seeing these articles because they go back to the basics. Basics which are constantly reinforced ad nauseum by articles like these. On occasion there might be some new insight but those new insights don't change the fundamentals. Weight training WORKS.

Movement, some kind of aerobic work, WORKS.

Eating well for our bodies and for our unique life situation WORKS.

Having friends and a positive support system WORKS.

Please see this:

3 Simple Habits That Can Protect Your Brain From Cognitive Decline
These three habits help your body, and also have a positive impact on your brain.

Swart discusses aerobic exercise, intermittent fasting, reducing sugar and proper sleep. Stop the presses, right?

Some time back a reader admonished me for repeating what she called "old news" about nutrition, movement, support systems and having a purpose.

Well, if you read the research, and I do, and scour the Internet, and I do, for the latest in what we know about how to age well, it's the same old tunes.

We know more about nutrition, but nutrition rules.

We know more about exercise, but exercise rules.

We know about relationships, and here is another update on that:

Researchers Have Identified the One Type of Exercise That Makes People Live Longer—It’s Not What You May Think
According to the longest happiness study in history, we all need to be strengthening our relationships

I could go on. Point is here that no matter how many (dumb stupid) fads come and go, the basics are the basics because they work.

Wanna bark at me about this? FINE.

Here's another article:

Chronic Inflammation is Insidious and Dangerous. You May Not Even Know You Have It.
People often learn they have it when by developing an autoimmune disease. But the ailment might also play a role with heart disease, cancer, other disorders.

From the article:

Experts believe individuals can reduce their risk by adopting lifestyle changes, including eating a healthy diet, improving sleep, exercising regularly, quitting smoking and finding ways to decrease stress and exposure to environmental pollutants. (author bolded)

I really do not care how bored you and I may be with the basics. But like an old Beach Boys tune on the elevator which makes us Boomers want to rock out, or a Led Zepplin song that makes us wanna scream, the oldies still work. So should we.

It doesn't matter whether we are battling chronic inflation or chronic flab, or chronic name-your-issue, most of what we are dealing with can be whittled down to lifestyle choices. CHOICES. While yes, there are diseases, accidents and all the rest, but bottom line the shape we are in as we age can largely be laid at the door of choices.

But I want an EASY button (or pill)

There is a great deal of noise around the new weight loss drug. The good news is that you can perhaps lose up to 20% of your body weight. The very bad news is that many insurance companies won't cover the $1400 a month bill, and if you stop, guess what? It all comes back. So you're on it for life, yay for pharmaceutical companies, and not so good for your bank balance. To that:

There is no EASY button or pill for health. Everything we have right now is a quick fix with a high price tag and often even higher costs from side effects. For the not-so-obese but who just want the Covid 15 off (my hand is up) those are food and exercise choices.

To that: I walk across my gym parking lot every morning and the smell of fresh hot donuts wafts into my nose. That is, of course, very hard. However, like all things, it's a choice to just keep on walking. Go home, grab an apple, and congratulate yourself for another small, but pivotal, choice for health and longevity.

There's a charming line in the 007 movie Skyfall when the lovely Miss Moneypenny and Bond are together:

"Sometimes the old ways are the best."

Yes. Sometimes they are. In our headlong search for the easy way out, we run into the wall of reality. If we wish long life, healthy life, a life free of most disease and afflictions, the best way forward is still sticking to the basics.

You and I may tire of hearing the Same Old Things, but there is some great comfort in returning to what we know works. We do know these basics work. Above all, there are great personal pleasure and pride in doing the work, and celebrating our courage, our persistence and the results only we can produce.

Above all, fitness arises from an attitude of kindness. When we choose to be kind to this body, which is such a magnificent machine, that machine is kind back. Your body, my body, deserves kindness. Good food, good movement, good friends and a reason to get up each day make up a recipe for that kindness.

There's no pill to give us that.

Here's to rockin' to the oldies. They work.

Photo by Taylor Skaff on Unsplash