As long as you're alive, aging is inevitable. Some people don't age well and look like a withered piece of rope by the time they're 50, while others age with so much grace that they don't even look like they're aging at all. What's the secret that differentiates the two? Is it just genetics, or is there some surreptitious rout to graceful aging? Well, I'm no expert on aging but I’ve learned enough over the years to know that there are several things that have a significant impact on how well we age:
• How you handle stress
• Your attitude
• Your mental activity
• Your physical activity
• Your diet
• Rest and sleep
Even if genetics is the biggest factor in how we age, the above list gives us plenty to work with, over which we have a great deal of control and can positively affect the inevitable outcome.
Now, if you're a young buck who isn’t sure why I'm even bringing this up, just remember, I’ve been where you are, I was young and invincible once. But, are you going to be able to look and perform like me when you're in your 50's? What you do today – the habits and the disciplines you employ today - will have a huge impact (good or bad) on what you're able to do 10 – 20 – 30 years from now. So, let's take these one at a time.
While my training and diet advise never really addresses stress per se, psychologists and physiologists will tell you that rigorous physical activity is a tremendous stress reliever. So, if you're following my training protocol, check that one off the list.
As far as your attitude goes, I’ve always advocated that you make goals to believe in yourself, to fight through adversity and disappointment, to hang out with people that motivate you, to work hard, to pick yourself up, not make excuses.... If you've been paying attention, you know that I always espouse the best mental outlook for aging gracefully.
I can't stress enough the value of being a lifelong learner. This practice not only keeps your brain sharp as you get older, but it also keeps you inquisitive, active, adventurous – there's never a dull moment if you're continually learning.
And, when you combine mental acuity with physical activity, a good diet and adequate rest, there's no stone left unturned. I’ve bombarded you with how important each of those disciples is to reaching your physique goal. If you’ve missed those points then you haven’t been paying attention. It's those same disciplines you're doing as part of your march to your ultimate physique that will keep you vital and youthful at every age.
One of the men I most admired was Jack LeLanne. He is known as the “godfather of fitness.” He died in 2011 at the age of 96. After he beat a 21 year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger in an informal bodybuilding contest, at age 54, Arnold simply said, “that Jack LeLanne is an animal.” Jack preached fitness and diet until the day he died. He never stopped, notably continuing to accomplish incredible feats of strength in his 90s.
When you think about aging with style, take Jack’s words to heart that he spoke shortly before he died: “I train like I’m training for the Olympics or for a Mr. America contest, the way I’ve always trained my whole life. You see, life is a battlefield. Life is survival of the fittest. How many healthy people do you know? How many happy people do you know? Think about it. People work at dying, they don’t work at living. My workout is my obligation to life. It’s my tranquilizer. It’s part of the way I tell the truth — and telling the truth is what’s kept me going all these years.”