You might've been reluctant to click this blog based off of the title. The words "embrace" and "aging" do not seem to go together. Aging seems more like a wrecking ball coming at maximum speed versus a cuddly teddy bear that gives you extra comfort at night. In the deepest bits of my being, I honestly think we have this all wrong. Aging does not have to be this miserable process. I mean, technically, we are aging from inception. Why should we spend our entire lives fussing over the progression (maybe a better word is regression) that seems to occur with time? Even if you are trying to push the known boundaries of performance into your 50's, 60's, and beyond, I believe there is plenty more to be achieved.
Why is this important to me? I have already experienced what it is like to be told "no" to move when all I craved was to move. As a kid, my knees were slow to develop and, at times, we were not sure they would ever develop properly. Imagine being a kid who is supposed to be climbing trees, playing tag with friends, and told that you can't run, jump, and do all of the things you want.
While this is a kid example for me, how many of you have been told "no" for things you want to, physically, do? If we were all in a room, I bet a majority of the hands would go up. Here's the funny thing, our examples are not much different.
We are told "no" because a solution is not always easy to find. We are told "no" because it is the "safe" play in the short-term but actually a more crippling play in the long-term. Think about it, lack of movement rarely solves a movement issue. You need to move to get better at moving.
Instead of locking things down with a hard "no," I challenge you to ask reflective, actionable questions.
How can I still achieve some form of progress?
What can I do to find a middle ground that still gives me joy?
What is the root of the problem and not just the surface level issue?
How does my lifestyle affect my physical goals?
These questions can help you produce a roadmap that is exciting and attainable. I owe a lot of this to friend, colleague, and client, Siphiwe Baleka. Instead of being passive with the aging process, Siphiwe looks at it as this beautiful continuum that he can study. With this study, he can learn and adapt versus wither and slow. Does he have "off" days? I'm sure of it!
His off days are viewed as part of the journey and not as an endpoint.
Hopefully, I have you thinking a bit. Now let's move on to action steps!
1. Movement fixes movement.
I mentioned this earlier but sitting still is not going to fix movement pattern issues. For example, if you're trying to master new body positioning with your freestyle stroke, I don't recommend that you just sit at a desk. I recommend that you get up and move! Assess where you are restricted. Develop a roadmap to free up these restrictions as best you can. Aim for a little bit of progress each day versus the whole goal in one sitting.
Maybe you understand the value of this but your workplace makes it hard to move. You feel strapped to a desk or office. Try changing levels. Even if you don't have the opportunity to utilize a standing desk, you can kneel, schedule little 30-second movement breaks, and perform some upper body range of motion drills will sitting in a chair.
I don't know anyone that feels excellent sitting in a chair for eight hours each day. You might get some funny looks at first, but I bet as you explain the "why," you'll see more and more people taking part in your little adjustments.
Recently, I wrote about how Amish communities average a higher level of daily movement and see some amazing health differences compared to societies that we are a little more accustomed to. With that in mind, there are still some key tips you can implement within your own daily framework.
In my own personal journey, I can tell you that both a long day of movement and a long day sitting at a desk is exhausting. That being said, there are clear differences between the two.
2. Performance measures can be maintained (and maybe even improve) as you age.
Here's some really good news, you have more control over the decline of your performance measures (ex. power, strength, speed) compared to what you probably think. In school, professors would tell us how you can expect a 10% decline in strength, power, and speed each decade after the age of 30. This is what the research shows. Luckily, in grad school, I had a professor who challenged us to look deeper into the research and find a critical flaw.
I started to realize that a majority of the research that made these claims did not actually look at people who continued to train and focus on performance improvement. They looked at people who increased the sedentary time as they aged. I remember this moment where I felt like I had figured out the universe’s biggest secret. Research is definitely improving and we are on our way to better understanding what is possible. I can confidently tell you that you have more of a say in these measures than you probably think. Stop living a lie and start living!
3. Your mindset is everything!
Life definitely has the potential to be very tough. Your ability to navigate past failures, the speed bumps, and willingness to constantly learn is critical to continued development.
One of my favorite quotes is from podcast guest, Kendal Jacobson.
"We are not delicate little flowers. Our bodies will always respond to the forces we will put on them. ALWAYS!”
I think we fall into this trap of thinking we are that delicate flower. Don't get me wrong, ask my wife, I have my soft side. I'm not saying that you have to be cast in stone and show no emotion. I'm saying that you need to be able to hop on the plane, fly up to 10,000 feet, and assess things openly. This is the mindset piece you need to drive performance throughout the aging process.
If you need a good example of this, look no further than someone you know who has endured multiple failures on the route to achieving their ultimate goal. What differentiates their failed attempts versus their successful attempts? Assessment, goal modification, and attitude.
In closing, I challenge you to look at how you are embracing your aging process. Maybe you're fed up with slowing down. Maybe you do not want to hear another "no." Whatever your driver is, we are here to help. From our featured content to our performance training programs, the resources are here for you to change the trajectory of your performance. All you have to do is hop in!
Speaking of hopping in, there’s not better time to start. If you have been dragging your feet on making a change and know it is time to act, I challenge you to act! Start by filling out our performance questionnaire. This will allow us to pop the hood on your current state of training and where you want to go. I’m sure we can help you get to the next level you have been looking for. You just need to take the first step!