I've Decided to Stop Ageing
One of my deepest wishes is for my dad to still be around when my son and I begin our camping adventures. Tommy is only six-years-old, but my dad will tick over 81 this July.
Luckily, aside from some routine skin cancer removals, my dad is in rude health. Almost fifty years of outdoor work with no skin protection has caught up with him, yet he's in bloody good nick for such an old bastard.
Over the last year, I've become a lot more conscious of my behaviour and deliberate in my choices. Looking at the habits that have preserved my dad so well, it's obvious he's applied the basic principles of good health for most of his life.
- He moves every day – walking, cycling, gardening
- He eats a lot of natural foods and very little sugar
- He never drinks to excess
- He doesn't sit for long periods
- He'll smoke a few good cigars when we catch up but that's it
- He spends a lot of time in nature
- He EXPECTS to live till he's at least 100
They're simple, right? There's no gym, no trainer, no nutritionist and no tricks. He simply does the things we all KNOW we should do.
It took dad a long time to come down off the daily work grind and to feel comfortable in this new phase of his life. Most men struggle emotionally when they retire, and he was no exception. But these days, he wears it well, and there's still plenty of the cheeky bastard left in him, that's for sure. Following these principles has helped, I'm sure.
I'm going to be 50 next year, so I guess I'm fully-grown, now. And I've decided that since there's no more growing up to do, I'm going to grow back down again. I'm going to get younger, healthier, less serious and more engaged with the art of living – just like my dad.
So getting back to what I'm doing and why I believe I've stopped the clock (in fact, I'm going to reverse it for the next 10 years) – it boils down to these things:
I move every day. I wear one of those POLAR fitness trackers with the built-in heart monitor, and I make sure I get to 65% of my maximum heart rate for at least half an hour every day. Over time, I'll increase this till I get to an hour every day.
I eat a lot less crap. Nowadays, it's fresh bananas and berries on low-sugar cereal for breakfast, fruit, nuts and Vita-Wheats in between and a Lite ‘n' Easy dinner at night (I can't be bothered cooking and my wife doesn't eat till nine or ten).
I have one or two drinks a night. There's a good reason for this. It's one of the best ways to prevent heart attacks, stroke and dementia. In fact, men who have two drinks a day are 30 to 40 percent less likely to have a heart attack than those who don't drink at all. We now refer to our wine fridge as the medicine cabinet.
If you're in any doubt about this (and I know you are), read the NY Time Bestseller, Younger Next Year, by Chris Crowley and Henry Lodge, MD. I have my good friend, Ken, to thank for this book. It changed his life, and now it's changing mine.
I bought an electric height-adjustable desk. I usually work an average of 12 hours a day, so if I sat the whole time, I'd be just as unhealthy as a chain-smoking, fast-food-scoffing, womanising 70-year-old. Throughout the day, I alternate between standing and sitting, and this has made me healthier and better-looking. Okay, the first bit.
Smoking is for pleasure, not a habit. My ex-wife and I used to smoke (she doesn't anymore). Back in the day, there was always a reason to go outside and have a smoke (coffee, alcohol, stress, happiness, exhaustion, boredom). The only act that didn't qualify as a reason for a smoke, was taking a crap. Although her cousin actually does that.
Today, I love a good cigar, and I'll often enjoy one with a whisky or a Shiraz – especially if I'm writing. There's a Henry Winterman's Short glowing next to me right now.
Nature and I are about to be re-acquainted. On a good day, the drive from our house to the city is about 30 minutes, but on any day, our local bushland is less than five minutes away – all 2,000 kangaroo-filled acres of it. But what am I doing? Walking the streets like a nuffy. So at least once a week, I'm going to get back to nature.
Maybe one day I'll get a second-hand mountain bike and start riding the trails, too. But for now, Gellibrand Hill and I are gonna become friends.
103 – that's my number. And I expect to hit it standing up.
I lift heavy weights twice a week. This is a bonus entry, but it's not an optional one. Science has proven that resistance training is the best way to stop sore joints dead in their tracks for the rest of your life. To quote Chris Crowley, “Lifting heavy weights every couple of days basically stops the bone loss…stops (or offsets) the muscle loss…stops the weakening of tendons, restores the goopy pads and gets rid of the pain.”
And here's a tip: If you're going to favour one part of your body, make it your quads (the biggest muscles in your body) – not your biceps. It'll strengthen your knees and burn the most calories. And since walking is where most old people start to struggle, it'll ensure you're not the one who falls over and breaks your hip in the local supermarket carpark.
We're all Very Lucky
I don't know about you, but I'm glad I was born in the 20th century and not the 18th. We have so much going for us these days, and life is much easier than it was back then. Medical science has raised us to a new plateau of good health and longevity. We have electricity, we have appliances to do our work, machines to take us wherever we want to go, and we have the Internet to learn and share the world's body of knowledge.
But none of these things will make healthy decisions for us. We each have to do that for ourselves.
The Last Climb
There's a beautiful rugged mountain where my dad lives, and it's kind of special to both of us. When my dad finally expires, he wants me to scatter his ashes on top of it.
We've each climbed Mt Torbreck several times, and though I haven't scaled it for 30 years, its eerie mystique hasn't waned. Next time I climb it, it'll be with my dad and my son.
And that's why I'm going to get younger every year for the next ten. Because if I don't, I know they'll both kick my arse.
Finding Time to Reinvent Yourself
How to Die With No Regrets
The Halfway Mark
The Number One Rule From my 74yo Mum
You’re Already a Millionaire
Eliminate Crap from your Life
How it Feels to Live on Your Own Terms
The Tools I Use and Recommend
Books Worth Reading
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