In the Quest for Fitness After 40, You Gotta Pay Your Dues

One big OlderBeast goal is to help you evolve your outlook on fitness – and experiment with alternative activities – so you WANT to work out. Another important goal: help you PLAN so exercise isn’t super-hard to fit into your schedule.

But some days you’ll find yourself 0-for-2 on these dimensions. You really don’t want to do the workout you’ve planned. And something about that day’s schedule changed to make it hard to fit it in, anyway.

In such cases, sometimes you definitely need to be flexible, listen to your body, and reload for tomorrow. But sometimes you’ve got to suck it up and do your planned workout, man.

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One big OlderBeast goal is to help you evolve your outlook on fitness – and experiment with alternative activities – so you want to work out. Another important goal: help you plan so exercise isn’t super-hard to fit into your schedule.

But some days you’ll find yourself 0-for-2 on these dimensions. You really don’t want to do the workout you’ve planned. And something about that day’s schedule changed to make it hard to fit it in, anyway.

Lack of desire + schedule challenge…makes it very easy to opt out of your workout that day, man.

In such cases, sometimes you definitely need to be flexible, listen to your body, and reload for tomorrow. But sometimes you’ve got to suck it up and do your planned workout.

SMALL EXAMPLE: RAINY TUESDAY MORNING, BOSTON, MA

This article isn’t about me, it’s about you. But let me illustrate via a personal experience from last week.

Last Tuesday, I’d planned a 5-mile run in Boston (after flying there from California late the prior evening). I didn’t sleep well. The morning was chilly and rainy. By the time I was really awake, I didn’t have time to eat lightly and let that settle before exercise (which I’d normally do – I’m not an “empty stomach workout guy”). I had meetings scheduled all day, including a dinner.

So to make a run fit into my schedule, I needed to head out immediately. I wavered. Was I really up for this?

Well, I’d already taken the prior day off, so this would make two days in a row with no exercise. Something I almost never do. Plus, I committed myself to a triathlon in August, and had in mind the need to keep training momentum. (That’s a good by-product of setting fitness goals).

I pretty much forced myself out the door, and I felt sluggish to begin with. But I felt better and better as the run went on. And once I was done, I was really glad I didn’t bail on myself!

FRIENDLY SUGGESTION: THINK ABOUT “PAYING YOUR DUES”

As I was running, the phrase “paying your dues” came to mind.

This is something we often think of in relation to young people in a career context. You’ve got to earn it, you’ve got to pay your dues. But by the time we’re 40+, aren’t we done paying dues? Don’t we deserve to enjoy the benefits of what the dues-paying was for?

In a career sense, perhaps yes.

But when it comes to fitness, the older we get the MORE important it is to keep paying those dues, brother.

Inevitably, at times, you’ll find yourself in the wavering mode I felt last week. It’s so early (or late). It’s hot (or cold). It’s rainy, snowy, windy, whatever. You’re hungry.

But think about all the things you want from a fitness, health and wellness perspective. Feel great. Look your best. Keep getting happier as years go by. Live as long as may be in the cards for you. Do any of us think these come for free?

Sometimes, you gotta pay your dues, dude. You need to earn it.

Please think about this the next time you feel that “waver” impulse.

 

“Got to pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues. And you know it don’t come easy.” (Ringo Starr, It Don’t Come Easy – click to listen)

 

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Fitness as We Age: Five Lessons From the “Ground Game” in Football

I love football analogies, man. I probably use them too much. I ought to invoke the images of a symphony or a wild-flowered meadow more often.

But some football analogies just make sense to me at a visceral level. Especially this one: pursuing long-term body-and-soul health (at 40, 50, 60 and beyond) is like committing to the run as a football strategy.

When a team declares “we WILL run the football,” they commit to guiding principles like: Having a more-patient approach to victory – not trying to “win quickly”…Depending less on flashy or gimmicky approaches – what you see is mainly what you get…and Reducing costly mistakes – fumbles are less common and less damaging than interceptions.

Let’s consider what lessons this holds for the pursuit of decades-long fitness. I see five of them.

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How to Overcome “That Sluggish Feeling” When It Threatens Your Workout Plan

There are a bunch of reasons why you might NOT work out today. Some are good, and many are not-so-good. Of all possible reasons, the one I really hate works like this.

1. You plan to work out that day. Then as the planned time nears, you start to feel a physical and/or mental sluggishness. Nothing dramatic, but you just don’t feel like working out. You start to flirt with the idea of taking the day off, considering various possible justifications.

2. But rather than explicitly, decisively declaring a day off – sometimes you need one, even if unplanned – you let minutes tick by without moving toward your workout OR deciding not to. Deep down, you might know what you’re doing, but you don’t admit it to yourself.

3. Then all of a sudden, voila, it’s “too late” for your workout. You missed the window of time you had before your next work, family or personal obligation. Even though you caused this, you don’t feel glad about the “can’t workout now” reality. You immediately feel like you’ve let yourself down.

This ever happen to you?  If so, you just fell victim to That Sluggish Feeling (“TSF”).  

I’ve devised a new response to TSF when it strikes. I don’t seek to move directly from sluggishness to exercise. Instead, I do a short, easy “bridge” activity in-between, to change my energy and get me into a better frame-of-mind to decide if I’m really, intentionally going to skip that workout. Here’s how it works.

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Fitness: What Men Can Learn From Women (Part 2)

Part One of this series said 40+ guys should take valuable cues from women to refine their fitness-and-health approach for the decades ahead.

Women…
1. Don’t let competitiveness become counterproductive to fitness
2. Focus more on total-body fitness
3. Seek out help and support more
4. Take nutrition more seriously

I have no intent to perpetuate stereotypes. But these patterns do fit with how many people assume women behave compared to men. So yeah, I’ll admit it in this language: Part One suggested we learn from attitudes and behaviors some might describe as “womanly.”

However you describe them, they have real benefits for lifelong fitness, health and wellness.

If anything, this Part Two makes a more cage-rattling point. Some women in the OlderBeast phase of life are “manning up” to fearlessly embrace age and double down on fitness — on “historically-male” fitness turf — more than many guys are.

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