Hey, Hero Man: Take Care of YOURSELF!

Taking care of business. Finances. The house. Kids. Maybe your parents. Man, you’ve got a lot to take care of.

But one thing that should characterize reaching the “OlderBeast threshold” – somewhere in the age 40-50 window – is this realization:

No matter how much is on your plate, it’s time to start truly taking care of yourself, brother.

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Taking care of business. Finances. The house.  Kids.  Maybe your parents.  Man, you’ve got a lot to take care of.

But one thing that should characterize reaching the “OlderBeast threshold” – somewhere in the age 40-50 window – is this realization:

No matter how much is on your plate, it’s time to start truly taking care of yourself, brother.

The Hazard of Being (Just) the Man They Expect Us to Be

We’re biologically and culturally wired to view “provide, protect, procreate” as our mission (and how others judge us).  This has never been easy, but today it’s harder than ever.  More work, with electronic demands nearly 24/7.  More time spent taking care of kids than our fathers or grandfathers (this is a beautiful thing, not a problem – but it does create added time pressures and stresses).  Economic pressure – kids’ education, your retirement, etc.

If we’re honest and let our superhero guise slip for a minute, this mission can sometimes be exhausting.  And if you’ve reached the OlderBeast threshold, you’ve been going hard at it for 20-30+ years.

On top of that – and even more importantly – if you don’t step back and think about where you’re headed, this simplified template of what it means to be “a man” can be self-limiting.   There’s more to life than being “bankers and pack mules,” as a friend of mine used to joke when wives and kids entered the picture (of course, many a true word is said in jest).

The Best Path Forward Demands “Self-Care”

As we enter and proceed through the second half of life, we owe something to ourselves and those who count on us: being more conscious of self-care (physical, mental and even spiritual) that will keep us happy, productive, and engaged in all that life demands, and offers, for decades to come.

To put this in competitive terms that sometimes resonate best with guys, no matter the economic success you achieve nor the responsibility/power level you reach, it’s not “winning” over the long term if you reduce your quality-of-life (or even shorten your life span, dude) via insufficient exercise, poor nutrition and/or lack of stress management.

Avoiding these fates and instead becoming a holistically successful human is one definition of Wellness – a mega-topic I’ve started to cover within OlderBeast, and will continue to.

Good News for OlderBeasts

With your thriving in mind, I ask you to think about all this and start acting on it, please.  Here are some “good news” points to help you do so.

⇒ You DO have time to invest in fitness and activities that manage stress. Some of this time can be reclaimed from a subtle beast that has been sinking its claws into you, little by little, for years: email, news/social media and video entertainment. Also, if you have kids, they’re more independent or out of the house entirely now, and you have time that wasn’t available to you X years ago.

⇒ There are great resources and knowledge available. Compared to even ten years ago, we understand so much more about what most-effectively and time-efficiently moves the needle on physical fitness and nutrition. Magazines, websites, books, blogs – and personal coaches and trainers – are all here to help.  In fact, there’s so much info out there, some distillation and curation of it all would help.  OlderBeast will start focusing on this soon, so please contact us if you have specific requests or ideas here. Thanks.

⇒ You are more secure and willing to ask for help, compared to your younger self. This is a blanket assertion that might not be true for all…but I think it is for most of us.  I often say about myself “I’ll take all the help I can get.”

⇒ By definition, OlderBeast physical goals are achievable. You’re not trying to win the Boston Marathon, set a power-lifting record, or surf the Bonzai Pipeline (or if you are, hats off to you, and thanks for reading OlderBeast anyway!). Instead, you’re seeking a baseline level of overall fitness to feel great, look your best, contribute to your sense of joy from life, and live long…and there are many diverse fitness options to achieve these things.

⇒ Every hour you dedicate to Wellness is paid back by making your other hours more effective (and…sorry to be explicit here…by helping you stay vital and alive for longer, man). Prioritization of time for fitness makes us more productive and creative in professional endeavors, and more “present” and engaged in personal ones.  Solid nutrition increases our energy level and makes us – literally – think better, which helps in everything we do.

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In a subtle but critical way, all of this – the hazards and the path around them – changes “getting into shape” or “losing some weight” into “taking care of myself.”  Re-framed this way, I hope you are inspired to give at least the same level of care to yourself as you do to that classic car you might own…or your fine old house…or (like me) your aging but still-frisky man’s best friend. That’s him in the picture above, by the way.

…not to mention the humans you care about, and who care about you.  OlderBeasts make and follow a plan to be here for them, in the best possible way and for the longest possible time.  That sounds pretty manly after all, doesn’t it?

“She said man, there’s really something wrong with you. One day you’re gonna self-destruct.” (The Kinks, Destroyer)

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If you let yourself, you can feel melancholy and “wallow” in the fact that, as 40+ guys, our maximum physical potential is in the rear-view mirror.

BUT how close did you come to actually fulfilling that potential? In the practical world, achieving 95-100% of today’s and tomorrow’s potential can result in a fitter, stronger You than ever before. And a happier one (in the broadest sense of fitness – Wellness – happiness is a key ingredient, man).

With this in mind, here’s good news: one part of us is stronger than ever. Our MINDS. So, let’s take a look at all the ways our strongest body part – our brain – can help us.

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In defense (and praise) of the EASY workout

It’s important to keep physically challenging ourselves as we age. That’s why OlderBeast feature things like push-up challenges, exhortations to increase your weekly workout frequency, and calls to keep on running uphill.

But the name of the game is to do it thoughtfully, man — in a way we can sustain for years and hopefully decades. And on some days that calls for a game-time decision to do an EASY workout.

There’s the planned easy workout, to recover from intense effort yesterday or get ready to go hard tomorrow. But here, I want to talk about something different…a last-minute call to just do something “light” today.

Maybe a shorter and/or slower run. Or just some light body weight exercises and stretching. Or some lower-intensity cardio on a machine and then a short core routine.

The idea of switching to an easier workout is really about our relationship with motivation: having more than one response to call on when we feel unmotivated.

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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.

7 Comments
  1. […] I’ve been given…to hand over to my future self the fittest body-and-soul I can nurture…to be there for my loved ones in the future…and to honor and respect the incredible striving of people with real challenges to […]

  2. […] I’ve been given…to hand over to my future self the fittest body-and-soul I can nurture…to be there for my loved ones in the future…and to honor and respect the incredible striving of people with real challenges to […]

  3. […] help a loved one achieve the benefits listed above? If so, remember YOU are one of your loved ones. Taking care of yourself has to be on the high-priority […]

  4. […] Recognition that dedicating time to care for our own bodies and souls isn’t abdication of “provide and protect” responsibilities to our family…it’s actually […]

  5. […] The idea is to launch and follow an intentional plan until, for a few hours each week, you’ve tipped the balance just a desperately-needed bit toward your own fitness and wellness. […]

  6. […] that dedicating time to care for our own bodies and souls isn’t abdication of “provide and protect” responsibilities to our family…it’s actually […]

  7. […] The idea is to launch and follow an intentional plan until, for a few hours each week, you’ve tipped the balance just a desperately-needed bit toward your own fitness and wellness. […]

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