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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This week, the NY Times cited a Cooper Institute study that found running is correlated with a higher increase in life span than any other exercise. (“An Hour of Running May Add 7 Hours to Your Life” – see link below).

The study’s authors acknowledge this is a “correlation” and not “causation” finding. Quick illustration of causation vs. correlation. A guy keeps finding when he sleeps with his clothes and shoes on, he wakes up with a headache. Did sleeping that way cause the headache? No, it was correlated with it (they frequently happen together), with the common root cause being tequila the night before.

My hunch is this finding is an important correlation between running and positive lifespan impact. It’s not the running itself causing incremental benefit vs. other exercise types. Other exercises or mixes thereof can provide the same physical and mind-body benefits. It’s that, critically, runners are likely to have an “Architect” view of their own fitness, and associated sustainable behavior patterns. These are the causative factors behind maximum exercise impact.

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I’m willing to be the Oracle of the Obvious sometimes (just ask my wife or kids) But I won’t belabor the “why exercise?” question here.

But let’s discuss “why solitude?” and also “why is exercise time especially good solitude?” These should be prominent themes for any guy doubling down on body-and-soul health.

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Aging: 3 Reasons Why You’re Not as “Over the Hill” as You Think

We’re not 25 anymore, physically (duh). But 40++ guys (and gals) can feel pretty darn good if they’re physically active, eat well, get enough sleep and manage stress. And perform pretty well too – in endurance events, strength activities, skill sports and daily life.

Consider these recent news items. A 52-year-old guy set the world record for most push-ups in an hour. At the USA Track & Field masters’ championships, women in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 80’s, 90’s and 100’s turned in “age-defying” performances.

The glass-half-empty views says 40+ means “over the hill.” But the quest to live in glass-half-full mode raises these questions: 1). What’s the nature of this “hill?” Is there one crest, or different ones for different things?…2). When do these crests come along?…3). How steep is our slope post-crest?

I’ve researched this a bit, and here are my conclusions so far. Yeah, our “VO2max” aerobic capacity is lower, and we have less fast-twitch muscle fiber for explosive things like sprinting and jumping. But there are also several pieces of good news from research, brothers.

Read on for a summary of good-news points and links to research sources. Plus, some amazing data on how today’s OlderBeast-age guys would have done at the first modern Olympics in 1896.

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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