When I was a kid, I was afraid of becoming an adult. I believe the adults you are surrounded by as a child (and to be truthful, also as an adult) will help shape who you become. Many of the adults who surrounded me seemed to have let pieces of them die before the age of 30. Because of this, I had a “live hard, die young” mentality. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
There are piles of research discussing the effects of your surroundings and how it affects who you will turn out to be. This goes beyond extreme reactions such as violent behavior or abuse. There are more subtle behaviors and attitudes towards life. How does it impact you to be surrounded by people who are lazy, lack ambition, or have given up their dreams due to fear? You don’t have to be beaten down to be broken by the people around you.
“You’re Too Old To Do That”
One of the biggest frustrations inhibiting your happiness in life is being made to feel you are too old to do something. This can be maddening. If you aren’t willing to follow the standard lifestyle guide which leaves you settled by the age of 30, you can expect questioning and opposition from society. Over a certain age, usually around 30, you aren’t supposed to dance, wear fashionable clothing, go to concerts, stay involved in pop culture, try out for a sports team, train aggressively, date, or attempt to achieve any new dreams. Apparently, there was a memo released, and if you didn’t do it or plan it by the age of 30 you are out of luck and it is game over.
Not So Fast
I don’t agree. I think putting age restrictions and time limits to life is not only sad but dangerous to humanity and the very growth of our souls. Loss of hope can take people to a very dark place in their lives. The only things that conquer fear are education, action, and hope. Without these, you are merely running on the hamster wheel of life. I don’t know about you, but I will be settled only when my last heartbeat beats; until then I will be moving.
How you are as you get older is no different then how you are now. Afraid of being alone in your old age? You should be, especially if you are alone now. Afraid of being grumpy and full of regret? It a reflection of how you live your life now. I’ve worked with seniors, and I saw how often our lives are the same regardless of our age with a few exceptions due to general health restrictions. Being lonely in old age means you were most likely lonely throughout your life—but you can change this anytime. You can’t live fully while having a negative attitude toward other people, your life, and what defines you.
40 Means 60 More Years
I say this to people I train all of the time, even my father. Limiting ourselves to live to the age of 100 downplays our abilities as science and our hearts are always advancing; but for now, it’s a nice round number to shoot for. If you read this and you say, “Oh my god, I don’t want to live to be 100!” then you aren’t living now and you may be basing the value of your life on the wrong things. It isn’t about vanity and sex, although those things don’t have to vanish. Life can take you many directions if you are open and allow it to.
The point is to look at the big picture. Don’t wait. Start now. Embrace your age and don’t be confined or defined by it. In the future, I will explain how to optimize training for different ages on a more detailed level. Just remember, no matter how old you are right now, you are living the best years of your life. And I know I will live a life in which I am constantly told to learn to “act my age.” I look forward to doing just that.
cassondraDecember 7, 2009 at 10:06 am
Thanks Leigh, I just turned 40 myself and having a slightly hard time with it, your article came at a perfect time. Thank you! I do feel inspired to get out there!
Kevin GusDecember 7, 2009 at 11:17 am
Awesome, thanks you made my day!
ChrisRDecember 7, 2009 at 11:49 am
Somebody must have a birthday coming up…
SonjaPDecember 7, 2009 at 1:07 pm
Thanks Leigh, just turned 48 and am contemplating my first 1/2 ironman next year. Never even thought about it till about 3 weeks ago when a friend suggested I do it. Don’t feel 48 or think 48, you never know what you can do unless you challenge yourself, every day!
HollyDecember 7, 2009 at 1:16 pm
I needed to hear this today. I have been struggling because all my friend in my age group (I am 53) treat me as if I am irresponsible for wanting to have fun in my life. They treat me as if I am too old to do the things I do.
You just gave me so many reasons to not care one bit about what they think. Thank you and I will be signing up for those new classes I wanted to 🙂 🙂 🙂
GregDecember 7, 2009 at 1:25 pm
Leigh I love this post.
These people are inspiring and give me a great feeling about my later years. I will admit at 38 I worry about what people think and I get torn between acting my age and living my heart.
I am looking forward to the training and nutrition posts you will be discussing.
LyndaDecember 7, 2009 at 2:15 pm
Well said Leigh!
People I meet are often surprised when I tell them my age 33 because they think I’m about 10 years younger. I believe age is nothing more than an attitude. I’ve met people much younger then me who possess enormous confidence and emotional maturity as well as some who are much older who still don’t know how to take responsibility for their own lives and decisions.
We choose to perceive the things around us as a certain way. Sometimes we want to blame factors out of our control for things we haven’t achieved yet, but doing so gives our power away to make changes.
Cheers to living in the now!
Allan FlemingDecember 7, 2009 at 2:38 pm
Thanks for that Leigh, what a great article!
I will be 38 soon and a few years ago i was told by a well meaning careers officer that i was too old to change career at 35!
I am quitting my job after new year to open a gym and i will print off this article and put it up on the wall of my club!
Thanks again Leigh!
KarlaDecember 7, 2009 at 2:40 pm
Great article and subject!!! I am the oldest player on my semi-pro full contact football team at age 46. I hear ALL THE TIME about how I am too old to play this sport. This morning as I walk tenderly around nursing bruises and sore muscles after several 2 plus hour practices with players more than a decade younger than me, I wonder if it isn’t true that I am too old. Watching the 98 year-old Ruth just made everything okay again and motivates me to go back out there and be even better. 🙂
Thank you for this one.
MaggieDecember 7, 2009 at 2:47 pm
Thank you so much for this post, Leigh.
I am 52, going on 35, and am in the middle of a personal transformation.
Internally, I have always felt about 27. Last year, I started “feeling my age” and worried that it was down hill from here. I let that influence me for a while, and of course my attitude deteriorated and (not surprisingly) so did how I felt physically. I made a conscious decision not to let that go any further, not to be resigned. I allowed myself to think younger, risk making changes, and to work hard on changing how I treat my body. And the wonderful thing is that with every positive change (weight loss, better fitness level, increased strength & flexibility) I truly feel the calendar rolling back physically and emotionally. I hope I remember that it is never too late to be young!
Please keep talking on this topic!
BerniceDecember 7, 2009 at 3:07 pm
Great post!! I’m 70 yrs old and most people are shocked to see me running a sawmill and making lumber from logs at my age. I’ve worked in construction most of my life and it’s taken a toll on my body: arthritis, torn rotator cuffs and several knee surgeries but I still do remodeling, build decks and run my sawmill. I live alone in a very rural area in the mountains and am lucky to have good neighbors that help out when needed. My company’s name is “Over-The-Hill Contracting”. It’s important to have a sense of humor at my age!! I’ll be very interested to hear what you have to say about training at my age.
My motto is; You rest, You rust!!
ElisabethDecember 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm
As someone who was never in shape or athletic until age 45, I say, hear, hear, Leigh! A lot of us are going to defy all of the stereotypes of aging by continuing to lift weights and eat well, so the image of inevitably becoming a frail old person will fall by the wayside, yay!
ZoeDecember 13, 2009 at 5:37 pm
I’m thirty. I’ve always thought the decade changes were the hardest so I say I’m twenty-ten. On my birthday I’ll be 31 and go on with it until forty, where I’ll be “Thirty-ten.” The thing that inspires me is having watched two sets of grandparents. The ones on my dad’s side lived into their early 70’s with declining health for about 10 years up to that and then died. The ones on my mom’s side are still alive. One is 78, the other is 75. They are very active and are in great health for their age. My grandmother had six bypasses, and her doctor said the reason she likely survived and recovered so well was because of how physically fit she’s always been. She continues to golf and walk the entire course instead of riding in the cart.
I know another woman well into her eighties who gets up at the butt crack of dawn, bakes pies for people, and then walks 5 miles.
The people who keep moving over and over again are the ones who defy the odds.
Kim WDecember 7, 2009 at 7:26 pm
Great article Leigh. Like others who posted above I didn’t “find” fitness until my late 40’s. First (and second) half marathons at 49, will do first triathlon at 50. In no hurry to “act my age” – though wouldn’t mind helping to reset that definition in people’s minds.
MichelleDecember 7, 2009 at 11:23 pm
Thanks Leigh, kinda good timing, it’s my 39 birthday today. And I”m not thinking of all the things that are in the past, but all the things in my future that I can’t wait to get to. I”m excited about getting to my 40’s. So much of getting older is getting to know yourself better, it’s peaceful. I know that next year at this time, I’m going to be fitter and healthier then I am now. I’m fitter and look better now then I did in my 20’s so hold on, because in my 40’s it’s only going to get better.
SamDecember 7, 2009 at 11:40 pm
Great article and great responses. My co-workers think I’m crazy for running 6-8 miles in frigid temps at 5:30 in the morning. I had asthma growing up, so I find it very empowering at 42 to be able to run up and down hills for an hour and still have energy left to go to work.
DebbyDecember 8, 2009 at 12:02 am
What a great post, Leigh!
I’ll be 52 next February and still going strong!
Our metabolisms don’t slow down because we are getting older; they slow down because WE slow down. I haven’t slowed down yet. 🙂
(Ok, maybe a tiny bit is good genes, but it’s mostly STAYING ACTIVE!!!)
SallyDecember 8, 2009 at 5:38 am
Leigh, awesome post! I turn 29 tomorrow so this was a great affirmation of my beliefs at a time when the skeptical voices in my head start telling me perhaps its time I started playing the game like everyone else.
I think you need a song for this post though – I think this sums it up perfectly =D
Sally (refusing to grow up)
you need a song for this po
AnneDecember 8, 2009 at 8:10 pm
Great post on getting older. Check out the Palm Springs Follies in Palm Springs, CA if you want to be inspired. You have to be at least 50+ to perform in the Follies. They look better than most people half their age.
AllieDecember 9, 2009 at 2:51 pm
Thank you for your effort in writing an inspiring and thoughtful post.
TerryDecember 9, 2009 at 9:11 pm
More power to Ruth. I hope if I live to be that old that I will be active also. I am 54 and My husband and I go out and dance and our kids stay home. Thanks Leigh for helping me lose the weight and train to feel better and have energy.
S.GloverDecember 10, 2009 at 10:10 pm
Absolutely. I have always gone by the mantra, You either get older or you die. The goal is to live and you can be fit, too. I turned 40 several years ago and didn’t skip a beat.
CaraDecember 24, 2009 at 10:04 pm
Wow Leigh! I could not agree with you more! I just hate it myself when people out there think one can’t wear cool stuff simply because they’re “older”, for instance, or go out to clubs, etc. For me, two of the most depressing words in the English language are “age-appropriate” – yikes! In my book more people would benefit if they acted up sometimes, or more times – LOL! Here I am, 62, loving an urban exciting lifestyle once more(along with my lovely and young-minded husband). Both of us are at the gym 5 days out of 7, so I can wear pretty much what I want within reason and budget, according to body type. I’m an artist, and my husband and I often say that we are like the kids who never grew up. There are too many party poopers out there, IMO! We’re planning on being around for a long time in an active state. We go out to clubs a lot on free tickets, hike around the city, shop at thrift and interesting off-the-beaten-track places, spot interesting things, we’re heavy Internet users etc. We don’t know anyone else like us either in real life. Seems like a lot of people our age have gone to sleep instead!
Tamara ChristieFebruary 2, 2010 at 3:55 pm
I’m loving my 40s so far. I feel the best I ever have, in about every way I can think of. Great article, Leigh!