58 beats 48

534781_735760173752_820976142_nI was fascinated to read Joe Nocera's recent New York Times column about his turning 60 years of age.

While Nocera's chief lamentation was the near total destruction of his retirement savings, he also complained bitterly about his failing body.

He wrote, “…if there's one thing I can say with certainty it's that 60 is not the new 50.” Nocera said his “…body creaks and groans. (His) eyes aren't what they used to be. (He) doesn't sleep as soundly as (he) did just a few years ago. (And), lately (he's) been seeing a lot of doctors just to make sure everything still more or less works.”

Ouch. That's sounds like a mighty old 60. I'm turning 58 today and, in virtually every way imaginable, I'm much better than I was at 48.

Let's start with the non-physical components. In the last 10 years, I've written a book that was published by McGraw-Hill, been named a weekly columnist by Inc.com, become a stand-up comedy performer, named PR News blogger of the year, studied improvisation, created and launched two, first-of-a-kind Peppercom services and raised tens of thousands of dollars for my two favorite charities.

On the fitness front, my 58-year-old self could run rings around his 48-year-old predecessor. I began mountain climbing in 2005, added rock and ice climbing to my repertoire a few years after that and am now attacking a new alpine challenge every single month. I've completed 200-mile bike rides, many half marathons and continue to play squash as well as ever.

I've experienced my real personal Renaissance, though, in just the past six months. In that time, I've simultaneously embraced the wonderful worlds of Kangoo (www.mariothetrainer.com) and boxing. Yes, Virginia, boxing. My dad and son were, and are, boxers, so I thought it was high time I laced on the gloves. By co-mingling Kangoo and boxing, I've literally bounced and punched my way to new fitness heights.

I think Nocera is like many of my peers. They give up on exercise and wellness when first hitting middle age. As their bodies naturally start to degrade, they do little, if anything, to alter the inevitable. These are the people who join gyms, try it once or twice, and then never show up again. They're also the types who are constantly trying the latest fad diet. They'll drop a quick 20 pounds, only to gain 30 more back.

I don't know Nocera's personal health history, but I'm maniacal about wellness. That's because my family history is replete with heart disease, stroke and cancer. And, I intend to do everything in my power to avoid all three.

I also believe lifelong learning should include physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects. Most see lifelong learning as simply a mental exercise.

Being better at 58 requires the same type of discipline Nocera needs to crank his out New York Times columns. Apparently, though, he's never experienced the runner's high that comes with extreme exercise, the sense of accomplishment (and serenity) one feels when setting foot on a three-mile high mountain or the rush of having 100 people laugh at one of your comedy bits.

I'm sorry to hear Joe's a cranky 60. And, I can't imagine what he'll be like if, and when, he hits the big 7-0. As for me, I'm planning on keeping my mind open, my legs climbing and my fists punching. Joe and I will both end up at the same, final destination, but I'd like to think I'll have lived a much fuller life. And so can you. Pre-existing medical conditions and catastrophic injury aside, the only thing preventing you from being a better 58 than 48 is you.


9 thoughts on “58 beats 48

  1. Thanks but I’d rather tough it out. After 3 nights of Percocet I was ready to attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings. I could barely keep my eyes open to rock the baby during her 3am crying.

  2. Thanks Repman. I needed to read this.
    I turn 50 in six months and June was a lousy month physically: a surgery that hurts in some unmentionable places, plus discovery of tendonitis in my right knee that’s really been hurting lately. It’s slowed down my biking and forced me to give up kickboxing temporarily.
    Still, I have PT twice a week, and knowing that my “elders” can get past these setbacks is an inspiration.

  3. Thanks Eric. Trying to keep up with midwestern sharpshooters like you is one of the things that keeps me on my toes.

  4. You are a terrific model for this behavior, Steve. I think about the phrase, “younger every year.” In your case, it’s true. Keep up the great work, on all aspects of your life, my friend…and have a happy, healthy year!

  5. I’m going to post today too if only to say how I admire the amount of things you’ve done. I too am a better 52 than 42 by far and while yes I have tried those fad diets and put weight off/on, now with changing my mindset have, for the past two years, eaten better, cooked better and, with yoga, exercised better both mentally and physically. I do not believe I have ever been as physically fit and mentally stronger than I am now. I also like you find it wonderful to do charity work, counsel breast cancer patients, raise money in addition to growing my own food (fruits and veggies). Amazing what a person can do when they actually put their mind to it. You inspire me.

  6. Steve:
    Thank you for this! I am turning 51 in a few short weeks, and your post is an inspiring reminder that our age is just a number, and there are many hills, metaphorically and literally, left to climb.
    Happy Birthday, friend!