It really chaps my ass, the way people accept the inevitability of aging. Understand up front that this is not a “rally against the dying light” type of post but rather an effort to display proof of concept regarding aging gracefully with leanness, power, and vitality.
This morning, a client of mine was asking about how many times a week he can do the evil wheel to help him flatten his midsection. In response my blood pressure shot through the top of my head and I had a mini stroke. When I recovered from my stroke-induced euphoria, I explained for the 1,000,000th time that training doesn’t give a flat stomach, doesn’t give a six pack…that’s all diet, baby. Citing myself as an example, the client’s response was, “yeah, everyone has a 6 pack in their 20′s.” I about shit a brick.
However, if you ask middle-aged people, there tends to be this golden longing for their 20′s, where they could eat anything and not gain a pound. Given the stats I just cited, you apparently become round as a kid, magically become ripped and capable of eating any garbage you want in your 20′s, only to lose it all due to “aging” once you hit 30. It’s a load of crap.
* College kids are fat and getting fatter as they’re getting smarter…and deeper in debt, given this economy.
* Aging doesn’t reduce metabolic activity very much… at least not until one is deep into their 50′s and beyond, though it’s difficult to parse how much of that is muscle loss due to disuse or metabolic slowdown due only to aging.
Also remember we don’t have a good model for aging; most Americans (hell, the Western world) have lead a long tail diseased aging model: they get sick and fight side effects for decades, maintaining a stunted work capacity and functionality before dying…a slow, painful death. A few rare instances of the opposite are available to be gleaned from: 91 year old track star with gnarly fast twitch fibers to Jack Lalanne dying of pneumonia (which kills at least 2 million children a year, let alone 96 year old men).
Speaking of aging gracefully, I was inspired to finish this post because of some whining and silly commentary over at The Daily Lipid in response to Masterjohn’s review of “The New Evolution Diet.” V/vmary states on numerous occasions how she doesn’t value a 20-something’s opinion:
I tell you this because I think when you are young in your 20s, it is very easy to lose weight with many different approaches, including eating lots of soy which is a no-no in your book I believe. Therefore, I seek the advice of older people who are have more metabolic challenges with advancing age. For example, I would tend to follow Richard Nickoley’s advice over a 20 something’s.
I get that but this is a two way street; I’ve presented evidence that the mythical 20′s metabolism isn’t stopping the onslaught of obesity. If you never gain the weight to begin with, never let your eating habits go to shit, you’ll never have to save yourself in your 40′s or 50′s. So absolutely value someone in their 50′s who turns the ship around; also value the person in their 20′s who figured it out earlier and won’t ever have to be the 50-something inspiration. But if you find yourself in your 40′s, 50′s or 60′s there’s still hope to turn the whole thing around…fitness is not a game limited to youth. Fitness is youth, regardless of age.
In other words: they’re both fingers pointing at fingers pointing at the moon. Take heed.
Sean offers the corollary that if you’ve been thin all of your life that, yes, it can happen to you too. Little changes now and awareness of what could lie ahead can go a long way toward steering the ship. But hindsight is 20/20, as they say. Great insight, Sean!