This is going to be one of those posts where an overwhelming number of people are going to tell me that I need to just lighten up.
Sorry, can’t do it. I’ve got a bit of a rant coming up and I think it’s overdue.
People like to joke about getting older. Your body breaks down and injuries become more common. It’s harder to move. We get tired more quickly. Can’t keep up with those youngsters.
The problem is that the vast majority of those claims are BS.
The real truth is that actions taken in our youth, such as eating poorly, not getting exercise (or getting the wrong exercise), building negative habits (even habits that may appear to be positive such as hard work staying up late to get projects done, or what have you), and such have an effect far into our later years. Much of the breakdown of the body that takes place at advanced age can come from this type of behavior.
One of the things you’ll frequently hear is “oh, I used to be able to eat that but I can’t handle that any more.” This is usually in relation to dairy, higher-fat or higher-carb diets, etc. – things that are commonly taken in as a kid but frequently adults can’t handle. Some of that can be natural – particularly the dairy, where most children are supposed to be drinking lots of dairy (in the form of human dairy, naturally) but that need goes away as kids get older and the enzymes that process dairy go away for many people.
But let’s say this: there is, in the human body, a tipping point where a body can no longer handle such stuff the way it used to, and it’s not because of age (except as a matter of the simple passage of time), it’s because the body gets to a point where it’s basically had enough, and the adaptation that bodies do to various things can’t adapt any more. And then people get Type 2 diabetes, or suddenly throw on 40 pounds of weight, or their hair falls out, or they suddenly start to get cracked feet, or…or… or…
Takeaway: many, if not most, of the maladies of age are actually maladies of misuse.
But here’s the issue – for those of us who have taken the time and effort to learn this stuff and overcome it for ourselves, we get passionate about what we’ve learned and want to share it with others. And then, when we hear our friends, loved ones, co-workers, and more talk like these things are inevitable, we get irritable.
Here’s an example: let’s look at the image that is attached to this article, about all-dayers. Lots of people have problems staying awake all day at work. Terms like “bobsleep” (where your head is nodding and you’re having trouble not phasing out while you sit in a meeting or work) or “the z-monster” (that creature that sits on your back and makes you tired from having to carry it) are common, and everyone laughs about them. Or they talk about “post-lunch coma” and how lunch makes people all tired and want to take a nap afterward instead of heading back to the desk or wherever to continue the day.
But how many of those people look at their lifestyle and figure out ways to improve on that? Maybe getting more sleep (or more restful sleep, if not just more hours), or eating a more nutrient-rich and less carb-heavy lunch, or getting a standing desk, or taking a walk during lunch to get some fresh air and movement in might be options that someone could go after?
Alas, the excuse you’re frequently going to hear is that “everyone goes through that period, where your body just can’t keep up any more.” Well, that is frequently BS, because your body doesn’t have to go through that.
A while back I did a post called What’s Your Lever? where I talked about how frequently one thing can start your trip back to better health. In the case of the lady in the book Go Wild: Free Your Body and Mind from the Afflictions of Civilization by John Ratey and Richard Manning, it was working to get more sleep. Another person might do something like change to a standing desk or make an effort to get more movement in throughout the day. It can take only a small step to move in the right direction.
But as long as we accept excuses such as “I’m just getting older” as valid in our lives, to the point of even making jokes about it like the attached picture, that’s going to be harder and harder. It’s just one of the ways in which the idea of “common does not equal normal” needs to be slapped silly and thrown into a basket full of rats. Hungry rats.
So, my challenge to you today is to take one issue in your life – weight, sleep, stress, etc. and figure out a step you can take to overcome it. If it’s something that you currently assign to the “I’m getting older” column of excuses, even better, because it’ll be a great way to get over that idea. For me, starting with a standing desk was a big answer. For others, getting more sleep was key. For another, ceasing drinking pop, or taking a half-hour walk at lunch, or what have you can be answers.
Comment below on what your step is going to be, and let’s get some accountability and support for everyone looking to make positive changes!
And if this article has made you think about stuff even a little bit, please share it with someone!