It happens to all of us. Some of us sooner than others, and there's nothing you can do about it. Yes, this article is about aging—you're never too young to start taking good care of your mind and body.
In college, I thought my eyes might be the reason the chalkboard was fuzzy. I went to my parents' eye doctor, and not to brag, but my eyes were 20/15 and the doctor said, "It's the chalkboard. You have better than perfect vision." And so I went on my way, thinking well, at least I have that.
Several years later, my wife, who has had glasses since middle school, said "one day it will happen to you." And she said it smiling, like she was excited that one day my vision would go. Never having had glasses, I always wanted a pair. I think people in glasses look smart and give off this vibe that says:
● I read Dostoevsky
● I travel the world
● Small talk is for the birds
● And of course, I read nutritional labels (you need glasses, that font is small)
The last time I faced this type of change was in sixth grade. I was going to my locker when my friend Noah looked at me and did a double take, "You got braces?" Being slightly nervous and embarrassed, I begged him not to say anything. He responded with a bigger smile, "Don't worry." Although he said the right words, his deceptive grin didn't ease my angst. I walked into class with my lips glued together.
Everything seemed normal, except, why is Noah standing on a chair? "Hey everybody," Noah said. "Ronny got braces." And, so my awkward stage began.
Noah probably would call me four eyes today, but I don't really care. Maybe that's the upside to growing old; you care less about the little things like glasses, braces, and the occasional zit. As you age there are more important things to worry about. I'm not going to tackle saving for retirement or social security, but I will discuss a few anti-aging techniques.
1. My anti-aging mental super powers
2. Train your muscles for life
3. Nutrition tips for a long, healthy life
My anti-aging mental super powers
When my dad turned 50, I bought him this book, "Brain Fitness: Anti-Aging Strategies for Achieving Super Mind-Power." Like many books in that genre, the main takeaway is use your brain or lose it. Even at our age, if you have a family history of Alzheimer's or Dementia it's very important to exercise your mind. Several studies have shown mental workouts can help keep your mind sharp. It's best to mix them up—like muscles, your brain adapts to the game/puzzle…so if you always do word scramble, do a crossword puzzle once a week. Here are some easy brain fitness tips from the book:
● Once a week wear your watch on your other hand
● Learn a new language
● Do Sudoku or a crossword puzzle several times a week
● Tackle one brain teaser a week
● Exercise daily—keeping the heart and muscles moving helps with brain function
● Download mind/memory games for your smart phone
● Check out Brain Matrix website for more information
Train your muscles for life
There's no reason you cannot build and maintain your physique as you grow older. More important than bulging biceps and six pack abs, is functional strength and flexibility like the ability to bend down and remove dishes from the dish washer and place them in cupboards. Exercise such as yoga, Pilates, and swimming are helpful to keep joints limber. Swimming in particular is great, as water is very therapeutic. Pumping iron has also been linked to keeping your mind healthy, there is still more research to do, but it's a very positive sign.
The number one recommendation to avoid bone loss is weight bearing exercise. If your mom has osteoporosis, it's important you lift weights. Walking, elliptical trainer, and swimming are other examples of weight baring exercises that might help your lower body fight off degeneration.
I cannot stress enough the importance of mixing up your routine. Every 4 -6 weeks you should change your workout routine. There are two reasons for that: 1) Your body adapts to how you train. If you always do the same thing, your body learns how to get through the workout easily. By mixing up the routine your body is confused and you end up burning more calories and building more muscle. 2) It's good for your joints, tendons, and ligaments (connective tissue for muscles). Although your muscles get stronger from lifting weights, it can take a toll on your connective tissue. I see this with older power lifters who have beaten up shoulders and knees from too many bench presses and squats.
Nutrition tips for a long, healthy life
I often hear, "I work out so I can eat whatever I want." That phrase is very flawed. Yes, you can eat whatever you want, but the most important take away here is PORTION CONTROL. Carbs are not making you fat—eating too much of them is.
For years the Mediterranean diet has been very popular with dieters. It stresses healthy fats, lean meats, lots of fish, and vegetables. In my opinion, keep it easy:
● Drink lots of water (good for your skin, digestion, muscles…)
● Increase your fruit and veggie consumption
● Eat lean proteins
● Eat more whole grains and less white breads and rice
● Try: brown rice, quinoa, bulgur, Chia, and steel cut oats
● If a cookie is calling your name, eat it! The caveat, a normal size cookie which you could fit in your palm. A cookie the size of your face should be shared.
● Drink pop in very small moderation. Studies have even suggested that diet soda reduces bone density.