Age is partly mindset and your thoughts on getting older will determine how you age. This is the ageing mindset.
Other factors come into play of course. Genetics, how well you take care of yourself and how you handle stress over the years will all impact how well you age both physically and mentally.
Your mindset and how you think about getting older is the overarching tool to maintaining youth and vitality however.
If you believe age is just a number and something to be embraced then chances are you’ll age well.
You’ll push yourself in sports and at the gym, you’ll follow the latest nutrition advice and you’ll form good healthy habits.
If you believe that once you hit 40 it’s all downhill from there you’ll age poorly.
You won’t bother with the gym or doing any kind of activity, you’ll eat what tastes good at the time and you’ll accept your fate as old
Either approach you take is a self-fulfilling prophecy with your thoughts determining the outcome.
I believe there are two types of ageing.
- Chronological age. The age in which we are measured through the time we have lived.
- Biological age. Our age in which fits our biology, be it our body, internal organs, mind and so on
It’s a fact that some people age quicker than others. I’ve met 30 year olds who looked and acted 40 and on the flipside I’ve met 40 year olds who are are closer to 30.
Then there are some men who defy all notion as to what is considered physically feasible for their age.
They apply the ageing mindset and here are some of them.
Sam ‘Sonny’ Bryant is a 72 year old bodybuilder who started lifting in his 40s. As the images of him suggest Sonny has the body of a strong and powerful 30 year old.
He started lifting later in age due to coming out of a bad marriage and he found it was a way to relieve stress.
A quote by Sonny makes the point that ageing is a mindset.
“People have a misconception that age makes you old, but I’ve realised that it’s a state of mind that makes you old. Age is just a number and it gives people a reason not to do anything.”
Bernard Hopkins is one of the greatest boxers of all time. At the tender age 51 he has a boxing career that spans four decades winning belts at middleweight and light heavyweight.
He successfully defended his middle weight title from 1994 to 2005 during which he unified the division and defended his belts with twenty title defences.
Hopkins’ superior boxing skills, his impenetrable defence and his mindset is why he is still fighting at the top level of a sport when most retire around the early 30s mark.
A doctor once was quoted that Hopkins, “Really does have the health of a 20 year old. His physique proves that.”
The key ingredients to Hopkins’ longevity is a consistently healthy lifestyle (he is in shape all year round), healthy diet and mindset.
“To me, you can be young in your mind, in the way you think, but if your body don’t come with that, then it’s wishful thinking. To me, it’s like an investment — whatever you put in yourself to take care
of yourself and do the right things in life — it pays a difference than to a person that don’t.”
Here’s Hopkins doing pushups between rounds of fighting a top class fighter 18 years his junior. Hopkins went on to win the fight.
Reaching 85 years old is a milestone. Most don’t reach that age and if we do our mental and physical faculties begin to deteriorate quickly. The lucky ones are self-sufficient until their quick and timely death (I hope I go out like this).
Ed Whitlock is different. At 85 years old not only is he active and healthy he runs marathons under four hours. In October this year, the English-born Canadian broke the the men’s 85–89 age group marathon world record by more than 30 minutes with a time of 3:56.
Whitlock has been a physical specimen for many years. At age 73 he ran a sub 3 hour marathon coming in at 2:54. Most people in their 20s couldn’t run a marathon in that time.
A runner in his early years he gave it up when he was 20 and didn’t start again until he hit 40. What’s your excuse?
Charles is 97 years old.
The very fact that he is alive still is an achievement in itself. Charles is different from your average 97 year old however.
He is World Masters rowing gold medallist, Swiss national fitness champion, international decathlete and bodybuilder. He took up exercise at the age of 85 because of, in his words, “pure vanity”.
“It was pure vanity, really. I looked a mess and I was having a late-life crisis” he ws quoted as saying.
His TED talk from 2012 is inspiring.
MMA is the toughest sport around. Having a trained mixed martial artist punch, kick, elbow, knee and wrestle you to the ground is only for the physically tough among us. And you would assume that these men are youthful too since MMA is not an old man’s game.
Unless you’re Randy Couture, who is the only person over the age of 40 to have won a UFC championship fight, having done so four times.
Couture had his first MMA fight at 33 and didn’t retire until 14 years later in 2007. A career that saw him break lots of world records and beat men younger than himself while capturing titles along the way.
Not only does he defy age Hof defies perceived human capabilities.
The 57 year old world record holder has defied the bitter cold and extreme heat on numerous occasions by changing his internal physiology to suit the environment.
Some of these feats include, climbing 22,000ft on Everest in nothing but shorts and shoes, immersing his body in ice for 1hr 14 mins and running a full marathon in the desert without water.
Clearly Hof is an extraordinary individual though he believes anyone can provided they apply the methods he has developed over the years.
The sheer fact that Hof can do these feats is amazing but at his age even more so.
He relates this journey into seeing how far he can push his body to the death of his wife which had a profound effect on him causing him to explore this side of himself.
“It takes commitment to get deep within yourself but that’s the right mindset.”
An ageing mindset is a refusal of the norm.
In society we’re lead to believe that if we’re a certain age we have to conform to a certain way of living.
If you’re 30 years old you should put your travelling years behind you and focus on having a family.
At 40 it’s too late and too risky for a career change so stick with your job that you hate for the next two to three decades.
Once you’re 50 you’re too old to start lifting weights because you’ll end up damaging yourself.
When you hit 60 then you better just accept the short road to your death, mate.
Here’s the thing. If you want to live a long and meaningful life you’ve got to have a refusal of the norm. You’ve got to change your mindset and develop the confidence to not accept normality and what is typical.
This will likely mean there will be physical pain and discomfort as you force your body to grow. It could mean mental anguish as you change your thought patterns, beliefs and skill-set. Socially you could be ousted from certain social groups you belong to.
Whatever the cost, it will be worth it.