by Robert Maxwell
My wife and I are friends with a fair number of older people. Probably more than the average couple in their late twenties. It’s partly that the population where I live in rural northern Ontario
is rich in retirees, but I think it’s also the fact that we enjoy the company of seniors. The older folks we hang out with are warm, kind, and down-to-earth. They know how to bake, knit, and hold
on to their values, which is more than to be said for many of my generation. Still, every age group has their deficiencies. The older folks I’m friends with would likely be the first to admit
they’re not perfect. One consistent shortcoming I’ve noticed among many baby boomers and pre baby boomers is passive, defeated acceptance of the aging process. Nearly every time I hang out with
grey-haired folks, the topic of aging comes up, most often in the form of a lament. “You just wait,” they often tell me. “When you get to be my age, you’ll wish you still looked as good as you do
now. First, you’ll gain weight, then the body starts to go, then the mind. You just wait!“ If you’re sixty or older, you might not want to hear this from a guy several decades your junior, but
this kind of thinking sucks. Obviously the body degrades somewhat with age, but lifestyle choices have far more to do with the process than most old folks admit. If you’ve heard someone express
this defeated attitude towards aging, or even expressed or thought it yourself, this article’s for you. When you get right down to it, there are a few specific things older people do that lead to
their defeated thinking about aging. Here they are.
They Choose Laziness
If this first point comes across like a bucket of cold water in the face, good. It was meant to. Deep down, many of the older people who lament the cruel ravages of ageing know that if they really worked at it, they could be far better off physically. Trouble is, regular exercise and watching what you eat are difficult and unpleasant. Many people in their golden years would rather let their bodies gradually deteriorate, while complaining about the ageing process, rather than biting the bullet and exercising discipline in the gym and kitchen. When you get right down to it, this tendency springs from two sources: unwillingness to work hard, and fear of the mental and physical discomfort of exercise and cutting back on cupcakes. Trouble is, by making this choice, these folks are actually guaranteeing a great deal of pain and discomfort in the future. Not exercising regularly has consequences, and more than a few older folks have told me that if they’d been fully aware of these when they were younger, they would’ve done things very differently. Don’t wait until it feels like hell to bend over and put on your socks, or walk to the end of your driveway. Start fighting the ageing monster now, so you’ll be strong enough to avoid being crushed by it later.
They Talk Themselves Into It
While many folks suffering from the ravages of ageing understand in their hearts that a good diet and exercise routine would help, that doesn’t save them from the psychological damage they do themselves By complaining about their aches, pains, and weight gain loudly and often. The fact is, human beings are highly suggestible creatures, and when we spend a great deal of time telling ourselves and others something, we’ll start to believe it. That’s why, besides the physical damage being done, folks in their declining years become increasingly less likely to set foot in the gym or formulate a diet plan. They’ve spent so long moaning and groaning about age-related aches and pains, that they’ve talk to themselves out of improvement. In general, people will go to great lemgths to avoid personal responsibility, and blaming the passage of time for one’s weakness is the perfect example. If you recognize in yourself physical and mental weakness that you’ve chalked up to aging, and are ready for a change, start by telling yourself over and over that improvement is possible. This might sound silly or unnecessary, but it’s vital. By repeating this truth to yourself, you’ll be taking the first step to counteracting years of negative psychological conditioning.
They Settle For Too Little
Even the relatively small percentage of seniors who make some sort of basic exercise a regular priority often fall short of what they could and should be doing. Walking twice a week at a snail’s pace is not enough to keep you fit, strong, and healthy. You’ll certainly feel benefits, particularly if this is the only exercise you do and have done for a long time, but those benefits won’t stave off weakness and poor mobility for long. That’s why old folks serious about defeating the premature weakness typically blamed solely on aging need to exercise in a way that strengthens and grows their muscles significantly. Or at the very least, that keeps those muscles from gradually eroding under the persistent pressure of exercise-free years.