I’ve been commenting a lot about turning 40 later this year. Now that I’m finally on the threshold of doing so, I can say that it’s not so bad. I’ve often lamented on Facebook and twitter that I would sometimes be told by older, sedentary “friends” that I wouldn’t get around so well once I hit this age. Statements like that have become a running joke for me; and I’m happy to say that I feel every bit as healthy as I was at age 25 (if not more so); but it doesn’t come without some precautions……
I’m a firm believer that aging starts when you stop moving. I entered the active lifestyle at age 13 and never let go of it. Today, that means that I do other things outside of my Tang So Do training in order to satisfy that need. Don’t get me wrong the martial arts training is plenty; but as I’ve gotten older I’ve discovered that the cross training enhances the training inside the dojang. I’ve managed to retain much of the flexibility that I boasted as a high school gymnast. My point is, you have to get out and do things. Challenge yourself. See what you’re made of. That’s one of the most important lessons I learned when I tested for 4th Dan; and that still drives the way that I do things.
<yup, I can still rock the 100 push ups in one set, although I’m a little out of practice> 😉
You Really Are What You Eat & Drink
My father passed away at the tender age of 52. He died of a heart attack that I think really would have been preventable if he would have paid more attention to the warnings that he’d been given. His passing marked a supercharge to the attention that I paid to my own diet. One of the things that has indeed changed over the years is that I must pay attention to how I fuel my body. If I do it improperly, there’s no way I could keep up with what I put myself through. I eat to prepare, I eat to recover. Is it ALL health food? Oh, absolutely not. As a matter of fact, I was just joking with a friend last night that love McDonald’s; but, you have to find balance. A fast food treat has to be evened out with something more consistent to an active lifestyle. A sedentary lifestyle, combined with poor eating habits all the time (i.e. my father) will put you in an early grave. Period.
One of the other things that I’ve become very sensitive to over the past few years is my water intake. It’s something you have to think about. Don’t drink enough and it’ll effect everything. Your eyes get dry. Your mood changes. Things start to go wrong. Hydrate, and hydrate often.
Pay Attention to Pain
You really have to experience this to understand it. When I was younger, it was, of course, the macho thing to do to push through pain. I mean, it makes you stronger, right?
I’ve learned that there are certain types of physiological pain that equate to “slow down” or “you need to get that checked out”. Try to push through those and you’ll wind up taking an unwanted break from EVERYTHING. Your body has its own subtle, and obvious, ways of telling you when something ain’t right. Learn to listen and pay attention.
Pay attention to pain, or a simple injury can become a complicated one!
Take Time to Rest
I often joke with my students about my daily schedule when I was a 2nd degree black belt. I held down a full-time job, went to night school, trained, and worked nights as a bouncer. On some nights, 2-3 hours of sleep was an absolute luxury. I was younger. I ran with it. Today? Not so much. My twitter and Facebook updates both reflect a hellacious amount of activity; but I do know when to shut down. If I don’t cycle in some quality rest, I’ll over train. If I don’t give myself a day to reset my batteries, I’ll burn out. You have to experiment to find that balance. I know my limits, and when to rest more that work.
On this same subject, you also have to know how to relax at the end of the day. Have an activity that unwinds you and that you can consistently return to. My personal favorite is a hot bath followed by a cup of tea and a good book. My second favorite is a movie on the couch with a glass of wine. Regardless of what it is for you, have something that allows you to downshift from 6th gear to 1st before trying to get some of that quality rest.
Regiment Your Life
You don't get to where my senior instructor Choong Jae Nim CS Kim is without training on a DAILY basis!
Of all the little rules that I follow, this is probably the most difficult one to work into your system. There are a lot of interviews with people who have been blessed with longevity. One of the things that I find common is the fact that they all lead pretty regimented lives. There are certain activities that are part of who they are each and every day. This is what I did with my Tang Soo Do training. I put myself on a daily regimen. I meditate, often. I exercise, 3 – 5 times per week (outside of all the martial arts). I MAKE time for the things that are important to me. Regimenting things, particularly the things that you enjoy, creates an atmosphere that allows you to de-stress. It gives you something to look forward to, and if you let it permeate all aspects of your life, it keeps you organized.
Don’t Stop Being a Kid
Simply put, I still watch cartoons. I love cheesy movies, and I love cookie crisp cereal. Find something that allows you to re-embrace your childhood. It does wonders when you indulge in it.
Look, folks, these are not secrets. It’s just an abbreviated list of things that I have noticed slows down the aging process. It’s difficult for me to see friends that are my age and look like they’re 10+ years older when they don’t have to. I’ve said before that I intend to go into this year’s World Tournament in better shape than ever because quite frankly I haven’t given myself time to age. I still have physical goals that I want to achieve. I still have abilities that I want to master. I have books to read. I have a lifetime of discovery, and a grocery list of things I want to do.
…aging is not on that list. Here’s to another 40 years. Tang Soo!!
(Master) Wayne Boozer