There seems to be a surge in information available about aging well and longevity. This isn’t surprising given demographics and an aging baby boom. What has surprised me is how much time I spend talking about it and how much of my headspace it takes up.
I’m reminded of a conversation with my Uncle Vito at a family gathering when I was in my twenties. I was quietly listening while relatives 30 or 40 years older talked. Uncle Vito pointed out to me how the topics of conversation had changed over the years. “When we were your age, we talked about girls, sports, our job and fixing things at home. Now we talk about our aches and pains, our doctors’ appointments and who is taking Lipitor.”
I find that if I raise the topic of aging with other fifty-somethings, everyone has a book he’s read and recommends or a podcast she’s heard. Here is a short list of what has come up in conversation.
Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, Sexy and Smart – Until You’re 80 and Beyond by Chris Cowley, Dr. Henry Lodge and Dr. Allan Hamilton.
Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity by Dr. Peter Attia.
Huberman Lab: A podcast with Dr. Andrew Huberman Ph.D. a neuroscientist.
Blueprint Project: An experiment by Bryan Johnson who has adopted a lifestyle and spent millions on every imaginable modality to make himself younger. He posts all his methods, biomarkers and data online with up-to-date measures of his actual (chronological) age and his biological age, which is younger.
I have no right to snicker at Johnson. I seek approval from my Garmin watch. I like it when it says my exercise status is “productive” and get frustrated if it says something like “in order to make gains, you’ll need to increase the intensity of your workouts” as I sit with a hot water bottle on my lower back. At least once a week, I go to the section of the Garmin Connect app that tells me what my fitness age is. I’m proud to say it is a full 15 years younger than my chronological age. Please don’t reply and tell me that their calculation is useless. I’m enjoying this, even if I’m being misled.
Like a lot of things in life, I feel the key is to find balance. In my world of money, there is the need to balance saving for the future with living for today. Similarly, I want to make lifestyle choices that increase my odds of living long and living well, but I also want to enjoy the present. I was enlightened and delighted to discover last year that sometimes less exercise is better. I had so many goals I wanted to achieve that I was doing a lot and not allowing time for recovery. I realized I actually felt better when I exercised a bit less.
Which brings me to the idea of adapting to age and accepting it. No amount of healthy living will change the fact that we will age. I can be “good for my age” but still older. For example, I find that I can’t go for a one-hour bike ride early in the morning and then work in the garden until 5 pm. By about 1:30 or 2:00, I’m spent.
But that’s ok. Because not only were the bike ride and gardening good for me physically. They were things that brought me pleasure and fulfillment and most importantly, activities where I was very present.
Can’t think of a better way to balance the present and the future.
Would love your feedback on this.