With the Olympic Summer Games winding down, one thing’s for sure I’ll get a better night’s sleep getting to bed at a more reasonable hour. It’s such a fantastic time to not only cheer on our country, but to see the level of competition among the athletes who for the most part are forgotten until perhaps the Summer Games resume in four years. They work hard, train tirelessly, and make no excuse for a chance at winning an Olympic Gold in their chosen craft. One aspect I pay more attention to now is the age of some of the top level competitors who certainly make no excuse that their age is somewhat of a hindrance. Most of the naysayers would say they’re too old or they should act their age to which they valiantly show the proverbial finger by competing and sometimes even winning.
It Always Comes Down to Thoughts and Choices
News flash: you’ve been aging since the day you were born. Today you’re older than you were yesterday, last week, last month, last year. A 20 year old is old to a 6 year old; a 43 year old is old to a 30 year old. Age is a chronological measure of the distance you’ve made it in this life. Old is a relative labeling of who and where you are as a person, or at least what you think that is. Age is an indisputable measurement; old is a subjective state of mind. One’s age doesn’t determine what they can and can’t do based on how old they think they are or chose to be labeled. So it all comes down to if you think you’re old, then old you must be. But you need to really think twice about passing judgement on someone else your age, perhaps older, who refuses to use age an excuse to keep them doing the things they want to do when no one wants to expect or believe that they can.
The Biological Facts
There are those that will always say, “you just wait until you get to be my age” triumphantly waving the flag as if they accomplished something great. Greatness in life shouldn’t be measured by the number of years in one’s life, but the life in those years. There are physiologic process at work that change for everyone as we chronologically age: decreased muscle mass; decreased bone density, decreased flexibility, greater skin elasticity, etc. But never should they be used as scapegoats to stop moving/living. Then there’s the excuse of having no energy or too stiff to move. Not rocket science here, but most if not all of these symptoms can be reversed with regular physical activity, not necessarily competing at high levels of fitness. Physical movement is not only a necessity of a healthy life, it is what keeps others moving and others sitting and waiting.
A Few Age-Defying Olympic Champions
As a fitness professional for close to 22 years, I’ve had the fabulous and fortunate opportunity to work with clients of all ages, even those most would think are too old to have a trainer or be in the gym. Never, not once did that ever stop them from always putting their best foot forward. Instead, they’ve become some of my better clients; completely coachable, hard working individuals with nothing to prove only that they can. But not all “old” people have white or no hair. Some are currently competing in these current Olympic Games and defying age as a barrier to their success.
- Oksana Chusovitina: at 41 years young and five feet tall,, she is the oldest Olympic female gymnast in history, competing in her seventh Summer Games.
- Kristin Armstrong: U.S. Cyclist, who just a day before her 43rd birthday won her third consecutive gold medal in women’s time trial. She’s the oldest female cycling medalist of all time.
- Julie Broughamm: a 62 year old equestrian who actually just competed in her first Olympics in Rio.
As previously stated, one does not have to compete in the Olympics to prove age is but a number. I’ve made it a point to collect stories of other examples of age defying logic and shared with my followers on my Facebook Business Page. They’re all worth the time to watch, listen, and or read. Enjoy!
- The Iron Nun – my most recent favorite featured in an ad for Nike. Here’s also an interview with her. Makes you just want to hug her.
- Ernestine Shepherd – at 80 years old, the world’s oldest bodybuilder. Her story behind how she became what she is touching.
- Random video of a gentleman squatting what appears to be 405lbs!
- Shirley Webb – an 80 year old grandmother deadlifting 225lbs!
- Lan Yin Tsai Lan Yin Tsai – a 90 year old woman who rides the 2 day, 75 mile option of the MS City to Shore I participate in every year. I’ve even had the privilege to ride by her several times over the years. She rides her bike in a dress and heels to boot!
- Ida Keeling – a 100 year old (that’s not a typo) woman who runs regularly and even competed in the Penn Relays this past spring in Philadelphia. By the way, she’s the reigning national champion in the 60m dash, 95-99 age group.
- Kay and Joe O’Regan – an octogenarian couple who race marathons together and celebrated their 57 wedding anniversary by running the Cork City Marathon one final time, holding hands as they crossed the finish line,
If you’re still not inspired and convinced that age is but a number, you have missed the whole point of taking care of what you got and doing the best you can with it. Proper nutrition and exercise are a key component to that but if your state of mind is just content with where it is, then that’s just a shame.
Til next time, train smart, eat well, and do better.