Succeeding Through the Inevitable “Reverse Progression” of Life
I was discussing surfing with a friend of mine and he expressed what I thought was a cool way of saying, “We start to suck more as we age.”, equating this with “reverse progression”. I thought, “wow, that’s a great term!” Let me first define “reverse progression” in my own words: it is the regression of skill through lack of practice or physical capability or both. For example: As we age our potential to acquire skills peaks out and regresses and we see a reverse progression that continues to the end of our lives. If I were to graph it, it might look like this. (Graph-red line, this is a very rough estimate).
The question is how do we deal with this and how do we slow it down? How do we keep the curve elevated and the descent of the curve as shallow as possible?( See graph- green line). We all want to be active and productive as we age, and instead of relenting to the norm and feeling defeated, let’s instead take a positive look at what is possible and move forward with an attitude of productivity on a day-to-day basis. We can start with the following….
Attitude. Instead of thinking about what you achieved last year or last week, think of your workouts and your training as personal achievements for “the day”. Try to create an environment of success with all of your activities and fitness or training goals. How? Make the goals realistic and reachable. Give yourself breaks and come back to your goals with a fresh and different outlook. For example: You had had the back squat of your life at 38 years old and now you are 45 and it is 20 pounds less, don’t feel defeated if you cannot conquer that weight again. Instead, do all the things you can do to continue to lift productively and then, measure progress versus raw numbers. It also important to be smart about your goals, how you approach them, and how to create success in your day-to-day encounters with movement. You may find you succeed in the process, rather than the outcome.
Strength. Gain some muscle while you can. It’s not too late, even if you are over 65 you can still build some muscle mass. Muscle mass is the #1 biomarker for health and it will not only keep you moving as you age, but protect you from falls, and better your chances of surviving and recovering from a hospital stay. On top of doing resistance training, your high quality protein intake should be enough to support muscle growth, between 0.7 to 1 gram per pound of body weight (depending on your activity level). For example: If you weigh 175 pounds you will take in 122.5 to 175 grams of protein or 24.5 to 35 ounces of protein a day.
Lifestyle. Did you know that making good lifestyle choices reduces systemic inflammation? That means reducing systemic stress by eating high quality foods, managing external stresses, and getting good quality sleep. You need to have these ducks in a row in order to keep and gain muscle, reducing the risk of future disease.
High quality foods. I recommend an elimination program to find out what your food sensitivities are. Robb Wolf’s book, “The Paleo Solution” and The Hartwig’s book, “It Starts With Food”, are good places to start (see my book links below). Eating foods that constantly attack your body accelerates aging through chronic inflammation. Reducing external stress is another way to reduce systemic inflammation.
Coping mechanisms. By scaling back workloads and focusing on what is important to you, it is possible to reduce systemic inflammation. Also, make sure your exercise load is not adding stress to your life. Participating in activities that feed your soul and are fun are not forgotten and are played often.
Quality sleep. Sleep duration and quality are certainly two of the most important factors in the big picture. Sleeping well helps the body repair and rejuvenate and is therefore the foundation of good health.
Being past the peak of your capabilities should not get you down. Celebrate the possibility of creating productive situations in your health and movement status as long as you can. Be creative in knowing you can be a champion at something daily! Even if it is rest! I hope my suggestions of a good attitude, increased strength and finding positive lifestyle choices will be a guide in the path of satisfaction and fun as you move into your later years functioning at your peak—Strong, Healthy and Happy!
*8x 100M dash ~GO!
*Please warm up appropriately!