As noted in a post earlier this month about hanging on to our health in old age, the reason I have been able to keep up my six-day-a-week exercise routine for nearly a year now – or, at least, the reason I tell myself – is fear. Fear, if I don't, of what diseases and conditions might befall me as the years continue to speed by.
Of course, there are no guarantees; healthy old people get sick every day. But it seems to me there is no point in inviting disaster by ignoring the best health advice among which is to keep moving, to choose some kind of exercise routine and keep at it.
Even though I understand the importance of this, because I have no long-term history in regular exercise, I don't count on the motivation of fear to compel me to keep going every day. I treat my exercise program as 12-step programs do – one day at a time – and look for additional kinds of inspiration.
Through first-person text and videos, the book tells the stories of nine real-life old people who have turned their lives and health around by finding the inspiration and motivation – each in his or her own way – to try something new.
One of my favorites is the story of Bill Center who had been a career U.S. Navy officer:
”So much of my motivation,” he writes in the book, “has come from simply realizing it was possible to reverse my decline.
“I lost five pounds. And then another five pounds. And then another. Every pound lost boosted my confidence. Every physical ability recovered added to my resolve to keep getting better.”
Here, from the book, is a short video of the retired rear admiral who notes it's not just weight loss that's important, but fitness. Take a look:
Among the other real-life fitness stories are a competition ping pong player, marathon runners, a swimmer, a biker, a track and field competitor, a woman weight lifter, a woman who climbed Mt. Kilamanjaro in her late 60s and a 99-year-old golfer who, on each birthday, plays the number of holes as there are candles on his cake.
Most of the people in these first person accounts have been working at their chosen fitness fields for many years now and are quite accomplished. But what I found compelling – and motivating - about reading their stories is that none of them started out as athletic or as physical fitness buffs. It came to them late in life.
At the end of each person's chapter, there is a recap of the key takeaways and lessons from their individual fitness journeys. The author of the ebook, Tony Whatley, has distilled those lessons into ten “principles of fitness” that seem smart to me:
- The best time to start is now
- Compete only with yourself
- Maintain perspective and positivity
- Write everything down
- Shop around for a sport you enjoy
- Socialize your experience for support and enjoyment
- Break down big picture goals into manageable chunks
- Acknowledge victories great and small
- Seek opportunities to renew your interest
- Remember to play and have fun
In regard to Number 2, the track and field athlete, Bruce, made an important observation:
”I once asked a young person who had just watched a Masters track and field meet what they thought of the event. His response? It was 'depressing' watching 'old' people trying to do things — like the shot put or discus throw — that young people could obviously do much better.
“This reaction demonstrates that our perspective on what it means to be an athlete in your fifties, sixties, seventies and beyond, needs to change.
“Older athletes shouldn’t be seen for their inability to equal the accomplishments of younger athletes; they should be recognized for their abilities as athletes, period.
“Older athletes are competing against other older athletes and, more importantly, themselves — not LeBron James or Usain Bolt. The goal is to push yourself to be better than you are now — at any age.”
There is also some excellent advice and information from these nine elder athletes about turning failure into motivation and I'm going to keep Inspire Your Fit Behavior around to dip into regularly – particularly when I think I want to skip my daily workout.
For me, these are powerfully inspiring stories from ordinary people not so different from me who decided to get healthier and did.
Here is a short montage of several of them:
You can download a free chapter [pdf] here. This file is approximately 50MB and with a DSL/cable connection it may require up to five minutes to download. On a 56k dial-up, it will take 2.5 hours.
The publisher has offered to give away one ebook to a TGB reader. This file is is even larger, approximately 300MB. With a DSL/cable connection it may require 20-30 minutes to download. Unfortunately for dial-up, this may mean 15 hours to keep that in mind before you sign up for the drawing.
To be eligible for the ebook, just say so in the comments below. “Enter me in the contest” is good enough or “I want to win the free ebook” or even “me, me, me” will do.
The contest will remain open until midnight tonight (12:00AM), 27 June 2013 Pacific Time and the winner, selected by random electronic drawing, will be announced at the top of tomorrow's – Friday's - Time Goes By post.
You can purchase Inspire Your Fit Behavior ebook for $12.99 by following this link where you will find out how to get 10 percent discount.
As with so many other aspects of life, it is probably our individual psychological makeup that determines what kinds of motivation and inspiration work for each of us. I was surprised at how strongly I responded to these stories. Maybe you will too.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavitt: On the Annual Checkup