Retirement Lifestyle Design-Getting serious about fitness

A senior citizen while practicing his fitness ...

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Aging is relentless.

My Lifestyle Design Plan has a fitness dimension. As I reported earlier this year, the deterioration of my physical strength and agility caught me by surprise. Suddenly I couldn’t do things that were easy before, like getting up out of a chair. I had accepted getting old. I just wasn’t prepared for the realities. I wanted an active lifestyle and a walker and one of those push up chairs didn’t fit.

This was a ‘Come to Jesus’ moment for me. I had deluded myself that just making up my mind to live like a 40 year old into my 70’s and beyond would make it happen. I was learning that aging is real and it’s momentum is powerful. Thinking happy thoughts wasn’t going to keep me strong and active. I had to be aggressive.

It is easy to deny the signs of aging

It is amazing how easy denial can be. The only sign of aging I am forced to face each day is my face. But I’ve learned to cope. I really don’t look at the wrinkled face in the mirror each morning. I am not forced to see the other signs of deterioration and so I can remain blissfully oblivious to what is obvious to others. My wife tells me that I walk with a stoop.   Of course I can’t see how I look and after a few attempts to walk straight I just pass off the comment. I don’t feel any different so I conclude that it can’t be so bad. When I observe ‘old people’ I often feel superior because of their stooped posture and clumsy movements, but ignore my own.

I made a decision

Well I finally took control. For about eight months, my wife and I have made bi-weekly visits to a personal trainer. I fought my denial and took action. I had dabbled in Yoga for most of my life and was committed to taking long power walks but my recent activity level had been weak and sporadic. I had always trusted myself to manage my exercise. Now I was seeing the consequences of trusting an amateur. I needed guidance from an expert.

So what has happened?

There have been definite benefits. First, my body is stronger and I have reversed some of the deterioration but more important, I am beginning to gain some mastery of the mental toughness that I will need to fight off the aging process over the rest of my life.

This was a surprising outcome for me. I just expected to do some exercises, develop a routine and move on with the more important areas of my Lifestyle Design Plan. Now, commitment to an exercise program has become more than a side issue. I am committed to reaching my perfect day in a retirement lifestyle that I control. It is an evolution. Each day I struggle with clarification and commitment. Each day, the truth looks different. But the truth is complicated. All the dimensions of my lifestyle plan need to work together. I can’t pick and choose.

So where is the update?

My original idea for this post was to bring you up to date with my fitness program. What I discovered was that my fitness program is central to my Lifestyle Design Plan. And that’s what I want to share today. I can tell more about my physical rehabilitation later on. My physical condition is critical to the lifestyle I want. A daily exercise routine is not what I prefer but it isn’t optional.

I know that for me to have the retirement  lifestyle I want to live, I must be committed to physical training every day for the rest of my life. It is not an option or a temporary commitment. That is what I have learned about Retirement Lifestyle Design. For most of your life, fitness is optional but when you get old, you can never give up. The forces fighting you are too strong for any lapse.

Can anybody relate? Are you more accepting of the physical deterioration and a more limited lifestyle or have you decided to fight it all the way?

 

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{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Hansi June 13, 2011, 12:18 pm

    Great post Ralph. Exercise is lifestyle. It’s been a BIG part of mine, and makes all the difference in the world.
    That old guy in the photo is pretty fit. Not only is he able to stand on his head, but flip everybody the bird while doing so. 🙂

    • Ralph June 13, 2011, 12:30 pm

      Hansi,
      I was able to do that maybe ten years ago. I haven’t tried it lately but this photo made me want to try. I’m going to pass on the finger. I need my hands to steady my pointy head.

  • Donna June 13, 2011, 5:41 pm

    I exercise every day-it could be 10 minutes or an hour. I have friends who are 90+ and they are my inspiration. They also exercise every day and are leading active lives. Eat healthy fresh food and exercise. It works.

    • Ralph June 14, 2011, 5:46 am

      Donna,
      That’s the kind of inspiration I need too. Thanks for sharing that. It helps so much to see success around you.

  • Sire June 14, 2011, 6:39 am

    Good on you Ralph. I know of a few people who upon retirement virtually gave up and just sat around the home vegetating because they were too ‘old’ to do anything else. Unfortunately this led to a downward spiral.

    The reality is that being old doesn’t mean giving up. You just have to adjust to a different lifestyle, one the involves more than just sitting around the house.

    • Ralph June 14, 2011, 6:43 am

      Sire,
      I’m pushing it every day. I can see it’s not enough but I’m not going to quit.

      • Sire June 14, 2011, 5:22 pm

        That’s all you can do Ralph, as long as you don’t try for unreal expectations.

  • Bill Murney June 14, 2011, 10:16 am

    Ralph, it’s a fact of life that your strength deteriorates with age, I have found that out recently unfortunately.

    When I look in the mirror I still see a twenty year old, much to my wife’s amusement, but I still have the outlook of a young guy if not the looks.

    As Donna said, eat healthy and exercise, we can’t really do much more.

    Bill
    A-U-L, UK

    http://billmurney.com/blog/happy-hour-in-the-jungle/

    • Ralph June 14, 2011, 10:52 am

      Bill.
      Absolutely. The outlook is important but you can’t fake a healthy body. You have to work at it.

  • Stand up Tanning Beds June 14, 2011, 6:26 pm

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