Don’t Get Old!

By August 21, 2016 December 7th, 2016 Lifestyle & Stress

Striving for longevity without dysfunction is an ancient art. Whether you’re in your youth, an aging athlete, or even a grandparent or beyond, it’s never too early to choose youth over old age.

Remember the mantra “Just do it!”? If you do, I have a new one for you and I’m definitely not trying to sell you any shoes:

“Don’t get old!”

That’s right — I’m saying you have the power to choose youth over old age. Regardless of your current age, you can start today and the benefits will be significant.

Going Beyond Positive Thinking

When we’re young, and our brains are ripe with vibrant youthfulness, we more easily respond to such notions as positive thinking. It works not only because we believe it, but because our brains respond to it. With age, brain function can change. For some changing this mindset will be more difficult, but the time to keep the inner workings of the brain sharp is now. Without that, feel-good pop psychology seems logical but actually means little.

Old friends, sat on a park bench like bookends, how terribly strange to be seventy,” Paul Simon wrote about 50 years ago. Today we know some very important issues about aging really are under our control. First is the perception of old age — the image of a person who is referred to as elderly, old or a senior.  Likewise so many of us associate the word frail with the image of a grandparent walking ever so slowly with a cane.

Just don’t go there. We control those images mostly. Of course, we can’t just think good thoughts and have our bodies and brains be young again if they don’t provide the right nutrients and healthy environments. But we can significantly influence this factor. By just eating healthy food, for example, a person may quickly become more alert and responsive, and physically active — all therapies work better for those who feed their brains with the necessary nutrients.

Like good food nutrients, adding music from our younger years can help our brains come alive as well. Those who surround their environment with images, sounds, smells and other senses that bring back memories of their youth, can actually turn back the clock both physically and psychologically.

Of course, I have often written about chronological versus physiological aging, and how that too is influenced by our choice of healthy lifestyle — or lack of it.

Research on aging is growing rapidly right along with the aging population, and healthcare policy-makers spend more time and energy assessing the issues and defining various disabilities rather than providing clinicians and family members with simple recommendations on the most effective lifestyle habits and therapies directed at specific physical, biochemical and mental-emotional problems.

The fact is, it’s well known in our society that there’s an increasing and serious problem. Studies are showing that while we are living longer, disabilities are becoming more prevalent. Other than old age itself, the disabilities of old age are primarily due to illness, most of which are preventable.

An English audit of intermediate care (published by Young and colleagues in the journal Aging in 2015) states that, “The modern general hospital is complex, expensive and has proved harmful to many [older] people, and so simpler, cheaper and safer care alternatives have been sought.”

The old age images of frailty, forgetfulness and vacant gaze are often seen in those in nursing homes and similar institutions, but these are shockingly unnecessary. The easiest choice to make is improving brain function, and, at the very least, preventing the common downward spiral like that seen in too many friends and family.

In the book Being Mortal, Dr. Atul Gawande researches the important topic of elder care and says the most important component is not happening often enough: asking the person what they would like — how they want to be treated as a human being through the aging process. However, this simple, important factor is often missing from all the detailed planning by family, friends and other caregivers.

There’s another common problem that can be very serious — elder patients are frequently over-medicated. It’s too easy to start accumulating meds, ones that appear to be necessary, while adding another here and there without removing ones not necessary. It can quickly lead to polypharmacy — five or more prescription meds for a single person, with that number often going much higher. Ask the health practitioner if all those meds are absolutely necessary. Reducing side-effects and interactions between meds can reduce the very signs and symptoms in many elder people that prevent them from living more functional lives — weakness, fatigue, poor sleep, daytime sleepiness, falls and disorientation.

The time to start planning for future care is now.

Make your Choice

Just in case you need a bit of help with some specifics, here is a menu of items to choose and not to choose. Almost everyone can address all issues now, regardless of age, personally or if you are a caregiver. And the sooner the better.

Things that keep you young:

  • Healthy and natural real foods.
  • Natural fats at each meal for better brains.
  • Movement — easy physical activity of various types. Variety is the brain’s spice, so spice up your exercise routine.
  • Regular and varied mental activity. The brain loves learning new things.
  • Music — listen to the music you loved growing up, and new songs too. Also participate — play, learn, write, dance, go to shows.
  • Seek out healthcare help in reducing or eliminating medications that are not absolutely necessary.
  • Ridding the body of pain and disability. This also may require help from a professional.

Things that make you old:

  • Popular misconceptions about those in their 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond. We’re more than capable of keeping pace with younger generations on many levels. Consider that an 85-year-old man recently set a new world record for his age group by running the 10K in just over 51 minutes!
  • Junk food.
  • Inactivity.
  • TV.
  • Sitting (see also inactivity and TV).
  • Excess alcohol — for men this means two drinks or less daily, women one drink or less. If you’re not comfortable drinking moderate amounts of alcohol, avoid it.
  • Unnecessary or too many medications.

Alternative Care

The substitute for optimal aging — assisted living and nursing homes — should be unacceptable, but too many go that route. It’s a sad choice. Elder neglect and abuse is too common in institutions. Money for healthcare is not in unlimited supply, and we can’t rely on government programs to provide the best care for those who are ill and dysfunctional. It may mean that more elderly will be left to their slow death without the best care.

When you consider the alternative — a slow, painful and expensive death in an institution — it makes more sense to avoid getting old. This means choosing self-health management for yourself now, while helping those older people who may not be able to manage themselves as well.


  • Odie says:

    great article!

  • mike mullins says:

    Thanks Ivan,
    I had started to reduce runs to every other day with no real signs of improvement but I eventually decided that work was the cause – I am in process of being outsourced – and despite the fact I though I was handling it well I have to admit that I’m probably more stressed than I thought!!

    I will use more recovery time and make efforts to sort work stress out.

    I guess I just became a bit impatient, It was hard at first to really slow down and just as I started to feel like I was moving a little faster this came along!
    I have regrouped and come back with a better frame of mind as I still feel the method is for me for life.

    I do have a long mountain run in November – its a reunion run with old friends – I am only using Maff as my prep and hoping that any increase in AF will see me through the 20 odd miles in North Wales.

    Any advice – once again gratefully received.
    Thanks again,

  • Mike Mullins says:

    Hi, need help. I’m sold on the science and have been diligent in following the programme but my results are going backwards.

    I m 46 (45 when started, and yes a reduced my threshold on my birthday). I used to run between 7.30 and 9.50 min / miles depending on distance , terrain and how I felt on the day. when I started Maff I slowed to 13 or 14 min miles but I have stuck with it and been really disciplined too.

    I have even taken the HR thresholds into the swimming pool and when doing body weight exercises – going slow and trusting in the method. But I am sorely tested tonight. I run between 4 and 6 times per week and from 3 to 8 mile runs.
    MAff test results in April 2016, over 3 mile test results:
    Mile 1 – 12.11mins, mile2 – 12.00mins, mile 3 – 12.33mins this was after two weeks on carb test and running within HR thresholds.

    test results – May 2016:
    Mile 1 – 11.07, mile2 – 10.37, mile3 – 11.36 – so far so good, small improvements – I was pleased

    M1 – 13.04, M2 – 12.38, M3 – 13.31 – not so good

    July 2016:
    M1 – 12.18, M2 – 12.29, M3 – 13.18 –

    August 2016:
    M1 – 11.58, M2 – 11.27, M3 – 12.30

    September 2016:
    M1 – 12.06, M2 – 13.16, M3 – 14.17 – disappointed and a bit demoralised!!!

    Is this normal, I expected over 6 months to see good improvements instead I seem to be going backwards. Route is the same, more or less the same time of day, only variable is the weather.

    Is there anything I can do to help decrease my min per mile? I feel great, it must be said and dropped 11lbs during Carb test that has not come back (despite fact that GP said I was at optimum for my height before starting.) I have always been healthy and active, Aikido student and teacher for 26 years, run, swim, cycle and never really had any on-going injury issues. I just recognised the science of Maff and still do but I want to be moving a little faster, these 12min miles are hard on my patience.

    any advice on ways to improve speed/times would be greatly appreciated.

    Many thanks,

    • Mike:

      Thanks for your comment.

      Let me direct you to this FAQ on the subject. You might find some of your answers there. It’s not always the case that people slow down, but when they do, it’s because of one of several things:

      1) Chronic stressors such as new hobbies, new work commitments, poorer nutrition, etc.
      2) Too much training volume.
      3) Too little rest and recovery.

      2 and 3 go hand in hand, but they’re not exactly the same. Some people need more rest and recovery than others, and it’s sometimes the case that the aerobic system can handle the distances quite well but can’t recover and grow from them. In other words, the distances you are running may (or may not) be slowly chipping away at your aerobic fitness NOT because your aerobic system is poor, but because for X or Y reason your body is not able to recover fully before the next run (or the next week of running). It may also be the case that X or Y may be a chronic stressor such as those outlined in (1).

      What I would experiment with is reducing my mileage to something that seems relatively trivial—say, weeks that look something like 4mi-4mi-3mi-4mi-5mi-rest-rest. I like to say that two consecutive rest days provide 150% of the recovery that 2 non-consecutive rest days provide. So, one thing you could try is first testing out 2 consecutive rest days per week without substantially altering training volume, and if that’s still not enough, reduce training volume significantly (down to 50 or 60%), with the expectation that you’ll start slowly climbing back up to your “usual” over the course of 2 or 3 months. If you do reduce your training volume, keep doing 2 consecutive rest days. And throughout this process, look for stressors that might be hindering your recovery, and eliminate them.

      I hope this helps.

  • Blagoj Milenkov says:

    After reading almost every single article on your site and also “The Big book of endurance” I’ve decided to implement LCHF diet and MAF training and principles. Since then many things changed in my life towards better living and performance. This is “only” another great post as usual. Thanks a lot and God bless you….

    best regards

  • Karen Thomas says:

    I totally agree with this. I watch my mother die a slow painful death because at 50, she thought she should not have to do anything anymore and paid people to clean. The more she sat around, the more her body broke down. Because I witness all of the pain and suffering she went through, I decided to go a different route. I work out still 3-4 times a week, work hard at keeping my weight down, do some Tai Chi, Yoga, aerobics, walk the dog almost every day for at least a mile to keep her in shape. I never want to die like my mother. When they say use it, or lose it – I am a believer. When I see 80 – 90 year old people in the store still walking on their own – I praise them and say to myself that is where I what to be at that age. Not in a wheel chair that could of been prevented. I am on no medications, and I am 62. I just had a pinch nerve that I had to work through, but now I am getting back to my old self – and feel so much better. I am not as strong as I use to be, but I just work around it and do different type of movements.

  • Dave says:

    Interesting note on again for people over 65!!!!

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