Taking care of business. Finances. The house. Kids. Maybe your parents. Man, you’ve got a lot to take care of.
But one thing that should characterize crossing the “OlderBeast threshold” — somewhere in the age 40–50 window — is this realization:
No matter how much is on your plate, it’s time to start truly taking care of yourself, brother.
We’re biologically and culturally wired to view “provide, protect, procreate” as our mission (and how others judge us). This has never been easy, but today it’s harder than ever. More work, with electronic demands nearly 24/7. More time spent taking care of kids than our fathers or grandfathers (this is a beautiful thing, not a problem — but it does create added time pressures and stresses). Economic pressure — kids’ education, your retirement, etc.
If we’re honest and let our superhero guise slip for a minute, the 21st Century man’s mission can sometimes be exhausting. And if you’ve reached the OlderBeast threshold, you’ve been going hard at it for 20–30+ years.
On top of that — and even more importantly — if you don’t step back and think about where you’re headed, this simplified template of what it means to be “a man” can be self-limiting. There’s more to life than being “bankers and pack mules,” as a friend of mine used to joke when wives and kids entered the picture (of course, many a true word is said in jest).
As we enter and proceed through the second half of life, we owe something to ourselves and those who count on us: being more conscious of self-care (physical, mental and even spiritual) that will keep us happy, productive, and engaged in all that life demands, and offers, for decades to come.
I’ll put this in competitive terms that sometimes resonate best with guys. No matter the economic success you achieve nor the responsibility/power level you reach, it’s not “winning” over the long term if you reduce your quality-of-life (or even shorten your life span, dude) via insufficient exercise, poor nutrition and/or lack of stress management.
Or if you fail to realize all the joy the world can bring you.
Avoiding these fates and instead becoming a holistically successful human is one definition of Wellness.
With your thriving in mind, I ask you to think about all this and start acting on it, please. Here are some “good news” points to help you do so.
⇒ You DO have time to invest in fitness and activities that manage stress. Some of this time can be reclaimed from a subtle beast that has been sinking its claws into you, little by little, for years: email, news/social media and video entertainment. Also, if you have kids, they’re more independent or out of the house entirely now, and you have time that wasn’t available to you in the past.
⇒ There are great resources and knowledge available. Compared to even ten years ago, we understand so much more about what most-effectively and time-efficiently moves the needle on physical fitness and nutrition. Magazines, websites, books, blogs — and personal coaches and trainers — are all here to help. In fact, there’s so much info out there, some distillation and curation of it all would help. That’s one a key part of the OlderBeast mission.
⇒ You are more secure and willing to ask for help, compared to your younger self. This is a blanket assertion that might not be true for all…but I think it is for most of us. I often say about myself “I’ll take all the help I can get.”
⇒ By definition, OlderBeast physical goals are achievable. You’re not trying to win the Boston Marathon, set a power-lifting record, or surf the Bonzai Pipeline (or if you are, hats off to you, and thanks for reading my articles anyway!).
Instead, you’re seeking a baseline level of overall fitness to feel great, look your best, contribute to your sense of joy from life, and live long…and there are many diverse fitness options to achieve these things.
⇒ Every hour you dedicate to Wellness is paid back by making your other hours more effective (and…sorry to be explicit here…by helping you stay vital and alive for longer, man).
Prioritization of time for fitness makes us more productive and creative in professional endeavors, and more “present” and engaged in personal ones. Solid nutrition increases our energy level and makes us — literally — think better, which helps in everything we do.
In a subtle but critical way, all of this — the hazards and the path around them — changes “getting into shape” or “losing some weight” into “taking care of myself.”
Re-framed this way, I hope you are inspired to give at least the same level of care to yourself as you do to that classic car you might own…or your fine old house…or (like me) your aging but still-frisky man’s best friend. That’s him in the picture above, by the way.
Not to mention the humans you care about, and who care about you. OlderBeasts make and follow a plan to be here for them, in the best possible way and for the longest possible time. That sounds pretty manly after all, doesn’t it?
“She said man, there’s really something wrong with you. One day you’re gonna self-destruct.” (The Kinks, Destroyer — click to listen)
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Originally published at medium.com